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die hard is a xmas movie | by maryann johanson

my week at the movies: ‘Beowulf,’ ‘Battlestar Galactica: Razor,’ ‘Persepolis,’ ‘Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium,’ ‘Enchanted,’ ‘The Savages,’ ‘August Rush’

I’ve got a somewhat less crazy week this week, so I should be able to catch up with my Doctor Who and Torchwood blogging…

It’s the movie I’m officially Dreading at the moment: Robert Zemeckis’s Beowulf [opens November 16]. I used to really like Zemeckis’s stuff, back in the day of Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Forrest Gump — even as recently as 2000, he gave us Cast Away, a brilliant and daring movie. I suppose you could call The Polar Express and now Beowulf “daring,” for being brave enough to totally creep us the fuck out with all those plastic CGI people, but all I came away from Polar Express with was the creeped-the-fuck-out stuff. I expect much the same from Beowulf. Oh, and also, this: There’s a GIANT billboard for Beowulf in Times Square with The Animated Hero hisself up there 100 feet tall, and all I can think when I see that is, “Poor Ray Winstone,” who’s starring as Beowulf. He’s a wildly compelling actor, and here’s his biggest role yet, and no one will recognize him because he’s not as pretty as Angelina Jolie. Her CGI avatar looks just like her, and his looks like it stepped out of a comic ripping off Lord of the Rings.

Tonight, the Sci Fi Channel is hosting a slew of special theatrical screenings of Battlestar Galactica: Razor [premieres on Sci Fi November 14; out on DVD December 4]. I’ll be at one of them in Times Square tonight: I wonder if it’ll be a huge geek scene or just a bunch of folks lined up for a movie. I’ll bring my camera, and if anything interesting happens, I’ll let you know.

Persepolis [opens limited December 25] is animated too, but it looks like it looks just like the Marjane Satrapi graphic novel upon which it is based. Which is cool. Satrapi, who also cowrites and codirects the movie, tells her own tale about growing up — and growing up female — in Iran before and during the Islamic Revolution. She lives in France now, and this is France’s official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film Category for the upcoming 80th annual Academy Awards.

Why does the title of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium [opens November 16] make me think of Mystery Science Theater 3000? I think Joel Robinson made some snarky reference once to an imaginary kids’ movie with a goofy name like that. I dunno… writer-director Zach Helm also wrote last year’s wonderful Stranger Than Fiction, so maybe this will be okay. (What’s the word when someone’s name matches their job? A director named Helm? Funny…)

I really want to like Enchanted [opens November 21]. A Disney fairy-tale princess goes renegade in real-life New York? It’s about time. The movie features a few Alan Menken songs, and I never stop hankering for those early days of the revival of the Disney animated musical: Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin

I’ve never seen Slums of Beverly Hills, but people love that movie, right? Its creator, Tamara Jenkins, is back with The Savages [opens limited November 28], which is pretty much Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman in a dysfunctional sibling relationship. It’s all done up indie style, so I’m not expecting sentiment.

Sentiment seems to be in the offing with August Rush [sneak preview November 17, opens November 21], about a musical prodigy who’s trying to find his parents. Could be okay: I adore this Freddie Highmore kid, who more than held his own against the ferocity of Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland. Oh, and also, my new Moonlight cutie-pie Alex O’Loughlin is in this too, so it should manage to at least divert me for an hour and a half. I hope…

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