In Theaters Now: The Women, Burn After Reading, The Family That Preys & Towelhead


The Women
directed by Diane English

Hoping to ride the wave of the Sex and the City phenomenon, this updated version of George Cukor’s 1939 classic is ready to disprove the myth that women cannot successfully open movies on their own. Writer-director Diane English, creator of the Emmy Award-winning “Murphy Brown,” spent nearly 10 years developing this script that follows prominent Manhattan women and their messy personal lives. Despite its low-budget and the studio’s lack of faith, English was able to secure a stellar cast of Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing and Jada Pinkett Smith, with appearances from numerous established actresses including Candice Bergen, Carrie Fisher and Bette Midler. Ironically enough, The Women’s virtually all-female cast already has some men complaining of sexism (they must have missed out on The Dark Knight or Iron Man or Tropic Thunder or…)

Burn After Reading
directed by Ethan and Joel Coen

Barely six months have gone by since the Coen brothers walked away with four Academy Awards for No Country for Old Men and they’re already back in theaters. But don’t worry, Anton Chigurh isn’t around for this ride (though the Coens can’t seem to shake off horrible haircuts). Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand star as two gym employees who stumble upon a disc containing the top-secret memoirs of a CIA agent, played by John Malkovich; Academy Award winners George Clooney and Tilda Swinton round out the cast of this absurdist comedy. While it may not sound like Oscar material, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a Coen film that never entertains.

The Family That Preys
directed by Tyler Perry

Writer-director Tyler Perry tests new waters with his latest melodrama that stars Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodard as old friends who set out on a cross-country road trip after their respective lives have been shattered by secrets and scandals. Perry really outdoes himself this time with his intricate script that explores greed, infidelity and business corruption, though the heart of the film lies in the strong bond between Bates and Woodard. While the buzz around Preys has been minimal, it wouldn’t be the first time a Perry film shocks Hollywood moguls and debuts high up on the charts.

Towelhead
directed by Alan Ball

Academy Award-winning screenwriter Alan Ball steps up to the director’s plate with Towelhead, an intimate, yet bold look into an Arab-American teenager’s sexual awakening in white suburbia. Ball is no stranger to exploring shocking subject matter, taking on Alicia Erian’s novel about misogyny, pedophilia and raging racism with the well-crafted profundity that won him the Oscar for American Beauty. However, he has been facing criticism over the film’s seemingly derogatory title for quite some time. Urged to play it safe, the film was initially called Nothing Is Private when it premiered at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, and it wasn’t until the 2008 Sundance Film Festival that Ball unveiled the controversial title. Yet the film’s excellent reviews and Fox News’ “feel-awful film of the year” statement may entice regular art house audiences even more.

Righteous Kill
directed by Jon Avnet

Acting legends Al Pacino and Robert De Niro share the silver screen for only the second-time in their long careers in Jon Avnet’s Righteous Kill. Having first appeared together in Michael Mann’s Heat, it’s no surprise that the talented pair is returning to the screen in yet another crime thriller, this time as two New York City detectives trying to identify the possible connection between a recent murder and a case they solved years ago. While it would definitely be worth $10 to see the ultimate thespian battle between two of the greatest living actors of our time, the roles almost seem too easy for these artists known for their gritty depictions of sociopaths and mobsters. Also adding to Righteous Kill’s “been there, done that” feel is the casting of rapper Fifty Cent as—what else?—a gangster.

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