My excellent colleague George Lang and I labored lovingly on this roundup of the movies set to open in Oklahoma City during the holiday season. The story ran in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Have a treat for holidays
Studios serve possible award nominees
The holidays bring a variety of seasonal treats, from spiced eggnog and pumpkin pie lattes to Christmas lights displays and better movie choices.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, the movie studios proudly serve up their possible award nominees, along with Christmas-theme movies, sci-fi spectacles and raucous comedies.
These are the holiday films on the menu for Oklahoma City, but remember that studios sometimes move around opening dates. Check movie listings before you head out to the theater.
A couple (Vince Vaughn and Reece Witherspoon), both with divorced parents, try to visit all four sides of their families on Christmas Day in “Four Christmases.”
Jason Statham returns as high-dollar, multi-talented courier Frank Martin in “Transporter 3.”
Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman find love in the midst of World War II in “Australia,” the anticipated epic from director Baz Luhrmann.
“Cadillac Records” follows the rise of Chess Records and its stars, including Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright), Etta James (Beyonce Knowles) and Chuck Berry (Mos Def).
“I’ve Loved You So Long” centers on a convicted murderer (Kristin Scott Thomas) who after her release from prison goes to live with the sister she barely knows (Elsa Zylberstein).
In “Punisher: War Zone,” Ray Stevenson plays vigilante Frank Castle, taking over the role from Thomas Jane, who played the Marvel anti-hero in 2004′s “The Punisher.”
“The Day the Earth Stood Still”
Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and James Franco star in “Milk,” Gus Van Zant’s long-awaited biopic of Harvey Milk (Penn), the first openly gay man elected to major public office in America.
In “Nothing Like the Holidays,” a Puerto Rican-American clan copes with family and personal dramas during what may be their last Christmas together.
Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly and Kathy Bates star in “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” a remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic.
The long-delayed animated fantasy “Delgo,” features the voice talents of Val Kilmer, Freddie Prinze Jr. and the late Anne Bancroft.
“The Tale of Despereaux”
Will Smith plays an Internal Revenue Service agent trying to make up for an grievous error in “Seven Pounds.”
A hyper-intelligent mouse (Matthew Broderick) is banished from his society after becoming friends with a human princess (Emma Watson) in the CG fantasy “The Tale of Despereaux.”
A Chinese warrior must recover from a lost love and maintain his battle stance in “Ashes of Time Redux.”
In “Yes Man,” Jim Carrey agrees to agree to every opportunity, no matter how life-threatening or buffoonish, while finding romance with an indie rocker (Zooey Deschanel).
Meryl Streep stars as a Catholic school principal who suspects a priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) of child molestation in “Doubt.”
Ron Howard’s “Frost/Nixon,” starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, portrays the events leading up to and during BBC presenter David Frost’s 1977 interviews with Richard Nixon.
David Fincher (“Se7en,” “Zodiac”) directs “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” in which the title character (Brad Pitt) starts life as an old man and ages backwards.
A couple (Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston) grapple with the difficulties of modern marriage and dog ownership in “Marley and Me.”
A nutty uncle (Adam Sandler) spins wild tales for his young relatives in “Bedtime Stories,” a family-friendly comedy from director Adam Shankman (“Hairspray”).
Frank Miller directs “The Spirit,” based on his graphic novel with Will Eisner about a rookie cop (Gabriel Macht) who comes back from the dead to fight crime.
Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes star in the post-World War II drama “The Reader,” about former lovers who are reunited when the woman is put on trial for war crimes.
Director Danny Boyle (“Trainspotting,” “28 Days Later”) tells of a young man whose winning answers on India’s version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” parallel with his own difficult life in “Slumdog Millionaire.”
In “Valkyrie,” Tom Cruise plays a World War II German army officer who led a plan to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944.
Here is a preview of the weekend of Nov. 28-30:
- Joe Andoe reading: Oklahoma native, artist and author Joe Andoe will read from his book “Jubilee City: A Memoir at Full Speed” at Untitled ArtSpace at 7 p.m. today. Andoe is a prominent contemporary artist who is being featured, alongside other artists with Oklahoma ties, in the gallery’s exhibit “Roots & Ties II.” His short fiction has been published in numerous literary journals and “Jubilee City,” which was received with critical acclaim, is his first full-length work. Books will be available for sale at the reading. Information: www.1ne3.org.
- “Romeo and Juliet”: See the Reduxion Theatre Company’s production of “Romeo and Juliet,” set in post-World War II Japan, at 8 p.m. today and Saturday at Stage Center, 400 W Sheridan. Information: 651-3191 or www.reduxiontheatre.com.
