September 14, 2008

On the Silver Screen: James Bond Versus the Twilight Vampires


Heading to the multiplex this autumn: James Bond, the critters from Madagascar, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino reunited for the first time since 1955, the vampires from the smash book series by Stephenie Meyer, and the High School Musical gang.

Daniel Craig will again play James Bond in Quantum of Solace (Nov. 14). It picks up where Casino Royale left off two years ago, with Bond steaming over the death of the love of his life and looking for payback against someone trying to monopolize the world's water supply. High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Oct. 24) brings the students into their senior year with a basketball championship, the senior prom and a big spring musical figuring into the plot. Also threatening to become a new phenomenon for young audiences will be the first movie in Stephanie Meyer's teen vampire book series, Twilight (Nov. 21). Young British actor Robert Pattinson, who played Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, stars in Twilight as vampire Edward Cullen, who falls for awkward teen Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart).

Clint Eastwood directs the thriller Changeling (Oct. 31) based on a true story about a woman (Angelina Jolie) in 1928 Los Angeles who at first believes her prayers have been answered when her kidnapped son is returned to her. But when she realizes the boy is not hers, she faces charges that she is delusional.

More based-on-a-true-story films: In Flash of Genius (Oct. 3), Greg Kinnear plays professor Robert Kearns who battles the automobile industry to receive recognition for his revolutionary invention of the intermittent windshield wiper. One week later in The Express, Rob Brown stars as Ernie Davis, who became the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. Spike Lee's Miracle at St. Anna (Sept. 26) has its origins in real life. With a screenplay by James McBride based on his novel of the same name, the film is about four African-American soldiers who are part of the all-black 92nd Buffalo Soldier Division stationed in Tuscany during World War II.

On the gritty front, in the psychological thriller Righteous Kill (Sept. 12) Robert De Niro and Al Pacino star as New York City police detectives tracking a serial killer who targets criminals. Also on the police beat will be Edward Norton, who takes off his green Hulk outfit for Pride and Glory (Oct. 24), about a family with a long police department tradition whose moral code is tested when one of two sons on the force investigates a hot-button case involving his older brother and brother-in-law.

There's more action, too, for Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe in Body of Lies (Oct. 10), about a CIA agent who isn't sure whom he can trust as he tries to snare a major terrorist leader.

For romantics there's Nights in Rodanthe (Sept. 26), based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. Diane Lane plays a woman tending a friend's inn for the weekend who has an undeniable attraction to the inn's only guest -- played by Richard Gere.

In Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (Oct. 3), Paul Cera (of Superbad and Juno) and Kat Dennings (of The House Bunny) play a couple whose love of music brings them together on a night-long search to find a legendary band's secret show.

For a different kind of romantic comedy, there's Ghost Town (Sept. 19) in which a man who can see ghosts is pestered by one of them who wants him to break up the impending marriage of his widow. Tea Leoni, Greg Kinnear and Ricky Gervais star.

Sparks fly when gossip exposes an adulterous affair in The Women (Sept. 12). It's a remake of the 1939 classic, now with Meg Ryan, Annette Bening and Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith and Cloris Leachman.

For the family trade there's Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Nov. 7) which has the marooned New York City zoo penguins repairing a crashed plane -- sort of -- and taking off with their critter friends for ... well they only get as far as the plains of Africa.

There's lots more coming, too, including George Clooney and Brad Pitt as inept guys on the trail of leaked CIA secrets in the comedy Burn After Reading (Sept. 12) and the mayhem of Saw V (Oct. 24). Not the least of the coming attractions is Oliver Stone's take on the career path taken by George W. Bush in W. (Oct. 17).

Originally published by MICHAEL JANUSONIS, Journal Arts Writer.

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