THE MESSENGER - Woody Harrelson earned an Oscar nomination for his role as the messenger no one wants showing up at their doorstep, in last year's ultimate tearjerker. "When 2009 is over, this is one of the movies we'll remember the year by." (S.F. Chronicle)
INVICTUS - Another Oscar nominee (Morgan Freeman for Lead Actor and Matt Damon for Supporting Actor), this one chronicles Nelson Mandela's first year in office post-apartheid, and his support of the national (mostly white) rugby team in an effort at unity and forgiveness. Directed by Clint Eastwood, no stranger to Oscar nods himself.
THE NEW DAUGHTER - Kevin Costner stars in this thriller that takes the already scary transformation of young girls hitting puberty one step further: what if his sullen teenage daughter really isn't the same person anymore? From Spanish director Luis Berdejo ([REC], QUARANTINE), this also marks the English-language debut of Ivana Baquero (of PAN'S LABYRINTH fame) as the teenager in question.
VALENTINE'S DAY - If you need something unapologetically warm and fuzzy after watching THE MESSENGER, this all-star ensemble picture just might be your movie. Imagine Julia Roberts, Jennifer Garner, Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Patrick Dempsey, Queen Latifah, Taylor Swift, Shirley MacLaine, and more cameos than you can shake a box of chocolates at, with love ever so palpable in the air...
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN - Inspired by an actual event, this is the latest very French film from director Andre Téchiné (THE WILD REEDS). A rather mysterious girl who spends most of her time roller-skating around, half-heartedly looking for work, casually invents a lie which ends up spiraling out of control in a media blitz.
POLIWOOD - This documentary from Barry Levinson (WAG THE DOG, RAIN MAN) examines the intersecting of politics and celebrity, following Hollywood stars - both liberal and conservative - at the 2008 Democratic and Republican national conventions. Also discussed: the media cult of Sarah Palin, and how TV news
is more about ratings than information.
THE SPY NEXT DOOR - Jackie Chan gets all SPY KIDS-meets-HOME ALONE in this family-friendly slapstick spy story.
EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES - Harrison Ford is an unconventional scientist hired by wealthy corporate dude Brendan Fraser to find a cure for his two terminally ill children. When Ford and Fraser form their own bio-tech company, they run up against all manner of red tape and corruption in their pursuit of a life-saving drug.
ISCARIOT - This Euro-thriller from Sweden is a tale of two brothers: one a respected doctor and the other a drug dealing hoodlum. Despite promises to never get involved in his brother's business, the doctor finds himself drawn into intrigue and danger when he attempts to save him from a deal gone sour.
HANDMADE NATION - This inspiring documentary examines the "New Wave" of arts and crafts, "a marriage between historical technique, punk culture, and the D.I.Y. ethos," and its rebellious contrast to our mass-produced, post-industrial world.
BEAUTIFUL LOSERS - This documentary looks back at some of the most notorious art rebels of the '90s, coming from the subcultures of graffiti, skateboarding, punk rock, and surfing, and asks "Where are they now?" Well, they're designing iconic "HOPE" ads for Obama's Presidential campaign (Shepard Fairey), stylish ad campaigns for Pepsi One (Geoff McFetridge), and totally "rad" shoes for Nike (Aaron Rose), among other things. Also profiled is '90s cinematic darling Harmony Korine (GUMMO, JULIEN DONKEY-BOY), who stubbornly continues to make commercially implosive films (MISTER LONELY).
And here's just one of this week's highlights from our JUST ADDED section, available for the first time on DVD:
OSHIMA'S OUTLAW SIXTIES (Criterion Collection box set)
One of the most provocative directors of the twentieth century, Nagisa Oshima was often called "the Godard of the East" for his inventive visual style, challenging themes, and fascination with society's outsiders. Included in this five-disc set are PLEASURES OF THE FLESH, THREE RESURRECTED DRUNKARDS, VIOLENCE AT NOON, SING A SONG OF SEX, and JAPANESE SUMMER: DOUBLE SUICIDE, all shot between 1965 and 1968 and all brimming with style and anarchy.