Get your $5 bills and pennies ready for a date with our 16th President (and his ongoing battle against vampires).

In Theaters

Lincoln
(Touchstone Pictures)

Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Jurassic Park provide supreme popcorn entertainment, but I prefer Steven Spielberg’s more serious fare.  Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, and even Empire of the Sun brought out the best in the director and Lincoln looks to do the same.  The cast, led by Daniel Day-Lewis as the Great Emancipator, is a murderer’s row of almost exclusively male talent, and with a script by Tony Kushner (Angels in America, Munich), anticipation is mighty high.  Equally appealing, the film’s release also means not having to watch its sappy trailer, which I’m pretty sure has played before every film I’ve seen since May.

A Late Quartet
(RKO Pictures)

Not to be confused with Dustin Hoffman’s Quartet, Yaron Zilberman’s A Late Quartet also exists in the musical world…and features another famous Hoffman.  Following the lives of a renowned string foursome and their various struggles in and out of the ensemble, there’s sure to be plenty of stirring classical music to accompany the human drama.  With a cast that includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, and Catherine Keener, the talent is certainly there.  Whether the story will rival the players is another matter.  Look for my review on Friday.

The Sessions
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)

John Hawkes and Helen Hunt are getting serious Oscar buzz for their work in The Sessions.  I was not nearly as impressed with the based-on-a-true-story of Mark O’Brien (Hawkes), a polio survivor and virgin who turns to sex therapist Cheryl Cohen-Greene (Hunt) to help ease his carnal insecurities.  Look for my review on Friday.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
(Summit Entertainment)

You may be surprised to learn that I’ve actually read all four books in the Twilight Saga.  Back before the vampire explosion, I used Stephenie Meyer’s first three novels as part of my master’s paper on young adult literature.  I still hold that Twilight itself is a decent YA standalone, but that Meyer shouldn’t have stretched her whiney story into the tetralogy that it is.  As for the movies, after seeing how poorly Twilight was adapted (for such a simple story, the filmmakers tanked on so many fronts), I had no interest in sitting through more of the same.  Factor in that the source of the series’ unnecessary two-part finale was the single-most painful reading experience I’ve endured, and I’ll be staying far away from Breaking Dawn – Part 2.  Millions of other, however, will be flocking to this thing.  That’s fine.  I’ll be at Lincoln, celebrating the end of this franchise.

Fleeing the Scene

Holy Motors is unfortunately being run out of town after a week.  So it goes.  The long runs by Taken 2 and Hotel Transylvania likewise come to an end, as do far shorter ones by The PaperboyThe Man with the Iron Fists, and The Other Dream Team.

On DVD

An extremely mixed bag this week for discs.  Nothing too noteworthy, but the best is probably Julie Delpy’s funny 2 Days in New York, featuring Chris Rock’s best performance in years.  A notch down is Brave, with which I had my share of problems, but at the end of the day, it’s Pixar, which can only be so bad.  There’s also The Queen of Versailles, perhaps the year’s most infuriating film and, admittedly, one of its most entertaining.  And bringing up the rear of recommended titles is Todd Solondz’s Dark Horse, which seems better in retrospect after recent indie fare like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Liberal Arts.

Still in Time Out is Oliver Stone’s messy Savages, a film that not even one of the director’s famed extended cuts could fix.  Then there’s the Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn comedy The Watch (formerly Neighborhood Watch), which tried to blame its box-office failure on bad timing with the Trayvon Martin case, but, according to multiple trusted sources, is simply just an awful movie.

On Netflix Instant

If you’ve ever liked Will Ferrell in any role, don’t miss Casa de mi Padre.  The Spanish-language comedy reins in its star’s goofiness to an ideal level, still allowing plenty of room for a good time.  Also in on the joke is a stellar cast, including Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.

Slightly more mature, Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin sparkle in the genuine romantic dramedy Like Crazy, which also features the rare sight of Jennifer Lawrence in an age-appropriate role.  Also on the streaming scene is the classic cheese of Re-Animator and the backwoods horror of Madison County, which sadly doesn’t seem to take place in our neighboring county.

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