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett joins the crowd at the 2007 Downtown in December Christmas tree lighting.
- Downtown in December: Oklahoma City’s annual slate of downtown holiday activities, including the ice skating rink at the Civic Center, the snow tubing at the Bricktown Ballpark, the lights display at the Myriad Gardens, starts today. The festivities kick off with the lighting of the giant Christmas tree in Bricktown at 5:30 p.m. today. Information: www.downtownindecember.com.
- Devon Energy River Parade: The fifth annual parade on the Oklahoma River in downtown starts at 5 p.m. today. Free parking parking, admission, entertainment and fireworks at Wiley Post Park and Regatta Park for part of the fun. Information: www.okcevent.info.
- Graham Colton: Bring food or cash to donate to the Regional Food Bank to Oklahoma Citysinger-songwriter Graham Colton’s benefit show at 8 n28 tonight at Lyric on the Plaza, 1727 NW 16. Information: Ö (866) 966-1777 or Ö www.grahamcolton.com.
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Get in the holiday spirit when Trans-Siberian Orchestra performs at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Ford Center, 100 W Reno. Information: 235-8288 or www.okfordcenter.com.
- George Jones: Hear country legend George Jones at 8 tonight at Riverwind Casino, 1544 W State Highway 9 in Norman. Information: 322-6464 or www.riverwind.com.
- The All-American Rejects: Hear AAR at 8 p.m. today at the Diamond Ballroom, 8001 S Eastern. Information: www.diamondballroom.net.
- Cancer Sucks Benefit, TULSA: Catch Trip C, Crooked X, Aranda and more at the Cancer Sucks Benefit Concert at 6 p.m. Saturday at Cain’s Ballroom, 423 N Main. Information: (918) 584-2306 or www.cainsballroom.com.
- Casting Crowns, TULSA: Hear Casting Crowns at 7 p.m. Sunday at the BOK Center, 200 S Denver. Information: www.bokcenter.com.
- Winterfest, TULSA: Downtown Tulsa and the BOK Center kick off the inaugural Winterfest, a monthlong downtown festival including an outdoor ice skating rink, carriage rides and giant Christmas tree. The ice rink opens at noon today and Salvation Army brass ensemble will christen the BOK Center’s Outdoor Plaza, the hub of Winterfest activities, at 5 p.m. today with a performance. Information: www.bokcenter.com.
- Stoney LaRue, RED ROCK: Hear Stony LaRue at 11:30 p.m. Saturday at Paradise Casino, 7500 Highway 177. Information: www.okparadisecasino.com.
Today’s featured event:
Hear Oklahoma’s own The All-American Rejects at 8 tonight at the Diamond Ballroom, 8001 S Eastern.
The band has a new album, “When the World Comes Down,” due out Dec. 16.
The Oklahoman Entertainment Editor Gene Triplett caught up with the rockers in a recent interview. To read it, click here.
For more information, go to www.diamondballroom.net.
For more events, go to www.wimgo.com.
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope all of you have so many blessings that you can’t possibly count them, no matter how long you linger over turkey and dressing.
If I may make a recommendation, consider celebrating the holiday with Charlie Brown, Sally and Snoopy.
“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” created by the late Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, is airing at 7 p.m. today on ABC (KOCO-5 in Oklahoma City). The 1973 holiday special isn’t quite as good or classic as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” but it’s still a great little story and lots of fun.
In the special, Peppermint Patty invites herself and a few other friends to Charlie Brown’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Charlie Brown recruits Snoopy and his birdie buddy Woodstock to make the meal. Their menu – popcorn, pretzels and toast – doesn’t exactly thrill Peppermint Patty.
The bonus cartoon “This Is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers” will air tonight with “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” It tells an animated version of the Pilgrims’ story.
Enjoy the calorie-free Peanuts with your holiday.
Jason Boland & the Stragglers
Today’s featured events:
Give thanks for a pair of great live shows planned for Thanksgiving night.
In Oklahoma City, singer-songwriter Jason Boland, who hails from Harrah and now lives in Austin, Texas, makes his comeback at a 8 tonight at the Farmers Public Market, 311 S Klein Ave. He and his band the Stragglers will be joined by the Mike McClure Band.
The show is Boland’s first since July 4 weekend; he has been recovering from surgery to remove a polyp on his vocal cords.
In Tulsa, alt-rock band Brave Combo will play at 9 tonight at the Marquee, 222 N Main.
For more events, go to www.wimgo.com.
The All-American Rejects appeared and performed Tuesday on the “Today” show. They played three songs: their new one, the catchy kiss-off “Gives You Hell”; “Dirty Little Secret,” the chosen song in an online vote; and the irresistably bouncy “Move Along.”
