Unlike last week, New Yorkers are treated to just nine new releases including three big titles (Prime, The Weather Man and The Legend of Zorro) that pique our interest but don't necessarily excite us, some intriguing scare-fare (we're thinking more Three ... Extremes than Saw II), and a new documentary -- New York Doll -- about the late Arthur Kane, a member of the seminal NYC glam-meets-punk rock group New York Dolls. Elsewhere …
Three Gothamist Picks: Something new, something old, something borrowed ... well, maybe nothing blue, and not related to weddings, but topping our must-see list this week are three movies that either played at or have connection to this year's New York Film Festival. First is Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad's powerfully moving Paradise Now. We reviewed the film during the festival, and were impressed by Abu-Assad's ability to balance a certain empathy with those who choose to become suicide bombers while still seemingly denouncing the act and hoping for a more reasonable and peaceful solution to the ongoing Middle East conflict.
Michelangelo Antonioni's magnificent The Passenger also played at the NYFF in anticipation of a 30th anniversary rerelease to theaters, which it gets Friday locally at the Lincoln Plaza and Landmark Sunshine. And the "borrowed"? Well, Capote played the NYFF, and as much as we loved Philip Seymour Hoffman, the overall movie underwhelmed us. The 1967 film of Truman Capote's groundbreaking novel which made Robert Blake a star, In Cold Blood, starts a two week run at Film Forum tomorrow.
Halloween rules the weekend: Local theaters get into the spirit of All Hallow's Eve, but none more-so than the Two Boots Pioneer. While we shudder at the thought of the Pioneer's notoriously sloppy projection showing Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula the "All Night Vampire Movie Marathon" this Friday starting at 7 PM (and lasting close to 10 hours) is some great programming. For $20 you can stay all night long; individual movies cost $6.50. Coppola isn't the highlight, though: Larry Fessenden's Habit (approx 10:05 PM) brought the actor/writer/director the "Someone to Watch" prize at the 1997 Independent Spirit Awards, and the best film in the whole lineup doesn't screen until approximately 4:15 AM, Guy Maddin's Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary. Also showing: Vampyres, Nic Cage starrer Vampire's Kiss, and New York Vampire.
The IFC Center also gets into the act on Monday hoping that when you've had enough of the Halloween Parade, you'll be in the mood for a double-dose of trashy gore: The Toolbox Murders and The Nail Gun Massacre starting at 9:45 PM. Those in Brooklyn might prefer to head over to Galapagos in Williamsburg for this week's Ocularis program, "The Brooklyn Horror" (8 PM) -- a collection of 10 short films and videos hoping to make your Halloween more spooky. And if neither of these options excite you, head over to BAM for a series honoring Japanese master Kenji Mizoguchi which starts with his version of a ghost story, Ugetsu.
Midnight movies and the rest of the week after the jump:
Midnight Movie Smackdown:We suppose that with their Monday night double-bill, IFC Center decided they didn't need to follow a Halloween theme this weekend, instead choosing to show the reason Roger Ebert actually has a Writers Guild card: Russ Meyer's breastploitation classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Meanwhile over at the Landmark Sunshine, they go for a bit of the ghoulish -- but with heart! -- by screening Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (actually directed not by Burton but by Henry Selick), which we find eminently more worth our hard-earned money than Burton's latest stop-motion animated and lifeless disappointment, Corpse Bride.
The rest of the week: There's plenty of non-Halloween related fare this week as well. Fans of Myla Goldberg's debut novel and bestseller "Bee Season" either eagerly await or dread the upcoming film adaptation starring Richard Gere, Juliette Binoche and Kate Bosworth which opens Nov. 11, but you have three chances to see it this coming week. Tickets are $10 for the Monday at 8 PM screening at the JCC (334 Amsterdam between 74/75) followed by a discussion with as-yet-unannounced special guests. Chances are the guests will be directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel since they'll also be appearing after screenings at 7 and 9:30 PM the next night at Makor. Both Makor screenings are free (!), but you need to RSVP.
The new documentary Ballets Russes, now playing at Film Forum, looks at the history of the internationally famous dance company (or companies, actually). Directors Dan Geller and Dana Goldfine will appear for a Q&A after tomorrow's 7:15 PM screening, and next Wednesday's 7:15 show will be followed by a discussion with NY Times dance critic Jack Anderson.
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One has been a favorite of those cinephiles who have caught it at festivals over the past 35 years, but never before has it had a regular theatrical release like the one it's getting now at the IFC Center. Director William Grieves will be on hand to discuss the film after tonight's 8:10 and 10:05 shows.
Also appearing this weekend at the IFC Center is filmmaker Rebecca Miller. Sure she's the daughter of the late, great American playwright Arthur Miller and the wife of actor Daniel Day-Lewis, but she's also a talented writer/director. The IFC Center hosts "A Weekend With Rebecca Miller" Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7 PM with all proceeds going to benefit the Red Cross. Miller will introduce each screening as well as participate in a post-show Q&A. Angela screens Friday followed by Personal Velocity Saturday and The Ballad of Jack and Rose on Sunday.
And finally, we know you expect us to mention MMI's continuing Billy Wilder series, but we're actually compelled to this week not because of the thoroughly entertaining The Fortune Cookie (screening Saturday and Sunday), but rather due to the unavailable on video and frequently overlooked Ace in the Hole showing Saturday at 2 PM. This film is a brilliant examination of the media's involvement in creating a mountain out of a molehill. Kirk Douglas' ethically-challenged investigative reporter creates an actual tourist attraction and media circus out of a man trapped in a mine. He delays the man's rescue in order to keep the story alive thinking that his reporting will get him back to the big city paper he had to leave in disgrace years earlier. Ace in the Hole is a great film, eerily all-too relevant to our modern society, and in its own way, the scariest film you could watch this entire Halloween weekend.