Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

The clock is ticking down on 2008, and as we ring out the old in time for the new, we here at Movie Dearest wish you all a happy and safe New Year's Eve. See you in 2009!

Women We Love: Ethel Merman

Object of our affection: Ethel Merman, actress/singer.

- She was the bold and brassy belter, known as "The Grande Dame of the Broadway stage", who originated such classic musical theater characters as Reno Sweeney (Anything Goes), Annie Oakley (Annie Get Your Gun) and Momma Rose (Gypsy).

- Hollywood never knew quite what to do with her though, and most of her legendary stage roles were given to other actresses for the film versions. However, she did recreate her Tony Award-winning performance in Call Me Madam for the big screen (and won the Golden Globe for it) and starred in such other movie musicals as Kid Millions, Alexander's Ragtime Band and There's No Business Like Show Business.

- Other memorable screen appearances include comedic roles in the all-star in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (a New Year's Eve favorite in my childhood) and Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood, plus voicing the wicked witch Mombi in the animated Journey Back to Oz and a scene-stealing cameo in Airplane!

- On television, she was Lola Lasagne on Batman, voiced Lilly Loraine in Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July and played Gopher's mother on The Love Boat.

- And of course, who could forget The Ethel Merman Disco Album.

Monthly Wallpaper - January 2009: 2008 - The Year in Film

What better way to start 2009 out right than to celebrate 2008 - The Year in Film all month long with January's Movie Dearest calendar wallpaper.

Twenty-eight of the best and brightest of this past year are represented — see how many you can name in the comments section below. And for more fun, identify the three stars who show up in the collage twice. Plus, bonus points for whoever names the guy who kinda appears twice.

Just click on the picture above to enlarge it to its 1024 x 768 size, then right click your mouse and select "Set as Background", and you're all set. If you want, you can also save it to your computer and set it up from there, or modify the size in your own photo-editing program if needed.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Latest in Theaters: Last But Not Least

The last two high profile movies of the year — Defiance and Good — have a lot in common. First off, they are both set in World War II-torn Europe. They also star two of our favorite leading men, Daniel Craig and Viggo Mortensen, respectively. Plus, Craig is joined by Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell, while Jason Issacs co-stars opposite Mortensen. Finally, they are both opening this week in limited release, just under the wire in time for award consideration.

To find out what films are playing in your area, visit Fandango - Search movie showtimes and buy tickets!

Tune in to TCM: Now That's Entertainment!

It will be all singing, all dancing on Turner Classic Movies this New Year's Eve. The channel celebrates the ringing in of 2009 with a special marathon of all three That's Entertainment! movies, plus That's Dancing! The festivities begin tomorrow night at 8:00 PM EST.

And in more Latest on TV news, CBS will broadcast this year's Kennedy Center Honors tonight at 9:00 PM EST. The 2008 honorees, who will be feted by a host of celebrities and entertainers, are acting legend Morgan Freeman, choreographer Twyla Tharp, country singer George Jones, rockers Peter Townshend and Roger Daltrey and the diva herself, Miss Barbra Streisand.

Awards Watch: National Film Registry 2008

You may recall back in June, Movie Dearest ran a poll asking for your votes on which gay-themed movie should be inducted into the National Film Registry this year, and Philadelphia was your choice. Well, the Library of Congress announced today this year's 25 inductees, and alas, the Tom Hanks AIDS drama was not on the list.

However, the NFR's Class of 2008 is not without some queer influences. In addition to the screen version of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and James Whales' The Invisible Man, there's the celluloid closet classic Johnny Guitar, starring Joan Crawford herself and directed by Nicholas Ray. And I suppose you could say Deliverance too ...

Aside from the experimental and amateur works that most people haven't heard of (let alone seen), the NFR's choices for the year (which now brings the total preserved films to an even 500) includes The Asphalt Jungle, A Face in the Crowd, Flower Drum Song, Hallelujah!, The Killers, The Pawnbroker, Sergeant York, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and The Terminator. See the comments section below for a quick look at all of this year's inductees.

The Latest on DVD: It Takes Two

Bruno Barreto's classic comedy Dona Flor and Her Two Husbandsfinally makes its DVD debut today in its original version. Upon its release in 1976, Dona Flor was the most successful film in Brazilian history, and earned nominations from both the Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards.

