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January 2012

Books on Screen

January 2012

A number of exciting movies are ringing in 2012. The first month of the new year brings old classics and contemporary favorites to the big and small screens. From Shakespeare to Janet Evanovich and John Grisham, there’s sure to be something for everyone. 

Coriolanus brings Shakespeare’s classic drama to life, telling the story of a revered Roman general who seeks the position of consul, is consequently driven out of the city and partners with his lifelong enemy to get revenge. Another drama unfolds in The Grey, about a group of oil rig workers who are stranded on an arctic tundra after a plane crash and must fight for survival when they are hunted by a pack of vicious wolves.
Fighting for a different kind of survival is Albert Nobbs, a shy butler in 18th-century Ireland who has a desperately guarded secret --- "he" is actually a woman who has passed as a man all her life in order to escape the fate of single, unmarried women. 
Meanwhile, in One for the Money, based on Janet Evanovich's first Stephanie Plum novel, a desperate-for-work Stephanie convinces her cousin to hire her as a recovery agent at his bail bonding company. But she never expects to get sucked into the case of murder suspect Joe Morelli, who also happens to be her former high school boyfriend.

Another complex romantic situation unfolds in Norwegian Wood, set in Tokyo in the late 1960s. Students around the world are uniting to overthrow the establishment, and Toru Watanabe is torn between his first love and a new girl who is full of life. In Watching TV with the Red Chinese, which takes place in New York City in 1980, a trio of exchange students from the People's Republic of China get to know their neighbor, Dexter Mitchell, whose complicated life will have serious consequences for all four. 

On the small screen, two new shows premiere on January 8th. NBC’s "The Firm" resumes the story of attorney Mitchell McDeere and his family 10 years after the events of the 1993 film starring Tom Cruise and John Grisham's bestselling novel, as the McDeeres try to escape Mitchell's past entanglements with the Chicago mob. Meanwhile, “House of Lies”, a comedy about a group of eccentric high-powered management consultants, debuts on Showtime.
In other TV news, The Pregnancy Project, based on the true account of Gaby Rodriguez's faked pregnancy, premieres on Lifetime on January 28th.  “Castle” also continues its fourth season, the second season of “Pretty Little Liars” finally returns after a long, suspenseful hiatus, and "Downton Abbey" begins season two. (A new book called LADY ALMINA AND THE REAL DOWNTON ABBEY narrates the history of the castle where the show is set).
New on Netflix this month is "Hey Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird," a documentary about the classic book's powerful influence on society, literature, and individual lives. A 45-minute classroom edition has also been released, and the documentary will air on PBS in April. It is now available to watch on Netflix and iTunes.
And in case you missed them in theaters, The Big Year, Drive, I Don’t Know How She Does ItKiller Elite, Killing Bono, The Mill & the Cross, Moneyball, Real Steel The Thing and What’s Your Number? all release on DVD this month.
In Theaters: 
Cast: Kenichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi, Kiko Mizuhara, Reika Kirishima, Kengo Kora, Eriko Hatsune, Tetsuji Tamayama
Director: Tran Anh Hung
Distributor: Curious Films
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Release Date: January 6th (NYC only)
Based On: NORWEGIAN WOOD by Haruki Murakami 
Tokyo, the late 1960s... Students around the world are uniting to overthrow the establishment, and Toru Watanabe's personal life is similarly in tumult. At heart, he is deeply devoted to his first love, Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman. But their complex bond has been forged by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Watanabe lives with the influence of death everywhere. That is, until Midori, a girl who is everything that Naoko is not --- outgoing, vivacious, supremely self-confident --- marches into his life, and Watanabe must choose between his past and his future.
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Brian Cox, Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Chastain, John Kani, James Nesbitt, Paul Jesson, Lubna Azabel, Ashraf Barhom
Director: Ralph Fiennes
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: January 20th
Based On: Coriolanus by William Shakespeare
Caius Martius "Coriolanus," a revered and feared Roman General, is at odds with the city of Rome and his fellow citizens. Pushed by his controlling and ambitious mother Volumnia to seek the exalted and powerful position of Consul, he is loath to ingratiate himself with the masses whose votes he needs in order to secure the office. When the public refuses to support him, Coriolanus’s anger prompts a riot that culminates in his expulsion from Rome. The banished hero then allies himself with his sworn enemy, Tullus Aufidius, to take his revenge on the city.
Cast: Ryan O'Nan, Leonardo Nam, Gillian Jacobs, James Chen, Keong Sim, Peter Scanavino, Michael Esper, Ron C. Johns, Idara Victor, Constance Wu
Director: Shimon Dotan
Distributor: Roam Films
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Release Date: January 20th (limited)

