200801241353.jpgThere are at least two crackers in this week’s line-up. Firstly, Johnny Depp re-unites with Tim Burton for faithful adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s acclaimed musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Depp is in his finest form (despite not having a Broadway-strength voice) and is joined by a wonderful cast including Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Sacha Baron Cohen. Readings, Empire, Sky City Quensgate.

“The West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin returns to DC to script Charlie Wilson’s War: the true story of a renegade but principled playboy Congressman (Tom Hanks) who almost single-handedly funded the Afghan resistance to the Soviet invasion in the 1980s. I was surprised to see this wasn’t nominated for an Oscar in the Best Adapted Screenplay category but Philip Seymour Hoffman is in there as Supporting Actor for his excellent turn as impolitic CIA operative Gust Avrakotos. You can see this one at the Embassy, Readings and Sky City Queensgate.

[The rest of this week’s new release summarised after the jump…]

The Jane Austen Book Club is also an adaptation (of Karen Joy Fowler‘s best seller about a group of women who get together to read Austen‘s books and discover the unlikely parallels with their own lives). It features a strong cast including Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker, Jimmy Smits and Hugh Dancy. Perfect Penthouse-fodder and, sure enough, it plays there and at the Lighthouse in Petone.

Epic Movie was very near the top of my list of worst films of 2007 and, somehow, the makers of that fiasco have been given another chance with Meet the Spartans. Of course, the fact that Epic Movie made nearly a million dollars in NZ alone might have something to do with it: Readings and Sky City Queensgate only.

There’s a special bonus this weekend: sneak previews of surprise Best Picture nominee Juno at Readings, Rialto, Penthouse and Sky City Queensgate. Also, sneaking this weekend is Leonardo Di Caprio’s environmental documentary The 11th Hour: Rialto, Lighthouse Petone and Penthouse.

Sweeney Todd has already been reviewed at Funerals & Snakes and the others will show up next Wednesday (and in the Capital Times the same day). Also at F&S today are a couple of thoughts on the recent Academy Award nominations including a shout out to Wellingtonian Mike Hopkins for yet another Oscar nod – this time as Supervising Sound Editor on Transformers.