Sônia Braga stars as Flor, a woman married to a cad (José Wilker) who's good in the sack, but not much else. When he dies unexpectedly, Flor marries a kind but dull pharmacist (Mauro Mendonça) who treats her well ... except in bed. Flor's problem may be solved though when her dead (and nude) first husband begins to haunt her. If this all sounds familiar, Sally Field, James Caan, and Jeff Bridges starred in the Americanized 1982 remake Kiss Me Goodbye.

Check out the Latest on DVD widgets located in the sidebar for more of this week's new DVD releases available today from

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cinematic Crush: Montgomery Clift

Crush object: Montgomery Clift, actor.

- Beginning his career on the stage, he "trod the boards" on Broadway for ten years, including starring in the original productions of The Skin of Our Teeth and Our Town.

- Hollywood called, and he made his debut in The Search in 1948, earning him his first of four Academy Award nominations. Later that same year, he co-starred in the western classic Red River.

- Following The Heiress, he played George Eastman in A Place in the Sun and Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt in From Here to Eternity, resulting in his next two Oscar nods.

- During the filming of Raintree Country, he was involved in a car accident that would change his looks and his life. But he continued to work, starring in Lonelyhearts, The Young Lions, Suddenly, Last Summer, Wild River and The Misfits.

- His last Oscar nomination came for his riveting 12-minute performance in Judgment at Nuremberg. He did two more films — Freud and The Defector — prior to his tragic, untimely death in 1966 at age 46.

See more pictures of Montgomery Clift in The Back Room (NSFW).

Shop for Montgomery Clift movies, books and more at

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Reel Thoughts: Nazis, Nazis Everywhere!

No fewer than seven films out now feature Holocaust or Nazi atrocities, including The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Defiance, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and now Valkyrie and The Reader.

Despite all the negative publicity surrounding Tom Cruise in Valkyrie, Bryan Singer’s film manages to be a taut history lesson about a group of Germans who conspired to kill Hitler. Cruise plays Col. Claus Von Stauffenberg, whose love of Germany brought on a hatred of Hitler and the Nazis. The supporting cast, playing men who aided or tried to stop the plot to kill der Fuhrer, includes wonderful performers like Tom Wilkinson, Kenneth Branagh, Terence Stamp, Bill Nighy and Eddie Izzard.

History buffs already know about this plot to take down the Nazis, and I was familiar enough with it (as is everyone who knows what happened in Hitler’s bunker) to know how it turns out, but it was still enthralling to watch how the event unfolded. Cruise handles himself well, never seeming like a little boy playing dress-up, while his British costars give uniformly excellent performances. If you enjoy espionage films done with Singer’s particular flair, you might want to take a ride to Valkyrie.

Based on the acclaimed novel, The Reader features Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslet in an Oscar-worthy performance, as well as an extraordinary young man named David Kross. Kross plays Michael, Fiennes’ younger self, a fifteen year-old German schoolboy who falls in love with an enigmatic transit worker (Winslet). The two have a passionate affair, augmented by the woman’s constant desire to have the boy read to her. Years later, Michael is studying law and is shocked to find Hannah (Winslet) the main defendant in the trial he’s studying. How do you reconcile loving a person who is capable of inhuman acts? How do new generations of Germans overcome the horrors their elders allowed to happen?

The Reader has a wonderfully literate script by playwright David Hare and director Stephen Daldry does a wonderful job of keeping his audience off balance. Winslet, more so than in the depressing Revolutionary Road, gives a frighteningly complex performance, as a woman who committed vile acts in the name of honor and yet is sympathetic. Kross is engrossing as he portrays Michael’s sexual awakening and schoolboy heartbreak. Fiennes is given less showy work to do, and yet manages to explain with his performance what kind of a man Michael became. He is shut-off and distant, but finds himself forced to confront buried feelings.

The Reader is one of the best films of the year, and I think it will affect you profoundly if you let it.

UPDATE: The Reader and Valkyrieare now available on DVD and Blu-ray from

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

Film Art: Samuel L. Jackson Edition

Wow, it's true ... he is in every movie.

"Bad Mutha Wizard", acrylic painting by Dave MacDowall.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

In Memoriam, 2008

With 2008 coming to a close, it is time to take a look back at those we have lost in the past year. And, as always, Turner Classic Movies presents a classy, moving tribute to the many and varied talents whose work on the silver screen will always be cherished.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Reel Thoughts: Button It

If you ask yourself who directed Brad Pitt’s new film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, David Fincher wouldn’t be the first name on anyone’s lips. The sprawling, melancholy tale of a man who ages backwards over seventy years looks and feels like something Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard or even Robert Zemeckis could have directed.

