By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
By Raillan Brooks
V for Vendetta
Advance word is very strong about this dystopian thriller based on a brilliant graphic novel by Alan Moore (From Hell) and David Lloyd. Longtime Wachowski brothers associate James McTeigue directs their screenplay, in which a lone terrorist (or patriot, if you prefer) attempts to destroy England's totalitarian regime by, among other things, blowing up Big Ben.
Those confident of Veronica Mars's status as best teen chick private-dick drama on TV will be excited for writer-director Rian Johnson's debut feature, a noirish SoCal HS mystery starring the newly excellent Joseph Gordon-Levitt, last seen pining for his perverted Little League coach in Gregg Araki's well-crafted Mysterious Skin.
Spike Lee re-ups with Denzel Washington for a fourth time to brush the amorphous disappointment that was She Hate Me off his shoulders with a twisty police procedural that basks in Denzel's post Training Day roguishness. The ever exceptional Clive Owen will surely do what he can with the rote role of dapper bank robber, matching wits with Washington's detective and, um, Jodie Foster, who apparently enjoys confined spaces.
The concluding chapter of Park Chanwook's "revenge trilogy," Lady Vengeance is sure to be in grisly keeping with its predecessors, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy.
Indie godhead Steve Buscemi directs Casey Affleck in this tale of a troubled slacker who returns to his dysfunctional family and is redeemed by the love of a good woman. But it's totally different from Garden State. This one is set in Indiana.
Drawing Restraint 9
For some, the prospect of a new Matthew Barney film may be as alluring as, well, dental surgery, but for others, the release of another gooey Barney mash-up (this time: Bj throat-singing, whaling, Will Oldham, amputation, and, of course, Vaseline) will whet the appetite for at least eight more films.
From Drumline and TLCBoyz II Men producer Dallas Austin comes this match made in heaven: hip-hop and roller-skating. C'mon, you'd have been this excited even if the film kept its working (and better?) title, Jellybeans. Tip Harris, whom you may know as rap's Rubberband Man the self-professed King of the South, T.I.stars; feature debutant Chris Robinson directs.
Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!
At a stop on their 2004 tour, the Beastie Boys gave 50 of their fans cameras and told them to shoot the concert however they saw fit. Audiences will have to decide if the result is a radical new take on the classic concert film or merely an invitation to a wicked case of motion sickness.
Basic Instinct 2
Fourteen years after her legs uncrossed their way into America's heart, Sharon Stone's nether regions are back in the role that made them a star. This time Stone's Catherine Tramell is scheming and screwing her way across Europe, where David Morrissey's psychiatrist falls under her spell. Stone, who turns 48 this month, must know a good physical trainer or a great airbrush artist.
If anyone can reinvigorate the horror-comedy genre, it's writer-director James Gunn (Tromeo and Juliet) and star Nathan Fillion, who brought a devil-may-care charisma and subtle comic timing to last year's Serenity. Here he plays a small-town sheriff battling alien slugs that turns people into hideous monsters. Those poor alien slugs, they really need to get a better publicist.
If you're a Rob Schneider fan we've got good news and bad news. The good news is Schneider stars in The Benchwarmers, a losers-make-good sports comedy co-starring David Spade andNapoleon Dynamite's Jon Heder. The bad news? You're a Rob Schneider fan.
Now infamous for the controversy that attended Natalie Portman's canoodling with co-star Aki Avni near Jerusalem's Western Wall, Amos Gitai's Free Zone might be more notable as the first Israeli film shot in Jordan. The film follows a young Jewish American woman's aimless cab ride into Jordan's "free zone," with a middle-aged Israeli woman (Hanna Laszlo) at the helm.
Friends With Money
Writer-director Nicole Holofcener's first film in five years sports a veritable Murderers' Row of indie actresses: Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand, and, batting cleanup, Jennifer Aniston, as the sole directionless single among a group of married, successful friends.
From Eminem (8 Mile) to chicks 'n' heels (In Her Shoes) to his latest, a drama set in the world of high-stakes poker, Curtis Hanson continues his quest to be the most desultory director in Hollywood. Eric Bana stars as an emotionally troubled professional gambler who bumps into his estranged dad (Robert Duvall) at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Awkward!
Take the Lead
The still caliente Antonio Banderas stars in this twice-told tale (featured in last year's documentary Mad Hot Ballroom) about a dancer who teaches ballroom to NYC students. This time around, the kids have been changed from 11 year olds to teenagers (to up the sex factor, presumably) and the teacher changed from French to Spanish (ditto).