When Tzu, Wa and Chen come to New York City in the summer of 1980 to study, they find themselves in a strange land far, far away from life in communist China. Consuming a heavy daily diet of American TV, they are captivated by the cacophonous culture surrounding them. They make friends with their next-door neighbor Dexter, his sometimes girlfriend Suzanne and the struggling filmmaker Billy. They party. One falls dangerously in love. But a brutal mugging and an ex-boyfriend’s crazed jealousy plunge them into a state of cultural confusion and fear. When, on December 8, 1980, John Lennon is murdered, the trio fatefully confronts the social violence that surrounds them.

Cast: Glenn Close, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Johnson, Janet Mc Teer, Pauline Collins, Brenda Fricker, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Brendan Gleeson
Director: Rodrigo Garcia
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: January 27th
Based On: ALBERT NOBBS: A Novella by George Moore

Award-winning actress Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs) plays a woman passing as a man in order to work and survive in 19th century Ireland. Some 30 years after donning men's clothing, she finds herself trapped in a prison of her own making. Mia Wasikowska (Helen), Aaron Johnson (Joe) and Brendan Gleeson (Dr. Holloran) join a prestigious, international cast that includes Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Janet McTeer, Brenda Fricker and Pauline Collins.

Rodrigo Garcia directs from a script that Glenn Close, along with Man Booker prize-winning novelist John Banville and Gabriella Prekop, adapted from a short story by Irish author George Moore. 

Cast: Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts, Joe Anderson, Nonso Anozie, James Badge Dale
Director: Joe Carnahan
Distributor: Entertainment Film Distributors
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: January 27th
Based On: The short story “Ghost Walker” by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers
A group of oil-rig roughnecks are left stranded on the sub-arctic tundra after their plane experiences a complete mechanical failure and crashes into the remote Alaskan wilderness. The survivors, battling mortal injuries, biting cold and ravenous hunger, are relentlessly hunted and pursued by a vicious pack of rogue wolves.
Cast: Katherine Heigl, Jason O’Mara, Daniel Sunjata, John Leguizamo, Sherri Shepherd
Director: Julie Anne Robinson
Distributor: Lionsgate
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: January 27th
Based On: ONE FOR THE MONEY by Janet Evanovich
A proud, born-and-bred Jersey girl, Stephanie Plum's got plenty of attitude, even if she's been out of work for the last six months and just lost her car to a debt collector. Desperate for some fast cash, Stephanie turns to her last resort: convincing her sleazy cousin to give her a job at his bail bonding a recovery agent. True, she doesn't even own a pair of handcuffs and her weapon of choice is pepper spray, but that doesn't stop Stephanie from taking on Vinny's biggest bail-jumper: former vice cop and murder suspect Joe Morelli --- yup, the same sexy, irresistible Joe Morelli who seduced and dumped her back in high school.
Nabbing Morelli would be satisfying payback --- and a hefty payday --- but as Stephanie learns the ins and outs of becoming a recovery agent from Ranger, a hunky colleague who's the best in the business, she also realizes the case against Morelli isn't airtight. Add to the mix her meddling family, a potentially homicidal boxer, witnesses who keep dying and the problem of all those flying sparks when she finds Morelli himself...well, suddenly Stephanie's new job isn't nearly as easy as she thought.
On TV: 
Cast: Alexa Vega, Walter Perez, Judy Reyes
Network: Lifetime
Premiere: January 28th at 8:00 ET/PT
On the heels of its successful 2010 movie “The Pregnancy Pact,” Lifetime will again take a hard look at how the nation views teenage pregnancy with “The Pregnancy Project,” an original movie based on the true story of Gaby Rodriguez, the 18-year-old Washington state high school student who pretended to be pregnant in an effort to explore conventional stereotypes and the treatment of pregnant teens. Alexa Vega (“Spy Kids,” Lifetime’s “Odd Girl Out”) and Judy Reyes (“Scrubs,” Lifetime’s “Little Girl Lost: The Delimar Vera Story”) star in the film, which will make its world premiere on Saturday, January 28, 2012, at 8 pm et/pt.
In “The Pregnancy Project,” Gaby Rodriguez (Vega) is the brave 18-year-old high school student who forces her school and community to confront its prejudices and preconceptions about teen pregnancy --- and makes national headlines in the process.
The story begins with Gaby deciding that her senior project will be on stereotyping, which she decides to experience firsthand. Confiding in her mother Juana (Reyes), her boyfriend Jorge (Walter Perez) and a handful of others, Gaby begins her social experiment in which she tells her friends, family and teachers that she is pregnant. While her fake baby bump continues to grow over the next six and a half months, Gaby carefully records how she is treated and what is being said about her --- for better and for worse --- both in and out of school. With her project’s findings conclusive, Gaby emotionally addresses her fellow students and their teachers about stereotyping and teen pregnancy during a special school assembly and then shocks them by ripping off her padded “baby bump,” revealing she was never pregnant at all and teaching them a valuable lesson.


