ALEX COHEN, host:
From NPR News, it's Day to Day. An eclectic mix of movies arrived at the multiplexes this weekend, and to tell you what the nation's critics have to say about them, here is Mark Jordan Legan with Slate's Summary Judgment.
MARK JORDAN LEGAN: "Cadillac Records" chronicles the rise of the legendary R&B label Chess Records during the 1950s in Chicago. The title comes from the fact that when they first started out, the Chess brothers actually used to sell the albums from the trunk of their Cadillac. Many musical legends are portrayed in the film, from Beyonce as Etta James to Mos Def as Chuck Berry. Adrien Brody stars as label co-founder Leonard Chess.
(Soundbite of movie "Cadillac Records")
Mr. ADRIEN BRODY: (As Leonard Chess) Starting a business together, it's like starting a family. Appreciate that.
Mr. CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: (As Willie Dixon) Well, how come then you need me to sign this thing?
Mr. BRODY: (As Leonard Chess) Well, that's what people do in business.
LEGAN: Overall, "Cadillac Records" is getting strong reviews. Entertainment Weekly calls it an enjoyable ramble; the Wall Street Journal snaps, maybe a mess dramatically, but it's a wonderful mess; and New York Magazine sings, the ensemble is stupendous, and the music goes deep.
In limited release is the dark comedy "Nobel Son." Alan Rickman stars as a brilliant scientist who wins the Nobel Prize in chemistry, causing a huge rift with his competitive wife and son. Mary Steenburgen also stars.
(Soundbite of movie "Nobel Son")
Mr. ALAN RICKMAN: (As Eli Michaelson) You really feel comfortable carrying it across the mall and leaving it in the trunk of a car that thousands of people are tossing raffle tickets into? It's everything we have, Sarah.
Ms. MARY STEENBURGEN: (As Sarah Michaelson) It is not everything we have. We have our son, who we love more than any amount of money in the world.
LEGAN: According to the critics, "Nobel Son" won't be winning too many prizes. Even though Variety finds it an uneven but enjoyably titillating black comedy, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer so speaks for the majority of reviews with, "what finally sinks the film is that the more it tries to dazzle us, the more uninterested we become.
And hey, what says Christmas season more than Richard Nixon, huh? That's right. Director Ron Howard brings the successful stage play "Frost/Nixon" to the screen. It focuses on the infamous interviews that disgraced President Nixon gave to British television host David Frost after resigning in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. Frank Langella plays Nixon, and Michael Sheen portrays Frost.
(Soundbite of movie "Frost/Nixon")
Mr. MICHAEL SHEEN: (As David Frost) Just so I understand correctly, are you really saying that in certain situations, the president can decide whether it's in the best interests of the nation, and then do something illegal?
Mr. FRANK LANGELLA: (As Richard Nixon) I'm saying that when the president does it, that means it's not illegal.
LEGAN: "Frost/Nixon" is getting great notices. The Los Angeles Times raves, the result is involving, engrossing cinema; Newsweek promises, "Frost/Nixon'' works even better on screen, more intimate and suspenseful; and Rolling Stone shouts, a grabber of a movie laced with tension, stinging wit and potent human drama. Wow, can you imagine if "Nixon" becomes big box office? You know, it's the sort of thing that would go right to his head.
(As Richard Nixon) I was at Sky Bar last night with Ashton and Demi, and we were all laughing about how much we all enjoyed "Beverly Hills Chihuahua." The dog kind of reminded me of John Dean, the little rat. I've got to run. I'm late for sushi with Spielberg.
COHEN: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer who lives in Los Angeles.