Thinking about catching a flick this weekend? Here's what to see...
UP IN THE AIR: The only must-see movie opening this weekend. Jason Reitman (Juno) directs a terrific George Clooney in a snappy but surprisingly substantial story about a corporate downsizer who takes pride in his jet-setting and emotionally unencumbered life--until self-doubt begins to creep in. (area theaters) City Pages: "Contemporary corporate woe is commingled with old-fashioned movie-star romance and laced with sincerity and smarts till it adds up to something pretty special. It feels real, and Clooney has never been more human." Star Tribune: 3.5 stars Pioneer Press: 3.5 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 86% positive
MINNEAPOLIS UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL: This year's showcase of more than 40 little-known or -seen films opens Friday night with the world premiere of The Seducer, a modern retelling of a Dostoyevsky short story in which a lonely man wandering the streets at night meets a woman waiting at a river for a mysterious lover to return. The festival closes Sunday night following a daylong showcase of short films. In between is a wide range of filmmaking, from raw and raunchy low-budget flicks to highly refined award winners. A few samples: The documentary Paddle to Seattle (Sunday at 2 p.m.) follows two adventurers on a 1,300-mile sea kayaking exploration from Alaska's panhandle to Washington. Porndogs (Saturday at 10:30 p.m.) is a not-soon-forgotten comedy that attempts to create a porn film using dogs as actors. In Living Arrangements (Saturday at 8:30 p.m.), a young couple finds what they think is the perfect apartment, until they discover a werewolf living in the attic. Many of the filmmakers will be present for the screenings. Visit the festival website for more information on films, tickets, and show times. (Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
BRITISH TELEVISION ADVERTISING AWARDS: The popular annual showcase highlights the best of British TV commercials. (Walker Art Center, through Saturday, January 2)
FANTASTIC MR. FOX: This stop-motion animated film has been getting rave reviews as a retelling of a Roald Dahl children's novel. Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) is a gentleman bandit who has given up his life of crime at the behest of Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep) but still feels the call of the wild. Clooney and Streep do some of their best work. (area theaters)
THE ROAD: A father and his 10-year-old son traverse a despoiled, post-apocalyptic landscape of unspeakable horror in a bleak film based on Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. (area theaters)
THE MESSENGER: A moving and nuanced drama about a wounded Iraq War hero (Ben Foster) and a struggling Army lifer (Woody Harrelson) who are assigned to deliver the worst news to fallen soldiers' next of kin. It is loaded with authentic compassion and charm, and Harrelson nails a showy role. (area theaters)
PRECIOUS: Based on the 1996 bestseller Push by African-American poet Sapphire, Precious is a powerful drama about the life of an obese, illiterate 16-year-old, who has been physically and psychologically abused by her mother and repeatedly raped by her father. Superb performances from Mo'Nique and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe. (area theaters)
For more film ideas, capsule reviews, and showtimes, click here.