A Christmas Carol (Walt Disney): An animated retelling of the Charles Dickens novel about a Victorian-era miser (Jim Carrey) taken on a journey of self-redemption, courtesy of several mysterious Christmas apparitions. Written and directed by Robert Zemeckis, it stars Carrey in a variety of roles, including Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghosts who haunt him.
It was filmed using the performance capture techniques Zemeckis previously used in The Polar Express (2004) and Beowulf (2007). Disney will be expecting healthy box office after a big marketing push and audience familiarity with the story. [BFI IMAX, Empire Leicester Sq., Trocadero Picc Circus & Nationwide / PG]
The Men Who Stare At Goats (Momentum Pictures): Loosely adapted from Jon Ronson’s non-fiction book about a secret Army unit founded in 1979 called the ‘First Earth Battalion’ who conducted paranormal experiments, which included staring at goats in order to kill them.
The film uses a fictional framing narrative of an Ann Arbor journalist (Ewan McGregor) who hears about these strange practices when he covers the Iraq war in 2003 and encounters a former member of the unit (George Clooney).
An excellent supporting cast includes Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey and Stephen Lang. Although director Grant Heslov doesn’t always get the mix right between comedy and drama, there are enough funny set pieces here to chew on. Read my full thoughts on the film here.
Momentum will be hoping the starry cast will boost ticket sales but the oddness of the story and heavy competition might dent its grosses. [Coronet Notting Hill, Screen On The Green, Vue West End & Nationwide / 12A]
Bright Star (Warner Bros./Pathe): Director Jane Campion returns with this lush period drama based on the three-year romance between 19th century poet John Keats (Ben Wishaw) and Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), which was cut short by Keats’ untimely death at age 25.
It has screened to some acclaim on the festival circuit since premièring at Cannes back in May and many are tipping it for Oscar recognition. Critical buzz and word of mouth amongst discerning audiences could help it achieve decent art house business, with multiplex crossover in some areas. [Nationwide / PG]
Jennifer’s Body (20th Century Fox): A comedy horror about a newly possessed cheerleader (Megan Fox) who turns into a killer who specializes in offing her male classmates, much to the dismay of her best friend (Amanda Seyfried).
A massive creative misfire all-round, despite the talents of screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno) and director Karyn Kusama (Girlfight). Fox will be hoping to snare gullible teens but audiences will be disappointed when they see what a bad film it is. [Nationwide / 15]
The Fourth Kind (Entertainment): ‘Fact’ based thriller involving an ongoing unsolved mystery in Alaska, where one town has seen an extraordinary number of unexplained disappearances during the past 40 years and there are accusations of a federal cover up [Nationwide / 18]
Directed by Nicholas Jasenovec, it is a drama/documentary hybrid starring Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera as themselves. Sort of. [Odeon Panton Street & Key Cities / PG]
1 Day (Vertigo Films): The first ever British hip hop musical about a hustler named Flash set amongst young rappers in Birmingham. It should be noted that it is directed by Penny Woolcock who has made two of the worst films of all time (The Principles of Lust and Mischief Night). [Nationwide / 15]
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno (Park Circus): A part documentary and part reconstruction of the 1964 film Henri-Georges Clouzot never made. [Cine Lumiere, ICA Cinema & Key Cities / 15]
Welcome (Cinefile): Drama about a Kurdish boy from Iraq who sets off on a journey across Europe. [Curzon Renoir & selected Key Cities/ 15]
> UK cinema releases for November 2009
> DVD & Blu-ray picks for this week including Wallace and Gromit: The Complete Collection, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Proposition and The Wizard of Oz (W/C Monday 2nd November 2009)