Signs of the times
The story of the symbolic letter-writing serial killer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay area in the 1970s has inspired a handful of lousy films, including two released in 2005, The Zodiac, starring a pre-Grey's Anatomy Justin Chambers, and The Zodiac Killer, starring no one you've ever heard of. With Zodiac , David Fincher , one of the most exciting directors of the 1990s (Fight Club, The Game), makes his first feature since 2002's underwhelming Panic Room. The shaggy-dog trio of Jake Gyllenhaal , Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. play a bunch of cops and journalists trying to solve the case. Fincher added new blood to the serial killer thriller genre with Se7en, so let's see if the stars are aligned for another hit when the film opens March 2.
It's all Greek
The last time Frank Miller 's name preceded a movie title, it was for the eye-poppingly visceral Sin City, Robert Rodriguez's adaptation of Miller's series of noir-influenced graphic novels. 300 , based on another Miller work, sounds like a tougher sell than that. It's about the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., where the Greeks fought the Persians. Whether it's a war allegory, violent pulpy fun or just another sword-and-sandal epic remains to be seen. The trailers - featuring an over-the-top Gerard Butler - look okay. And the director and co-writer is Zack Snyder , who did decent work on 2004's Dawn Of The Dead and is onboard to direct another eagerly anticipated graphic novel epic, Watchmen. He's obviously got cred. Opens March 9.
A huge hit in Europe and one of the strongest dramas at last year's Toronto Film Festival, The Lives Of Others looks at a playwright and the meticulous Stasi officer investigating every detail of his life in 1984 GDR. The film swept the German Film Awards, the European Awards (including best pic) and should get a Foreign-Language Film Oscar nomination. In a just world, actor Ulrich Mühe would snag a Best Actor nomination as well for his chilling turn as the rigid officer. Opens February 9.
Up for Air
Everyone remembers that air guitar scene from Risky Business, and I'm sure when you've thought nobody was looking you've strutted around the house releasing that inner rock god or goddess. Air Guitar Nation chronicles the first ever U.S. Air Guitar Championships, where thousands of screaming fans cheer on dozens of ersatz musicians with names like C-Diddy and Bjorn Turoque as they tear up the stage for 60 seconds of air guitar glory. Sounds like the breakout doc of the season. Just the thing to clear away those winter blues. The chords start thrashing March 23 or 30.
He's an essential part of the French New Wave, but Jacques Rivette 's name isn't as well known as Godard, Chabrol and Truffaut. Part of that may have to do with the lengths of his films, and the intellectual stamina required to piece them together. Cinematheque Ontario presents a rare retrospective of the French master's works, including the once-in-a-lifetime screening of all 12 1&218;2 hours of Out 1: Noli Me Tangere , Rivette's largely improvised work about two theatre companies mounting Aeschylus plays. The film's being screened in two parts, February 24 and 25.
Another date with Drew
Wow, this list is pretty guy heavy. So how about the new Hugh Grant - Drew Barrymore romantic comedy, opening - awww - on Valentine's Day? It's called Music & Lyrics , and features Grant playing a has-been musician who tries to make a comeback by writing a hit song with Barrymore. The trailers actually look funny, and believe it or not there's a bit of a minor war going on here about who gets to review it. Who knew?