It’s no secret that Hollywood saves some of its biggest guns for the end of the year, and between all the awards season hopefuls and holiday blockbusters, there’s an entire arsenal of exciting movies coming to theaters this December. While Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hooper and Quentin Tarantino duke it for Oscar honors with their newest films, “Jack Reacher” and “The Hobbit” promise to deliver pure escapist entertainment. The only thing missing is a big red bow, because this is the ultimate present for film lovers.
“HYDE PARK ON HUDSON”
Who: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Williams, Olivia Colman and Samuel West What: The story of the love affair between FDR and his distant cousin Margaret Stuckley during the weekend in 1939 when the King of England visited upstate New York. When: December 7th Why: Bill Murray is notoriously picky about choosing scripts, but not even he could turn down the chance to play Franklin D. Roosevelt, which practically comes with an Oscar nomination attached to it. All kidding aside, Murray is actually a pretty inspired choice to play the wheelchair-bound 32nd President, especially because Roger Michell’s film appears to be much lighter for a story that takes place during such a harrowing period in history. While it’s unlikely that “Hyde Park on Hudson” will garner the same awards recognition as 2010’s “The King’s Speech” (although the two movies would make a perfect double feature), it’s hard to imagine that it will disappoint with such a solid cast.
“THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY”
Who: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis and Hugo Weaving What: Bilbo Baggins journeys to the Lonely Mountain with a vigorous group of dwarves to reclaim a treasure stolen from them by the dragon Smaug. When: December 14th Why: After years stuck in development hell due to the MGM bankruptcy crisis, the most anticipated prequel to come out of Hollywood since “The Phantom Menace” is finally arriving in theaters, although not exactly in the way that most people were expecting. For starters, Peter Jackson is back in the director’s chair after Guillermo del Toro cut his losses to work on other projects (and really, it’s for the better), while two movies have now become three after the decision was made to turn “The Hobbit” into its own trilogy. Though I’m not exactly sure how Jackson plans to do that (especially when Part One, subtitled “An Unexpected Journey,” will reportedly run 160 minutes long), that doesn’t make me any less thrilled about getting the chance to revisit Middle Earth all over again.
“ZERO DARK THIRTY”
Who: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Kyle Chandler, Chris Pratt and Jason Clarke What: A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks, and his death at the hands of Navy SEAL Team Six. When: December 19th Why: The last time director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal got together, they made the superb military thriller “The Hurt Locker,” which went on to win six Oscars, including ones for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. The pair has reportedly been working on a movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden for quite some time – so long, in fact, that they had to completely rewrite it after the al-Qaeda leader’s death in 2011 – but if there’s one film with the potential to outdo their last collaboration, “Zero Dark Thirty” is it. Though the movie is clearly much larger in scope than “The Hurt Locker,” with a lot of moving parts and an incredible ensemble cast too big to list here, if Bigelow and Boal get it right, this could be the movie event of the year.
Much like the month before it, October isn’t exactly overflowing with quality, but what it lacks in that area it more than makes up for with plenty of variety. Though there aren’t many films worth getting genuinely excited about, the schedule does provide some audience-friendly fare as well as an early look at a few potential awards contenders.
Who: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace and Rade Serbedzija What: In Istanbul, retired CIA operative Bryan Mills and his wife are taken hostage by the father of a kidnapper Mills killed while rescuing his daughter. When: October 5th Why: Though it’s one of those sequels that doesn’t really need to exist, the original film was so much fun (not to mention made a decent bit of coin at the box office) that it’s not surprising Fox was so quick to greenlight another installment. After playing the helpless victim in the first movie, it’ll be refreshing to see Maggie Grace get in on the action this time around, even if all people care about is watching Liam Neeson kick ass and take names. Granted, the setup is ridiculous, as it’s hard to imagine the villains would have the resources to track down Neeson’s character, let alone know when he’s in a different country (a U.S.-based story would have been much more exciting), but it’s one of those details you just have to ignore in order to enjoy the movie for the action fantasy that it is.
Who: Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron and John Cusack What: A reporter returns to his Florida hometown to investigate a case involving a death row inmate. When: October 5th Why: Unlike most of Hollywood, Lee Daniel’s “Precious” failed to convince me that it was anything more than a well-made afterschool special, so I’m curious to see what he’s able to do with his latest film, a pulpy erotic thriller featuring a trio of dependable actors. Though it’s been awhile since Nicole Kidman or John Cusack did anything of note, you can never count them out, while Matthew McConaughey has been on a bit of hot streak recently. The wild card of the cast is undoubtedly Zac Efron, because despite the actor’s dogged determination to shed his “High School Musical” image with more adult roles, he’s yet to really prove that he has the talent to back it up. Reaction was pretty mixed when the movie debuted at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (not terribly surprising considering the material), so you would be wise to approach it with caution.
