Amelia – Anyone who thought Amelia was going to deliver Hilary Swank’s third Oscar would do well to read some of the reviews. “Conventional,” “soulless,” “trite” -- just a few of the words being used to describe director Mira Nair’s biopic. Still, Swank has built a career out of playing women who, when stripped of their feminine trappings, are some of the big screen’s most compelling characters. Something tells us she’s not going to fall all that short here. Check out the trailer below -- it's probably the best part of the movie...
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant – So the latest film to take advantage of the “vampire” craze looks like a Harry Potter meets Twilight knockoff. Who cares -- it’s got Salma Hayek playing a voluptuous bearded lady and is directed by About a Boy’s Paul Weitz. It deserves a shot, no?
Motherhood – Ladies who love ladies will probably get a big kick out of watching Uma Thurman and Minnie Driver face off in Motherhood, even if it is about, well, being a mommy. Reviews have been mixed and comedy isn’t exactly Uma’s strong suit... unless it’s followed by a dance with Travolta or a swift chop to Lucy Liu’s head.
The Marchesa Casati: Portraits of a Muse – One of the most eccentric and notorious European celebrities during the first half of the 20th century, Marchesa Casati (1881-1957) wore live snakes as jewelry and walked pet cheetahs on diamond-studded leashes while dressed in nothing but a fur coat. Her legend is recounted in a lushly illustrated visual biography by Scot D. Ryersson and Michael Orlando Yaccarino.
Chéri – Michelle Pfeiffer reteams with her Dangerous Liaisons director (Stephen Frears) and screenwriter (Christopher Hampton) in this exquisitely made film based on a pair of novels by Collette. The eternally beautiful Pfeiffer stars as a fading (!) Parisian courtesan named Léa de Lonval at the end of the belle epoque who embarks on a life-changing affair with Chéri (gorgeous Rupert Friend), the son of her friend Madame Peloux (Kathy Bates). While Chéri doesn’t reach the dramatic heights that made Liaisons such a sensation, Pfeiffer and crew offer a touching meditation on aging and the transitory nature of beauty.
It's Garry Shandling's Show: The Complete Series – Years before Seinfeld, neurotic comedian Garry Shandling starred as a neurotic comedian named Garry Shandling and delivered comedic monologues at the beginning of each episode of this mind-bender of a sitcom. Noted for breaking new ground by breaking the fourth wall, this fondly remembered series ran from 1986 to '90 and featured one of the most impossible-to-get-out-of-your-head theme songs ever.
North by Northwest – One of Hitchcock’s finest pics gets a 50th anniversary edition, complete with more than three hours of special features, including a 2009 documentary on Hitchcock’s style and behind-the-scenes interviews. Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint light the screen on fire in this instant classic. Watch one of their riveting scenes below:
The L Word: The Final Season – OK, maybe better known as the season that drove fans to the brink of insanity. Sure, the idea of offing one of the show’s most universally maligned characters (Mia Kirshner’s Jenny) was inspired, but because the planned spin-off The Farm never made it off the ground, fans were left in the dark about who offed her. Too bad -- that character would probably get a humanitarian award. Still, it never gets old watching Jennifer Beals and Laurel Holloman get it on.
Sainthood by Tegan and Sara – The inventive queer sisters from Canada release their sixth album on Tuesday. Produced by Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla (the guy behind their last album, The Con) and Howard Redekopp (who produced their breakthrough 2004 release, So Jealous), Sainthood "addresses secular themes of devotion, delusion, and exemplary behavior in the pursuit of love and relationships," according to their label, Warner Bros. Judging from the rocking lead single, "Hell," Sainthood will be another impressive notch in the Quinns' musical belt.
Lungs by Florence + the Machine – This British group, led by the vocally blessed Florence Welch, was a sensation in their native isle this summer, and next week their debut album reaches our shores. Each cut is a gem, with standouts being "Rabbit Heart" and "Howl." If you need a reference before downloading, think smart, tortured, and soulful songbirds like Fiona Apple and Regina Spektor. Watch them perform "Rabbit Heart" below.
This Is It by Michael Jackson – This two-disc set comes out Tuesday and coincides with the concert film (or concert rehearsal film) that comes out the same day. The first disc is a 16-track set including original album masters of hits like "Human Nature" and "Smooth Criminal" as well as two versions of the controversial single "This Is It" (Paul Anka claims it's his original song). The second disc comprises new versions of three tunes -- "She's Out of My Life," "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," and "Beat It" -- and a spoken-word poem called "Planet Earth."
Home by Dave Ford – Dave Ford had left
music behind for a career in journalism, but the suicide of a close friend compelled him to
return to the studio to pour his feelings into this personal, lyrical, and moving collection
of songs he says he hopes will provide a safe “home” for those who have lost
loved ones to suicide.
Also coming out next week: R.E.M. releases Live at the Olympia, the jazz troupe Pink Martini delivers Splendor in the Grass, Carly Simon offers Never Been Gone -- a CD featuring reworked versions of 10 of her greatest hits plus two new songs -- Brian McKnight drops his new album Evolution of a Man, and Chita Rivera's And Now I Swing is still available...