2007_04_arts_sigourneyweaver.jpgSnow Cake (directed by Marc Evans): A diagnosis of autism is usually characterized by a person having impaired social interaction, impaired communication and restricted or repetitive interests. The autistic character Sigourney Weaver plays in the festival favorite and new release this week, Snow Cake, has some of these traits but not others. She hates people except for her new friend Alex Hughes (Alan Rickman) and she must do her tidying rituals in the kitchen whether she's used it or not. But she does talk up a storm, in that wonderfully distinctively, almost patrician way that Sigourney Weaver delivers a statement. Like a queen, if queens sometimes grew up on the Eastern seaboard. It may seem like an odd combination, mentally challenged and Ms. Weaver, but actually, her performance as Linda is intriguing. Especially when she's surrounded by such excellent fellow performers as Rickman, as an emotionally withdrawn Englishman who was driving the car when Linda's daughter was killed in a car accident, and Carrie-Anne Moss, who plays the sexy neighbor giving Alex some "healing." Weaver's acting here is particularly interesting in contrast to her role as a high power, and hilariously offensive, TV executive in The TV Set, Jake Kasdan's movie about the Los Angeles pilot season also currently in theaters. That character, Lenny, also puts people off with her blunt, anti-social straight talk, though she's a highly paid businesswoman so it's slightly more acceptable behavior than autistic Linda's. Thanks to Weaver, both of these provocative women are worth a watch. It may have been a few years since Weaver's string of Oscar nominations, but with these intriguing performances in small independent movies, she's definitely back on the radar.

Other new movies in theaters this week include a psychic Nicolas Cage in Next, Jamie Kennedy doing his dumb white homie thing in Kickin' It Old Skool, the teen ghost movie The Invisible as well as WWE star Steve Austin and Vinnie Jones fighting for their lives in The Condemned.