That's a Wrap 

So, now that the Daniel Craig’s somewhat contentious Bond has risen to the occasion and taken up the legendary 007 mantle (with widely favorable results — he’s arguably the best since Connery, `if quite arguably`), Catherine Hardwicke’s The Nativity Story makes a hot-iron strike for 16-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider) as the newest incarnation of Mary, the Biblical mother of Jesus, pitting her against previous Marys Olivia Hussey, Madeleine Stowe, Jacqueline Bisset, Maia Morgenstern, Verna Bloom, Dorothy McGuire, and José Greci. (Who’s the divisive `and unfairly maligned` Timothy Dalton in that group?) Interesting: McAllen-born directress Hardwicke’s other two credits include Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown. Far more interesting: Castle-Hughes is reportedly pregnant. (Seriously. Google it.)

Umm … National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj is out. So, you know, do with that information what you will. Clearly, it’s a sequel to the very questionably sequel-worthy Van Wilder, but with no Van Wilder. My advice? Flip to page 22, read up on this bit (and a cluster of other perplexing follow-ups), and then go see Casino Royale again.

Also opening: Galvestonian John Stockwell’s Turistas, which looks to be something like a Brazil-set Hostel, starring Josh Duhamel (the dude from Las Vegas and — gulp — Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!) and um … umm … UMMM … hmm. Stockwell’s a wild card though: His Blue Crush and Into the Blue were far more fun than they’d seemingly have any excuse to be. (Really.) Look, all’s I’m sayin’ is, if someone told me Turistas wasn’t the most execrable piece of rat-turd they’d ever seen, I might believe it.

Bijou selections: Copying Beethoven, an imagined account of the composer’s last years, starring statuesque German Diane Kruger — AND ED HARRIS AS BEETHOVEN (seems a bigger stretch than Pollock, somehow, but who knows?); and Keeping Mum, which I absolutely know I’ve already announced in one of these columns, and features Rowan Atkinson, Kristin Scott Thomas, and … Patrick Swayze. Imdb it — I’m almost outta space.

Finally, it’s been just over a week now since we lost him, but I don’t think I’ve quite come to terms with the sad knowledge that the world will be getting no more Robert Altman films. He was reportedly in pre-production on what would have been his 34th film, which is somewhat fitting for the man who once said, “Filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes.” Altman’s films, and the man himself, were most assuredly a gift, and one for which I am well thankful. Thank you, Mr. Altman, for your time and effort, and may the angels in your corner of Heaven all be masterful improvisers and speak in delightfully overlapping dialogue.

Happy back-to-work week.
— Brian Villalobos

Local premiere dates for limited-release films are tentative and can change at the last minute. Please check your local theater listings to confirm showtimes.



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