BLACK SWAN

Darren Aronofsky’s overheated ballet/body-horror/psychosexual thriller certainly isn’t dull.

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CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND

Steven Spielberg has a rep as an unthreatening family entertainer, but look beneath the surface of his early blockbusters and some sick shit stares out. The director followed up

Jaws

with this sweeping, rollicking 1977 story of human contact with visiting extra-terrestrials, a subject given human scale by the transformation of Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) from manboy working schlub into pangalactic chosen one, to the tune of “When You Wish Upon a Star.” One of the more subtle reasons

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

is memorable, though, is the utter breakdown Dreyfuss’ character goes through after his first sighting. He scares the crap out of his teary kids and alienates his wife (Teri Garr) before he abandons them with no word of where he’s going or when he’ll be back. That’s messed up, Steve. (Lee Gardner)

CONAN THE BARBARIAN

Director Marcus Nispel, who rebooted the Friday the 13th franchise unmemorably, reboots pulp writer Robert E. Howard’s epic fantasy world with Stephen Lang

and

Ron Perlman.

Opens Aug. 19.

E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL

Another look at Steven Spielberg’s biggest hit allows one to observe with greater clarity that the film is a relentlessly unified vision of and advocate for a pathological regression to a permanent preadolescent state. For those who have been in a pop-culture coma for decades,

E.T.

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is about an extra-terrestrial innocent who gets lost in a forest located near a suburban womb-world shot mostly from a child-level POV. There we meet Mary (Dee Wallace), who, in a glancing nod to veracity, is divorced with children. Her younger, culturally unsullied son Elliott (Henry Thomas) establishes a telepathic bond with E.T., while younger sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore) cutely caterwauls in the background. E.T. falls ill and a group of bumbling scientists temporarily “kills” him, but death turns out to be reversible as Elliott’s love revives E.T. Spielberg’s failure to commit to the dark stuff denudes E.T. of the high stakes needed to make it more than emptily affirming fluff. (Ian Grey)

FANTASIA

Walt Disney’s 1940 high/low-culture mash-up—Bach, Beethoven, Stravinsky, et al. meet then state-of-the-art 2D animation—still packs kiddie magic.

MEN IN BLACK

Barry Sonnenfeld’s original rollicking sci-fi/action comedy, starring Tommy Lee Jones (the ultimate straight man) and Will Smith.

THE SECRET OF SANTA VITTORIA

Director Stanley Kramer managed to infuse a bit of his trademark charm into this mild 1969 film about wily Italian villagers hiding a stash of the local vintage from the Nazis; stars Anthony Quinn, Anna Magnani, and Hardy Krueger.

SPY KIDS: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD 4D

Director Robert Rodriquez’s happily slapdash/low-budget kiddie adventure series returns, this time with a modern iteration of John Waters’ Odorama.

Opens Aug. 19.

TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE

The third installment of the teen vampire saga—need we say more?

THE WHISTLEBLOWER

Rachel Weisz plays an American cop who uncovers scandal and malfeasance in post-war Bosnia is this based-on-a-true-story drama, co-starring Monica Bellucci and Vanessa Redgrave.

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