It is a moving and meditative story about a man who craves affection his whole life, but is dealt such a perverse hand by fate that it is virtually impossible for him to find lifelong love and happiness. At the same time, his warm and positive spirit makes a profound impact on everyone he meets. It doesn’t hurt that he looks like Brad Pitt for a lot of the film, either.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a movie full of magical scenes and performances that only drags in the middle of its 167-minute length. Benjamin Button was born on Armistice Day, 1918, to a mother who died in childbirth and a father who was so repulsed by the shriveled, ancient looking baby, he abandoned him on a stranger’s steps. Queenie (played the amazing Taraji P. Henson), who runs an old folk’s home in New Orleans, becomes his surrogate mother and gives him a loving foundation for the rest of his life.

One day, Benjamin meets a girl named Daisy (first played by Elle Fanning and then Cate Blanchett), and they form a lifelong bond, even when apart. Pitt gives a great performance, especially early on, through his affair with Tilda Swinton as a lonely diplomat’s wife. Blanchett is even more amazing, playing her character at all stages from youthful narcissism to end of life clarity, and she deserves an Oscar nomination.

Fincher has created a breathtakingly beautiful film, and is ably assisted by composer Alexandre Desplat, whose gorgeous score elevates every scene and deserves to win the Academy Award. Toward the middle of the film, when Benjamin goes out to find himself, the momentum lags and I found myself wondering, “How many years are left until we’re back in Hurricane Katrina-whipped Louisiana?” (where the story’s framing device takes place). The last portion of the film, featuring Blanchett’s finest work, is almost beyond sad but a very satisfying movie-going experience.

I don’t feel that the film gave enough justification for being set during Katrina, and its episodic nature sometimes felt like a less-contrived Forrest Gump, which isn’t surprising since Eric Roth wrote the screenplays for both. Still, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a haunting cinematic experience that is equal parts romance and wistfulness. Its lasting message is to enjoy every wonderful moment life gives you and not to settle for less.

UPDATE: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

Out in Film: Bryan Singer

Idol worship: Bryan Singer, director/writer/producer.

- His second feature film, The Usual Suspects, became an instant crime classic upon its release in 1994, winning two Academy Awards.

- He followed that hit up with the controversial Apt Pupil, starring Ian McKellen and Brad Renfro.

- Even though he was never a comic book fan, his biggest success came with the first two blockbuster chapters of the popular superhero saga X-Men, as well as Superman Returns.

- For television, he is the executive producer (and sometimes director) of House and Dirty Sexy Money.

- His most recent project, Valkyrie, is in theaters this week, and he is still attached to the next Superman movie, Man of Steel.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt: 1927-2008

Eartha Kitt, legendary performer of stage and screen, died today at the age of 81.

Known for her distinctive voice and catlike purr, Kitt became famous in the 1950's with such recordings as "C'est Si Bon" and the holiday standard "Santa Baby", and even more so as the ultimate "sex kitten", Catwoman, on the 60's camp classic Batman. A fixture on the international cabaret scene for decades, she also made a name for herself on Broadway, earning Tony Award nominations for Timbuktu! and The Wild Party.

In more recent years, Kitt could be seen in such films as Boomerang, Harriet the Spy and Holes, and memorably voiced the villainous Yzma in Disney's The Emperor's New Groove. She won an Annie Award for her performance and reprised it in the movie's video and television spin-offs, winning two more Annies as well as two Emmys.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays from Movie Dearest!

From the Movie Dearest family to yours, wishing you a happy and safe holiday season!

