The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

R for smoldering rage, barren wintry landscapes, surprisingly hard-to-read text

Release Date: December 20, 2011


Oh, you dastardly trailer.

You, with your fast cuts and your propulsive music and your total lack of narrative.

You know we haven’t read the book yet, don’t you, trailer? You know it’s sitting there unopened on our shelf, and you’re refusing to mention plot points because you’re still trying to guilt us into reading the novel.

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Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

PG-13 for improbable stunts, logic-defying plot twists, and action sequences that border on – dare we say it? – impossible

Release Date: December 16

On the one hand: an aging franchise, a title evidently drawn from Ghostbusters fanfiction, and a 49-year-old Scientologist still masquerading as an action star.

On the other: director Brad Bird, best known for The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Continue reading

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

R for mind games, spies spying on spies, chess pieces that may or may not symbolize something

Release Date: December 9, 2011

The winter’s most hotly anticipated list of occupations, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy promises cerebral thrills–the best kind–and British intrigue–the second-best kind, after who-stole-the-cookies intrigue.

Gary Oldman stars as a spy forced out of retirement because his glasses frames have grown to dangerous sizes, and also because he has to find a Russian mole. Colin Firth appears in the trailer as a brief talking head, and as a prominent name next to the phrase ACADEMY AWARD WINNER, presumably to remind Gary Oldman that he has never been nominated and thereby to keep Oldman from getting cocky about the whole being-a-great-actor thing.

Young Adult

R for immaturity, life lessons not learned, pretty people acting ugly

Release Date: December 9, 2011


Some people are thankful for family. Personally, I’m more thankful for nepotism.

Why? Because nepotism brought us a boy named Jason, the son of director Ivan Reitman. Jason’s first three films – Thank You For Smoking, Juno, and Up in the Air – stand as testament to the fact that sometimes the most talented young artists come from the most predictably famous of parents.

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R for dissentious rogues, dead carcasses of unburied men / that do corrupt the air

Release Date: December 2


I’ve always had a blind spot for Shakespeare.

I realize this makes me stupid. I get a kick out of Paradise Lost and John Donne, but somehow I find Shakespeare dizzying and foreign, like reading French literature on a carousel after drinking cheap wine. (And since I’m Shakespeare-illiterate, it’s not surprising that my similes need work.)

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The Muppets

PG for fart shoes, puppet electrocution, unflinching portrayal of the difficulties of being green

Release Date: November 23, 2011


Let me tell you a little something about America. Our most important institutions, in order, are these:

  1. “USA” chants
  2. The free press
  3. Potato chips
  4. The Muppets
  5. The rule of law Continue reading

The Artist

PG-13 for glitzy special effects, shameless commercialism, blatant pandering to the black-and-white-silent-film-loving masses


In the movie industry, art and business must always compromise. “I want to make a lucrative film called Independence Day where the White House blows up,” says business. “Fine,” says art, “but you must include a dog leaping away from a fireball just in the nick of time. It’s called character.” And through such compromises, great cinema is born.

But then, along comes a crass, thinly veiled box office ploy like The Artist. Continue reading