The holiday movie season is officially upon us. In fact, it started yesterday. We already spent more than enough time mentioning some little musical that will likely see its box office hopes dashed by the continuing dominance of Harry Potter. Nevertheless, several other big releases also appeared yesterday (at least in New York) in an attempt to grab a piece of the five-day weekend holiday marketplace. The big Oscar hopeful is Syriana from Oscar-winning Traffic screenwriter Stephen Gaghan. We caught it Monday and were incredibly disappointed (not to mention bored and annoyed) mostly due to the constant proselytizing and exposition which lacks any nuance. A phenomenal cast performs more than admirably even if few of them are given much in the way of actual definitive character in order to fulfill their small role in this overly-complex story.
A Gothamist Pick: If you're in town this weekend, there is only one place you should be on Saturday and that would be the IFC Center. Since early September, IFC Center has been featuring every Saturday and Sunday at noon a different film from the repertoire of French master Francois Truffaut. The series wraps up this weekend with Confidentially Yours screening today, tomorrow and Sunday. "But Gothamist," you say, "did you just tell us we should be there on Saturday?" Yes, yes we did, because starting at noon on Saturday, the IFC Center will be showing "Antoine Doinel x 5". If you don't know what that means, it's even more important you shell out the $25 and approximately seven-and-a-half hours watching all five films (four features, one short) of Truffaut's series following the character of Antoine Doinel who he introduced in his first film, his masterpiece The 400 Blows. Sure you can get this same collection on DVD from Criterion, but it's not the same as seen these films projected on a big screen.
Midnight Movie Smackdown: It's weekends like this that makes us thank both the Landmark Sunshine and the IFC Center for not limiting their midnight programming to just Saturday night. Since both theaters screen on Friday and Saturday, there's no reason that you shouldn't hit up both of this week's selections: The Warriors -- Walter Hill's classic NYC gang version of The Odyssey -- will come out to play at the Sunshine, while the IFC Center screens the film that showed the world Gary Oldman should be a star -- Sid and Nancy.
An alternative to turkey:BAMcinematek offers some international flavor through Monday with "Spaghetti for Thanksgiving". Sergio Leone may have created the "spaghetti western," but you won't find his films here. Instead, BAM presents a small selection of some of the other great westerns born out of this fertile period of Italian cinema.
So what else is new? We're also quite curious about the new neo-noir black comedy from Harold Ramis starring John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton, The Ice Harvest, as well as Johnny Depp, Samantha Morton and John Malkovich in The Libertine which opens tomorrow at the Angelika for a one week only awards eligibility engagement. (It will close and then reopen in January.) But if you're going to pick one new release this weekend, the best (albeit depressing as all hell) choice would have to be Down to the Bone which took home two big prizes at last year's Sundance Film Festival, for director Debra Granik and lead actress Vera Farmiga. While we didn't love the movie -- a relatively standard indie drama, in this case focusing on addiction and poverty -- we were a bit blown away by the brilliant Farmiga who takes a role that could have easily been overdone and instills it with subtlety, complexity and even dignity. Her performance is worth the price of admission.