The Latest in Theaters: Seasons Screenings

There's all sorts of movies opening on just about every day this week, making a very bountiful (and busy) time for movie fans of all kinds:
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Brad Pitt is born old and ages backward, romancing Cate Blanchett along the way, in David Fincher's adaptation of a F. Scott Fitzgerald short story.
  • Revolutionary Road: Titanic lovebirds Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet reunite for this not-so-happily-ever-after tale of suburban ennui, directed by Sam Mendes.
  • The Spirit: Gabriel Macht is the title crime fighter in Frank Miller's heavily stylized take on the iconic Will Eisner comic.
  • Valkyrie: Tom Cruise takes on Hitler in this World War II-set thriller from director Bryan Singer.
  • Waltz with Bashir: Ari Folman's autobiographical documentary about his involvement in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Oh, and it's animated.
  • Last Chance Harvey: Dustin Hoffman finds love with Emma Thompson in this romantic dramedy for those who liked The Bucket List.
  • Marley & Me: Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston and an unruly dog. Gooey hilarity ensues.
  • Bedtime Stories: Adam Sandler discovers the titular tales he tells to two tykes come true in this family friendly fantasy.
  • Pageant: A documentary look at five fabulous men competing in the Miss Gay America pageant.
To find out what films are playing in your area, visit Fandango - Search movie showtimes and buy tickets!

Women We Love: Melinda Dillon

Object of our affection: Melinda Dillon, actress.

- She was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance of Honey in the original Broadway production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

- Although it was her third feature film, she received a Golden Globe nomination for "Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture" for Bound for Glory.

- Academy Award nominations came for her supporting roles in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Absence of Malice.

- Other films she has appeared in include Slap Shot, Songwriter, Harry and the Hendersons, The Prince of Tides, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, How to Make an American Quilt, Magnolia, Adam & Steve and Reign Over Me.

- But it as Ralphie's mom in the beloved yuletide classic A Christmas Story that she is most known. Never seen it? Well, you'll have plenty of chances to spend the holidays with the Parkers starting tomorrow night on TBS as they present their annual 24-hour Christmas Story marathon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tune in to TCM: Christmas Cheers

Continuing their holiday week salute to festive film favorites, Turner Classic Movies will present a 24-hour Christmas Eve marathon tomorrow. Films scheduled for the all-day event include the 1938 Reginald Owen A Christmas Carol, Christmas in Connecticut starring Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan, Holiday Affair with Robert Mitchum, Loretta Young as The Bishop's Wife and (of course) Meet Me in St. Louis.

The festivities continue on Christmas Day with a trio of Biblical epics: The Greatest Story Ever Told, King of Kings and Ben-Hur. That's a total of 595 minutes of running time, folks, so take it easy on the eggnog.

The Latest on DVD: Mommie Queerest

After the groundbreaking Swoon, it took director Tom Kalin awhile to make another movie, yet his Savage Graceis just as controversial as his first feature.

Based on a true story, Julianne Moore stars as Barbara Daly Baekeland, a wealthy socialite whose dysfunctional/incestuous relationship with her gay son Antony (Eddie Redmayne) leads to murder. Stephen Dillane plays the husband/father while Hugh Dancy beds them both ... at the same time (although the real Sam Green denies that ever happened).

Check out the Latest on DVD widgets located in the sidebar for more of this week's new DVD releases available today from

Robert Mulligan: 1925-2008

Robert Mulligan, the Academy Award nominated director of To Kill a Mockingbird, died Friday at the age of 83.

In addition to Mockingbird, other notable films he helmed include Fear Strikes Out, Love with the Proper Stranger, Inside Daisy Clover, Up the Down Staircase, Summer of '42 (which he also narrated), Same Time, Next Year, Kiss Me Goodbye, Clara's Heart and The Man in the Moon.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cinematic Crush: Leonardo DiCaprio

Crush object: Leonardo DiCaprio, actor.

- His career began inauspiciously on the sitcom Growing Pains and in such movies as Critters 3 and Poison Ivy. Nevertheless, he soon proved his acting chops with strong dramatic turns in This Boy's Life and What's Eating Gilbert Grape, which landed him his first Academy Award nomination.

- Following the western The Quick and the Dead, he took on two literary roles in The Basketball Diaries (Jim Carroll) and Total Eclipse (Arthur Rimbaud) as well as two stage adaptations, William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet and Marvin's Room.

- But it was a little movie called Titanic that made him an international superstar. As the ill-fated Jack Dawson, he memorably bellowed, "I'm the king of the world!" and romanced the lovely Kate Winslet.

- After The Man With the Iron Mask and The Beach, he teamed up with Steven Spielberg for Catch Me If You Can and Martin Scorsese for Gangs of New York, The Aviator and The Departed. His performance as Howard Hughes in The Aviator won him a Golden Globe and his second Oscar nomination.

- His third Oscar nod was for Blood Diamond, and he also produced and hosted the documentary The 11th Hour. This year, he has already starred in Body of Lies, and reunites with his Titanic love Winslet for Revolutionary Road, in theaters this week.

