Spirit, Bashir Open for X-Mas

Having co-directed with Robert Rodriguez the filmed adaptation of his graphic novel Sin City, Frank Miller makes his eagerly awaited solo directorial debut with a classic comic-book property he grew up with. His stylized take on Will Eisner’s The Spirit comes to theaters on Dec. 25 courtesy of distributor Lionsgate. Moviegoers in New York and Los Angeles can also seek out the critically acclaimed animated documentary Waltz with Bashir, which opens in limited release.

Taking a page from Sin City and the blockbuster screen version of his 300 comic, Miller blends live-action with CG sets and effects to tell the story of a man who fakes his own death and becomes a legendary crime fighter. From the shadows of Central City, he tracks cold-blooded The Octopus and tries to cope with a bevy of beautiful women who either want to seduce, love or kill him. The film stars Gabriel Macht in the title role, with Samuel L. Jackson playing the part of The Octopus. Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, Sarah Paulson, Stana Katic, Dan Lauria, Jaime King, Paz Vega and Louis Lombardi round out the cast.

Reviews for the film haven’t been too kind, but moviegoers can at least look forward to some interesting visuals and comic-book action. The visual effects were created by Entity FX, The Orphanage, R!OT, Digital Dimension, Fuel VFX, Furious FX, Rising Sun Pictures, Cinesoup, LookFX and Ollin Studio.

Waltz with Bashir from Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman has been racking up awards and nominations this Awards season, and now moviegoers on either coast can see what all the fuss is about. Israel’s Academy Awards entry for Best Foreign-Language Film, the pic may also be up for Best Animated Feature when nominees are announced next month.

Co-produced by Bridgit Folman Film Gang and ITVS, the film documents Folman’s quest to recover memories and discover the truth about an Israeli army mission he participated in during the first Lebanon War of the early 1980s. Long-forgotten images begin to resurface as the director interviews old friends and comrades around the world regarding the events.

Bashir was named Best Foreign Film at the recent British Independent Film Awards and top animated film by the Los Angeles Film Critics’ Association. It was also included in the National Board of Review’s list of top-five foreign films of 2008, and is up for Annie and Critics’ Choice awards, among others.