If you haven't heard about Christina Ricci, Samuel L. Jackson and Justin Timberlake's Southern Gothic exploitation movie, Black Snake Moan, you may have been living under a movie-free rock. Ricci plays a bad, bad girl who must learn to mend her ways under the racially and sexually fraught tutelage of jazz musician Jackson. How shall he do that? Why chain her to the radiator until she repents of course. One of this movie's key words on the IMDb profile is "nymphomania" so you can take that as either a recommendation or a warning. Four middle aged dudes on the back of motorcycles, doesn't get much sexier than that does it? John Travolta, William H. Macy, Martin Lawrence and Tim Allen take to the road in search of their virility in the new boomer comedy, Wild Hogs.
After a five year hiatus, the creep-out thriller genius David Fincher returns to the big screen with Zodiac, a story about the serial killer who terrorized San Francisco during the early '70s. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the SF Chronicle cartoonist whose puzzle solving skills got him the closest to finding the murderer in this still unsolved case. "Kid struggles to be popular" is a movie convention that's nearly as old as cinema itself. A new addition to the genre, Full Of It is about a pre-teen boy who lies to get into the inner circle and then has to put his money where his mouth is, so to speak.
Sally Field as a dying mother trying to reconnect with her four adult children? Get out the Kleenex because even just reading the premise of Two Weeks is enough to get the water works going. Ben Chaplin, Tom Cavanaugh and Julianne Nicholson all star as Field's kids who travel back to North Carolina to say goodbye to their mother.
The Museum of Modern Art begins a series devoted to the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami today which will run through the middle of March. One of the most celebrated filmmakers from the Middle East, Kiarostami's work often includes non-actors, narrative ellipses and poetic imagery. As the first retrospective in the U.S. of Kiarostami's work, the series will include digital and film work, in short and feature lengths, some of which have never before been screened in this country. The screening tonight at 7 pm of The Taste of Cherry, one of Kiarostami's masterworks, will be introduced by the director himself.
Grab your beret and your galoises, the Rendez-Vous With French Cinema series expands over to include the IFC Center as well as Walter Reade this weekend. The Page Turner explores revenge in the cut-throat world of professional classical music and Tell No One is a thriller like only the French can do with a rockin' cast including Nathalie Baye, André Dussollier, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jean Rochefort, François Berléand and Marina Hands.
Back before Chinese siren Gong Li was being fondled by Colin Farrell in the back of an SUV in Miami Vice, she made a series of lovely films with director Zhang Yimou. One of the most famous of their works from the '80s and '90s, the Oscar-nominated Raise the Red Lantern gets the revival treatment with a new 35 mm print this weekend at Film Forum. Gong plays Songlian, a poor former university student who is married off to a provincial rich man who already has three wives. As the new fourth wife her daily life consists of fighting with her back-stabbing maid, jockeying for power amongst the women and hoping each night that her husband will bestow upon her the red lanterns to illuminate her portion of the house. Zhang's use of color in the set and costume design, particularly the red accents, are breath-taking. If you're not familiar with his work pre-action spectacles like Hero, back when he was sweeping international film festival award ceremonies and the Chinese government refused to grant permission for their release in his home country, Red Lantern is a wonderful opportunity. However don't say Gothamist didn't warn you that watching this movie may make you fall deeply for Gong and her gorgeous, expressive face. She's utterly captivating.