What it is: Epic war film set in Ancient China, directed by legendary action auteur John Woo (“Face/Off”) and starring Tony Leung (“Lust, Caution”).
Why you should be interested: Following a few disappointing efforts, this is a welcome return to Chinese cinema for Woo. His best films include the Hong Kong classics “The Killer” and “Hard Boiled,” the latter also starring Leung. “Red Cliff” boasts the largest budget ever for an Asian film and has broken many box office records previously held by “Titanic” there. Fans of historical spectacles with huge, breathtaking battle sequences won’t want to miss it. See here:
How you can see it: “Red Cliff” opens only in NYC this Friday but gradually expands to other cities through the new year (a list of booked theaters can be found here). The film has actually been available via Video On Demand since October 22, though this is the kind of film that should be seen on the big screen.
What it is: Neo-noir from revered Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, starring Penelope Cruz.
Why you should be interested: Almodovar and Cruz have become one of the great director/actor pairings of all time (see “Volver;” “All About My Mother” and “Live Flesh”), and though this is considered one of the filmmaker’s lesser works, even his worst film is more visually and narratively interesting than the majority of movies released each year.
How you can see it: “Broken Embraces” opens only in NYC this weekend but it expands to LA on December 11 and other cities from Christmas on, through February (a list of booked theaters can be found here).
“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”
What it is: A not-quite-remake of Abel Ferrara’s “Bad Lieutenant” about a corrupt police detective (Nicolas Cage) in post-Katrina New Orleans. Directed by acclaimed and loony auteur Werner Herzog. Also starring Val Kilmer and Eva Mendes.
Why you should be interested: Nobody does manic better than Cage, and Herzog’s films are always full of surprises. The pair is pretty much a match made in heaven, and the stellar reviews (currently 95% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes) show that the collaboration resulted in quite an entertaining movie, and definitely Herzog’s most mainstream effort yet.
How you can see it: “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” opens in five cities this Friday and in another six locations next Wednesday (see which ones here). Many fans of the film have criticized the scale of this release, and given the strength of the reviews it does seem to deserve an expansion. So this is definitely one for you to request to be distributed to your area.