Friday movie roundup – Dec. 12

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The onslaught of December movies continues apace with the usual blend of Oscar bait, populist fare, and family flicks. Put on your movie pants, b-cuz there’s lots to talk about today!

“The Day the Earth Stood Still” takes place on a day on which the Earth does not stand still, though Keanu Reeves does. He stands still quite a bit. He plays an alien who comes to Earth and throws everyone into a panic. It’s based on the 1951 sci-fi classic, which was short on action and long on ideas. The remake is short on both.

“Nothing Like the Holidays,” a comedy about a Puerto Rican family in Chicago gathering for Christmas, was not screened for critics in Portland. What, are we too white to appreciate Latino movies?? Review to come this weekend.

The other new wide release is “Delgo,” a computer-animated fantasy adventure that’s been sitting around for four years and should have gone straight to DVD. It’s harmless, but certainly not worth taking your kids to see.

In limited release is the fantastic “Let the Right One In,” a haunting, moody Swedish thriller about a 12-year-old boy and girl who become friends even though one of them is a vampire. It’s by far the best film about vampire-human relationships this year. Look for it at your local art house.

“Frost/Nixon” (review at Film.com), which opened last weekend and is slowly expanding, is an engrossing and very entertaining account of the famous TV interviews Nixon did in 1977 with British entertainment journalist David Frost. Frank Langella, as the disgraced ex-president, is awe-inspiring.

And hey, remember Jean-Claude Van Damme? He has a new movie, called “JCVD,” in which he plays a slightly fictionalized version of himself getting caught in a real-life hostage crisis. The film, which is mostly in French, is a clever, deadpan self-satire that shows Van Damme to be fairly capable as an actor, believe it or not.

“Dark Streets” (review at Cinematical) is a so-so film noir set in a New Orleans nightclub in the 1930s, enlivened by fantastic cinematography and a scorching blues soundtrack.

“What Doesn’t Kill You” stars Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke as low-level organized crime goons and is based on the real life story of Brian Goodman, who wrote and directed it. Still, being true doesn’t make it interesting; it feels like a generic, gritty film about big-city criminals.

Finally, don’t forget to TiVo “Dear Zachary” on MSNBC on Sunday and sob while watching it later!

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