Last Call

December 19, 2008|By Michael Sragow

Cadillac Records *** ( 3 STARS) This movie hasn't gotten the push it deserves from distributors or critics, but Darnell Martin's movie about Leonard Chess, the self-made Chicago "record man" who put Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Chuck Berry and Howlin' Wolf on vinyl and paid Alan Freed and other DJs to put them on the air, sends audiences out singing its praises. Whatever you feel about the contention that Chess and company created rock 'n' roll, the movie makes a great case for it: You feel present at the birth of a new American pop culture. Adrien Brody (Chess), Jeffrey Wright (Waters), Columbus Short (Wolf), Mos Def (Berry) and, best of all, Eamonn Walker as Howlin' Wolf reward Martin with exuberant and veracious performances. And Beyonce Knowles does Etta James as well as Diana Ross did Billie Holiday.

opening next thursday

Bedtime Stories : (Walt Disney Pictures) Adam Sandler stars as a man who tells his nephews outlandish versions of the titular tales - which unexpectedly begin coming true. With Keri Russell.

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button : (Paramount Pictures) Brad Pitt stars in the tale of a man from New Orleans who ages backward at the end of World War I to the 21st century. With Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton.

Doubt : (Miramax Films) John Patrick Shanley wrote and directed this adaptation of his award-winning play about a possible molestation at a parochial school in the Bronx in 1964. With Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams.

Frost/Nixon : (Universal Pictures) Frank Langella and Michael Sheen reprise their theatrical roles in playwright Peter Morgan's dramatization of the events surrounding the historic interview between disgraced former President Richard Nixon and British TV personality David Frost. Directed by Ron Howard.

Hurricane Season: (Weinstein Co.) A year after Hurricane Katrina, a high school basketball coach assembles a team of players who attended different schools before the disaster and leads them to the state championships. With Forest Whitaker and Isaiah Washington.

Marley & Me : (20th Century Fox) Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston star in this adaptation of John Grogan's life-affirming best-seller about the family of a neurotic dog.

The Reader : (Weinstein Co.) Writer David Hare adapted Bernhard Schlink's novel set in postwar Germany about a man whose life has been influenced by an affair with an older woman. With Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes.

The Spirit: (Lionsgate) A former rookie cop returns mysteriously from the dead to fight crime from the shadows of Central City and battles it out with his archenemy, the Octopus. With Gabriel Macht, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson.

Valkyrie : (MGM/UA) Director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) reunite to tell the story of Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, a World War II German officer who joins the German resistance's plot to kill Adolf Hitler. With Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy and Kenneth Branagh.

opening next friday

A Secret: (Strand Releasing) A 15-year-old boy unearths a shocking family secret. With Cecile De France and Patrick Bruel.

Release dates are subject to change.

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