EDITORIALS

Our 2012 Thanksgiving Weekend Now Playing Movie Guide to Peruse

by
November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Weekend Movie Guide 2012

Continuing our annual tradition of posting Thanksgiving and Christmas Movie Guides every holiday season, our San Francisco contributor, Marco Cerritos, has once again put together another movie guide for Thanksgiving 2012, giving a recap and rundown of what's playing and what's worth seeing (or skipping). Marco has seen everything playing, and while you may not always agree with his opinion, he provides the best reviews he can to make it a bit easier for everyone to choose. There are quite a few wonderful films now playing in theaters, so if you're still a bit unsure of what to watch or need extra tips, then look no further!

This is an alphabetized list containing 10 films that, as of today, are playing in most theaters nationwide.

Anna Karenina
Marco's Rating: B

Anna KareninaDirected by: Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, Hanna)
Starring: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Kelly Macdonald, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Rated: R
Review: Filmmaker Joe Wright has never been accused of being a restrained filmmaker and that's a good thing. His visual palettes in films like Hanna and Pride and Prejudice show the flourish and hard work of a talented craftsman and that gift is on full display in his latest, Anna Karenina. The film is the most recent adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's magnum opus starring Keira Knightley as the titular Russian maiden caught between two men. One door holds a loveless marriage to the bureaucratic Karenin (Jude Law) and behind door number two lies a newfound flair with the debonair Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). The plot maneuvers may seem simple at first glance but Wright's direction literally puts the entire story on a stage, emphasizing metaphors and creating a magnetic feast for the eyes.

Breaking Dawn: Part 2
Marco's Rating: C

Breaking Dawn: Part 2Directed by: Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Kinsey, Dreamgirls)
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Rated: PG-13
Review: Tragic for some and a cause to celebrate for others, the Twilight Saga has finally come to a close with the surprisingly watchable fifth movie Breaking Dawn - Part 2, the second half of the adaptation of the last book. The first half of this needlessly bloated final chapter was a complete disaster, exposing the worst clichés the franchise has to offer (terrible dialogue, wooden acting, outlandish plot twists). The finale isn't as wretched and manages to entertain in small doses but its far-fetched subplots and a messy cop-out ending bring this epic series to a pragmatic and plain conclusion.

Hitchcock
Marco's Rating: B

HitchcockDirected by: Sacha Gervasi (Anvil: The Story of Anvil)
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson
Rated: PG-13
Review: Much has been made of Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock in the new, aptly titled simply Hitchcock. He doesn't fully sound or look the part but his excited and persuasive performance helps to overlook the actor's minor flaws. The film's central focus is the filming and execution of Hitchcock's legendary, seminal work Psycho. The decision to center the film's attention on this part of his life instead of going for obvious biopic material is bold and very effective. Another smart thing Hitchcock does is surround Hopkins with a talented supporting cast including Helen Mirren as Alma Reville, Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, Toni Collette and Jessica Biel as Vera Miles who help build the film's foundation.

Life of Pi
Marco's Rating: A-

Life of PiDirected by: Ang Lee (Sense & Sensibility, Brokeback Mountain, Hulk)
Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall
Rated: PG
Review: Yann Martel's dense novel Life of Pi has had many directors and screenwriters try to successfully adapt it over the years. After the smoke cleared, Ang Lee (who is mostly known for directing Brokeback Mountain and martial arts classic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) was trusted to bring the material to life and his passionate approach works in the film's favor. While some may dismiss this story of a shipwrecked boy and his tiger finding their way home as being too obvious or sentimental, it's best to let yourself go and embrace the emotion. Life of Pi works best as an open-minded experience and not as a cynical snobfest.

Lincoln
Marco's Rating: B

LincolnDirected by: Steven Spielberg (Jaws, Schindler's List, War Horse)
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn
Rated: PG-13
Review: Steven Spielberg's labor of love has finally reached cinemas after years of planning and false starts culminating in a respectful and engaging history lesson. Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't hunt vampires in this movie but he does make fancy speeches and recounts American history in the most patriotic and Oscar-worthy way possible. An array of talented supporting players including Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones and James Spader balance the spotlight in bringing the story together. This also marks the second successful collaboration between director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner, their last being the undervalued Munich. Lincoln also continues the Spielberg trend of having multiple oddball false endings but it also shares a lot of his strengths for drama, character development and grand storytelling.

