‘A Knight’s Tale’ (Aug. 31)
Another period musical, this one from the writer and director Brian Helgeland (an Oscar winner for co-writing the “L.A. Confidential” screenplay), takes a similar swing-for-the-fences approach, scoring its story of jousting and romance in 14th century England with ’70s rock hits like “We Will Rock You” and “Takin’ Care of Business.” It’s wildly anachronistic but joyfully so, as Helgeland and his attractive cast — including the charismatic golden boy Heath Ledger, the striking ingénue Shannyn Sossamon and the sneeringly villainous scene-stealer Rufus Sewell — strike just the right balance of good humor and old-fashioned earnestness.
‘Mean Girls’ (Aug. 31)
Tina Fey was still known only as a writer and an occasional on-camera performer at “Saturday Night Live” when she penned this inventively loose adaptation of the nonfiction study “Queen Bees and Wannabes,” by Rosalind Wiseman. Fey dramatizes Wiseman’s anthropological survey of teenage clique culture by telling the tale of Cady (Lindsay Lohan), a longtime home-schooler entering the hellscape of high school life for the first time. The director Mark Waters, who deftly directed Lohan in the previous year’s “Freaky Friday” remake, confidently orchestrates the curricular chaos, which includes brief but hilarious appearances by Fey and her “S.N.L.” castmates Ana Gasteyer, Tim Meadows and Amy Poehler, and by then-up-and-comers like Lizzy Caplan, Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried.
‘Paranormal Activity’ (Aug. 31)
The beauty of horror, for the low-budget filmmaker attempting to break into the biz, is that it doesn’t require stars, expensive locations or even (if you do it right) elaborate special effects. The genre is the star, and if a filmmaker can create tension and suspense with minimal resources, the cash can roll in. That’s certainly what happened with this 2009 shocker, put together on a shoestring budget of $10,000 and grossing just shy of $200 million worldwide. The movie’s writer, director and editor, Oren Peli, cleverly turns his technological shortcomings into bonuses, crafting a found-footage story of things going bump in the night with gooseflesh raising inventiveness.
‘The Ring’ (Aug. 31)
Hideo Nakata’s 1998 Japanese horror thriller “Ringu” had such a beautifully simple but arresting premise — a videotape is so disturbing that anyone who watches it will die within days — that it was probably only a matter of time before it was remade for American audiences. Gore Verbinski’s 2002 variation can’t quite pack the novelty punch of the original, but it is deliciously unnerving all the same, collecting heavy helpings of dread and perturbing imagery and seasoning them with a light touch of meta-commentary. (Are we, the horror movie audience, any wiser than those poor souls onscreen?) Naomi Watts provides a rooting interest as the cynical reporter investigating the tape’s mysterious origins and the spell it casts.
‘Salt’ (Aug. 31)
Angelina Jolie fronted her fair share of action movies, but she never really seemed to find the right vehicle for her particular talents. Except this once. In Evelyn Salt — a clever super spy who may be a Russian mole, or a C.I.A. operative, or both, or something else entirely — Jolie lands on the perfect role for her distinctive blend of butt-kicking athleticism, sensuality and intelligence. She also has the right director for the job in Phillip Noyce, the spy movie specialist (his filmography includes “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger”) who can navigate breathless action sequences and espionage exposition with equal aplomb.
Content Source: www.nytimes.com