5 Things. The movies turn their attention to war--and to the Beatles. On TV, a fun new soap about the teenage élite
The Brave One
Opens Friday, Sept. 14
When your lover dies, a part of you dies too. But in Erica Bain (Jodie Foster), a new spirit is borntough, ruthless, addicted to vengeance. This thriller, directed by Neil Jordan, has so many plot loopholes, it makes sense only as the fantasy of a bereaved soul. Or perhaps as an answer to the 1970s-era Death Wish films. Troubling and engrossing, it suggests that to become an urban hero, you first have to forget you're human.
Across the Universe
Opens Friday, Sept. 14
Beatles songs are the sound track to a '60s love story splashed on a canvas of social upheaval: race riots, student unrest and draft resistance. What did the four fab Englishmen have to do with all these American crises? We have no idea, and neither does the script. But director Julie Taymor is a picture magician, weaving the fine old songs into a psychedelic tapestry of animation and choreography.
In the Valley of Elah
Opens Friday, Sept. 21
Some U.S. GIs return from Iraq missing more than a limb. Their minds are not so much broken as AWOL. One soldier's father (Tommy Lee Jones) wants to know what happened to his boy, and a spunky cop (Charlize Theron) helps him locate the horror. Director Paul Haggis (Crash) mines all the nuances of love, loyalty and depravity in this searing, caring drama.
Beyond the Gates
On sale Sept. 18
The stark choices humans faced during the 1994 Rwandan genocide still rivet us. In this raw retelling, a priest (John Hurt) and a teacher (Hugh Dancy) must decide whether to stay and share the fate of 2,500 Tutsis, including a favorite pupil (Claire-Hope Ashley), who take refuge from Hutu thugs at their school. The tense action and graceful performances allay compassion fatigue.
Wednesdays, 9 p.m. E.T.
Josh Schwartz, creator of The O.C., fills the ironic-teen-soap void that's been open since, well, The O.C. was canceled. Manhattan prep schooler Serena (Blake Lively) returns from a mysterious exile and shakes up Upper East Side society. Packing a sharp designer shiv, this clever saga of haves vs. have-mores proves the East Coast can be as enjoyably sudsy as the West.
VIRAL-VIDEO WATCH: DOUBLES EDITION
Bill Murray's Downloading Ups and Downs
For celebs, Web videos are a double-edged sword: they can be tools for self-promotion or a means of mortification. For Bill Murray, the Net has supplied a bit of both recently. Funnyordie.com the folks behind Will Ferrell's The Landlord, just premiered FCU: Fact Checkers Unit, in which two overzealous magazine researchers stop at nothing to verify that Murray, playing his deadpan self, likes to drink milk. Also available online is Drunk Bill Murray Almost Fights a Guy, Break.com's blurry, 41-sec. clip of a fella who looks and sounds like Murray caught cranky on a New Orleans street. It appears that no one, however, recorded what could have been Murray's Zapruder tape--when Swedish police detained the Caddyshack star last month for driving a golf cart erratically. He says he wasn't drunk, just golfing.