Billy Bob Thorton sets aside his raunchy Bad Santa persona with his new family movie The Astronaut Farmer about a man building a rocket in his backyard. This family drama looks cheesy like Velveeta from the previews, but hey, that's what you expect with these "ordinary Dad does extraordinary thing" movies. They're always heavy on the sentiment. Jim Carrey senses the universe may be trying to communicate mysteries to him through numerology and a book in his newest movie, The Number 23. Freaky factoid: Virginia Madsen plays the wife in both of these new movies, mere coincidence or a part of a vast Hollywood conspiracy? We'll leave that up to you to decide. Here's an excuse for TV addicts to leave the couch: the popular Comedy Central cop spoof Reno 911: Miami also comes to big screens this weekend.

2007_02_arts_glastonberry.jpgIoan Gruffudd, a very hunky Welshman with a name that's difficult to pronounce, stars in the historical drama Amazing Grace about one man's crusade to end slavery in the English empire. If you have a thing for dudes in powdered wigs, this movie could be just what you're looking for. Speaking of the UK, not everyone has the chance to head across the pond for the annual English music festival Glastonbury, so fortunately documentarian Julian Temple was on hand to record the 30th anniversary for the rest of us. Glastonbury features rockin' footage of such luminaries as Björk, David Bowie, Nick Cave, James Brown and Morrissey [pictured in the above production still].

Siblings who are too close for comfort, wasn't that an episode on Will and Grace? Oh well, it obviously deserves the feature film treatment too in Gray Matters, a new romantic comedy starring Heather Graham and Tom Cavanaugh, as a brother and sister each looking to find the other a match but falling for the same girl. Chances are if you've seen James McAvoy in a movie lately he's seemed a little overshadowed by the CGI lions in The Chronicles of Narnia and Oscar-nominee Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. Now McAvoy gets his own chance to command the screen in his comedy about British university life circa 1985 in Starter for 10.

Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-Liang knows how to push buttons with his movies, but his film from 2005 The Wayward Cloud really goes beyond even his usually permeable boundaries. Starring his skinny muse Lee Kang-sheng in a follow up to 2001's What Time Is It There?, Wayward includes such disparate elements as a nationwide drought, watermelon fetishes and boutique porn film production. It's finally getting its U.S. theatrical premiere run at Anthology Film Archives starting this weekend.

One of the most rip roaring good times at this year's New York Film Festival was Korean director Bong Joon-Ho's disaster flick, The Host. In anticipation of this hilarious and heart-wrenching movie's theatrical release, IFC Center will be showing a mini-fest of his signature movies, including a screening of The Host on Tuesday at 8:30 pm, with Bong in attendance. The Host has both political commentary and action-packed monster thrills; it's like a Godzilla for the twenty-first century. Bong's dark humor is quite fun, try to check out at least a few of his films while you have the chance to see them on a big screen.

When you feel overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of New York but can't afford a weekend on a desert island, a meditative movie can serve a more affordable respite. German director Philip Gröning took an usual hiatus from city life when he spent six months in a French mountain monastery living with the Carthusian monks and filming their lives. Into Great Silence is the result of his efforts and with a leisurely running time of 2 hours and 42 minutes, it's more of an extended moving photograph than a narrative film. Also, because the monks spend most of their days in silence, the soundtrack is strikingly stark punctuated by some Gregorian chants or the twittering of birds outside a cell window. While the movie doesn't seem to want to fill in the "why" of a monastic life, spending time contemplating the "how" of a life spent devoted to prayer is well worth it.

Gothamist Pick:
A major highlight in the Asian Film Festival a few years ago, and the winner of their audience award, Gothamist is psyched Japanese director Katsuhito Ishii's The Taste of Tea will be screening at the ImaginAsian theater this weekend. A story about an extended family living in the suburbs, Tea introduces you to the most charming cast of misfit characters, whose hilarious quirks and fantastical imaginations make the Little Miss Sunshine family seem like the Cleavers. Son Hajime is in falling in love for the first time, daughter Sachiko thinks there might be a giant version of herself lurking around the house and their grandfather's singing skills, well, they have to be seen to be believed. Ishii is most famous in this country for having directed the animated sequence in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, but his sweet and tender yet totally irreverent side exhibited in this movie will make you completely fall in love with his unique film making. Try not to miss this movie, it's an utter gem. [More of the Cinecultist's ecstatic rave when we saw it in 2005.]