By Jennifer Merin
WeNews film critic
Monday, October 26, 2009
November has a lot of movies in store, but one of the prize winners is "Precious." Some wonder whether the movie has to be so harsh, but Jennifer Merin says judge for yourself and witness a great performance by Mariah Carey, too.
On Nov. 18, John Woo's Chinese history-based epic "Red Cliff" opens. It is a beautifully shot, costumed and choreographed martial arts and war strategy extravaganza that focuses on the exploits of rival warriors during civil war. Wei Zhao plays a strong female character, the noble Sun Shangxiang, who insists on going to war with her brothers and, in time, turns the tide on a famous naval battle.
Spanish director Pedro Almodovar's "Broken Embraces" opens Nov. 20 in New York, with a Dec. 11 release in Los Angeles. It's actually less femme-centric than many his other recent films, such as "All About My Mother" (1999), "Talk To Her" (2002) and "Volver" (2006). But central to the intriguing plot is a troubled and mysterious woman brilliantly played by Penelope Cruz, the lead in many of Almodovar's films.
"The Twilight Saga: New Moon" is the second feature based on Stephanie Meyer's novels about young vampires. Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg wrote the script, as she did for the first film, "Twilight." But this time "Twilight's" director, Catherine Hardwicke, was overlooked and the project went to Chris Weitz ("American Pie," 1999, "About a Boy," 2002, and "The Golden Compass," 2007) instead. Some fans will be watching closely to see how the change in directors may affect the production.
In "Until the Light Takes Us," documentarians Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites delve into the ideology of Norway's underground and highly controversial Black Metal music movement and its history of violence, including a series of murders and church burnings. The musicians aren't vampires, but it's a dark tale indeed.
November's second eagerly anticipated femme-centric film is "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee," opening Nov. 23 in New York and Los Angeles, with a wider release on Dec. 11. Written and directed by Rebecca Miller ("The Ballad of Jack and Rose," 2005), the film centers on Pippa (Robin Wright Penn), a well-to-do, happily married 50-year-old woman whose husband, 30 years her senior, decides they will relinquish their exciting New York City life and relocate to a retirement community. Here he has an affair with a younger woman. It's enough to make any woman fall apart and Pippa does, revealing surprising aspects of her personality and her past.
From Walt Disney Pictures, "The Princess and the Frog" is a holiday season animated 3-D fairytale about a young girl named Princess Tiana, who lives in New Orleans during the city's heyday of jazz. Princess Tiana is Disney's first African American animated lead princess. The film is a music-clad, girl-driven animated fable that could be great for kids.
In addition to covering film for Women's eNews, Jennifer Merin writes about documentaries for About.com (http://documentaries.About.com) and is president of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists (www.AWFJ.org), a nonprofit organization of the leading women film journalists in the U.S. and Canada.