The conspiracies are swirling, the evangelical Christians are frothing at the mouth, it can only mean one thing: Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code opens this weekend. Will you get sucked in to the Hollywood thriller madness? It's not even Memorial Day yet but Gothamist already has summer blockbuster fever.

In case you've been living under a Dan Brown-free rock, The Da Vinci Code is an adaptation of Brown's best selling novel about a series of bizarre murders involving a cover-up over Christian doctrine. America's Sweetheart Tom Hanks stars as the sleuth with a strong supporting cast of Audrey Tautou, Paul Bettany, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno and Albert Molina. The film opened the Cannes film festival this past week and so far the reviews have been a bit middling to say the least. However, the marketing juggurnaut is in motion, so its doubtful that will deter most.

Another very hyped product hits the streets this weekend, the Dreamworks' animated picture Over the Hedge about some cute talking animals, a backyard and something to do with buying lots of stuff at Kmart, if the ubiquitous tie-in ads know anything. Should be good for the kiddies. For the more decerning viewer, Gael García Bernal stars in the Southern gothic indie the King, two great French actresses named Charlotte (Rampling and Gainsbourg) star in the thriller Lemming, and we're intrigued by Micheal Cuesta's next film after L.I.E. called 12 and Holding. Suburban dysfunction from indie directors can seem so much more palatable next to all of this pre-packaged Hollywood.

The Museum of the Moving Image as a part of their on-going, monthly best of martial arts series screens Tsui Hark's Time and Tide on Sunday at 1:30 pm. This Hong Kong director has made some of the best known period martial arts pics (the Once Upon A Time In China series) but with this excellent film he shows that the gravity defying idiom so perfect for sword fighting mystical samurai also works in a modern day setting. The cops and criminals run around the city but they're also able to fly up the sides of buildings, which makes for some breath-taking cinema.

Gothamist Pick:
Rashomon-2.JPGIf you want some old school sword-wielding, it doesn't get a lot better than Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon which plays this weekend at the IFC Center as a part of their Kurosawa Weekends at Noon program. You may have heard of this classic in the cinema canon, it's the same story told from three different points of view of a kidnapped woman, a murdered husband and a bandit in the forests of feudal Japan. However, it's a movie that's more than just its one sentence plot description. All we can say without getting into a longer post than is necessary is go see it if you've never done so. Movies of this caliber are essential for cultivating your cultural understanding as they are great works of art.

Production still from Rashomon. This chick is really scary in the movie. She rocks.