New movies this week
Alice in Wonderland
The gist: Yes, yes, Tim Burton, we get it. You're dark and edgy. Yeah, yeah. But in a twist worthy of M.C. Escher, he's making a movie based on a book that inspired his kind of creepy-cool art direction. We don't quite know how to process that. PG
Starring: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Mia Wasikowska, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen and Christopher Lee.
The buzz: Like most Burton projects, some people love it and some are meh. "Carroll purists and freshman English majors may be aghast at the change in story, but for those who watched Avatar and marveled at the images but were left wanting by the wooden acting and tired story, Alice is a treat," the charitable Arizona Republic says.
The Ghost Writer
The gist: A writer is hired to ghostwrite the memoirs of a former British prime minister, but lo and behold, finds out stuff that he shouldn't and has to run for his life. That's why you should do all your research on Google. PG-13
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Hutton and Eli Wallach.
The buzz: This is a different kind of scary, as done by Roman Polanski. "An extraordinarily precise and well-made political thriller — the best thing Polanski has done since the seventies," the New Yorker raves.
The gist: An impressive ensemble decides it's time to add another cops-and-robbers pic to their resumes, this time set in the northernmost borough as the constables target a notoriously crime-ridden housing project. R
Starring: Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke, Don Cheadle, Jesse Williams, Ellen Barkin, Wesley Snipes, Lili Taylor and Vincent D'Onofrio.
The buzz: Even with this cast, we're expecting mostly f-bombs and gunfire, not Oscars. "Here, due in large measure to a highly derivative screenplay, the director allows several reckless, unprofessional cops to drive the movie into utter nonsense," the Hollywood Reporter laments.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org