Imagine you have a fantasy: to quit your job, sell your house, move abroad, start all over. What if, suddenly, the fantasy becomes possible? Do you follow through? Or do you discover that the dream is only appealing as a what-if—and if so, do you feel relieved? Ashamed? Unsure of who you are?
Revolutionary Road In Theaters:December 26 All these questions—big, scary questions about our identities and desires—are faced head-on in Revolutionary Road, adapted from Richard Yates' 1961 novel. As the young marrieds who yearn to break free of their suburban doldrums but can't foresee the consequences, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio (left) are devastating—their Titanic chemistry is as potent, and as heartrending, as ever.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button In Theaters:December 25 Revolutionary Road is one of several adaptations in theaters now. F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1922 story The Curious Case of Benjamin Button gets a second act in David Fincher's much-awaited film version, starring Brad Pitt in the Candide-like tale of a man who is born elderly and ages backward.
Doubt In Theaters:December 12 Broadway hit Doubt moves from stage to screen, with Meryl Streep as a nun who suspects a priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) of molesting a student.
Marley & Me In Theaters: December 25 Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson lead the cast of Marley & Me, based on John Grogan's best-seller about a dog who's as loyal and lovable as he is cluelessly destructive.
3 minutes, 26 seconds Hear Buena Vista Social Club's Omara Portuondo croon "Amame Como Soy" ("Love Me As I Am"), the simmering Cuban dance number that's a highlight of Gracias (World Village), the capstone to her 60-year-long career.
5 minutes Get a jump on January sales. At ShoppingNotes.com, just paste in the URL for any item you covet, and you'll receive an e-mail alert if the price drops.
15 minutes Listen to a Yaddocast, from the podcast series about the history of Yaddo, the legendary artists' residence, and its most famous guests. Subjects include Langston Hughes Saul Bellow, and Flannery O'Connor (Yaddo.org).
Art Meets Life
The well-heeled fantasia Gossip Girl is the current standard-bearer for depictions of randy, voluble teenagers tearing through the concrete jungle. But for a real-world alternative, two innovative new films blur the lines between scripted drama and documentary to create gripping immersion courses on urban youth.
In Up with Me (available now via IFC's movies-on-demand service), a prep-school student comes home on break to his rough Harlem neighborhood, where he makes a fateful decision to help a troubled friend. Director Greg Takoudes collaborated on the screenplay with his cast of mostly at-risk Harlem teens, who play fictionalized versions of themselves. (They also offered up their homes as movie sets.)
The Class (in limited release) stars real-life Paris teacher François Bégaudeau opposite a multicultural ensemble of junior high school students (above)—all nonprofessional actors—who contradict, inspire, and sometimes infuriate their devoted instructor. Winner of the 2008 Palme d'Or at Cannes, Laurent Cantet's drama portrays its crowded, rowdy classroom as a microcosm of democracy; the questions the film raises about the challenges facing public education are as urgent in America as they are in France.