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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

my week at the movies: ‘Atonement,’ ‘Love in the Time of Cholera,’ ‘The Kite Runner,’ ‘The Mist,’ ‘No Country for Old Men,’ ‘Honeydripper,’ ‘Southland Tales,’ ‘Fred Claus,’ ‘I’m Not There,’ ‘Everything’s Cool,’

Eleven movies between today and Thurday. Might find time to sleep somewhere in between. We’ll see.

I’ve been hearing so many amazing things about Joe Wright’s Atonement [opens limited December 7], and hoorah! I’ll finally get a chance to check it out this week. Wright made that incredible version of Pride & Prejudice a few years back, and he’s cast Keira Knightley again, plus James McAvoy, Brenda Blethyn, Vanessa Redgrave… It’s based on the novel by Ian McEwan, which I haven’t read, and won’t have time to now. *sigh*

There’s lots of adaptations from novels happening for me this week. Love in the Time of Cholera [opens limited November 16], from the book by Gabriel García Márquez. Mike Newell directs, and he’s made some interesting movies like Into the West and Enchanted April and Donnie Brasco, and some crap, like Mona Lisa Smile. I’m hoping that working from Márquez means this one will be tolerable.

The Kite Runner [opens limited December 14] is from the Khaled Hosseini novel, and it’s from filmmaker Marc Foster, who’s given us Stranger Than Fiction, Stay, and Finding Neverland. This one was pushed back a bit from a November opening because of some controversy over perceived danger the young Afghani boy who stars might have been in over some of the events his character is involved in. I’d heard that the boy and his family would be relocated from Afghanistan — I guess that’s been resolved now.

Frank Darabont is taking on a Stephen King novel again with The Mist [opens November 21] — he previously made The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. This one looks more like straight horror than those others. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The Coen Brothers are working from a Cormac McCarthy novel with No Country for Old Men [opens limited November 9, goes wide November 21] — haven’t read that one, either. Great cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem (who’s also in Cholera, so I get a double dose of him this week), Josh Brolin (who’s gotten so interesting lately, as in American Gangster)… I’ve been officially Psyched for this one for a while.

John Sayles writes for himself with Honeydripper [opens limited December 28], set in rural Alabama in the 1950s. Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Mary Steenburgen star.

It’s been five years since Richard Kelly made the remarkable Donnie Darko, and now he’s back with the apocalyptic Southland Tales [opens limited November 14]. I’ve heard some grumbling from other critics about how not-good they think this is — I really, really hope that’s not the case, because I love Darko and would love to see something similarly mindblowing.

I want Fred Claus [opens November 9] to be like Bad Santa, which I love, but I suspect it’s gonna be like Elf, which I don’t.

I’m Not There [opens limited November 21] is the Todd Haynes movie in which a whole buncha different folks play Bob Dylan. Like Christian Bale. And Heath Ledger. And Cate Blanchett. How cool is that?

Everything’s Cool [opens limited November 23] is a “toxic comedy” about global warming. It would be nice if someone found something to laugh about with this topic.

Documentarian Jessica Yu made the beautiful and strange In the Realms of the Unreal: The Mysterious Life and Art of Henry Darger, and now she’s back with The Protagonist [opens limited November 30], which is about four different men and their passionate convictions that turn to extremism. Hmmm…

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