There's two majorly horrific films coming out this weekend, though only some of the frights are intentional. Gaspard Ulliel seemed like such a nice boy in A Very Long Engagement, but that was before he decided to take on the psycho killer character Hannibal Lecter in the prequel, Hannibal Rising. Apparently in this installment of the series we'll find out what led the Doctor to become a creepy dilettante with a taste for fava beans, chianti and human flesh. Probably a movie for Hannibal completists only. Speaking of scary, surely you've seen Eddie Murphy in that fat suit for his new movie Norbit. Personally the "Jack Sprat" jokes seems a little tired but maybe seeing the comedian act with himself and poor Thandie Newton in various, vaguely offensive stereotypes is your thing.
If you missed Crispin Glover and his slide show presentation when he brought it to Anthology Film Archives last year, he's back this weekend at IFC Center with his movie, What Is It? To recap: we're talking about anthropomorphized snails, naked monkey women, Nazi Shirley Temple, a cast of Down syndrome actors and a somber, long-haired Glover intoning proclamations. Proceed with caution. You can also still catch a screening of Emilia Menocal and Jauretsi Saizabitoria's documentary about three hip hop singers from Cuba, East of Havana. Although be warned that the footage of the gorgeous sunsets over lush Cuban beaches may induce intense jealousy as we cope with another weekend of Northeastern cold.
Director Richard E. Robbins set out to capture the experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in their own words with his documentary, Operation Homecoming. The movie of interviews and dramatic readings by actors like Robert Duvall, Josh Lucas, Beau Bridges, Blair Underwood, Justin Kirk, Aaron Eckhart, Chris Gorham and John Krasinski starts a run at Film Forum this weekend. Robbins will be on hand for a post-screening Q&A at the Friday showing starting at 8 pm.
A pre-Valentine's Day reminder, if you still don't know what to do with your cinema lovin' sweetie next Wednesday, BAM's Cinematek is hosting their annual Dinner and A Movie event. The movie is an utter classic, Preston Sturges' The Lady Eve, so between some Barbara Stanwyck banter and the "Chocolate Paradise" dessert, you should be totally set. There's two time options, movie at 6:30 pm with the dinner at 8:20 pm or dinner at 6:45 pm then the movie at 8:30 pm. The prix fix meal costs $40 per person and includes champagne with your three courses (the ticket price isn't included).
The Oscar nominated foreign language films are beginning to trickle into New York theaters, but don't let their lack of fanfare keep you from attending. The pick from Germany, The Lives of Others is a really compelling drama about the East Germany secret police's monitoring of artists during the Communist era. Captain Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe) is an up-in-coming star in the Stasi who takes on the task of monitoring playwright Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) and his actress girlfriend Christa-Maria (Martina Gedeck) [pictured], who is the not-so-secret object of obsession for the Stasi minister, Bruno Hempf. But the more Gerd hears of the artists' lives through his intricate bugging system, the more emotionally involved in their lives he becomes. This is writer and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's first film, and the way it illuminates the hope and the fear associated with an artistic life during a totalitarian regime is really thought-provoking. Besides the early '80s, when this movie is set, isn't really that long ago or that far away. It is a pretty chilling thought.