Sony Pictures on Thursday released new information about its plans for Michael Jackson: This Is It, the movie being pieced together from a reported 100 hours of rehearsal footage that was shot prior to the singer's death in June. The studio, which reportedly paid $60 million for the raw footage, pushed the opening up two days to October 28, announced that it would remain in theaters just two weeks, and set September 27 as the date it would make tickets available. The studio also said that it had closed a deal with Kenny Ortega to oversee the movie. Ortega, who directed the High School Musicalmovies, had been the choreographer of Jackson's concerts, which had been set to take place at London's O2 arena. In a statement, Ortega said that as he had begun assembling the footage, "we realized we captured something extraordinary, unique, and very special. ... It is raw, emotional, moving, and powerful footage that captures his interactions with the 'This is It' collaborators that he had personally assembled for this once-in-a-lifetime project." Despite earlier reports to the contrary, the film will not contain any 3D elements, the studio said.


There is something about Quentin Tarrantino's work that polarizes both his audiences in general and film critics in particular. Never was that fact more evident than it is with his latest film, Inglourious Basterds,in which Tarrantino suggests that World War II could have ended far more quickly if the good guys had set aside such niceties as the Geneva Convention and had bashed a few German soldiers' heads with baseball bats and scalped them instead. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times calls it "a big, bold audacious war movie," and applauds: "For once, the basterds get what's coming to them." On the other hand, Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinelargues that the movie tops every other World War II movie in "awfulness." Inglourious Basterds, he writes, "is slow, dumb -- and in a first for QT in his cinema savant career -- incompetent." Manohla Dargis in the New York Timesagrees. "Rarely has one of his movies felt as interminable as this one," she writes. On a positive note, she praises the performance of Austrian actor Christoph Waltz as Nazi Col. Hans Landa and says that the film represents another testament to Tarantino's love for films. "The problem is that by making the star attraction of his latest film a most delightful Nazi, one whose smooth talk is as lovingly presented as his murderous violence, Mr. Tarantino has polluted that love." Claudia Puig in USA Today,however,is among those heaping praise on the film. Tarantino's "tall tale, with its tense and jangly pacing," she writes, "is immediately riveting." On the other hand, Joanne Kaufman remarks in the Wall Street Journal that "nothing about the emotionally unmooredInglourious Basterds adds up. Whether it's parody, farce or a fever dream is anyone's guess." But Tom Maurstad in the Dallas Morning Newssays that what it really adds up to is "tour-de-force filmmaking." Nonsense, contends Michael Sragow in the Baltimore Sun. "The only hope for Inglourious Basterds is that audiences will embrace it the way the Broadway crowd did 'Springtime for Hitler' [in Mel Brooks's The Producers]: because it's so bad they think it's good.


Quentin Tarrantino's Inglourious Basterdsmay be getting mixed reviews from leading U.S. critics; it is getting scathing reviews from the Jewish press. The national Jewish Daily Forwardcalls it "Jewish revenge porn." In Connecticut's Jewish Ledger, Michael Fox writes that since the film doesn't pretend to be historically accurate, "there's no percentage in railing against [it] as blathering, self-indulgent drivel." Nevertheless, he writes, Tarantino's plot amounts to "pages and pages and pages of amusingly pointless dialogue." He concludes, "Tarantino's riff on Nazis and Jews may amuse and satisfy less mature audiences. For those with a deeper and fuller understanding of the Third Reich and the Holocaust, particularly one gleaned from sources other than action movies, it is shockingly superficial." The movie features scenes in which the "good guys" scalp German soldiers, beat them to death with baseball bats for refusing to reveal the location of comrades, carve swastikas into the foreheads of those who do cooperate, and commit suicide bombings. Jonathan Foreman in Britain's Jewish Chroniclecomments, "There is something about the idea of inspiring holy terror by mutilation, decapitations, etc. that inevitably evokes today's real-life masters of cruelty and demoralization by atrocity, al-Qaeda."


Robert Rodriguez's Shorts doesn't hold much threat to the leading box-office contenders this weekend, critics seem to suggest. But they give it better-than-passing marks anyway. "It's slight but enjoyable family fare," Claudia Puig writes in USA Today.In the New York Daily News,Elizabeth Weitzman gives it points for providing "just enough smart, silly fun for families desperately seeking an easy (and air-conditioned) escape from hazy August humidity." Rodriguez casts his own children plus a niece in the movie. Amy Biancolli of the San Francisco Chroniclebrought her own child along to the press screening. "My fourth-grader giggled maniacally," she writes. "The 9-year-old in me did, too."