For bloody power struggles and family intrigue without the costumes, there’s James Gray’s WE OWN THE NIGHT, which follows a familiar gangster-flick formula in its tale of two brothers, one a cop, one working for the mob, who have personal business to take care of as the NYPD tries to take down the gangsters. The testosterone-heavy cast includes Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, and Robert Duvall.
VIDEO: The trailer for Gone Baby Gone
As author Dennis Lehane knows well, the streets of our own Dorchester can be as mean as those in Brooklyn, and Ben Affleck aims to re-create that ambiance in his directorial debut, an adaptation of Lehane’s novel GONE, BABY, GONE. Shot in local neighborhoods, it follows the adventures of two romantically involved private detectives (Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan) as they search for an abducted four-year-old girl. Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris act sage and tough.
Brooklyn and Dorchester have always been dangerous turf, but what’s the deal these days with Alaska? Joining Into the Wild and The Last Winter in its depiction of that state as a beautiful death trap is 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. David Slade (Hard Candy) sets his vampire thriller in a town where the six-month-long winter night provides a perfect environment for the light-shunning blood feeders. Josh Hartnett, Ben Foster, and Melissa George take their places on the buffet table.
Such fantasy terrors pale before some of the nightmares going on in real life, however. South African filmmaker Gavin Hood, who won an Best Foreign Film Oscar a couple of years back for Tsotsi, turns his critical gaze to these shores with RENDITION. An American woman played by Reese Witherspoon tries to track down her Egyptian husband, who has disappeared into a CIA secret prison. Jake Gyllenhaal plays an agent who’s starting to think that maybe waterboarding isn’t such a good idea.
VIDEO: The trailer for Run, Fat Boy, Run
Okay, so that torture stuff is a big problem, but why are the porky guys getting all the babes? David Schwimmer in his feature directorial debut, RUN, FAT BOY, RUN, wants to know. Here the physique-challenged guy is so complacent, he dumps his gorgeous fiancée at the altar. Five years later, he sees his mistake when she’s about to marry some whiz kid, so to prove his worth, the rueful former beau decides to run a marathon. Simon Pegg, Hank Azaria, Ameet Chana, and Thandie Newton hang on until the finish line.
Another love goes down the drain in THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE, though under more tragic circumstances. After her husband’s sudden death, a widow played by Halle Berry invites her dead hubby’s down-and-out best friend (the mercurial Benicio Del Toro) to move in so they can both put their shattered lives together. Former Dogme 95 devotee Susanne Bier (After the Wedding) directs.
VIDEO: The trailer for American Gangster
No pussyfooting around with AMERICAN GANGSTER: from the title down to Denzel Washington’s relentless performance as a ’70s Harlem crime boss, this based-in-fact epic looks like a reinvention of The Godfather. Russell Crowe plays an FBI agent; Ridley Scott directs.