directed by David Gordon Green
At this time last year, Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen were the boys of summer with Knocked Up and Superbad riding the wave of box office glory. Now they’re hoping to recapture that title with yet another Apatow-produced, Rogen and Evan Goldberg-penned screwball comedy about a stoner (Rogen) and his dealer (a very grungy James Franco) on the run from police after witnessing a murder committed by a crooked cop and the city’s notorious drug lord. If this Apatow-Rogen partnership doesn’t already have plans for the future, they should consider taking their buddy comedies to the next level, or else they’ll be claiming an additional title of “one-trick ponies.”
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
directed by Sanaa Hamri
In this summer’s Sex and the City for the “tween” generation, adapted from the popular teen series by Ann Brashares, four childhood friends (Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, Blake Lively and Amber Tamblyn) keep in touch during their freshmen year at college not by cell phones or Facebook, but with a pair of jeans that mysteriously fit all four of them perfectly. While you may find these actresses are getting too big for the sisterhood—Ferrera is now the proud owner of an Emmy and Lively currently stars on one of television’s most controversial shows, “Gossip Girl”—that’s the beauty of contractual agreements.
directed by Larry Bishop
Forty years after Easy Rider and Dennis Hopper is still decked out in leather and riding the open road, this time in Hell Ride, a boozy bike film written, directed and starring Larry Bishop as a biker who sets out to avenge the death of his mother by the 666er’s, a rival motorcycle gang. Executive produced by post-modern king Quentin Tarantino, it’s no wonder that Hell Ride is nostalgic for the B-list biker films of the 1960s. While it’s nice to see Tarantino somewhat productive again, can’t he ever just settle for the present?
directed by Randall Miller
Though buzz was hard to come by at this past year’s Sundance Film Festival, writer-director Randall Miller’s comedy, Bottle Shock, managed to melt the hearts of audiences all over Park City, Utah. Set in 1976 Napa Valley, California, the film turns the seeming snooze-fest of a blind wine tasting between France and the United States into an intriguing ride full of oddball characters that includes a struggling wine vintner played by Bill Pullman, a half-baked Chris Pine and a sneering Alan Rickman starring as—what else?—the film’s antagonist. We know what you’re saying: “Napa Valley and wine tasting, this must be the new Sideways.” But this wine country is not nearly as melodramatic.
directed by Isabel Coixet
Distinguished independent moviemaker Isabel Coixet closely examines the intricacies of love and intimacy in her latest feature, Elegy. An adaptation of Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize-winning-yet-notoriously-misogynistic novel, The Dying Animal, it came as a surprise to the film community when the much-opinionated feminist Coixet took up this project. As twisted as it is sultry, Elegy follows a renowned professor’s psychological descent as he becomes sexually awakened by one of his students. Coixet handles the material beautifully, breathing her voice into Roth’s characters to create a well-crafted expose complete with stellar performances by Ben Kingsley, Penélope Cruz, Dennis Hopper, Patricia Clarkson and Peter Sarsgaard.