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die hard is a xmas movie | by maryann johanson

new this week in U.S., Canadian, and U.K. theaters: ‘Robin Hood,’ ‘Just Wright,’ ‘Letters to Juliet,’ ‘Lebanon,’ more (with DVD alternatives)

(It will look here like I’m trying to condense a lot of stuff — my “week at the movies” posts, my “DVD alts” posts — into one package, and that isn’t quite the case. Or maybe it is. Bear with me as I try to figure out what the hell I’m doing and what the hell is worth doing…)

U.S. AND CANADA/OPENING WIDE

Robin Hood: Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe’s take on the outlaw of Sherwood. I’m seeing this tonight — can’t wait! [trailer] review to come

If you can’t make it to the multiplex, try:

Gladiator (2000): The first of the several collaborations of Crowe and Scott throughout the 2000s.
Robin and Marian (1976): Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn as the iconic lovers late in life.
Kingdom of Heaven (2005): Ridley Scott’s previous look at medieval life; it’s not as bad as you think it is…
The Quick and the Dead (1995): Russell Crowe takes on another historical role — as Western gunslinger — for director Sam Raimi.
Just Wright: Queen Latifah falls in love with Common, but he only loves the skinny girls. Or maybe not. [trailer] review to come

If you can’t make it to the multiplex, try:

Last Holiday (2007): Not a great movie, but a great showcase for the awesomeness that is Queen Latifah.
Brown Sugar (2002): Another rom-com from Wright writer Michael Elliot, and also featuring Queen Latifah, though not as a romantic lead…
Street Kings (2008): I totally don’t remember Common in this, but it’s a highly intriguing, if difficult, movie that’s been overlooked.
Dogfight (1991): One of the very few films to explicitly tackle the strange notion that some men have that some women — because of how they look — don’t deserve love and romance.

Letters to Juliet: Amanda Seyfried is soooo pretty! Also: Yes, people over 40 — or 60! — are still interested in romance. Surprise! [trailer] review to come

If you can’t make it to the multiplex, try:

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003): Ugly old hag Diane Lane finds romance in Italy.
Much Ado About Nothing (1993): More romance in Italy, Shakespeare style, via Kenneth Branagh. Quite possibly one of the most life-affirming movies ever.
Romeo + Juliet (1996): Why are people writing to Juliet, anyway? Because she had this awesome doomed romance. Baz Luhrmann investigates.
Tadpole (2002): Before director Gary Winick starting making crap rom-coms (13 Going on 30, Bride Wars, hopefully not Juliet), he made this indie, about a teenaged boy who falls in love with a much older woman.

U.S. AND CANADA/OPENING LIMITED

Princess Kaiulani: The last independent ruler of Hawaii. [trailer] review to come

Looking for Eric: Ken Loach’s new comedy. Will also be available on IFC on Demand.

Daddy Longlegs: Indie dramedy about fatherhood; also debuting on demand.

U.K.

Robin Hood: (see above)

Lebanon: Winner of the Golden Lion Award at the 2009 Venice Film Festival. Drama about four young tank soldiers during the 1982 First Lebanon war.

Vincere: Mussolini had a secret lover? (available on demand in the U.S.)

American: The Bill Hicks Story: Documentary about the comedian.


Where to buy/watch:
Brown Sugar [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Dogfight [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Gladiator [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Kingdom of Heaven [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Last Holiday [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Much Ado About Nothing [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
The Quick and the Dead [Region 1/U.S.] [watch on demand in the U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Robin and Marian [Region 1/U.S.] [watch on demand in the U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Romeo + Juliet [Region 1/U.S.] [watch on demand in the U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Street Kings [Region 1/U.S.] [watch on demand in the U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Tadpole [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Under the Tuscan Sun [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]



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