Happy Halloween, and welcome to another edition of Defamer Attractions, your weekly guide to everything new, noteworthy and potentially stillborn at the movies. Today we survey a wasteland of R-rated comedies, Disney leftovers and Oscar-season prestige offerings, all battling the holiday for audience dollars. Among them we'll spot this week's likeliest underachiever and its most worthy underdog, with a few worthwhile DVD releases bringing up the rear. As always, our opinions are our own, but they will be the envy of all your friends when sorting through your candy later tonight.WHAT'S NEW: The Pepto-Bismol is on ice at Weinstein Co. headquarters, where Harvey awaits the numbers for Kevin Smith's hopeful studio-savior Zack and Miri Make a Porno. But anyone who has followed our own prophetic Zack and Miri coverage since last summer is at least a couple steps ahead: Our predicted $14 million opening is right about where the raunchy Seth Rogen/Elizabeth Banks comedy is tracking, faced with heavy competition from holdover Saw V and other holiday hellraising outside the 'plex. Still, it's not a terrible showing; it will fall about $4 million shy of High School Musical 3's number-one spot, but should have relatively strong legs in weeks two and three, which is about the most Harvey can hope for with a movie he can't even market accurately. Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie's Changling killed last week in limited release ($33,000 per screen) on its way to an 1,800-screen expansion today. Jolie portrays Christine Collins, whose son's kidnapping in 1928 led to one of the most damning police-corruption scandals in Los Angeles history. Plenty of critics are down on the star as some hysterical dervish chewing up Eastwood's period scenery, but we don't see the point in criticizing an unapoloegtic melodrama for being successful at what it does. Eastwood cranks out lugubrious movies for adults, emphasizing presence and technique; Jolie matches him step-for-step. What's the problem? It's a likely top-three finisher at $10.7 million and probably the best thing going wide today, and either way it's preferable to dealing with costumed punks at your doorstep for three hours. Also opening: The animated suspense anthology Fear(s) of the Dark; the midnight-movie horror-comedy-romance Just Buried; the indie gorefest Splinter; and the bleak circus dramedy Little Big Top. THE BIG LOSER: The teen-possesion The Haunting of Molly Hartley has little but a brow-furrowed turn from Chace Crawford and a laugh-out-loud trailer voiceover from the late Don LaFontaine to recommend it. If this breaks $4 million this weekend en route to Flopz, we will personally finance the sequel ourselves.
THE UNDERDOG: Paul Krik's 9/11-noir Able Danger is a nifty, paranoiac piece of work, a kind of Maltese Falcon meets JFK rendered in startling monochrome that defies the far more complicated scenario faced by its protagonist: Adam Nee plays a Brooklyn bookshop staffer and renowned conspiracy theorist chipping away at the German connection to the 9/11 terrorists. A mysterious femme fatale (Elina Löwensohn) drops in from nowhere, exposing the writer and his colleagues to secret agents, counteragents and all the deadly cloak-and-dagger mischief they imply. Krik's deft chemistry of density, humor and style are all the more admirable for the microbudget that enabled them; even if you don't understand a lick of it (and we can't say we've quite caught up ourselves), we think you'll appreciate the opportunity to give it a try. FOR SHUT-INS: New DVD release include the Halloween must-see Zombie Strippers and a surplus of diverse, essential TV collections: NewsRadio: The Complete Series, Good Times: The Complete Series, Sanford and Son: The Complete Series and The Flintstones: The Complete Series. It must be the holidays. So are you into Porno? Is it your time to catch up with HSM3? More importantly, have you seen Synecdoche, New York yet? Get on it, already; this week's crop seems to be making it easy for you.