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December 14, 2010 > Holiday Flicks

Holiday Flicks

By Mona Shah

The holiday season is upon us - whether you're ready or not. For some, Christmas and other winter holidays may signify crowded malls, airports and family gatherings, but it also means that the winter movie season is here! November and December is the time of year when the movie studios bring out the big guns. Year-end movies usually garner the most Oscar buzz, so it makes perfect sense that the last couple of months of the movie season packs a punch.


The King's Speech
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter
Rated: R for some language

After the death of his father King George V (Michael Gambon) and the scandalous abdication of King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), Bertie (Colin Firth) who has suffered from a debilitating speech impediment all his life, is suddenly crowned King George VI of England. With his country on the brink of war and in desperate need of a leader, his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the future Queen Mother, arranges for her husband to see an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). After a rough start, the two delve into an unorthodox course of treatment and eventually form an unbreakable bond. With the support of Logue, his family, his government and Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall), the King will overcome his stammer and deliver a radio-address that inspires his people and unites them in battle. Based on the true story of King George VI, "The King's Speech" follows the Royal Monarch's quest to find his voice


The Fighter
Starring: Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, Melissa Leo, Amy Adams
Rated: R (for language throughout, drug content, some violence and sexuality)

The Fighter is inspired by the true story of two brothers who, against all the odds, come together to train for a historic title bout that will unite their fractured family, redeem their pasts and, at last, give their hard-luck town what it's been waiting for...pride. The story unfolds on the gritty, blue-collar streets of Lowell, Mass, where Dicky was once known as "The Pride of Lowell" having gone the distance with the world champion Sugar Ray Leonard. However, after losing that fight, like the town of Lowell, Dicky has fallen on hard times. His boxing days are behind him and his life shattered by drug abuse.

Younger brother Micky, meanwhile, has become the family's fighter and fading hope for a champion. But despite all of his work, Micky's career is failing and he loses fight after punishing fight. Dicky and Micky's tougher-than-nails mother, Alice (Melissa Leo), manages Micky's career and Dicky serves as his highly unreliable trainer. When Micky's latest fight nearly kills him, it looks like it could all be over - until his iron-willed new girlfriend, Charlene (Amy Adams), convinces him to do the unthinkable: split with his family, pursue his own interests and train without his increasingly volatile and criminal brother.

Now Micky has the chance of a lifetime as he earns a shot at the World Championship. But when his brother and dysfunctional family reenter his life, they must all reconcile their past and become more than just a family in name.


Country Strong
Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Leighton Meester, Garrett Hedlund
Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements involving alcohol abuse and some sexual content.

Soon after a rising young singer-songwriter (Hedlund) gets involved with a fallen, emotionally unstable country star (Paltrow), the pair embarks on a career resurrection tour helmed by her husband/manager (McGraw) and featuring a beauty-queen-turned-singer (Meester). Between concerts, romantic entanglements and old demons threaten to derail them all.


All Good Things
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst and Frank Langella
Rated: R

Inspired by the most notorious missing person's case in New York history, All Good Things is a love story and murder mystery set against the backdrop of a New York real estate dynasty in the 1980s. The drama portrayed in Andrew Jarecki's film was inspired by the story of Robert Durst, scion of the wealthy Durst family. Mr. Durst was suspected but never tried for killing his wife Kathie who disappeared in 1982 and was never found.

"In constructing the film, we used some of the extraordinary elements of the Durst case as the skeleton and inspiration for a drama about love, family, and obsession," says Jarecki. "Because it is impossible to know exactly what happened, we have not tried to replicate the history of the case, but to capture the emotion and complexity of this unsolved mystery that has for years been kept hidden from public view."


Night Catches Us
Starring: Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington and Jamie Hector
Rated: R for language, some sexuality and violence

In 1976, after years of mysterious absence, Marcus (Anthony Mackie) returns to the Philadelphia neighborhood where he came of age in the midst of the Black Power movement. While his arrival raises suspicion among his family and former neighbors, he finds acceptance from his old friend Patricia (Kerry Washington) and her daughter. However, Marcus quickly finds himself at odds with the organization he once embraced, whose members suspect he orchestrated the slaying of their former comrade-in-arms. In a startling sequence of events, Marcus must protect a secret that could shatter everyone's beliefs as he rediscovers his forbidden passion for Patricia.


Somewhere
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning and Chris Pontius
Rated: R for sexual content, nudity, and language

"Somewhere" is a witty, moving, and empathetic look into the orbit of actor Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff). You have probably seen him in the tabloids; Johnny is living at the legendary Chateau Marmont hotel in Hollywood. He has a Ferrari to drive around in, and a constant stream of girls and pills to stay in with. Comfortably numbed, Johnny drifts along. Then, his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) from his failed marriage arrives unexpectedly at the Chateau. Their encounters encourage Johnny to face up to where he is in life and confront the question that we all must... which path in life will you take?


Little Fockers
Cast: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, Jessica Alba, Laura Dern, Harvey Keitel and Barbra Streisand
Rating: PG-13

The test of wills between Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) and Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) escalates to new heights of comedy in the third installment of the blockbuster series-Little Fockers. Laura Dern, Jessica Alba and Harvey Keitel join the returning all-star cast for a new chapter of the worldwide hit franchise.

It has taken 10 years, two little Fockers with wife Pam (Polo) and countless hurdles for Greg to finally get "in" with his tightly wound father-in-law, Jack. After the cash-strapped dad takes a job moonlighting for a drug company, however, Jack's suspicions about his favorite male nurse come roaring back.

When Greg and Pam's entire clan-including Pam's lovelorn ex, Kevin (Owen Wilson)-descends for the twins' birthday party, Greg must prove to the skeptical Jack that he's fully capable as the man of the house. But with all the misunderstandings, spying and covert missions, will Greg pass Jack's final test and become the family's next patriarch...or will the circle of trust be broken for good?


Black Swan
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel
Rated R for strong sexual content, disturbing violent images, language and some drug use.

Nina (Portman) is a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her obsessive former ballerina mother Erica (Hershey) who exerts a suffocating control over her. When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Ryder) for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition; a new dancer, Lily (Kunis), who impresses Leroy as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side - a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.


Yogi Bear
Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Justin Timberlake and Anna Faris
Rated PG for some mild rude humor

Jellystone Park has been losing business, so greedy Mayor Brown decides to shut it down and sell the land. That means families will no longer be able to experience the natural beauty of the outdoors - and, even worse, Yogi and Boo Boo will be tossed out of the only home they've ever known. Faced with his biggest challenge ever, Yogi must prove that he really is "smarter than the average bear" as he and Boo Boo join forces with their old nemesis Ranger Smith to find a way to save Jellystone Park from closing forever.


Tron: Legacy
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde
Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and brief mild language.

Sam Flynn, the tech-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn, looks into his father's disappearance and finds himself pulled into the same world of fierce programs and gladiatorial games where his father has been living for 20 years. Along with Kevin's loyal confidant, father and son embark on a life-and-death journey across a visually stunning cyber universe that has become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous.


Gulliver's Travels
Starring: Jack Black, Emily Blunt and Jason Segel
Rated PG for brief rude humor, mild language and action.

Jack Black is bigger than ever... as Gulliver, a perpetual underachiever and wannabe travel writer at a New York newspaper. When he finally makes an effort to actually venture out of the city to write a travel piece, a storm-tossed voyage lands him on an island inhabited by tiny folks called Lilliputians. After a rocky beginning, the gargantuan Gulliver becomes an inspiration to his new six-inch-tall friends. He brings them modern-day wonders like a PDA and music video game while they help him kick it old-school during his travels through this unforgettable world.

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