Your Guide To The Weekend Viewing:
1. THE LIVES OF OTHERS (political drama with Ulrich Mühe (right), Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch and Ulrich Turkur) Rated * * * 1/2 (out of 4): This 2007 Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Language film is set in East Berlin in 1984 and is one of the best films dealing with character transformations. With solid performances and a top-notch screenplay by director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.
2. EASTERN PROMISES (crime drama with Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel and Armin Mueller-Stahl) Rated * * * 1/2 (3.5 stars): Despite having the best parts of the movie chopped off at local cinemas, I am still giving it the rating I gave for its DVD (reviewed below). Terribly violent, but there are nice twists and insights into the Russian mob in London. Those interested in watching a nude Mortensen may want to get the DVD.
3. CLOVERFIELD (disaster drama with Mike Vogel, Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas and Michael Stahl-David) Rating: * * * 1/2 (3.5 stars): After months of curiosity over its teaser of a trailer, the monster that attacks New York is finally revealed. No, we are not disappointed over the hooha. It's a hit similar to "The Blair Witch Project" of 1999 with shaky camerawork.
4. SWEENEY TODD: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (musical with Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter and Alan Rickman) Rated * * * (3 stars): You won't be tapping your feet to the songs of this dark, macabre and bloody musical (adapted by Tim Burton from stephen Sondheim) but there are enough humour and wit to make it worthwhile. (Reviewed below).
5. AMERICAN GANGSTER (crime drama with Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Josh Brolin and Ted Levine) Rated: * * * 1/2 (3.5 stars): Two Oscar-winning stars, a gripping crime drama about a cop versus a black mobster, and insights into the drugs scene of the 70s. What more can we ask for? That the movie is not censored? (Reviewed below)
6. THE GAME PLAN (comedy with Dwayne Johnson, Roselyn Sanchez, Kyra Sedgwick and Madison Pettis) Rated: * * * (3 stars): See how a hotshot quarterback the likes of The Rock faces off against a cute Pettis who claims to be his daughter. A well-planned Disney family flick with all the ingredients of feel good fun and games. (Reviewed below)
PS: This piece is posted from Bloomington, Indiana USA, where the bloody temperature is 16 degrees below freezing. My missus and I are awaiting the arrival of our first grandchild due anytime now!