They also gave a shoutout to their Oklahoma roots and talked about their upcoming album “When the World Comes Down,” due out Dec. 16.
AAR will play Friday night at Oklahoma City’s Diamond Ballroom. For more information, go to www.diamondballroom.net.
The Rejects talk about their upcoming album and Oklahoma roots:
AAR plays “Gives You Hell”:
AAR plays “Move Along”:
AAR plays “Dirty Little Secret”:
The Disney/Pixar Buzz Lightyear float is flight-tested Nov. 8 at Balloonfest in New York. Three new balloons were inflated and soared aloft ahead of their upcoming debut at the 82nd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. (Associated Press photo)
The 82nd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will once again march through New York City on Thursday morning.
Live coverage of the parade will begin at 7 a.m. on CBS (KWTV-9 in Oklahoma City) with “The Early Show” anchors Dave Price and Maggie Rodriguez. Former “American Idol” contestant Clay Aiken is expected to stop by during their broadcast.
On NBC (KFOR-4 in OKC), coverage of the parade begins at 8 a.m. with “Today” personalities Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira and Al Roker. The parade will feature Oklahoma singer/actress Kristin Chenoweth, Miley Cyrus, Trace Adkins, David Archuleta, James Taylor and Andy Williams.
Three movies opened today in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday: Director Baz Luhrmann’s epic “Australia,” the holiday comedy “Four Christmases” and the action sequel “Transporter 3.”
Assistant entertainment editor George Lang and I give you the breakdown on these films in this week’s NewsOK entertainment podcast. To hear the thrills and get the chills from it, go to www.newsok.com/multimedia and find it on the A&E podcast player.
If you’re looking for another reason to see Keanu Reeves play Klaatu in “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” here’s one: The trailer for “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is set to premiere with the movie.
According to a note from the studio and multiple Web reports, the “Wolverine” trailer will debut exclusively in movie theaters with the remake of the 1950s classic sci-fi film.
As the title indicates, the “X-Men” prequel” tells the backstory of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), including his involvement with the Weapon X program. The movie also stars Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds, Danny Huston, Lynn Collins, Dominic Monaghan and Will.i.am.
“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is set for May 1 release.
From Wednesday’s Life section of The Oklahoman. 3 of 4 stars (plus a ”My First Film Editing” set for Baz Luhrmann and encouragement for audiences to cut back on liquids for three days in advance of seeing the movie.)
Vast “Australia” covers much ground
Director/producer/co-writer Baz Luhrmann’s long-awaited film “Australia” plays a bit like an Aussie version of “Gone with the Wind”: lushly beautiful, melodramatically epic and nearly as long as the Civil War.
OK, that last part is an exaggeration. But at a whopping two hours and 45 minutes, Luhrmann’s first film since 2001′s “Moulin Rouge!” would be so much more if it were a whole lot less.
The least he could have done is put an intermission in it, and “Australia” is old-fashioned enough to warrant one. Set during World War II in the wild but beautiful outback, which cinematographer Mandy Walker lovingly captures, it follows the adventures of uptight English Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) who stalks Down Under to fetch back her husband and force him to sell his Aussie cattle post, Faraway Downs.
When she arrives, her husband has been murdered, and the culprit seems obvious: Ranch foreman Neil Fletcher (David Wenham), who when not abusing the Aboriginal staff has been secretly working with greedy cattle baron King Carney (Bryan Brown) to seize Faraway Downs and corner the cattle market.
After firing Fletcher, Lady Ashley must drive her 1,500 cattle to the port town of Darwin, where she can sell them, if she wants to stay in business. She turns to dashingly untamed cowboy The Drover (Hugh Jackman) for help, despite an initial meeting that left them loathing one another.
“Australia” would just a visually stunning redux of “Red River” cattle drive action and “The African Queen” love/hate romance if not for the narrator, Nullah (newcomer Brandon Walters), a half Aborigine-half white boy. Nullah spends much of his time hiding out from the authorities who want to capture and exile him to Mission Island for forced assimilation.
Despite Walters’ annoying broken English delivery, his sparkling presence and over-arching plotline manages to hold together Luhrmann’s sprawling film, which crams in a stampede, a fancy dress ball, Aboriginal mysticism, the Japanese bombing of Darwin, a daring nighttime rescue mission, “Wizard of Oz” imagery and a campfire shower sequence starring Jackman’s perfect abs.
With that much ground to cover, the film’s tone veers wildly from over-the-top theatrics to deadly serious drama.
“Australia” offers an often engaging story with some amazing cinematic moments, but with a less self-indulgence on Luhrmann’s part, it could have achieved greatness.