"Alice in Wonderland" constitutes a meeting of three long-established, distinctive brands. Disney produces, Tim Burton directs and Lewis Carroll provides the story. It's the sort of pedigreed project that generates excitement and high expectations. Which means someone's going to be disappointed.
"Shutter Island" is set in 1954, during postwar years in which the economy boomed, WWII veterans struggled to cope with unimaginable trauma and psychological theory and practice started to creep into the American consciousness.
Remember when Mel Gibson was just a plain old movie star? Gibson made his mark as a charming, sometimes goofy/sometimes glowering action star, and we liked him. But then came preachy Mel, then drunk anti-Semitic Mel, then adulterous yet somehow still devout Catholic Mel.
Imagine if Archie Bunker were a world-renowned biochemist. That's basically the character Harrison Ford plays in "Extraordinary Measures," and he brings much needed comic relief to an otherwise fairly somber movie.
"Youth in Revolt" is, in so many ways, a typical January release. Movies in the first month of the year are always like leftover holiday candy - a bit stale, but hey, this is the only food we have left in the house, so why not?
When you look back on it, the past decade of movies stands up better than you might expect. It's easy to develop a low opinion of the movies that pass through our theaters since, admittedly, most of them are just not very good.
Hollywood's 2009 campaign to pull us away from shopping and egg nog and into theaters doesn't offer as many new releases as last year. But several fine films already playing or finally coming to our area should make this another strong holiday movie season.
"Invictus" teams director Clint Eastwood and actors Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon in a film about Nelson Mandela, one of the most inspiring figures of the 20th century. That combination should be monumental - literally, a monument to heroism and courage.
"The Princess and the Frog" marks a return to the lush, hand-drawn fairy tales that once defined Walt Disney pictures. All the elements are there: beautiful animation, a princess, wishing on a star, endearing secondary characters and a journey that leads to an epiphany.
Characters in Wes Anderson's movies ("Rushmore," "The Royal Tenenbaums") constantly ponder their circumstances in existential terms. They relate the failure or success of the moment to their identity and often speak as if they know precisely where they are in the story we're watching.