Rachel McAdams is supersmart for doing more romantic weepies after The Notebook earned her a steady spot as an A-list actress. They can’t cost very much to make, do well in theaters, and have a very long afterlife on cable and DVD. This way she can do movies with Terrence Malick, Woody Allen, and Brian De Palma without ever having to show up as the fifth lead in ensemble rom-coms focused around holidays. I just wish she’d do more comedies, since I worshiped her as Regina George in Mean Girls and don’t care much for melodramas that culminate with weddings and death.
New and Notable
Call center-set dramedy about a Hoboken culture clash between a Indian family and the Italian mob from first-time director Sarba Das, who co-wrote the semi-autobiographical script with her brother Sarthak. Co-starring Tony Sirico (Paulie Walnuts!) and Darshan Jariwala (Gandhi, My Father!).
Romeo and Juliet set against the 1994 Rwandan genocide, as a young Hutu man falls in love with a Tutsi girl. Won the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at Sundance in 2011.
Koch Brothers Exposed
Lefty documentary from the director of Outfoxed about the “poster boys for the 1%,” billionaire brothers who finance Americans For Prosperity.
I love movies about wayward teen girls with deeply buried emotional damage who are forced to go somewhere exotic for the summer and learn valuable, unteachable lessons that change their lives forever! In this case it’s Aimee Teagarden of Friday Night Lights learning how to surf in Santa Cruz with cult-film hero Lance Henriksen and Supergirl Helen Slater.
Not to be confused with 1987’s Cobra Nero, 1963’s Die Schwarze Kobra, 1976’s Eva Nera (also known as Emmanuelle Goes Japanese), or Werner Herzog’s Cobra Verde — this actioner stars Damion Poitier as a diamond smuggler in South Africa.
Katie Wolfe directs this New Zealand drama about a middle-aged Maori man coming to terms with his true sexuality after a life spent cruising saunas in secret. Based on Witi Ihimaera’s novel Nights in the Garden of Spain.
On the Bowery
Incredible Italian neorealism-influenced 1956 American documentary with some scripted footage from director Lionel Rogosin about New York’s famous Skid Row and the fascinating characters populating it. War veteran and railroad worker Ray Salyer makes for such a charismatic protagonist that he was offered work as an actor in Hollywood after the movie came out, but disappeared back into drinking and was never seen again after boarding a train one night. Heartbreaking and astonishing, On the Bowery serves as a memento of a past time and place, but the representative social problems have hardly gone away.
ONE LAST JOB BEFORE RETIREMENT.
The Front Line
Epic about the Korean War’s climax from director Hun Jang. Far from being jingoistic, it hones in on personal experiences, the emotionally tragic nature of combat, and the irrecoverable human cost of war.
Robert Pattinson may not play a vampire in this adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s second novel about a handsome, social-climbing Lothario conquesting his way through French society, but you’d better still protect your neck. The softcore music kicks in when Uma Thurman shows up onscreen. I’m a total sucker for a sensual picaresque.
“In Theaters” VOD Pick
Remember the part of The Bridges of Madison County where Meryl Streep starts terrorizing everyone while wearing a decapitated pig’s head? What can’t that woman do?
Weird Indie of the Week
Rebecca De Mornay is totally underrated, and if filmmakers suddenly just realized how awesome she was as psychotic babysitter Peyton Flanders in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and started casting her as psychotic MILFs all the time, I, for one, would be thrilled. “When your husband makes love to you, it’s my face he sees! When your baby is hungry, it’s my breast that feeds him!”
Early VOD Premiere of the Week
Tom Arnold AND Bai Ling!
“As far as I’m concerned, the download was a complete success!” No-budget environmental horror on a globally hoopty scale.