Alvin and the Chipmunks: The ad campaign for this film started out with a chipmunk eating his friend’s shit. Now the film is giving us the opportunity to “Get Munked!” Surprisingly, by “get munked” they are trying to get the public excited about the film, not encouraging filmgoers to cover themselves in chipmunk semen and light themselves on fire as the phrase might imply. Still, I suggest the latter if it is the only alternative to seeing this film. Jason Lee, David Cross, Jane Lynch, Justin Long and other actors who are probably crying right now all star in this creepy adaptation of the classic children’s cartoon. This is playing at the Pavilion and the United Artists on Court Street.
I Am Legend: Will Smith stars in this adaptation of Richard Matheson’s incredible vampire novel. Apparently this film has been in development for a very long time, switching actors, screenplays and directors over and over again. Apparently at one point, it was set to star Arnold Schwarzanegger and was going to be directed by Ridley Scott. As a fan of the book I can happily say that I’m glad this did not happen. While the trailer is making this look like much more of an action movie than a meditation on the loneliness of the last living man on Earth, it looks like it could still be a relatively entertaining film. This is playing at the Pavilion and the United Artists on Court Street.
The Perfect Holiday: While I’m excited that Tim Allen didn’t make The Santa Clause 4 or Christmas With the Kranks 2, I still would like just one good holiday film to come out this year. I’ve watched all the classics a thousand times, and while I love them, I’d like a more recent film to replace Elf. This one will definitely not be it. Gabrielle Union, Queen Latifah, Morris Chestnut and Charlie Murphy star in this one. I’ve seen almost no advertising for it. Apparently the studio is relying on the fact that people will see movies featuring the words “holiday,” “christmas” and “season.” And they’re probably right. This is playing at the United Artists on Court Street.
The Kite Runner: I’ve never read this book, but judging by my morning subway commute, everyone else in the world has. Director Marc Forster has had a hit or miss career in my opinion. I hated Finding Neverland with a passion, liked Monster’s Ball (but will never see it again), and enjoyed Stranger Than Fiction. He is also slated to direct the next Bond film. Here, he directs a mostly unknown cast in a surprisingly low-key production of the international best-seller. This is playing at the Landmark Sunshine.
Look: A group of random people are filmed going about their private lives by security cameras, as this film tries to make a statement about privacy in a post-911 America. While this is a potentially interesting subject for a film, it was written by the same guy who wrote Zoom, Underdog and Small Soldiers. Also, there’s a pretty big spelling mistake on the poster. This is playing at the Angelika.
Nanking: This documentary about the Rape of Nanking was a surprise hit at Sundance and is being called one of the best documentaries of the year. The film also features actors reading eye witness accounts of the atrocities. You know, acclaimed film and theater actors like Mariel Hemingway, John Getz, Woody Harrelson and…uhhh…Stephen Dorff. This is playing at Film Forum.
Youth Without Youth: Francis Ford Coppola! Directing again! It’s been ten years! And it’s supposed to be…not very good! Whatever, I’m still going to see it, and so should you. It’s my pick of the week. The IMDB description of the film is: “A love story wrapped in a mystery. Set in Europe before WWII, a timid professor is changed by a cataclysmic event and explores the mysteries of life.” I don’t think they could be more vague if they tried. This is playing at the Landmark Sunshine. Also, the midnight movie at the Sunshine on Friday is Army of Darkness, and the IFC Center is playing the David Lynch classic Eraserhead.