Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your one and only guide to everything new, noteworthy and potentially noxious at the movies. This week sees Oliver Stone officially establish the land-speed record for producing an Oscar contender, joined by skull-cracking Mark Wahlberg, sex-driving Seth Green and our diva-colored underdog. As always, someone's gotta lose; we'll call our shot there, too, along with cherry-picking through a new crop of DVD's. As always, our opinions are our own, but we have little doubt they would look great on you. Try them on after the jump.WHAT'S NEW: No one would argue that Mark Wahlberg's video-game adaptation Max Payne won't win the weekend, but with Beverly Hills Chihuahua still barking in theaters (it actually expands by 32 screens this week), the sour-cop actioner might see a tiny bite out of its margin of victory. Still, $20.8 million is a reliable bet, with Disney's purse dog settling settling with around $11.5 million. The X factor is W., the Bush biopic which some forecasters see sneaking into second place with as much as $12 million. But to project any more than $10 million, maybe $11 million max is to overestimate it as anything more than a curio, an election-year stunt that wields neither the bite nor the influence that even we thought it would when the fall movie season began. Josh Brolin drawls and squints in fitful, fascinating bursts, and certain imagined powwows leading up to the 2003 Iraq invasion make for riveting ensemble drama. On the whole, though, W. connotes the rush job it was — undisciplined, tonally dissonant (Stone's professed empathy for Bush repeatedly knocks its head on low-hanging satirical fruit) and way, way too long. The American people deserve better, and at least until Nov. 4, they'll vote with their dollars. There will be no stealing this election. Also opening: Seth Green's R-rated romp Sex Drive; Roy Disney's boat-race vanity project Morning Light; critic Godfrey Cheshire's acclaimed doc filmmaking bow Moving Midway; the indie tolerance drama Tru Loved; and for those of you in New York (and the rest of you on VOD), Madonna's directorial debut Filth and Wisdom. (L.A. will get its theatrical engagement Oct. 31.) THE BIG LOSER: The Barry Levinson-directed/Robert De Niro-starring Hollywood satire What Just Happened is one of the year's finest case-studies in meta: A troubled, pedigreed film about troubled, pedigreed filmmaking, following in the flatlining tradition of every industry saga that preceded it. It false-started out of Sundance last January but finally found a taker at Cannes, and to its credit, Magnolia Pictures has aggressively pushed the film everywhere from baseball playoffs to presidential debates. Still, one half of that audience hates Hollywood, and the other half is off to see W. As recipes for disaster go — even in limited release — this one is ready to serve.
THE UNDERDOG: Is it too reductive of us to foresee good things for The Secret Life of Bees — a film featuring an Oscar-winner (Jennifer Hudson), a Grammy winner (Alicia Keys), two Oscar nominees (Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo) and America's favorite teen diva Dakota Fanning, presented in a nicely bundled chick-flick wrapper by the money-printers at Fox Searchlight? Like $7.3 million worth of good things? FOR SHUT-INS: This week's new DVD releases include last summer's rapey adventure Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; Errol Morris's dense, harrowing Abu Ghraib documentary Standard Operating Procedure; the Stephen Rea-in-Mena Suvari's-windshield thriller Stuck; and the much-awaited Nash Bridges: The First Season. So is it time for Payne? Or is today brought to you by the letter W.? Or is this the weekend you clean up after Papi and Co.? Whatever you decide, don't leave Dakota Fanning out; her curfew is later these days, and she'll hunt you down without thinking twice. Choose wisely!