Even though the weather isn't encouraging you to stay inside, there's still a whole host of new flicks to check out at the theaters.
Looking for a few cheap laughs while you gear up for the Christmas shopping? Kal Penn stars in National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj, a collegiate boobfest about a frat dude teaching some English geeks how to party Yankee style. Beer and cleavage, wahoo! Another movie which looks like it will literally make you more stupid once you've plunked down the $10.75 is the horror flick Turistas. Cute teenagers on the run in a foreign country, watch it only if you dare.
Catherine Hardwicke, who directed teen flicks Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown, seems like an unlikely choice for the helm of The Nativity, a Biblical epic about the Christmas story. Some intriguing details Hardwicke has brought though, to what surely will be a huge hit in the red states, is a contemporary soundtrack with country and Christian singers, an interest in depicting historical accuracy and a ethnically diverse cast.
After directing a massive budget, special effects laden movie like Lemony Snicket, Brad Silberling was ready to make a quick and dirty flick with a tiny crew and an even smaller cast. The result is his new movie 10 Items or Less which stars Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega giving two strong turns as an aging blockbuster actor and a grocery store clerk. Set in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, Freeman's actor character is deciding whether he'll take a role as a supermarket manager, when he meets Vega in the 10 items or less lane. It's not often we get to see Freeman hamming it up on screen and when he gets this loopy, he's loads of fun.
Thom Fitzgerald's movie 3 Needles tells three very personal stories of AIDs from around the world with a very impressive cast which includes Chloë Sevigny, Stockard Channing, Sandra Oh and Lucy Liu. Adapted from Scottish playwright David Greig's stage play and directed by Matt Tauber, The Architect is another small indie out this weekend. Set in Chicago about two families and their interactions over a flawed housing project, the film features some nice performances Isabella Rossellini as a suburban housewife going through a meltdown and Viola Davis as a grieving mother trying to raise her kids in the projects. Hayden Panettiere is in it too, if you can't get enough of that cheerleader from Heroes.
Unless you've seen a wide ranging selection of early cinema, it's easy to assume that anything filmed in black and white is going to be buttoned up. Film Forum however is working against that commonly held conception with a series of movies produced by the Fox Studios before the Production Code clamp down in '34. Fox Before the Code, a three week series which kicks off this weekend, features a whole host of surprisingly "modern" comedies and dramas, many featuring the wonderful Spencer Tracy at the start of his career. Also, the series is organized around a bunch of double features which is always great when you're watching your movie spending budget.
Starting yesterday, the Film Society at Lincoln Center has been exploring film of that now renamed Eastern European nation with a week long series called "Austria: State of the Nation." One film that looks particularly interesting in this intriguing group of films from the '90s is Michael Haneke's version of the Franz Kafka story, The Castle. Playing on Friday at 8:30 pm, Haneke (who also directed Caché and The Piano Teacher) chooses to focus on the elements of realism in Kafka's rather than the more fanciful bits.
Get geared up for the release of David Lynch's new flick, Inland Empire next week with a midnight screening at the IFC Center this weekend of the oddly unsettling Lynch film, Lost Highway. Bill Pullman seems so mild mannered, but he may or may not have killed his sleezy wife played by Patricia Arquette. Maybe seeing this movie late at night will give new insights into the convoluted plot.