Movies in Theaters on Friday, November 23, 2011
The Thanksgiving holiday is a prime time for the studios to unveil both classy family-friendly films like The Muppets and Hugo and Oscar hopefuls that might be a little too subversive for the Christmas season such as My Week with Marilyn and A Dangerous Method. Of course you're going to see The Muppets, but a pretty strong case can be made for seeing the other three, too -- good thing it's a long weekend!
We can't imagine the complete and total cinematic disaster that would have to unveiled for us to dislike The Muppets even just a little bit, so let's just go on the assumption that this is going to be one of the best movies of the year, okay? Jason Segel wrote and stars in this new Muppet adventure in which all of your old friends reunite to save their old theater from a greedy oil tycoon (Chris Cooper, whose scowl could has thrown entire countries into the pit of despair). Amy Adams, who's so darn cute that she could pass for a Muppet herself, plays one of their human allies; the predictably amazing supporting/cameo cast includes Rashida Jones, Alan Arkin, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Neil Patrick Harris and a bunch of other people we probably shouldn't give away. The real stars, though, are the Muppets themselves, who have been gone from the big screen -- and our lives -- for way too long. You're damn right it's time to play the music and light the lights.
The director of Goodfellas doing a kids' movie? Well, if there was anything that could keep us from seeing The Muppets for a third time this holiday weekend, it's Martin Scorsese's first foray into three-part unchartered territory: 1) a film for all ages, 2) a film shot in 3D and 3) a film in the 21st century without Leonardo DiCaprio. Based on the (rather long) novel by Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (which seems like a fine title in and of itself and not in need of shortening, but ah well), Hugo stars Asa Butterfield as an orphan living in the walls of a train station in 1930s Paris; his days are filled with dodging the wily station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his dog and trying to solve the mystery involving his late father (Jude Law, enjoying a little more screentime here than he did in his two-second cameo as Errol Flynn in Scorsese's The Aviator) and a robot. We can't wait to see a master craftsman expand his horizons with such whimsical material whilst bringing along such familiar Scorsese alums as Ray Winstone (The Departed), Emily Mortimer and Ben Kingsley (who both starred in Shutter Island).
Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe? Sheesh, here's something else to distract you from making it an all-Muppets weekend! My Week with Marilyn is based on the memoir by Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) who, in the summer of 1956, was a 23-year-old British assistant on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl, the film that famously united Marilyn with Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh, perfectly cast as the pompous serious thespian). Clark was also the lucky limey who got to introduce Monroe, who was desperate to take a break from the pressures of celebrity, to the pleasures of British life after her new husband, playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), with whom she had been honeymooning, headed back to the States. It's hardly earth-shattering Hollywood history, but the pleasure here will be watching some great actors strut their stuff as some of the most larger-than-life theatrical types from the mid-20th century; there's already Oscar buzz for Williams, who apparently nails not only MARILYN MONROE but also Norma Jean Baker. Bonus: Hermione herself, Emma Watson, plays a supporting part in this, her first R-rated movie. Big girl!
And finally, in this movie, Keira Knightley plays a woman who gets turned on by being spanked -- it looks like The Muppets are just going to have to share your time and money this weekend after all. Actually, A Dangerous Method is the latest drama from David Cronenberg, which means all of its rambunctious, "deviant" sexuality is meant to be serious stuff (remember Crash?); it's also something of a history lesson, chronicling the relationship between brilliant psychiatrists Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen, making his third consecutive appearance in a Cronenberg film following A History of Violence and Eastern Promises) and Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender, quickly becoming the go-to actor for‚ well, everybody) and how they both fell under the spell of Jung's seemingly incurable patient, the unbalanced but undeniably seductive Sabina Spielrein (Knightley). Like most of Cronenberg's recent works, this will be a well-acted, extremely well-directed and occasionally fascinating character study that no one will ever feel the need to watch more than once -- but there's nothing quite like the first (and only) time, is there?