The Latest on TV: Return to Grey Gardens

Albert Maysles returns to familiar territory with Grey Gardens: From East Hampton to Broadway, a new documentary that will begin airing tomorrow night on PBS' Independent Lens (check local listings for exact dates and showtimes in your area).

As the title suggest, the hour-long program "unfolds the creative journey" that turned the cult classic Grey Gardens from non-fiction film to Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. In addition to a look behind-the-scenes and performance footage, the doc includes interviews with the creators and cast (such as the original stage Little Edie, Christine Ebersole) and even an interview with Maysles himself.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Here's something for you last minute gift shoppers out there: a singing goat! Oh, it's not just any singing goat ... press her leg and she’ll break into "The Lonely Goatherd" from The Sound of Music — key-change and all!

And not only will your purchase benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, you can also take along your newfound friend to the next "Sing-a-Long Sound of Music". All the drag queen nuns will be green with envy.

Tune in to TCM: Happy Hanukkah

Turner Classic Movies is celebrating the start of Hanukkah tomorrow night with a mini-marathon of inspirational Jewish-themed films.

Otto Preminger's Exodus (starring Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint and an Oscar nominated Sal Mineo) tells of the post-WWII birth of Israel. For a lighter subject, Barbra Streisand stars as a girl disguised as a boy who falls in love with a boy but marries a girl in her musical version of Yentl. Wrapping up the evening, Topol is Tevye in Norman Jewison's film adaptation of the Broadway classic Fiddler on the Roof.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

MD Poll: Global Conflicts

"OK Joan, you can let go of it now ... Joan ...?"

The last MD Poll of 2008 is dedicated to this year's Golden Globe nominations and asks you to pick which of the nominees for Best Picture — both in the Drama and Comedy or Musical categories — will take home the prize.

The polls — which can be voted on in the sidebar at right — will run for three weeks, ending on January 10, the day before the big night.

And be sure to vote in both polls!

UPDATE: These polls are now closed; click here for the results, and click here to vote in the latest MD Poll.

MD Poll: Hang a Shining Star

"Faithful friends who are dear to us" named the classic Judy Garland holiday chestnut "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" their favorite Christmas movie song in the latest MD Poll. In fact, the Meet Me in St. Louis tune (by Kerry Mills and Andrew Sterling) received over 50% of the votes.

Irving Berlin's Oscar winning "White Christmas" (from Holiday Inn) came in second, the only other song to rake in double digits. In fact, three of the choices received no votes at all (see the comments section below for the full stats), proving that to most of us, we like our Christmas carols a little bittersweet.

Click here to vote in the latest MD Poll.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Out in Film: Stephen Spinella

Idol worship: Stephen Spinella, actor.

- For his role as Prior Walter in Tony Kushner's seminal, two-part "gay fantasia" Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Angels in America: Perestroika, he won two back-to-back Tony Awards, the only time that has happened for playing the same character.

- He was also Tony nominated for the musical James Joyce's The Dead. Other Broadway shows he has starred in include A View from a Bridge, Our Town and Spring Awakening.

- His screen debut was in another landmark production about AIDS, the TV movie version of Randy Shilts' And the Band Played On. He has also guest starred on such programs as Frasier, Alias, Will & Grace, Grey's Anatomy, 24, Nip/Tuck, Heroes, ER and Desperate Housewives.

- On film, he has appeared in Virtuosity, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Great Expectations, Cradle Will Rock and Connie and Carla.

- He can currently be seen in Milk, wherein he plays Rick Stokes, Harvey Milk's political opponent for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Making the Yuletide Gay

With the holidays upon us, we felt that it was time to open up the Movie Dearest Videodrone vault for some old Christmas favorites:
Please note: some videos are slightly NSFW due to some naughty language.

Music to Raise the Dead By

If you too are still bummed by the cancellation of Pushing Daisies, then this news should cheer you up a bit: an official soundtrack albumwill be released this Sunday!

In addition to Jim Dooley's compositions for the series (including the opening theme), the disc will also feature the vocals of Broadway stage faves Ellen Greene and Kristin Chenoweth singing songs heard on the show, including the former's heart-breaking "Morning Has Broken" and the latter's show-stopping rendition of "Hopelessly Devoted to You". The two are also heard dueting on the upbeat "Birdhouse in Your Soul".

