Weekend Movie Forecast: Frost/Nixon, Cadillac Records

<em>Frost/Nixon</em> stars Frank Langella as Richard Nixon and Michael Sheen as broadcast journalist David Frost in a dramatic retelling of the landmark interviews three years after Tricky Dick resigned. <a href="">David Denby at The New Yorker</a>, a self-described Nixon-hater, writes, "One of the virtues of Ron Howard’s adaptation of Peter Morgan’s hit play is that it brings the intelligence back to the forefront without dispelling the elements of menace and fraudulence that were also part of Nixon’s temperament... "<em>Frost/Nixon</em> offers considerable insight into the Nixon mystery, without solving it; the movie is fully absorbing and even, when Nixon falls into a drunken, resentful rage, exciting, <strong>but I can’t escape the feeling that it carries about it an aura of momentousness that isn’t warranted by the events."</strong>

<em>Cadillac Records</em> stars Jeffrey Wright (<em>Basquiat</em>) as Muddy Waters in a portrait of Chicago's golden age of blues. <a href="">A.O. Scott at the Times</a> calls it "rollicking and insightful...[Wright's] feat is made even more impressive and interesting when you reflect that in the same movie season Mr. Wright has portrayed another notable real-life African-American, the former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in Oliver Stone’s <em>W.</em> <strong>The man is equally credible as a statesman and a bluesman. If that’s not range, what is?"</strong> Scott adds that "<em>Cadillac Records</em> would be worth seeing for the music alone. Mr. Wright’s renditions of Muddy Waters’s signature songs are more than respectable, while [Beyonce] Knowles’s interpretations of [Etta] James’s hits — 'At Last' and 'I’d Rather Go Blind,' in particular — are downright revelatory."

<em>The Black Balloon</em> tells the story of a middle class Australian family coping with an autistic eldest son. <a href="">Scott Foundas at the Village Voice</a> writes: Produced for what was likely a day's Botox budget on Baz Luhrmann's <em>Australia</em>, the auspicious Oz import <em>The Black Balloon</em> comes on like a <em>Rain Man </em>for the <em>High School Musical</em> set, but quickly establishes itself as <strong>that rare 'disease movie' in which the disorder in question is mined neither for mawkish sentimentality nor ersatz inspirationalism.</strong>"Perhaps because Down herself grew up with two autistic siblings, she brings a decidedly piss-(and-shit)-and-vinegar approach to the story of shy Queensland teen Thomas (Rhys Wakefield), who has enough trouble fitting in at his new high school and returning the flirtation of his comely phys-ed classmate (stunning, saucer-eyed newcomer Gemma Ward) without the interference of his shortbus-riding autistic brother (Luke Ford, who acts the part with total conviction)."

<p>The third installment in the comic book-turned-movie series "Punisher" is out! Exclamation points don't get much more sarcastic than that. Or, as the Times's <a href="">A.O. Scott writes</a>: "'Who punishes you?' someone asks Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson), better known as the Punisher, in the punishing new entertainment called <em>Punisher: War Zone.</em> <strong>It’s a fair enough question, but the one I had as I sat through 107 bloody, grinding minutes was a little different: What did I ever do to deserve this?...Does it have to be so witless, so stupid, so openly contemptuous of the very audience it’s supposed to be pandering to? "</strong></p>

<a href="">Nathan Lee at the Times</a> can't tolerate <em>Let Them Chirp Awhile</em>, an indie about the ennui of over-privileged New York hipsters prone to complaining about the how "the old city, like the one that I dreamed about, the one from the movies. It’s not there anymore." Lee writes: "Written and directed by Jonathan Blitstein, the movie really does live in an imaginary past, the one immortalized in classic Woody Allen films. How else to explain why Bobby and his circle of friends name-drop Chekhov, pontificate on Bergman, crack tired jokes about Los Angeles and spend all their time either failing at relationships or kvetching about their inadequacies while whimsical jazz coos on the soundtrack? <strong>This sort of thing was indulgent enough the first time around; transplanted to the mumblecore milieu, it’s intolerable."</strong>

<p>In <em>Nobel Son</em>, Alan Rickman plays an egomaniacal Nobel Prize-winning chemist whose son is kidnapped and held for $2 million ranson, which Rickman is not so eager to hand over. <a href="">Roger Ebert says</a> it's "all entertaining. The plot by itself could have become tiresome; no audience enjoys spending all evening walking into stone walls. <strong>But the acting is another matter. Rickman supplies the crown jewel in the cast, but Mary Steenburgen is no less amusing as his wife, Sarah."</strong></p>

<p>Federico Fellini's 1974 Oscar-winning film <em>Amarcord</em> is screening at <a href="">Film Forum</a> for the next two weeks. <a href="">Writing for the Village Voice</a>, Lance Goldenberg says, "Essentially 123 minutes of things falling apart, often grotesquely but also beautifully, <em>Amarcord</em> takes place during the 1930s in Rimini, the little seaside village where Fellini grew up...As earthy as it is episodic, much of <em>Amarcord</em> comes off like a series of loosely connected vaudeville routines, its players pumped up into a realm of caricature where gestures and emotions are as outsized as those famously enormous butts and breasts so dear to the director's heart.<strong> But what positions the film among Fellini's greatest are its punctuation points of mysterious beauty..."</strong></p>

<p>The <a href="">Sunshine is screening</a> Tim Burton's<em> The Nightmare Before Christmas</em> at midnight tonight and Saturday night.</p>

<p>The <a href="">IFC Center</a> screens Joel Schumacher's 1987 teen vampire flick <em>The Lost Boys</em> at midnight tonight and Saturday night.</p>