If you're headed to the flicks this weekend, don't worry too much about finding a decent seat. The total of new wide releases comes to exactly one: Bangkok Dangerous, which at press time wasn't even being screened for review. (And this from Lionsgate, which thought even Disaster Movie warranted an eve-of-destruction look-see.) But while Hollywood writes off the week, some consumer advocates are doggedly determined to get out the truth at any cost. Take a certain "MalaBesta" from the review site La Off-Off Crítica, who boldly defied the press blackout on Bangkok Dangerous to call the film — and we quote — "una mala película de acción, digna de ocupar las madrugadas televisivas." As David Huddleston said in Blazing Saddles, who can argue with that?
Opening Friday, Sept. 5
Bangkok Dangerous The original, 1999 version of this Pang brothers crime drama got dramatic mileage out of the conceit that its antihero — a cold-blooded contract killer on assignment in Thailand — was also a deaf-mute. Nicolas Cage apparently saw himself in the role when his production company hired the Pangs for a stateside remake; unfortunately, somebody in the front office simultaneously decided that what his character really needed was some lines. Now it's the assassin's love interest who can neither hear nor speak. Co-director Oxide Pang (no joke!) believes that the change at least preserves the motif of impeded communication — though one might also construe it as sending the message that interracial couples will get along fine as long as the 'ho can't mouth off. (R)
Baghead Even those of us who felt mostly charitably toward the Duplass brothers' feature-film debut, The Puffy Chair (Florida Film Festival 2006), would have to admit their work is a specialized taste. We likewise catch no hint of the safe road in their follow-up, Baghead, in which a cadre of wholly Duplass-ian Gen Y-ers retreat to a cabin in the woods to make a horror film — only to find themselves pursued by a murderer with a paper bag over his head. Is the world ready for a cross between the Blair Witch and the Unknown Comic? Like we said: specialized taste. (R)
Frozen River A Sundance Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic Category was only the beginning of the kudos director Courtney Hunt has received for her first film, which follows a pair of blue-collar women who earn extra cash smuggling illegal immigrants (or undocumented workers, if you prefer). Even an ordinary Jane we know who caught the flick was moved to note several days later that "its essence still lingers." Take it from us: It's a rare picture indeed that can get a paying customer to sound as pretentious as the average critic. (R)
Available Tuesday, Sept. 9
14 Women Make your own crack in that fabled glass ceiling by showing your daughter — or someone else's — this documentary about the convening of the historic 109th Congress, which numbered an unprecedented 14 female senators. See, if you give women access to the reins of power, a great many of them will go on to do something really remarkable …
Baby Mama … aaaaand some of them won't.
The Big Lebowksi: 10th Anniversary Edition In advance of the Coen brothers' return to grotesque character shenanigans with next week's theatrical release Burn After Reading, revisit their landmark comedy that elevated Jeff Bridges to the status of slacker prophet (and did slightly less for Tara Reid). There's even a nifty-looking "special edition" set that comes in a bowling ball—shaped case.
Heckler Jamie Kennedy turns investigative journalist to probe the thorny question of why certain combative audience members feel compelled to hurl taunts at hardworking stand-up comics. Visits with Lewis Black, Craig Ferguson and Bill Maher prove that the problem also extends to performers who are actually funny.
How the West Was Won: Two-Disc Special Edition The classic 1963 oater is available for the first time without certain distractions, like some messy join lines that used to run up the screen where the old Cinerama panels met up. We eagerly await a version of Two for the Money that'll do something about Rene Russo's new face.
Available Thursday, Sept. 4
Star Wars Mad Libs The _______ bearded man pulled a _______ novelty book out of his _______, certain that his _______ fans would continue sucking his _______ no matter how vigorously he _______ their childhood memories up the _______.
Available Tuesday, Sept. 9
Reagan: The Hollywood Years Biographer Marc Eliot looks back on the days when our 40th president was merely Bonzo's baby sitter, and his job was acting out a series of gridiron and battlefield triumphs that he would later go on to whimsically confuse with actual email@example.com