However, it looks like this soundtrack is just for the first season, as it doesn't include Chenoweth's version of The Bangles' classic "Eternal Flame", heard on the series a few week's back. Is it to much to hope for a volume two?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Reverend’s Reviews: Dickens Meets Bollywood

The holiday season has proven over the decades to be a lucrative time for cinematic adaptations of the works of Charles Dickens. Not coincidentally, the concurrent Hollywood award season has bestowed blessings upon past versions of Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol, to name a few of the author’s classic novels.

Slumdog Millionaire has been anointed the best picture of 2008 by several major critics’ groups, and Oscar nominations seem more than likely. While it isn’t based on a Dickens book, it owes a lot to the master. A cross between Oliver! and Salaam Bombay, it depicts a former street urchin’s eventful rise to the upper ranks of society thanks his to unlikely success on a TV game show. Only the location is unique, with the story playing out in Mumbai and other parts of India rather than merry olde England.

À la Dickens, there is no shortage of orphans, child-exploiting opportunists, prostitutes, abusive government agents and lower-class citizens pining for social achievement in Slumdog Millionaire. While one can’t deny the engrossing technical accomplishments of director Danny Boyle, editor Chris Dickens (any relation?) and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle as they weave their tale — which is actually based on Vikas Swarup’s novel Q&A — there’s a familiarity about the story and characters that makes the film utterly predictable.

We are reminded so frequently of how pre-destined the lifelong love is between Jamal (the rather dull Dev Patel) and Latika (similarly pretty-but-bland Freida Pinto) that it drains any suspense from the latter part of the film. In the same fashion, viewers are virtually guaranteed of Jamal’s climactic win on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? long in advance because we are repeatedly told “It is written.”

Anil Kapoor gives the best performance in the film as the game show’s host, a Regis Philbin-from-hell who is the most complex character in the script. With its colorful style and happy ending, Slumdog Millionaire is emerging as an audience-pleaser as well as an obvious critics’ darling. Just don’t go see it thinking you’re going to be told an original story.

UPDATE: Slumdog Millionaire is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

The Latest in Theaters: A Mouse, a Wrestler and Jim Carrey

Consider this the not-quite-so-calm before the "Opens on Christmas Day" storm:
  • The Tale of Despereaux: Matthew Broderick voices a resourceful mouse who protects a princess (Emma Watson) from a vengeful rat (Dustin Hoffman) in this charming animated fantasy.
  • The Wrestler: It has been described as Rocky as directed by Scorsese; Mickey Rourke as the title character battles his demons in and out of the ring in this Darren Aronofsky drama co-starring Marisa Tomei.
  • Yes Man: Jim Carrey returns to familiar territory in this Liar, Liar-esque high concept comedy (co-starring the always-winsome Zooey Deschanel) about a guy who just can't say "no".
  • Seven Pounds: Will Smith and his Pursuit of Happyness team reunite for another uplifting story about a man struggling to atone for an auto accident that claimed the lives of seven people.
  • Nothing But the Truth: Loosely based on the Judith Miller scandal, Kate Beckinsale is a reporter sent to prison for not giving up the name of her source (Vera Farmiga). Matt Dillon also stars.
  • The Class: This French pseudo-documentary chronicling a year in a Paris classroom won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival and is France's official entry at the Academy Awards.
To find out what films are playing in your area, visit Fandango - Search movie showtimes and buy tickets!

Majel Barrett Roddenberry: 1932-2008

Majel Barrett Roddenberry, the "First Lady of Star Trek", passed away this morning at the age of 76.

Roddenberry, who was married to Trek creator Gene Roddenberry from 1969 until his death in 1991, was a part of the Trek universe for over 40 years. She played several different characters in many of its various incarnations, most notably Nurse Christine Chapel in the original series (as well as the animated series and two movies), Lwaxana Troi (the randy mother of The Next Generation's Deanna) and the voice of the ships' computers. Her final role will be in that capacity in the upcoming J.J. Abrams movie.

Awards Watch: SAGs Filled with Doubt

With five nods, Doubt leads the Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations, announced this morning. All four of the religious drama's main actors — Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis — received individual mentions, as well as en masse in the ensemble category.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Milk came in second, with three nominations each, including Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture as well. Joining these three in the top category are Frost/Nixon and Slumdog Millionaire. See the comments section below for a quick look at all the film nominations.

The 15th Annual SAG Awards will be presented live on both TNT and TBS on January 25.