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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

my week at the movies: ‘Martian Child,’ ‘Bee Movie,’ ‘Lions for Lambs,’ ‘Margot at the Wedding,’ more

It’s John Cusack, and that would be enough for me, because I’m one of that generation of women who has been ruined for romance forever by Say Anything…. But Martian Child [opens wide November 2] also has a geeky science-fictional bent, too: Cusack plays an SF writer, a widower, who adopts a troubled kid who thinks he’s from Mars. It’s based on a novel by real-life SF writer David Gerrold, who in real life adopted a son as a single (and gay) man. Cusack’s writer isn’t gay, I’m guessing the widower thing implies, because if he was, that whole generation of women would avoid this movie. Who am I kidding? Of course we wouldn’t.

I don’t know about Bee Movie [opens wide November 2]: it seems like it’ll be one joke that gets stretched out to the point where it’s no longer funny. If it even starts out funny. At least it has the voice of Patrick Warburton, who is always worth listening to. I just hope Jerry Seinfeld’s voice doesn’t get on my nerves…

Tom Cruise can haz Oscar role? Robert Redford directs the boy wonder in his first role as a presidential candidate — that’s right, President Tom Cruise — in Lions for Lambs [opens wide November 9]. Also, this one is all about the Endless War in the Middle East and how it chews up idealistic young Americans and turns pragmatic old Xers into even bigger cynics. I dunno: I’m making that part up. But I bet I’m right.

As if to thump Tom with a so-there, Nicole Kidman goes after another Oscar in Margot at the Wedding [opens limited November 16]. You can tell that’s what she’s doing, cuz she’s frumpy in this one. The Academy always thinks it’s brave when the Most Beautiful Women in the World let us see them like they really look when their hair and makeup team and their stylists have the day off. This one’s from the Squid and Whale filmmaker Noah Baumbach, so I expect lots of angst, even from cast members who look frumpy all the time, like Jack Black.

Indies on my radar for this week: Starting Out in the Evening [opens limited November 23], starring Frank Langella as an aging literary novelist and Lauren Ambrose as his academic fangirl. How to Cook Your Life [now playing in San Francisco; opens limited November 16] is, basically, Zen and the Art of Cookery, which sounds delicious. And Man in the Chair [opens limited December 7] is about a young man who’s a film fanatic. Sounds good.

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