Summer Grows Up

For once, this season's movies don't ask you to check your brains at the door

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers: Director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) returns to his indie roots with the story of an elderly man (Henry O) who comes from China to Spokane to visit his newly divorced daughter.

August 1

Choke: A sex-addicted con artist (Sam Rockwell), his deranged mother (Anjelica Huston), and a recovering chronic masturbator (Brad Henke) populate Clark Gregg's adaptation of Chuck "Fight Club" Palahniuk's novel.

Frozen River: The great Melissa Leo finally gets top billing in filmmaker Courtney Hunt's story—a Sundance hit—of a single mother who gets involved in human smuggling on the U.S.-Canada border.

August 8

Elegy: Ben Kingsley is a womanizing English professor who's slowly becoming unraveled by his obsessive affair with a student (Penelope Cruz). Based on a novella by Philip Roth, with Dennis Hopper and Patricia Clarkson.

Towelhead: A love-it-or-loathe-it film from Alan Ball (American Beauty, Six Feet Under) about a 13-year-old Lebanese-American girl (Summer Bushil) who encounters racism and sexual abuse when she moves to Houston. With Aaron Eckhart.

August 22

Crossing Over: Harrison Ford, Sean Penn, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, and Summer Bushil crash into each other in director Wayne Kramer's multi-story exploration of life in immigrant Los Angeles.


Study Abroad

The summer in foreign films

June 20

Mongol: This recent foreign-film Oscar nominee recounts the early years of Genghis Khan, the mighty 12th-century warrior and conqueror.

June 27

Elsa & Fred: Manuel Alexandre and China Zorilla star as two seventysomething neighbors who fall in love and travel to Italy to re-enact the Trevi Fountain scene from Fellini's La Dolce Vita.

The Last Mistress: Director and provocateur Catherine Breillat (Fat Girl) heads to 19th-century France, where a young nobleman (Fu'ad Ait Aattou) tries to shake his obsession with his longtime mistress (Asia Argento, 2008's most prolific actress).

Tell No One: In this Cesar Award-winning French adaptation of an American novel by Harlan Coben, Francois Cluzet stars as a pediatrician under suspicion of murder.

August 15

A Girl Cut in Two: Reportedly inspired by the 1906 murder of New York architect Stanford White, this thriller by French director Claude Chabrol concerns a TV reporter (Ludivine Sagnier) torn between two charismatic, and possibly treacherous, men (Benoit Magimel and Francois Berleand).


Just The Facts

The summer in documentaries

June 11

Encounters at the End of the World: Werner Herzog, who knows a thing or two about living life to the extreme, heads to Antarctica to meet the researchers who man one of the world's most remote science stations.

June 13

Chris & Don: A Love Story: In this moving documentary, artist Don Bachardy looks back on his 40-year relationship with writer Christopher Isherwood, whose Berlin Stories inspired the musical Cabaret.

My Winnipeg: Utilizing his signature mix of silent film, animation, and delightfully weird melodrama, Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin composes a love letter to his Canadian hometown.

The Sky Turns: After 35 years away, filmmaker Mercedes Alvarez returns to the tiny Spanish village where she was the very last child to be born.

June 27

Gunnin' for That #1 Spot: Beastie Boy Adam Yauch tracks eight high school basketball players—NBA contenders all—as they prepare for a showcase game in Harlem's legendary Rucker Park.

Trumbo: This tribute to blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Roman Holiday, Johnny Got His Gun), written by his playwright son, Christopher, features readings by Joan Allen, Kirk and Michael Douglas, and Paul Giamatti.

July 4

Gonzo: The Life & Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson: With the help of Johnny Depp, illustrator Ralph Steadman, and a treasure trove of 1960s and '70s archival footage, filmmaker Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Taxi to the Dark Side) tracks the life of the mad-genius journalist.

July 11

Religulous: Comedian Bill Maher takes on religion in this documentary from Curb Your Enthusiasm director Larry Charles.

July 18

Lou Reed's BERLIN: In a concert film directed by Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), Lou Reed performs, for the first time ever live, his magnificent 1973 song cycle, "Berlin."

July 25

American Teen: In this Sundance hit, filmmaker Nanette Burstein (The Kid Stays in the Picture) tracks a year in the life of four Indiana teens.

August 22

Man on Wire: Filmmaker James Marsh explores the ultimate high-wire act: tightrope walker Philippe Petit's 1974 illegal stroll between the Twin Towers.


Take The Kids

The summer in family fare

June 27

WALL-E: The new computer 'toon from Pixar director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo) takes place 700 years in the future when a lonely Earth robot called WALL-E and a sleek 'bot from space named EVE team up for adventure.

July 2

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl: In a role likely to make Dakota Fanning pea green with envy, Abigail Breslin stars as Kit, the mystery-solving 10-year-old heroine of the popular Depression-era book series.

July 11

Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D: Brendan Fraser digs deep.

July 18

Space Chimps: Animated monkeys blast into space to head off approaching aliens.

August 8

Fly Me to the Moon: Animated 3-D astronaut flies (very cute flies) go to the moon.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2: The magic jeans follow America Ferrera, Amber Tamblyn, Blake Lively, and Alexis Bledel to college and beyond.

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