Film Reviews

Get Inside. It's Summertime!

Summer movie season has arrived. There are an insane number of films on the following list, and plenty of room for optimism. To that end, we've tried to cut back on the snarky comments about pointless sequels and loathsome actors — although it's nearly impossible to let those infernal pirates sail by without a slap or two. But, hey, they can take it, because they're really, really rich, and because everyone knows pirates can't read. Happy summer, America.

MAY 23


Cast: Jens Albinus, Peter Gantzler

Director: Lars von Trier

Lars von Trier, director of the beautifully glum Dancer in the Dark and Dogville, lightens up considerably in this comedy about the owner of a computer company who hires an actor (Albinus) to impersonate him and thereby take the heat — socks to the jaw included — from pissed-off employees and shareholders. (IFC) Opens New York and Los Angeles May 23, with additional cities to follow.


Director: Richard Trank

Nicole Kidman narrates this documentary that explores the life of Simon Wiesenthal, from his childhood in the Ukraine to the Holocaust and post-war, when Wiesenthal spent the rest of his life hunting down those who killed 89 of his family members, and some six million others. (Luminous Velocity Releasing) Opens New York May 23, with additional cities to follow.

MAY 25


Cast: Konkona Sen Sharma

Director: Shonali Bose

In this Indian drama from first-time writer-director Bose, a 21-year-old Indian-American woman (Sen Sharma) travels to Delhi to unravel a family secret, which is tied to the violent riots that followed the 1984 assassination of Indira Gandhi. (Emerging Pictures) Opens New York May 25, Los Angeles June 1, with additional cities to follow.


Cast: Jamel Debbouze, Rie Rasmussen

Director: Luc Besson

The first film in eight years from French writer-director Besson (Subway, La Femme Nikita) is a black-and-white love letter to his native Paris, centering on a one-armed vagabond (Debbouze) and the beautiful woman (Rasmussen) he saves from suicide. (Sony Pictures Classics) Opens New York and Los Angeles May 25, and additional cities to follow.


Cast: Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Harry Connick Jr.

Director: William Friedkin

Director William Friedkin (The French Connection, The Exorcist) returns with an adaptation of screenwriter Tracy Letts's intense off-Broadway drama about an Oklahoma cocktail waitress (Ashley Judd) who invites a Gulf War vet (Michael Shannon) into her motel room home. Over time, she gradually becomes caught up in his belief that the room they're occupying is infected with government-issued bugs — the kind that crawl. (Lionsgate) Opens nationwide.


Cast: Vincenzo Amato, Charlotte Gainsbourg

Director: Emanuele Crialese

This epic tale from writer-director Crialese (Respiro) moves from the Old World to the New as an early-20th-century Sicilian (Amato) sells his livestock and immigrates to America, passing through Ellis Island and into New York alongside a mysterious Englishwoman (Gainsbourg). (Miramax) Opens New York May 25, Los Angeles June 1, and additional cities to follow.


Director: Satoshi Kon

Animé buffs are jazzed about this latest film from Japan's Kon about a 29-year-old psychotherapist whose computerized alter ego, Paprika, can enter people's dreams and cure them of neurosis. If only. (Sony Pictures Classics) Opens New York and Los Angeles May 25, and additional cities to follow.


Cast: Steve Buscemi, Juliette Binoche, Nick Nolte, Fanny Ardant, Ben Gazzara, Gena Rowlands

Director: Various

Twenty filmmakers from around the world, including Gus Van Sant, Alfonso Cuarón and Alexander Payne, direct their favorite actors in short vignettes celebrating the boundless romantic possibilities of the City of Light. (First Look) Now playing New York and Los Angeles, opens additional cities May 25, June 1, June 22.


Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush

Director: Gore Verbinski

Verbinski sends Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and the lovely Elizabeth to the edge of the known world, over which we pray they will sail, never to be seen again. (Buena Vista) Opens nationwide.


Cast: Danny Dyer, Laura Harris, Tom McInerny, Toby Stephens

Director: Christopher Smith

On a corporate retreat in Budapest, an international arms dealer and his six employees are attacked by crazed mercenaries, who—and we're just guessing here—must be pissed over not having received a bulk discount. (Magnolia) Now playing New York, opens San Francisco and Los Angeles May 25; Orange County, Minneapolis, Dallas and Seattle June 1, with additional cities to follow.

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Chuck Wilson is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group. VMG publications include Denver Westword, Miami New Times, Phoenix New Times, Dallas Observer, Houston Press and New Times Broward-Palm Beach.