This week sees a couple of golden oldies trotted out alongside the customary summertime family fun, docs on science both good and bad, and another lesson from the Tony Scott school of flash-bang filmmaking.
“Betty Blue: The Director’s Cut”
Having inspired everything from ardent film student party chatter to the pure cinematic showmanship of Luc Besson, Jean-Jacques Beineix’s 1986 Oscar-nominated romantic drama has a legacy that reaches far and wide. This new print of Beineix’s definitive 1991 cut of his oh so artsy tale of an aspiring writer Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade), his wild, volatile muse Betty (Béatrice Dalle) and her gradual descent into self-destruction contains more than an hour of additional footage that stretches out Betty’s madness and embellishes it with such antics as Zorg’s cross-dressing crime spree. In French with subtitles.
Opens in New York.
With the great debate over science versus religion seemingly more heated than ever, this documentary showcases a relationship between Christian and non-Christian scientists who demonstrate that exploring the universe and exploring your faith don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The latest from “Power Trip” director Paul Devlin, “Blast!” chronicles the exploits of his brother Mark and a team of international researchers attempting the not-too-simple task of launching a multi-million dollar space telescope into the Earth’s atmosphere via a high-altitude balloon.
Opens in New York.
“Call of the Wild 3D”
An eclectic catalog of vicarious teenage wish fulfillment pictures, live-action animal hijinks comedies and, erm, softcore skin flicks (many of which he also starred in), the résumé of actor-turned-writer/director Richard Gabai makes for nothing if not interesting reading. Here, he plants himself firmly in family-friendly territory helming this very loose adaptation of the classic Jack London short story. Christopher Lloyd stars as the Montana widower Bill Hale, whose granddaughter Ryann (Ariel Gade) befriends and trains an injured wolf that her grandpa knows will one day have to be returned to the wild.
Opens in limited release and in 3D.
“Dim Sum Funeral”
The sophomore feature from Chinese-American helmer Anna Chi, “Dim Sum Funeral” gathers together a veritable buffet of fine ex-pat Asian talent (including Lisa Lu, Bai Ling and Steph Song) for a quirky confessional marbled with good old fashioned familial dysfunction. Following the death of their oppressively meddlesome mother (known amongst them as the Dragon Lady), a trio of far flung Asian-American siblings (Julia Nickson, Russell Wong and Francoise Yip) reunite in Seattle for the grueling traditional ritual of the seven-day funeral where each will come to terms with their loss and with their relationships to each other.
Opens in Los Angeles.
“Le Combat Dans L’île”
While somewhat overlooked at the time of its 1962 European release during the decline of the Nouvelle Vague movement, then-first-time director Alain Cavalier’s depiction of duality between the mindsets of terrorists and ultra-conservatives carries an extra air of poignancy in today’s politically polarized times. Finally gettings its first U.S. theatrical run, Cavalier’s romantic thriller stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as a spoiled right-wing activist whose fevered anger over his mentor’s betrayal gives way to some Ahab antics that ultimately serve to drive his wife Anne (Romy Schneider) into the arms of her liberal lover. In French with subtitles.
Opens in New York.
The latest leaf to drop off the fast-growing “we’re all doomed!” branch of documentary filmmaking, this feature debut from television producer/director Robert Kenner is an activist exposé of the food industry and their “bigger, faster, cheaper” mantra that puts profit ahead of the nation’s health. From genetically modified animals and vegetables to the seemingly universal applications of high-fructose corn syrup, Kenner paints an unflattering portrait of collusion between a handful of multi-national corporations and the bought-and-paid-for government regulators who are supposed to be our eyes and ears when it comes to what goes into our mouths.
Opens in limited release.