In Theaters Now: Lakeview Terrace, The Duchess, Appaloosa & Ghost Town


Lakeview Terrace
directed by Neil LaBute

In this thriller, Samuel L. Jackson plays a corrupt, possibly deranged L.A.P.D. officer who will stop at nothing to force out the interracial couple (Kerry Washington and Patrick Wilson) that just moved in next door. The film marks yet another interesting departure for director LaBute, who started his moviemaking career with such character-based independent films as In the Company of Men and Your Friends & Neighbors. Recently the director has attempted to stretch his skills, directing mainstream genre fare like the abysmal 2006 horror remake The Wicker Man. Whether Lakeview Terrace can be a successful transition for LaBute, from critically acclaimed indie writer-director to commercially successful moviemaker, remains to be seen.

The Duchess
directed by Saul Dibb

This period drama depicts the life of the title character, Georgiana Cavendish (Keira Knightley), an 18th century aristocrat who endured a difficult marriage to the Duke of Devonshire (Ralph Fiennes) and was known for her beauty, political maneuvers and gambling indulgences. With a storyline that mirrors that of Georgiana’s descendant, Princess Diana, and period-piece veterans Knightley and Fiennes in starring roles, The Duchess just may have a chance of breaking out of the usually stuffy costume drama genre.

Appaloosa
directed by Ed Harris

In this old-fashioned Western, two lawmen (Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen), out to save a small town from a rancher’s (Jeremy Irons) tyrannical reign, find their mission and friendship tested by the arrival of a double-dealing widow (Renée Zellweger). The film marks Harris’ second time in the director’s chair following 2000’s award-winning Pollock. Appaloosa also reunites the actor-director with Mortensen, his A History of Violence co-star. Last year’s 3:10 to Yuma breathed new life into the Western and hopefully Appaloosa will maintain the same level of immediacy and affection for the classic American genre.

My Best Friend’s Girl
directed by Howard Deutch

In this romantic-comedy (which shares its title with a classic song by The Cars), Dane Cook plays Tank (yes, Tank), an uncouth womanizer hired by guys who want their girlfriends or wives to reconsider leaving them. The usual complications ensue when Tank’s behavior has the opposite effect on Alexis (Kate Hudson), the love of his best friend’s (Jason Biggs) life. With a lame premise, three actors in desperate need of a hit and a director whose resume includes such early films as Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful but has lately been home to such gems as The Whole Ten Yards, My Best Friend’s Girl is marked with all the telltale signs of a Hollywood comedy failure. Whether the marketing department will be able to dupe teens into coming is another matter.

Igor
directed by Anthony Leondis

This animated-comedy centers on the title character, voiced by John Cusack, a talented laboratory assistant who, tired of standing in the shadows of his “Master,” hopes to win the annual Evil Science Fair with his own creation. From the look of the film, director Leondis seems to have been inspired by the gothic style of Tim Burton, and hopefully Igor captures the same dark humor that makes Burton’s macabre stop-motion animated films so enjoyable to both kids and adults.

Ghost Town
directed by David Koepp

Ricky Gervais sees dead people in this high-concept comedy about a misanthropic man who, after dying for a seven-minute period, awakens to realize he’s gained the ability to see and communicate with ghosts, including one (Greg Kinnear) who forces him into meddling with the impending marriage of his widow (Téa Leoni). Gervais is undeniably one of the funniest voices today, but it’s unfortunate his first foray as a leading man comes in this rather stale premise, which, judging by the forgettable trailer, seems to capture little of Gervais’ impeccable comedy skills.

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