Friday movie roundup – Oct. 20

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The release of Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” two weeks ago was a hint of it, but the Oscar season truly begins today. No fewer than three movies with Oscar potential are opening in wide release this weekend, and no, one of them is not “Flicka.”

“The Prestige” is the most entertaining of the three, all full of twists and turns, good old-fashioned entertainment, and solid performances by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman — two very likable, very popular, very well-respected actors. They aren’t the kind of roles that get Oscar nominations, but the film’s screenplay or direction (by Christopher Nolan, of “Memento” and “Batman Begins”) might get some attention.

Then there’s “Marie Antoinette,” Sofia Coppola’s (“Lost in Translation”) anachronistic interpretation of French history. This is a curious, strange movie, and I was put off by it overall, though I also liked a lot of things about it. I can almost recommend it for sheer curiosity value, but not quite.

Finally, Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of Our Fathers” tells of the battle of Iwo Jima, the famous photo of six soldiers raising the flag, and the aftermath. Since it’s a Paramount product, however, I won’t be able to post a review until about 3 p.m. today. [And here it is.] The point, as it relates to this discussion, is that Eastwood is an Oscar favorite, the subject matter (World War II), is an Oscar favorite, and one of the screenwriters is Paul Haggis, who wrote and directed “Crash” last year.

The fourth wide release this weekend is “Flicka,” based loosely on the old young adult novel “My Friend Flicka.” Flicka is still the main character’s friend; I guess they just didn’t want to give that away in the title. The movie’s rather mediocre, though it does have my new favorite line of dialogue. (Mild spoiler ahead.) There comes a moment when they fear it may be necessary to “put down” wild Flicka, and they worry how her friend, played by Alison Lohman, will take it. She comes downstairs and says, “It’s OK, Dad. You can shoot us.” Us. Because she and Flicka are soulmates, you see. It made me laugh.

Something else that’s been making me laugh all week, and for no good reason, is saying the word “Flicka” in a high-pitched, creepy child/teddy bear voice. I’m thinking approximately the voice of the Talky Tina doll in that old “Twilight Zone” episode. It’s even better if you say it as a question, with the second syllable going up higher in pitch. (“Flick-A?”) Although it’s possible that if you aren’t me, you won’t be able to amuse yourself with it at all.

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