SAG DISSENTERS MAY OUST NEGOTIATORS

Dissension within the Screen Actors Guild over the bargaining strategy of its leaders has reached the point that an effort has been launched to remove the entire negotiating committee and replace the members with a less obstreperous group, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Wednesday). At a board meeting on January 12, members of the dissident group are expected to call for disbanding the negotiating committee, then jump-starting negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers the Times said, probably by abandoning the union's demand for higher new media payments in exchange for additional pay increases.

BLU-RAY PLAYER TO DEBUT -- DISCS OPTIONAL

Korea's LG Electronics said Tuesday that its latest Blu-ray player, when connected to the Internet, will be able to stream 14,000 movies and TV shows from Cinema Now and millions of videos from YouTube. The company already has a deal with Netflix allowing users of the Blu-ray player to receive any of 12,000 movies available on the rental company's website. "From Blu-ray to instant streaming from Netflix to CinemaNow and YouTube, LG is bridging the gap between packaged media and video-on-demand services to provide entertainment solutions for consumers' demand for content," LG's product-development director Tim Alessi said in a statement.

LIONSGATE DISPIRITED BY SPIRIT RESULTS

Shares in Lionsgate Entertainment took a pounding Tuesday as analysts at investment bank Caris & Co. downgraded the shares to "above average" from "buy" on word of the poor theatrical opening of The Spirit, based on the Will Eisner comic superhero. "Explanation for the weakness came primarily from a smattering of negative reviews, coupled with heavy competition from Marley & Me, which opened with a stellar $37.0 million in gross receipts," Caris analyst David Miller said in a message to clients. He implied that the future health of the studio might well be tied to its January 16, 2009 release of My Bloody Valentine. Spirit was the second flop of the month for Lionsgate, which yanked Punisher: War Zone after the movie earned just $7 million during its first two weeks of release.

DEUTSCHLAND ÜBER BOX OFFICE

A week after Tom Cruise's Valkyrie , about the so-called general's plot to assassinate Hitler during World War II, opened strongly, two more dramas dealing with the Nazis are moving into theaters today (Wednesday) in limited release. Paramount Vantage opens the drama Defiance, starring Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jamie Bell, playing brothers who lead a group of Jewish resisters, and ThinkFilm opens Good, starring Viggo Mortensen and Jason Isaacs, about a German professor, hailed by the Nazis, and his Jewish friend.

MOVIE REVIEWS: DEFIANCE

Daniel Craig, in a wrenching departure from his James Bond character, and Liev Schreiber are receiving fine notices for their portrayals in Defiance of two Jewish brothers training others who have escaped into a Belarus forest how to battle the Nazis. Unlike Valkyrie, which makes no mention of the Jews exterminated under Hitler, Defiance attacks the notion that Eastern European Jews went resignedly to their deaths without resistance. A.O. Scott in the New York Times writes that the movie "presents itself as an explicit correction of the cultural record, a counterpoint to all those lachrymose World War II tales of helplessness and victimhood." However, he adds, by implying that Jews living in other areas of Nazi-occupied Europe had not been as tough as those shown in the movie, it "has the effect of making the timidity of the Jews, rather than the barbarity of the Nazis and the vicious opportunism of their allies, a principal cause of the Shoah." Other critics write admiringly of director Ed Zwick's intentions but suggest that they have been clumsily implemented. The movie, writes Robert Lowman in the New York Daily News, "has some compelling scenes but never makes connections." Lou Lumenick in the New York Post remarks that, in Zwick's hands, it becomes "basically an overgrown TV movie. There's mechanical plotting, war movie clichés and pedestrian dialogue." And Claudia Puig in USA Today concludes that the true-life story "is undeniably inspiring and ideally suited for a cinematic rendering. But Defiance resists bold, passionate storytelling and delivers something rather conventional."

MOVIE REVIEWS: GOOD

Good is also being praised for good intentions, although most critics agree that it's not so good. Stephen Holden in the New York Times calls it "anemic" and remarks that it "dances as skittishly around its subject as its protagonist blindly ignores portents of the impending Holocaust." Kyle Smith in the New York Post comments that the movie "has nothing new to say" about the Holocaust. "The banality of evil has met its match in the banality of Good, a Holocaust parable that barely registers a pulse," he observes. And commenting on the glut of Nazi-themed films that have filled theaters this year, Betsy Sharkey writes in the Los Angles Times: "To those who wonder if we really need Hollywood to give us more Holocaust stories, I would argue yes, just better ones than we get with Good."

Cinemark Movie Club