Advance reviews of films that aren't yet playing in Wichita are wildly mixed:
* Fans of Cormac McCarthy's " The Road" have been eagerly awaiting the film adaptation starring Viggo Mortensen since its release date was pushed back from last fall. A year later, and the film's release date in Wichita is still to be determined (it opened in other markets Wednesday). Early response is as hazy as an ash-covered planet:
"It seems a strange thing to say about one of the most depressing films ever offered as popular entertainment, but 'The Road' is a beautiful movie." —Robert W. Butler, Kansas City Star
"'The Road' possesses undeniable sweep and a grim kind of grandeur, but it ultimately plays like a zombie movie with literary pretensions." —Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
"Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning, Oprah-endorsed, post-apocalyptic survivalist prose poem... was a quick, lacerating read. John Hillcoat's literal adaptation is, by contrast, a long, dull slog." —J. Hoberman, Village Voice
* The wide release of Peter Jackson's much-anticipated " The Lovely Bones" was pushed back to January, with the film now opening in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 11, still making it eligible for Oscar consideration. Response is not unifyingly lovely:
"When else has the obscenity of child murder been the cause of such gravity and grace?" —Richard Corliss, Time Magazine
"Sebold's book showed us a world of pain, loss and love. That sense has been lost in translation." —Baz Bamigboye, Daily Mail
"A significant artistic disappointment." —Todd McCarthy, Variety
Indies in Wichita — Don't let the big-budget spectacle of the holiday movie season get all the attention. There are two small independent gems showing now in Wichita. See them while they're in town.
"An Education" won the world audience and world grand jury prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival, where newcomer Carey Mulligan won raves for her performance as a teen girl in 1960s London whose life changes when she meets a man nearly twice her age. He opens up her world to art and culture.
And don't let the dark subject matter of " Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" scare you away. It is bleak and brutal, yet hopeful and optimistic at the same time.
The story follows an obese, illiterate Harlem teen (Gabourey Sidibe), pregnant with her second child by her absent father and coping with a monstrous mother (Mo'Nique), as she tries to better her life at a new school.
The main character's transformation is transcending. We literally witness the birth of something beautiful.
And the acting by Sidibe and Mo'Nique (usually a comedian) is astounding — both are Oscar-worthy.