In which I suggest – I would never tell you what to do – what to catch this weekend.
I won’t promise this is going to be funny, but it should be fun to watch: Jeff Bridges (yes, it’s Jeff day at “James on screenS”) hosts Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 ET). The show’s writing has been especially lame this season, and why it relies so heavily on Fred Armisen’s worse and worse Obama impersonation is beyond my imagining. But Bridges can make weak movie scripts way better than they should be (that means TRON: Legacy), so I’m betting he’ll even elevate SNL material.
Here’s a clip of three promos. It's worth waiting for the third, which features an appearance by the Coen brothers (sort of).
Ricky Gervais gets stronger and stronger as a stand-up, as I said in my full review. Ricky Gervais: Out of England 2: The Stand-Up Special (premieres HBO, Saturday, 10:00 ET) is irreverent, edgy, hilarious. This special would probably be the best on TV on any weekend; it’s the only sure thing in a season crammed with reruns and holiday goo.
In NY, LA and Toronto you can catch Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart’s amazing performances as grieving parents in the surprisingly buoyant Rabbit Hole (opening in more theaters next week and in mid-Jan.). Here’s my full review.
The newly opened major films are misses, but two high-profile films open wider today.
Don’t miss Black Swan, one of the year’s best. Natalie Portman is good as the possibly crazed ballet dancer, but director Darren Aronofsky is the real star of this psycho-thriller, The Red Shoes meets Hitchcock.
The Fighter, with Mark Wahlberg as a boxer given his last chance, doesn’t make that based-on-fact story fresh, but David O. Russell’s film is worth seeing for its terrific, possibly award-winning performances by Christian Bale as Wahlberg’s drugged-out brother and Melissa Leo as their hard-as-nails Mom.