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Drugstore Cowboy

Posted 11/4/2009

The Box
Donnie Darko
/Southland Tales writer/director Richard Kelly goes a tad more Hollywood conventional with this thriller about a couple (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden) given the option to solve their financial woes by pressing a button in a box--although their gain comes with costs. Opens Nov. 6.

A Christmas Carol
Director Robert Zemeckis, Jim Carrey, and some really creepy-looking animation interpret Charles Dickens' Christmas classic in this Disney release, getting the super-advanced jump on the holiday film season. Opens Nov. 6.

Drugstore Cowboy
Bob, a self-described "shameless dope fiend," is just looking for ways to make life a little easier. Drugstore Cowboy, adapted by co-writer/director Gus Van Sant from James Fogle's novel, concerns itself with the pursuit of this comfort. Narrator Bob (Matt Dillon) and his crew (spitfire wife Kelly Lynch, dim sidekick James LeGros, doe-eyed apprentice Heather Graham) rob drugstores throughout the Pacific Northwest, taking the edge off a life of constant risk by jacking up on the pharmaceuticals they steal and deferring with near-hysterical fervor to superstition (no hats on beds!). Finally attempting to preempt bad karma once and for all, Bob realizes that his obsessive pursuit of a fix and the elaborate machinations required to secure one are really more trouble than they're worth. Of course, cleaning up comes with its own set of hassles. Neither romanticized nor scolding and seasoned with a generous dose of the absurd, Drugstore Cowboy tells it like it is about what Dillon's deadpan protagonist euphemistically calls "the lifestyle": the euphoric highs, the bleak lows, and how hard it is to navigate life somewhere between the two. (Adele Marley) At Towson University's Van Bokkelen Hall Auditorium Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m.

The Fourth Kind
Milla Jovovich and Elias Koteas star in this alien-abduction sci-fi thriller from Nigerian-American writer/director Olatunde Osunsanmi. Looks promising. Opens Nov. 6

The Host
Director Bong Joon-ho's featured giant squid/catfish monster becomes the director's point of entry for scalding rebukes to American interventionism, profiteering, bioterror hijinks, and general developing-world opportunism. On Seoul's Han River shoreline, squid stand dealer Park Hee-bong (Byun Hee-bong), his granddaughter Hyun-seo (Ko Ah-sung), and his goofball, sad-sack son Gang-du (Song Kang-ho) are just trying to get by when the aforementioned beast attacks in broad daylight. The creature disappears with a screaming Hyun-seo wrapped in its tail--and a cell phone in her blouse. A message from her sends Hee-bong and Gang-du--aided by archery champion aunt Nam-joo (Bae Doo-na) and unemployed would-be yuppie brother Nam-il (Park Hae-il)--off to try and save her. The only thing getting in their way is the Korean government, which, with U.S. aid, claims that the creature is the host for some horrific virus that can only be treated with something called Agent Yellow, and necessitates the quarantining of all involved. As the movie progresses, the creature also changes. By the final conflagrations, it's almost pitiful, both a mirror for Bong's themes and a victim by birthright of the same antagonists suffered by the human heroes. (Ian Grey) Part of the University of Baltimore's Asian Film Festival, screens Nov. 4 at 7 p.m . at the UB Student Center.

The Hustler
The McCarthy era not only had a devastating impact on the creative community; it resulted in some of 1950s/'60s Hollywood's most supercharged, socially relevant dramas, and, by extension, most virtuoso performances. Think of Marlon Brando's Oscar-winning turn as a washed-up boxer in Elia Kazan's shattering On the Waterfront or Paul Newman's Oscar-worthy (but not -winning) performance as "Fast" Eddie Felson in Robert Rossen's 1961 morality tale The Hustler. Rossen's Red-scare experiences--he initially resisted testifying before Congress, but eventually broke down and named names--served as the inspiration for this tale (based on the novel by Walter Tevis and co-written with Sidney Carroll) of a brash pool shark who sets out to make a name for himself. Fast Eddie fleeces marks from coast to coast until an ill-fated match with cue legend Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) snuffs out his winning streak. Thinking himself washed up, the tormented pool hustler obsesses about a rematch. Unfortunately, his singular focus makes him oblivious: to the machinations of his shifty promoter (George C. Scott); to the redemptive love of the hard-drinking, luckless society swell (Piper Laurie) he's taken up with; to the catastrophically steep price he'll have to pay for a shot at a comeback. (AM) At the Charles Theatre at noon Nov. 7, at 7 p.m. Nov. 9, and 9 p.m. Nov. 12.

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