January 10, 2007
Miss Potter (PG). East Hampton's own Renée Zellweger stars with Ewan McGregor and Emily Watson in this tear jerking biopic. The director Chris Noonan (Babe) has an agreeable touch and this Jane Austin-themed movie will ring true to many female viewers. Left unresolved is the hidden drama: are they lesbos?
Arthur and the Invisibles (Not yet rated). Part animation, part real, this month's requisite movie for little kids will probably amuse the dumber ones but offers very little for the poor parents who get stuck accompanying them. Bring a flask, you'll need it.
New To Theaters
Freedom Writers (PG-13). Hilary Swank stars in Richard LaGravenese's true life tale of a teacher who inspires her at-risk students with a challenging writing prospect. The old Hilary would have just beaten the little brats into submission, but the two-time Academy Award winner gives the part depth and pathos. Alas, there will be no Oscar number three this year. Also starring Patrick Dempsey and Scott Glenn.
Code Name: The Cleaner (PG-13). Cedric the Entertainer and Lucy Liu ham their way through this mildly comical take on the old amnesia story, wherein a mild mannered janitor somehow gets involved in a government conspiracy. Been there, done that.
Rocky Balboa (PG). Sylvester Stallone digs up boxing's greatest underdog for one more payday. Only the existence of George Foreman makes this even mildly believable. Still, it's schmaltzy enough to make some holiday hay. We think he should fight Rambo next.
Dreamgirls (PG-13). This high energy musical has an oddly detached feel, perhaps because the director, Bill Condon, is more comfortable with dramas like Gods & Monsters and Kinsey. Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy star along with Beyoncé, who definitely looks at ease on the Silver Screen. Forget the big names, though — Jennifer Hudson is the undisputed star of the show and a likely Oscar nominee.
Blood Diamond (R). The director Edward Zwick (I Am Sam, The last Samurai) delivers an overly long but well-acted film that is sometimes dazzling, sometimes brutal and often thought provoking. Leonardo DiCaprio gamely carries on with a South African accent — or is it Australian? Djimon Hounsou turns in a believable performance and Jennifer Connelly provides the eye candy.
Casino Royale (PG-13). A remake retelling James Bond's first mission. Daniel Craig takes on the leading role and Judi Dench slums as "M." This is a fresh take on the legend — he hadn't even earned his Double-OH murder license to kill, though he quickly proves himself up to the task. The best Bond since Sean Connery.