Who: Jennifer Garner, Yara Shahidi, Ty Burrell, Olivia Wilde and Rob Corddry What: An adopted girl discovers her talent for butter carving and finds herself pitted against an ambitious local woman in their small town’s annual contest. When: October 5th Why: A black comedy that takes place in the offbeat and seemingly trivial world of butter carving competitions? What’s not to love? The concept sounds like something that Alexander Payne might make (it’s especially reminiscent of his 1999 cult hit “Election”), but while that may speak well of the movie’s potential, it’s a little worrying that it’s take so long to get a theatrical release. Directed by Jim Field Smith, who also made the underrated rom-com “She’s Out of My League,” “Butter” played the festival circuit at the end of last year, but the Weinstein Co. hasn’t shown a lot of confidence in the movie by dumping it in October. With that said, however, the cast is awesome (Jennifer Garner is great at playing the uptight socialite), and the script by newbie Jason A. Micallef landed a spot on the 2008 Black List. That doesn’t guarantee it will be any good, but it helps.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced the release of several exciting new products today, including new desktops and notebooks for both professionals and consumers. Continuing in the direction in which the company has been going, these new models are sleek, stylish and equipped with many advanced features, such as Beats Audio, HP TrueVision webcams and a choice of Intel or AMD processors. Let’s take a look at some of the innovations HP has in store for the near future, beginning as soon as late October.
The HP Spectre is a very nice looking ultra-thin all-in-one desktop with a 23-inch flush glass display, 3rd Generation Intel processors and an optional solid-state drive. Perhaps most impressive of all, it features near field communication (NFC) technology that allows easy wireless sharing of photos, contacts, websites and more, all with a simple tap of the touch-sensitive screen. In fact, the Spectre can be used in conjunction with a user’s smartphone or tablet, which then becomes like a remote control for the computer’s operation. The Spectre is expected to be available in the United States on November 14, at a starting price of $1,299. The HP ENVY 20 and ENVY 23 TouchSmart PCs and the HP Pavilion 20 All-in-One PC also feature this technology, and will be available in the United States on October 23, at even lower starting prices. These devices are all a step up from traditional non-mobile units in that they provide connectivity with mobile devices the consumer may already have.
Some of the most impressive new devices announced by HP today are its notebooks, the HP ENVY m4 Notebook, and the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 14 and 15 PCs. The latter are especially nice-looking, in sparkling black or ruby red finishes, with super-slim, lightweight design. They each weigh under four pounds and measure only 21 mm thick, and at a starting price of under $500, they offer many of the same features as most $1,000+ models.
The HP ENVY m4 Notebook, on the other hand, features faster renders and more powerful graphics than the Sleekbook series, as well as a few very innovative HP exclusive features. CoolSense is a new development from HP that keeps the exterior of the notebook cool during extended use, and SimplePass is an extraordinary new security technology that uses fingerprint identification instead of typed passwords. In fact, each of a user’s fingers can be programmed to a different website, if the user so desires. For example, your index finger could bring up Facebook, while your middle finger accesses YouTube, etc. With these and other cutting-edge devices, it is easy to see why HP remains on top of the game for both professional and consumer electronics.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) previewed a number of exciting new products on the evening of Tuesday, August 27, most of which will be available in December of this year or January of next year. Unfortunately, there is a non-disclosure agreement in place until Thursday, September 20, for many of these products, so tune in on that day to find out more. For now, though, let’s take a look at three impressive new laptops offered by HP.
The HP Spectre TouchSmart Ultrabook is a sleek, stylish, 4.77 pound notebook with a 15.6-inch screen featuring edge-to-edge glass. It is a multitouch touchscreen device that also features a fully functioning keyboard and a full array of ports, including Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, and HDMI. It is also HP’s first notebook to feature Intel Thunderbolt technology, a new technology similar to FireWire, but not based on it. Also used by Apple, Intel Thunderbolt allows for high-speed connectivity and daisy chaining of multiple devices. The slightly smaller HP ENVY TouchSmart Ultrabook 4 features a 14-inch multitouch HD display with a backlit keyboard and a subwoofer featuring Beats Audio. It delivers up to eight hours of battery life and, like the Spectre Ultrabook, is expected to be available in the United States in December, with a starting price of $1,399.
The HP ENVY x2 takes the touchscreen and keyboard synergy of these devices to a whole new level. The ENVY x2 is a tablet and a laptop at the same time, with a detachable 11.6-inch diagonal HD touch display featuring IPS technology. It has a sleek aluminum finish and an innovative hinge system with magnets that smoothly guide the tablet portion into place with the keyboard, which, when opened, wedges up from the table or other surface on which it rests, providing a more convenient angle for typing. The ENVY x2 features Beats Audio, NFC technology and an optional stylus, as well as two different types of cameras for its two different operational modes: an HD webcam on the front and an 8.0 megapixel camera on the back. It is also expected to be available in December.
With these and other devices previewed recently, HP continues to move in the direction of thinner, lighter laptops without sacrificing its many innovative features. Don’t forget to check back with us on September 20 to see what other exciting new products HP has in store.