Cast: Josh Lucas, Molly Parker, Natasha Calis, Callum Keith Rennie, Juliette Lewis, Tricia Helfer, Shaun Majumder
Network: NBC
Air Dates: Sundays at 9:00 pm ET/PT
Series Premiere: January 8th
Based On: THE FIRM by John Grisham

Based on the blockbuster feature film and bestselling novel by world-renowned author John Grisham (THE PELICAN BRIEF, THE CLIENT), "The Firm" continues the story of attorney Mitchell McDeere and his family 10 years after the events of the film and novel. As a young associate, McDeere brought down the prestigious Memphis law firm of Bendini, Lambert & Locke, which operated as a front for the Chicago mob --- and his life was never the same. After a difficult decade, which included a stay in the Federal Witness Protection program, Mitch and his family now emerge from isolation to reclaim their lives and their future --- only to find that past dangers are still lurking and new threats are everywhere. 

Cast: Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, Ben Schwartz
Network: Showtime
Air Dates: Sundays at 10:00 pm ET/PT
Series Premiere: January 8th
Charming, fast talking Marty Kaan and his crack team of MBA-toting management consultants are playing America's one percent for everything they've got. They put the con in consulting as they charm smug, unsuspecting corporate fat cats into closing huge deals, and spending a fortune for their services. Twisting the facts, spinning the numbers, and spouting just enough business school jargon to dazzle the clients, there's no end to what this crew won't do to and for each other, while laughing all the way to the bank.
Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Jessica Brown-Findlay, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle
Network: PBS
Air Dates: Sundays at 9:00 pm ET/PT
Season Two Premiere: January 8th
Companion Books: LADY ALMINA AND THE REAL DOWNTON ABBEY: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by The Countess of Carnarvon and THE WORLD OF DOWNTON ABBEY by Jessica Fellowes
Downton Abbey's Granthams and their family of servants have already weathered scoundrels, scandals and a momentous succession crisis. But by November 1916, the Great War has rendered everything --- and everyone --- changed. Even Downton Abbey itself, like its residents, has risen to the call of duty and transformed.
At the war front, life intensifies for Downton's young men in the face of untold horrors. Meanwhile, at Downton, war makes new and often unjust demands. Some rise to its call for a stiff upper lip and a useful turn, and others see change as an opportunity for either growth or exploitation. Far from the trenches, there remains no shortage of scheming, meddling and dangerous attractions.
As other great houses crumble, a diminished Downton Abbey struggles to prevail into a new era with its residents and its honor intact.
Cast: Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever, Tamala Jones, Molly C. Quinn, Susan Sullivan, Penny Johnson Jerald
Network: ABC
Air Dates: Mondays at 10:00 pm ET/PT
Based On: The career of author Richard Castle (current bestseller: HEAT RISES
Castle is a one-hour witty drama based on a famous mystery novelist who helps the NYPD homicide department solve crimes.
Richard “Rick” Castle is a bestselling mystery author who was investigated by the New York City police department when the victim of a murder matched the description of a victim in one of his novels. At the time, Castle was suffering writer’s block, having just killed off the main character, Derrick Storm, in his successful series of novels. During the investigation, Castle is inspired by his run-in with the beautiful Detective Kate Beckett, and through his connections with the Mayor, he gets permission to hang out as a consultant at the precinct to do research for his book.
During season one, we see the team get to know each other while working to solve a new case each week. We learn about Castle’s endearing relationship with his teenage, oddly responsible daughter, Alexis, and his slightly crazy mother, Martha, who has moved in with them. The season ends on a cliffhanger after Castle confesses to Beckett that he had been looking into the mystery behind her mother’s death, something she specifically asked him not to do.
In season two, we find Castle trying to work his way back into Beckett’s good graces. With new writers joining the team, there are some engaging and unpredictable cases to be solved. We also look a little deeper into the lives of the supporting characters.
Cast: Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Troian Bellisario, Shay Mitchell, Sasha Pieterse
Network: ABC Family
Air Dates: Mondays at 8:00pm ET/PT
Based On: Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard
A month has passed on "Pretty Little Liars" since Aria, Emily, Hanna and Spencer were arrested and a lot has changed in Rosewood, and with the girls. No longer the mighty four best friends, the Liars are at each others' throats and Emily has been iced out completely. But what could have divided them so severely? Has "A" finally won the game of divide and conquer? With Emily now truly on her own, is she ripe for "A's" picking?
New on Netflix:
Cast: Tom Brokaw, Rosanne Cash, Wally Lamb, Anna Quindlen, Richard Russo, Scott Turow, Oprah Winfrey, Andrew Young
Director: Mary McDonagh Murphy 
Distributor: First Run
Inspired By: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee

Fifty years after winning the Pulitzer Prize, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD remains a beloved bestseller and quite possibly the most influential American novel of the 20th Century. Nearly one million copies are sold each year and the novel has been translated into more than forty languages worldwide. The film version, starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, won a trio of Academy Awards, and the U.S. Postal Service's new stamp honoring Peck depicts him wearing glasses, as Finch.

Behind it all was a young Southern girl named Nelle Harper Lee, who once said that she wanted to be South Alabama's Jane Austen. "Hey, Boo" explores Lee's life and unravels some of the mysteries surrounding her, including why she never published again. Containing never-before-seen photos and letters and an exclusive interview with Lee’s sister, Alice Finch Lee, the film also brings to light the context and history of the novel's Deep South setting and the social changes it inspired after publication.

Tom Brokaw, Rosanne Cash, Wally Lamb, Anna Quindlen, Richard Russo, Scott Turow, Oprah Winfrey, Andrew Young and others reflect on the novel's power, influence, and popularity, and the many ways it has shaped their lives.

New on DVD:
Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Christina Hendricks, Olivia Munn,Kelsey Grammer, Seth Meyers
Director: Douglas McGrath
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: January 3rd
Based On: I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT by Allison Pearson
Kate Reddy devotes her days to her job with a Boston-based financial management firm. At night she goes home to her adoring, recently-downsized architect husband Richard and their two young children. It's a non-stop balancing act, the same one that Kate's acerbic best friend and fellow working mother Allison performs on a daily basis, and that Kate's super-brainy, child-phobic young junior associate Momo fully intends to avoid. When Kate gets handed a major new account that will require frequent trips to New York, Richard also wins the new job he's been hoping for --- and both will be spreading themselves even thinner. Complicating matters is Kate's charming new business associate Jack Abelhammer, who begins to prove an unexpected source of temptation. 
Cast: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro
Director: Gary McKendry 
Distributor: Open Road Films
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: January 10th
Based On: KILLER ELITE by Ranulph Fiennes (previously published as THE FEATHER MEN)
Based on a shocking true story, Killer Elite pits two of the world's most elite operatives --- Danny, an ex-special ops agent, and Hunter, his longtime mentor --- against the cunning leader of a secret military society. Covering the globe from Australia to Paris, London and the Middle East, Danny and Hunter are plunged into a highly dangerous game of cat and mouse --- where the predators become the prey.
Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt
Director: Bennett Miller
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: January 10th
Based On: MONEYBALL by Michael Lewis  
Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s general manager, is leading a revolution. Reinventing his team on a budget, he needs to outsmart the richer teams. He signs undervalued players whom the scouts consider flawed but who have a knack for getting on base, scoring runs and winning games.
Cast: Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Blythe Danner
Director: Mark Mylod
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: January 10th
Based On: WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER? by Karyn Bosnak (previously published as 20 TIMES A LADY)  
When Delilah Darling reads a survey revealing that most people have 10.5 sexual partners in their lifetime, she begins to feel like a tramp. She’s slept with 19 men so far --- almost twice the national average. During a self-help moment, she vows to cap her “number” at 20, swearing she’ll save her last spot for the right guy. But after losing her job and having a wild night on the town, she falls into bed with Mr. Wrong. Unwilling to up her number, but also unable to imagine a life of celibacy, Delilah does the only thing a girl in her situation can do: she tracks down every man she’s ever slept with in a last-ditch effort to make it work with one of them.
Cast: Krysten Ritter, Ben Barnes, Robert Sheehan
Director: Nick Hamm
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: January 17th
Based on: KILLING BONO: I Was Bono's Doppelganger by Neil McCormick
