Another seven days has come and gone, and brought us another slew of movie news, box office info, new official websites for upcoming movies and new trailers. So lets get right into it with this week's Notables.

NOTABLES

"M. Night Shyamalan Looking For The Green Effect" - Monday, January 29:

It sure does seem a lot longer than 7 and a half years since The Sixth Sense made the world remember the name M. Night Shyamalan. After the monstrous success of his breakthrough film, both commercially and critically, his flicks have become hotly anticipated. But it does seem that after every film he releases, the temperature goes down on the buzz just a little bit, until we get to where we are now: Night with a script that he can't seem to sell. It doesn't help that this new flick sounds a bit like The Day After Tomorrow and it seems like Shyamalan might benefit from a little bit of time off. You know, clear the old noggin and such. I'd rather see that than watch a new flick of his every two years and just seeing them get worse and worse. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Oliver Hirschbiegel To Direct The School" - Tuesday, January 30:

This is just some fantastic news here, folks. Hirschbiegel will become better known to American audiences this summer with his upcoming star-studded flick The Invasion. But this German director is a simply masterful filmmaker and the prime two examples of that statement can be seen in Das Experiment and his Oscar-nominated Downfall. Hirschbiegel is one of my absolute favorite across-the-pond filmmakers and it actually looks like this flick could be his best yet. It's a true-story adaptation about a Russian elementary school taken over by Chechen rebels in 2004, in which hundreds died. It just sounds like an immensely powerful film and, some more icing on the cake, the script is being handled by Braulio Mantovani who wrote the simply outstanding flick City Of God. Wow. I can't f*&^ing WAIT for this flick, folks! Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Russell Crowe to Star in Universal's Nottingham" - Wednesday, January 31:

I wish we'd get a little bit more about this one, but apparently it's a hot ticket. Crowe will star as the Sherrif of Nottingham in a "revisionist" take of Robin Hood. They don't say whether it will be a period piece or if they'll update it to the present day. They don't say anything, really, other than it will be a different take on the classic story. Whatever it is, it looks like they're off to a damn good start with Crowe and screenwriters Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris. I know, they wrote the fairly dull Bulletproof Monk, but they also created the marvelous Showtime mini-series Sleeper Cell, and that MORE than makes up for the Monk movie. This will surely be one to keep the proverbial eye on. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Paramount Vantage Has The Marc Pease Experience" - Thursday, February 1:

This one sounds rather interesting. We've got the marvelous Jason Schwartzman as the title character, a former star of his high school's musicals, still living in the past, 10 years removed from his graduation. Ben Stiller is in talks to play his former mentor who tries to show him there's more to life than the stage. The flick is also co-written and directed by Todd Louiso, who you'd recognize as the timid Dick from High Fidelity and many other flicks. I don't know, really. It doesn't sound like anything that'll set the world ablaze, but with all this talent surrounding the project, I just can't help but think that this quirky little comedy just might work after all. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Ang Lee to Direct A Little Game" - Thursday, February 1:

I knew this would be picked back up again, I just knew it. While it does suck that the original stars Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz won't be back, same with original director Gabrielle Muccino, I'm just glad that this is back on track. It's a very interesting concept, based off a French play, where a happily-engaged couple decides to play a little game with their friends. They decide to tell all their friends that they've broken off the engagement, only to learn what their friends really thought about their relationship. I'll be very interested to see who attaches themselves to this flick, now being written by James Schamus and directed by Ang Lee, both who've been working together for many a moon. I think this is some damn good news, and I can't wait to hear about the castings. Best News of the Week Nominee.

BOX OFFICE CORNER

Even though the Super Bowl is just one measley day out of the weekend, the Super Bowl weekend is normally far from super at the box office, and said theory held true this year. With only two new flicks at the theaters this weekend, and only one screening in more than 3,000 theaters, the numbers weren't too impressive all-around.

The two newbies took the top two spots this weekend, with The Messengers taking the top spot at the box office with $14.7 million. It was followed closely by Because I Said So, which took the silver medal with $13.1 million. Both flicks received eerily similar rollouts, with Messengers bowing in 2,528 theaters with Because just two theaters behind with 2,526. While both snagged some solid per-screen averages ($5,820 for Messengers, $5,125 for Because), both were raked over the proverbial coals by the critics. The Messengers received a whopping 13% "Fresh" rating from the nation's critics on Rotten Tomatoes and Because I Said So fared even worse with just a paltry 6% "Fresh" rating.

We saw some fairly hefty decreases this weekend as well, with last weekend's #1 and #2 flicks falling fast. Epic Movie dropped from first to third, grossing $8.4 million, a 54% decrease from last weekend and Smokin' Aces fell from 2nd to 5th, taking in $6.1 million and dropping 58% from last weekend. Night at the Museum, the only flick shown in more than 3,000 theaters (3,003, actually), still keeps holding strong, only dropping 33% and one position from 3rd to 4th, taking in $6.3 million. The Ben Stiller flick now stands at just over $225 million overall after 7 weeks in release. Boy, people must really be on a history kick at the theater, huh...