Red Dawn
Marco's Rating: D

Red DawnDirected by: Dan Bradley (Stunts for The Bourne Ultimatum, Spider-Man 3)
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Adrianne Palicki, Josh Hutcherson, Josh Peck
Rated: PG-13
Review: Nobody expected anything from this Red Dawn remake. After all, it was just another assembly line remake of a film people had mostly forgotten about. An argument could be made that forgettable films are the best ones to remake because there's nowhere to go but up. If that's the case, the filmmakers behind Red Dawn should be embarrassed to have squandered an opportunity to actually surprise people instead of taking their fearful anticipation and making it worse. Everything about Red Dawn reeks of transparency and bad decisions, from the lack of tension and involvement in the film's action scenes to the displaced look of our “heroes” who are meant to save the day but can't even graduate from the Keanu Reeves acting school.

Rise of the Guardians
Marco's Rating: C

Rise of the GuardiansDirected by: Peter Ramsey (Monsters vs Aliens TV Special)
Starring: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher
Rated: PG
Review: DreamWorks Animation has been on a roll lately with movies like How to Train Your Dragon and the Kung Fu Panda series so it saddens me to report their latest as a very interesting mess. The central idea behind Rise of the Guardians is an interesting one, taking beloved fabled characters and bringing them into the real world to fight a threat against childhood innocence, but the execution is half-baked. Santa Claus, Jack Frost, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are appealing as characters and the animators give them each their distinct visual world, the problem lies with the script and bringing these worlds together in a fun, interesting way.

Silver Linings Playbook
Marco's Rating: A-

Silver Linings PlaybookDirected by: David O. Russell (Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees, The Fighter)
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro
Rated: R
Review: David O. Russell's continues his directing winning streak with Silver Linings Playbook, a movie that has mental illness at its core but takes it seriously without being offensive. The marriage of drama and comedy are what make Silver Linings Playbook succeed and a huge part of that lies with Russell and his two leads, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. The acting duo make an unexpected pair but prove they are more than capable of anchoring heavy material while balancing a few laughs at the same time. Robert De Niro co-stars as Cooper's eccentric, football-obsessed dad and it's a joy to see him this alive onscreen after years of seeing him bored and cashing easy paychecks.

Skyfall
Marco's Rating: B

SkyfallDirected by: Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Away We Go)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Bérénice Marlohe, Judi Dench
Rated: PG-13
Review: James Bond's latest adventure isn't without its flaws but where the script fails, the visuals succeed. There's no need to delve this deep into the super spy's troubled childhood, especially since some of the story elements come out of left field, but if these are meant to be the veggies before dessert then it's worth it. Director Sam Mendes along with cinematographer Roger Deakins have crafted one of the best looking Bond films to date, playing with light and shadows in the most unexpected ways. Javier Bardem also surprises as one of the most engaging and charismatic villains the series has seen in a long time. If this is the continued path of a smarter, slicker James Bond, I'm all in.

Wreck-It Ralph
Marco's Rating: A-

Wreck-It RalphDirected by: Rich Moore ("The Simpsons", "Futurama", "Drawn Together")
Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch
Rated: PG
Review: This is the family film to see this Thanksgiving weekend, if you haven't already caught it beforehand (it first opened on November 1st earlier this month). If you have, give Life of Pi a shot but for pure, unabashed family entertainment this is the movie to support. In the world of traditional video game arcades, a Donkey Kong-type villain dreams of something more than being the "bad guy". That escape will lead him to experiment outside of his comfort zone and find a new world outside of his own. It's a simple, nostalgic premise that fits beautifully inside this witty, nostalgic movie.

Have you seen any of these yet? And what are you planning to see this weekend, if anything?

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  • Martella
    Life of Pi the movie to look out for! I have read the book, and since then couldn't wait to see it transported to the big screen! Martella http://www.sweatyblanket.com/
  • Nick placco
    Note; If you are a senior citizen and tried to see the movie at the Island Cinema on Morris ave in holtsviille you will be refused Senior priced tickets. Last night we were told that at the box office on Friday at 6;30 pm. Shame on you !

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