Christmas Weekend Movie Forecast: <em>Holmes</em> Vs. <em>Parnassus</em>

<p>The latest addition to the <em>Sherlock Holmes</em> canon comes courtesy of Guy Ritchie, who directs Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams in a big-budget production. At first glance, it looks like typical slick Guy Ritchie bullshit, but <a href="">The Playlist says</a>, "Warner Bros. has done an aces job of hiding what they actually have in <em>Sherlock Holmes</em>—a competently intelligent, dark and dynamic action thriller—and managed to sell it as a more-appealing adventure buddy comedy. And yes, while the film does contain elements of that—it's occasionally goofy—it's much more genuinely amusing and satisfying than we would have imagined (yes, we were wrong and happy to admit it, but hey, with a 7/11 Tacquitos tie-in, cornball trailers and terrible posters, you have to admit they hoodwinked us all)."</p><p></p>On the other hand, <a href="">Benjamin Strong at L Mag</a> writes, "Shit.<em> Sherlock. </em>Guy Ritchie’s polite take on everyone’s favorite Victorian sleuth is one stolid English affair, a would-be franchise starter as devoid of its leading man’s eccentricities as its director’s oft-underrated visual pizzazz... Instead of black magic to frighten us, Ritchie concocts a steampunk version of a weapon of mass destruction...<strong>and gives us the unsettling spectacle of Downey looking bored with his own subdued, appallingly conventional performance."</strong>

<p>Terry Gilliam's <a href=""><em>The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus</em></a> finally hits screens on Christmas, after the production was nearly scuttled following the <a href="">death of star Heath Ledger</a>. (Gilliam talked with Gothamist about it <a href="">in a recent interview</a>.) The story concerns the wizened Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) and his extraordinary Imaginarium, a traveling show where members of the audience pay to pass through a magic mirror and enter a world of their own imagination. But times are tough for Parnassus and his troupe when the film begins (the public is more interested in iPods than imagination), and it only gets tougher with the appearance of Tom Waits, who's perfectly cast as the devil to whom Parnassus wagered his daughter's life, centuries ago. </p><p></p>It's visually sumptuous, quintessential Gilliam, replete with a traveling sideshow, a dwarf, and a hallucinatory alternate dimension on the other side of the Looking Glass. Instead of leaving Ledger's last film on the cutting room floor, Gilliam devised an elegant solution, enlisting the help of Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell to portray Ledger's character within the fantastical world of the Imaginarium. It actually works within the context of the story, and while it's impossible to watch the film without thinking of Ledger's untimely end, the game-saving participation of Depp, Law, and Farrell brings a surprising poignancy to the final act.

<p>Meryl Streep has already been nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in <em>It's Complicated</em> (also Golden Globe-nominated for Best Comedy or Muscail), the latest chick flick from Nancy Meyers, who also wrote and directed <em>Something's Gotta Give</em> and <em>The Holiday</em>. Streep plays Jane who has an affair with her married-to-a-much-younger-woman ex-husband, played by Alex Baldwin. Naturally, hijinks ensue! </p><p></p> Entertainment Weekly's <a href=",,20326478,00.html">Lisa Schwartzbaum says</a>, "<em>It's Complicated</em> is middle-aged porn, the specialty of Meyers... Specifically, the movie is middle-aged femme porn. Not that there's anything wrong with that, au contraire, but let's understand one another: This is a fantasy about a triumphant ex-wife desired all over again by her ex-husband. And for icing on the gâteau, she's admired by a second cute, successful, eligible man, too—played by Steve Martin, no less! <strong> This is the stuff of Santa Barbara book-group literature.</strong>"

<em>Police, Adjective</em>, the latest from Romanian filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu (1<em>2:08 East of Bucharest</em>), is about a detective assigned to investigate a trio of teenagers who've been reported for smoking weed. <a href="">J. Hoberman at the Village Voice</a> calls it "a philosophical crime film that, as the investigation of an investigation, substitutes irony for suspense.<p></p>"With its series of apparently absurd routines, shot (Romanian-style) in long takes and real-time, Police, Adjective has something of the deadpan theatricality of early Jim Jarmusch—not only in its framing, but its dialogue: Words are carefully parsed; every conversation has its own logic. In the first of two set pieces, the detective returns home and is irritated to find his wife at the computer, watching and rewatching a YouTube performance of an inane pop song."

<p>In <em>Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel</em>, the chipmunks go to High School and, while holding a fundraiser to save the music program or something, "discover that they aren't the only chipmunks who can sing." There are three smokin' girl chipmunks, called Chipettes! Hey everybody, we're all gonna get laid? During <a href="">our last interview with comic David Cross</a>, the <em>Arrested Development </em>star explained his involvement in the project: "Unfortunately I am contractually obligated to do the Alvin movie. There is nothing however in my contract that says I can't show up to work stinking drunk everyday though, so I'll have the last laugh. I truly wasn't looking forward to shooting it until I heard they were calling it, "a Squeakel" then I was like, "Yeah motherfuckers!! I love puns!!!!"</p><p></p>USA Today's <a href="">Claudia Puig writes</a>, "Falling gags are unfunny enough, but the bathroom humor that follows is no improvement. A 'Dutch Oven' gag is particularly silly and base. And the evil Ian (David Cross) is punished with an assault to his manhood for putting chipmunks in a cage and threatening to barbecue them — or is it for his arrogance and bad dancing?... In fact, it seems as if no professional actors were hired in the making of this motion picture."

<p>Starting tomorrow and continuing through December 26, the IFC Center is <a href="">showing The Flaming Lips' <em>Christmas on Mars</em></a> at midnight.</p>

<p>To the Delorean and the flux capacitor! The Landmark Sunshine goes <a href=""><em>Back to the Future</em></a> with its midnight movie on Christmas Day and December 26.</p>

<p>Starting on Saturday, the Film Society of Lincoln Center brings favorite films <a href="">"Back By Popular Demand."</a> Acclaimed war drama and Golden Globe nominee <em>The Hurt Locker</em> screens on Sunday and next Wednesday; other selections include Tarkovsky's <em>Solaris</em>, Orson Welles's <em>Macbeth</em>, and the recent French-Belgian film <em>Seraphine</em>, whose star was just named best actress by the LA Film Critics Circle.</p>