Whatever Works Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Larry David, Ed Begley Jr., Patricia Clarkson, Conleth Hill, Michael McKean, Evan Rachel Wood
Opening: 19 June 2009
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Plot summary: An eccentric New Yorker played by Larry David abandons his upper class life to lead a more bohemian existence. He meets a young girl from the south and her family and no two people seem to get along in the entanglements that follow. Run time: 92 minutes. Rated: PG-13 [Sony Pictures Classics]
Forty-three years, six TV series, 10 feature films, numerous video games and hundreds of novels later, Star Trek is still with us. Director J.J. Abrams’ film, opening Friday, is an origins story, in which the young Kirk and Spock meet, fight, bond and eventually take over the running of the Enterprise. Not surprisingly, fans have been salivating over the imminent arrival of Star Trek for at least a Vulcan year.
Not that everything Trek has been a wild success. The films, in particular, have been a wildly mixed bag of sci-fi fun and ponderous, futuristic philosophizing. Here are some of the best and worst…
The State (a sketch show that aired on MTV in the early 1990s) had a rabid following in its day, but its unavailability has inspired an even more intense devotion in the years since the show went to CBS to die. Its creators and cast members graduated to many other successes in film and television, but this DVD set of the complete series is something to celebrate, as it represents the starting point for the creative forces behind Stella,Reno 911!, Wet Hot American Summer, Role Models, etc.
That the set (to be released on July 14) exists at all is noteworthy. But if the MTV show site is to be believed, the five-disc release will be “jam-packed” with special features. If the set really is as impressive as advertised, perhaps fans will someday admit that this was almost worth the decade-plus wait.
The Girlfriend Experience Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Sasha Grey, Chris Santos, Glenn Kenney, Peter Zizzo
Opening: 22 May 2009 (New York / Los Angeles)
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Plot summary: Set in the weeks leading up to the 2008 presidential election, The Girlfriend Experience is five days in the life of Chelsea (adult film star Sasha Grey in her mainstream film debut), an ultra high-end Manhattan call girl who offers more than sex to her clients, but companionship and conversation—“the girlfriend experience”. Chelsea thinks she has her life totally under control—she feels her future is secure because she runs her own business her own way, makes $2,000 an hour, and has a devoted boyfriend (Chris Santos) who accepts her lifestyle. But when you’re in the business of meeting people, you never know who you’re going to meet…
The 20th film from Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh, The Girlfriend Experience is a sexy, gorgeously shot time capsule from the not-too-distant past. [Magnolia Pictures]
JULIA Director: Erick Zonca Cast: Tilda Swinton, Saul Rubinek, Kate Del Castillo, Aidan Gould, Jude Ciccolella, Bruno Bichir, Horacio Garcia Rojas, Gaston Peterson, Mauricio Moreno, Kevin Kilner, John Bellucci, Ezra Buzzington, Roger Cudney, Eugene Byrd, Sandro Kopp Opening: 8 May 2009 (limited) Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Plot summary: Julia, 40, is an alcoholic. She is a manipulative, unreliable, compulsive liar, all strung out beneath her still flamboyant exterior. Between shots of vodka and one-night stands, Julia gets by on nickel-and-dime jobs. Increasingly lonely, the only consideration she receives comes from her friend Mitch, who tries to help her. But she shrugs him off, as her alcohol-induced confusion daily reinforces her sense that life has dealt her a losing hand and that she is not to blame for the mess she has made of it.
Glimpsing imminent perdition, and after a chance encounter with Elena, a Mexican woman, Julia convinces herself – as much in panic and despair as for financial gain – to commit a violent act. As the story unfolds, Julia’s journey becomes a headlong flight on a collision course, but somehow she makes the choice of life over death. [Magnolia Pictures]