Baby, it’s cold outside. And I know you’d like nothing more than to stay in with some hot cocoa and a cuddle buddy, but you’ve got so much to do. There are presents to buy, grocery stores to pillage, decorations to put up and, as always, movies to see! And while there might not be any holiday-specific movies out this week, there are some dark wintry tales that require your attention. So suck it up and bring a thermos of peppermint schnapps-spiked cocoa.
The Movie: “Black Swan”
The Trailer: Ambitious veteran dancer Nina (Natalie Portman) gets into a twisted territorial battle with her more sensual new rival, Lily (Mila Kunis), for the lead in “Swan Lake.” Nina is a technically perfect dancer, making her ideal for the white swan portion of the performance, but the whip-cracking French head of the ballet troupe, Thomas (Vincent Cassel), challenges her to find the darker, more sexual black swan part of her character.
The Hitch: Director Darren Aronofsky (“Requiem for a Dream” and “The Wrestler”) brings a Grimm fairy-tale darkness to the classic “Black Swan” ballet world. Winona Ryder plays a dancer too old to still be trying, who’s forced out. And as with every ballet movie, there’s an evil stage mom (Barbara Hershey) who lives with Nina in a tiny Upper West Side apartment, who’s pressured her daughter into the life she wanted for herself. But as with “The Wrestler,” Aronofsky shows the brutal side of ballet—the blood and the b****es. As Nina fights to let out her dark side, she hallucinates a horrifying world.
The Movie: “I Love You Phillip Morris”
The Trailer: Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) is a family man whose criminal exploits, including insurance fraud, land him in Texas prison. Russell meets Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor), a mild-mannered man who was arrested for an overdue rental car. The two fall desperately in love and upon Russell’s release, he continues to con his way through life, creating elaborate schemes to live the good life with Morris outside of prison walls.
The Hitch: Based on a book by Houston Chronicle crime reporter Steve McVicker, the real Steven Russell is currently serving a 144-year sentence at a maximum security prison in Texas. I have to say I am kind of dying to see Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor fall in love. And there is nothing more fun than a good con-man caper.
The Movie: “All Good Things”
The Trailer: Robert Durst (Ryan Gosling) was the scion of the wealthy real-estate dynasty of the Durst family. He was suspected but never tried for killing his wife Kathie (Kirsten Dunst), who disappeared in 1982 and was never found.
The Hitch: The movie is inspired by the most notorious missing person’s case in New York history and I think if you had to let anyone make you disappear you, Ryan Gosling, is the one to do it. It will be interesting to see him play such an angry and mysterious character … especially with the thick ’80s nerd glasses. Plus, I get a stupid kick out of Dunst and Durst’s names being so close.
The Movie: “The Warrior’s Way”
The Trailer: An Asian warrior assassin (Korean actor Dong-gun Jang) is forced to hide in a small town in the American Badlands after refusing a mission that involves taking out a child. Kate Bosworth and Geoffrey Rush help the guy hide out ’cause they’re nice like that.
The Hitch: For a while there, we had way too many “Crouching Tiger”-type movies, but this one looks way more fantastical and beautiful. It looks a bit like an old Terry Gilliam movie … that accidentally became a western. Though the idea of ninjas and cowboys interacting is utterly preposterous, I’m willing to believe it for some fun fight scenes and Kate Bosworth as a ginger.
The Movie: “Dead Awake”
The Trailer: Dylan (Nick Stahl) works at a funeral parlor and is plagued by memories of something that happened ten years ago. After he fakes his own funeral to see who shows up, he becomes friends with a street junkie (Rose McGowan) and is reunited with a former love (Amy Smart). But supernatural forces change these three characters’ lives and exposes them for what they really are.
The Hitch: The trailer and all of the subsequent pondering about what the hell happened in the trailer were only mildly helpful in figuring out that one or more of the main characters are dead. I’m pretty OK going into the movie with that confusion for some reason.
The Movie: “Night Catches Us”
The Trailer: Marcus (Anthony Mackie from “The Hurt Locker”) comes back to his hometown Philadelphia neighborhood in 1976 after a long absence. His family and former neighbors are suspicious of his return, but he gets close to his old friend Patricia (Kerry Washington) and her daughter. But his former community and the Black Panthers he was once a part of believe he had a part in killing their former comrade and prove once again that you can’t come home again.
The Hitch: I’m pretty down with The Roots soundtrack and, jeez, is Kerry Washington beautiful. On top of that, the movie is beautifully shot and it’s hard for me to turn down a movie with ’60s and ’70s costuming.