GOING LIVE

Across the Universe: (SonyPictures.com)

Another lame Sony teaser site here, folks. All we get is the Trailer, a very brief Synopsis and a link to Register for Updates. Blah. Across the Universe opens on September 28, in limited release.

Knocked Up: (KnockedUpMovie.com)

We don't get a whole lot here either, folks, which sucks because this sounds like a damn good movie. We get a very nice Synopsis but only four Photos to view. We get two AIM Icons and two Wallpapers in Downloads and the absolutely hilarious trailer. And, if you're over 18, you can watch the even more absolute and even more hilarious "red band" trailer. I wish we had more on here, but hopefully they throw some more goodies on here before it hits theaters on June 1.

Zodiac: (ZodiacMovie.com)

This is a pretty damn slick site, folks. The main page gives us a creepy night view of San Francisco as a back-drop, with the menus towards the bottom of the page. We get a really really brief Synopsis, a very nice gallery in Photos, the super-slick Trailer and then it gets really cool. The only two other things we get here is a Timeline and a thing called Washington and Cherry. The timeline isn't quite complete yet, but it's incredibly thorough, with full reports on some of the murders, a timeline of the nights of those murders individually and many other things to peruse. Washington and Cherry is the intersection where one of the victims died, and we get some more rather in-depth analysis of the scene. This is one of the most informative sites I've ever been on, with tons of info on the real-life killer this flick is based on, and, now, even moreso than I did before, I can't wait to see this flick. Zodiac opens on March 2.

TMNT: (TMNT.WarnerBros.com)

I don't say this a lot, but I think this site has way too much style. When you click on each of the whopping four different menus, they do this big thing and whisk you through the city to the next menu. It's ridiculously annoying, especially considering that the menus don't even have much to offer anyway. We get a brief synopsis in About the Film, the Cast menu is "coming soon," there are 16 nice images in Photos and we get some AIM Icons, Wallpapers and Screensavers in the Downloads menu. Along with the stupid menu transitions that take way too long, they overdo the sounds also, with these noisy sound effects flying all over the place if you run your mouse over almost anything. It's clear that they totally overdid the style of the site to overcompensate for having some crappy content. Maybe they'll add some more stuff here before its March 23 release date, but I doubt I'll care if they do.

TRAILER PARK

Sunshine:

Sure, you can make all the Armageddon or Deep Impact jokes you want, but this really doesn't look too bad, folks. For one, we've got the reunion of the 28 Days Later crew with writer Alex Garland, director Danny Boyle and star Cillian Murphy all coming together on Sunshine. That's a pretty damn good trio for my money, and though this might not be the most original flick out there, it should be pretty damn good anyway. Sunshine is currently looking for a release date.

Across the Universe:

Umm, wow. For one, it looks like a hippie/revolutionary version of Moulin Rouge which is set, well, across the frickin universe. It seems that it spans many years, many continents and even many different styles. The kicker of the whole trailer was this big proclamation at the end of how original and exhillarating this flick was. Of course, there wasn't a critic who said it, it's just the filmmakers own egotistical little opinion that they cram down our throats. This just looks like one big convoluted mess of a movie that's dressed up to make it look and seem like "art." Across the Universe opens on September 28.

BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK

Even though there was plenty of competition, it was a very easy pick this week with the awesome Oliver Hirschbiegel taking on The School. I'm serious, guys. Hirschbiegel is just an insanely good filmmaker, and I'm even MORE psyched for this with Braulio Mantovani writing the script for this, pairing one of the most talented international screenwriters with one of the most talented international directors. Go out and rent Mantovani's brilliant City Of God (which was directed by The Constant Gardener's Fernando Meirelles) and Hirschbiegel's two masterful flicks Das Experiment and Downfall and you've got an amazing movie night ahead of you. These two combined on a flick together, especially one like this that sounded superb BEFORE their involvement, and I think we've got one hell of a powerhouse flick on our hands, folks.

WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK

Only one choice this week and that's the downfall of M. Night Shyamalan for my Worst News of the Week. It's a little sad, really. I've heard people bitching about every one of his movies except The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. Personally, I've loved all of his flicks up until his last one, Lady In the Water. I still thought it was a decent movie, but still such a far cry from his earlier work that simply blew people away. I have no idea if it's the script that's so bad, or just that his rep is going down that much or maybe a little of both. It also sounds like his most expensive picture to date, and that doesn't help much. I don't know, Night. I love your stuff, but maybe it's time for a little break, so you can come back as the breathtaking visionary you started out as.

That's all for this week. Surf on by next week for more box office goodies, new official sites for upcoming flicks, new trailers and, of course, the best and worst news of the week. Take care folks and, always remember: if it looks like a good time, sounds like a good time and feels like a good time... it probably isn't free. Gallagher out!

Cinemark Movie Club