There's only one major wide release this weekend, and although it stars an Oscar winner, we can pretty much guarantee Paramount isn't expecting any year-end kudos for Aeon Flux. In fact, it looks like the studio is hoping to slyly score a big opening weekend on the draws of Charlize Theron in skintight rubber and fans of the old MTV animated series because they aren't letting critics anywhere near it -- apparently no press screenings have been or will be held.
A Gothamist Pick: OK, three picks, really. Tonight both BAMcinematek and MoMA Film & Media kick-off very different but equally fantastic series. BAM presents "Hard Boiled & In the Mood: Tony Leung" through Dec. 18 which showcases the career of noted Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai's favorite actor. One of their most notable and earliest collaborations, Chungking Express screens this Saturday.
Meanwhile, MoMA begins a series running at the beginning and end of December dedicated to arguably the most important documentary filmmakers of the last half-century with "Maysles Films: Five Decades." The Maysles are brothers Albert and David, who together created and developed "Direct Cinema" -- fly-on-the-wall filmmaking during which they filmed events without ever really interacting with their subjects. David passed away in 1987, but Albert has continued making films ever since. Salesman, Gimme Shelter and Grey Gardens are among their most famous, and all three will screen during the series, including this weekend. Be sure to check-out the entire schedule at the MoMA website.
And finally, tomorrow Film Forum begins a one-week engagement of a new 35 mm restoration of what might still be the best anti-war war film ever made: director Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory. If you've never seen it, we heartily encourage you to get your ass down to Houston Street before next Thursday.
So what else is new? A smaller new release this weekend which does merit your attention: TransAmerica, opening exclusively at the IFC Center tomorrow, was discovered at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year and became one of the first acquisitions of the new Weinstein Company. More importantly, this relatively unique road trip "buddy" film about a pre-op transsexual who bails out of jail and drives cross-country with her newly discovered son (without letting on his/her true identity) features an absolutely outstanding performance by Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman. On Tuesday the film received three nominations for this year's Independent Spirit Awards -- Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay to writer/director Duncan Tucker and Best Female Lead to Huffman who also has a great shot at well-deserved Oscar nod. TransAmerica is a sweet, and touching movie about family, love, identity and acceptance. While it does have its flaws -- although its premise is unique, the individual plot points are somewhat predictable and derivative -- we'd still give it a solid thumb up. (Also, filmmaker Tucker will be on hand at the 9:25 and 10:25 screenings on Friday as well as the 7:20, 8:20 and 9:25 screenings on Saturday.)
Midnight Movie Smackdown: The IFC Center, obviously inspired by their opening of TransAmerica, will be showing the brilliant Hedwig & the Angry Inch on Friday and Saturday nights as part of their "Waverly Midnights" series. Writer/director/star John Cameron Mitchell will be in person at both screenings which will also feature Hedwig costume contests. In our book, that totally trumps whatever kitsch factor the Landmark Sunshine has going for it with its presentation of Teen Witch. They're trumpeting in person appearances by stars Robyn Lively and Dan Gauthier as well as songwriter Larry Weir and producer Alana Lambros.
Some Sunday: We're not completely sure why this is happening here, but this Sunday Makor hosts a marathon of all six Star Wars films in episode order from 1-6. The pro: for $65 you can see all six movies plus eat three meals. Con: you have to start with The Phantom Menace at 9 AM.