Neil McCormick always knew he'd be famous. A young Irish songwriter and budding genius, nothing less than a life of rock n' roll stardom will do. But there's only room for one singer in the school band The Hype, and his friend Paul has already bagged the job. So Neil forms his own band with his brother Ivan, determined to leave The Hype in his wake. There's only one problem: The Hype have changed their name. To 'U2'. And Paul has turned into 'Bono'.
Naturally there's only one option for Neil: become bigger than U2. The brothers head to London in their quest for fame, but they are blighted by the injustices of the music industry, and their every action is dwarfed by the soaring success of their old school rivals. Then, just as they land some success of their own, Ivan discovers the shocking truth behind Neil's rivalry with U2, and it threatens to destroy everything.
As his rock n' roll dream crashes and burns, Neil feels like his failure is directly linked to Bono's success. Is he the yin to Bono's yang? Is he forever destined to live in the shadows of superstardom? And what if the answer lies in... killing Bono?
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo, Anthony Mackie, Kevin Durand, Hope Davis
Director: Shawn Levy
Distributor: DreamWorks Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: January 24th
Based on: The short story “Steel” in the collection STEEL: And Other Stories by Richard Matheson
Charlie Kenton is a washed-up fighter who lost his chance at a title when 2,000-pound, eight-foot-tall steel robots took over the ring. Now nothing but a small-time promoter, Charlie earns just enough money piecing together low-end bots from scrap metal to get from one underground boxing venue to the next. When Charlie hits rock bottom, he reluctantly teams up with his estranged son Max to build and train a championship contender. As the stakes in the brutal, no-holds-barred arena are raised, Charlie and Max, against all odds, get one last shot at a comeback.
Cast: Jack Black, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson
Director: David Frankel
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
MPAA Rating: PG
DVD Release Date: January 31st
Three obsessive bird watchers go off on their "Big Year," duking it out to spot and record the highest number of species in 1998 --- the year El Nino brought an unprecedented number of species to North America. During the course of their wild, ultra competitive adventure, the guys learn that there just may be other things more important than winning.
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Oscar Isaac, Albert Brooks. 
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Distributor: FilmDistrict
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: January 31st
Based On: DRIVE by James Sallis
Ryan Gosling stars as a Los Angeles wheelman for hire, stunt driving for movie productions by day and steering getaway vehicles for armed heists by night. Though a loner by nature, Driver can’t help falling in love with his beautiful neighbor Irene, a vulnerable young mother dragged into a dangerous underworld by the return of her ex-convict husband Standard.

After a heist intended to pay off Standard's protection money spins unpredictably out of control, Driver finds himself driving defense for the girl he loves, tailgated by a syndicate of deadly serious criminals. But when he realizes that the gangsters are after more than the bag of cash in his trunk --- that they're coming straight for Irene and her son --- Driver is forced to shift gears and go on offense.

Cast: Rutger Hauer, Michael York, Charlotte Rampling, Joanna Litwin, Dorota Lis
Director: Lech Majewski
Distributor: Kino International
MPAA Rating: Not rated
DVD Release Date:  January 31st
Based On: THE MILL AND THE CROSS: Peter Bruegel’s “Way to Calvary” by Michael Francis Gibson   
Pieter Bruegel’s epic masterpiece The Way To Calvary depicts the story of Christ’s Passion set in Flanders under brutal Spanish occupation in the year 1564, the very year Bruegel created his painting. From among the more than 500 figures that fill Bruegel’s remarkable canvas, The Mill & the Cross focuses on a dozen characters whose life stories unfold and intertwine in a panoramic landscape populated by villagers and red-caped horsemen. Among them are Bruegel himself, his friend and art collector Nicholas Jonghelinck, and the Virgin Mary.
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen
Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: January 31st
Based on: The sci-fi novella WHO GOES THERE by John W. Campbell Jr.
Antarctica: an extraordinary continent of awesome beauty. It is also home to an isolated outpost where a discovery full of scientific possibility becomes a mission of survival when a creature is unearthed by a crew of international scientists. In the thriller The Thing, paranoia spreads among a group of researchers as they encounter something inhuman that has the ability to turn itself into an exact replica of any living being.