2006_08_arts_niccage.jpgAs the summer season winds down over this Labor Day weekend, there's a few more big budget blockbusters vying for your attention. Nicolas Cage travels to a creepy island where a young girl has gone missing in Neil Labute's The Wicker Man. If you've ever seen the kitschy '70s original, you know this seems like an odd horror movie for a remake but maybe provocative Labute will make it more interesting than horrific. Playing a professional ass kicker, Jason Statham discovers he's been poisoned and has only an hour to live. Will he make it? You'll have to go see Crank to find out.

A basketball player trying to use his scholarship as an opportunity to get a med school degree is the story from Crossover, a sports drama starring Anthony Mackie, who gave such a stellar performance in Half Nelson. While his co-star Wayne Brady is so annoying he makes skin crawl, Mackie's acting could be worth the price of admission. Timmy and his faithful canine sidekick Lassie are back for another adventure in this new kids flick, aptly named Lassie. Set in the late '30s, Lassie has been sold to a wealthy family but travels many miles to get home to her beloved home in Yorkshire. We can feel the tears welling up already.

Mutual Appreciation, the second film by young director Andrew Bujalski begins its theatrical run this weekend at Cinema Village as a part of indieWire's Undiscovered Gems series. Set in Williamsburg, Justin Rice plays Alan, a musician who's recently hit town with lots of indie rock dreams and not a whole lot of capital. He spends his days dodging his Dad's phone calls, trying to drum up gigs and hanging out with his friends, Ellie (Rachel Clift) and Lawrence (Bujalski), whose relationship he seems to be disrupting. Shot in black and white and filled with scenes which are mostly just the banal moments of real life, Mutual Appreciation is both hipster arty and yet feels authentic. You can read an interview with director Andrew Bujalski on indieWire, posted earlier this week.

If you've been sorely missing some over the top comedy, '50s style, Film Forum has come to your aid with their mini Tashlin series which kicks off this weekend. We've heard raves about his 1957 flick, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? which begins the run on Friday. It stars Tony Randall and the completely babelicious Jayne Mansfield in a satire of the post war Madison Avenue ad game.

Over at the Pioneer Theater at Two Boots, they're continuing the Vloggers Unite series with LOL, an indie made with non professional actors and video contributions from around the world. Also worth venturing to the East Village for is a late night screening of the '60s classic, Easy Rider. If you're not able to get out of town for the long weekend, consider this your escape as Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, who also directs, take to the open road aboard their bad ass choppers. This is one of the movies that really encapsulates its decade and shouldn't be missed. It plays this Saturday at 11 pm, and the subsequent 5 Saturdays at the same time, so you have a few chances to catch it.

Gothamist Pick:
If the MPAA and the whole ratings system always seemed to you like an elaborate racket to keep filmmakers under their ideological thumb, you're not alone. A new documentary that got raves at this year's Sundance Film Festival, This Film Is Not Yet Rated comes out this weekend. In it, filmmaker Kirby Dick tries to pull back the curtain over this shadowy organization which decides what can stay in movies and what should be cut. He's uses a private investigator and whatever means necessary to expose who exactly is making these movie choices. A controversial flick to say the least, it features interviews with cinematic envelope pushers like John Waters, Kimberly Pierce, Matt Stone and Atom Egoyan.

Nicolas Cage wants Ellen Burstyn to tell him what's up with the folks from Summersisle in this Production Still from The Wicker Man.