Welcome back to another round of Defamer Attractions, our weekly guide to picks, prognostications and perversions landing at a cinema near you. Much like last week, one new release has hijacked America's consciousness with hormonal aplomb, while Liv Tyler and her coterie of bagheaded stalkers look on from outside. We have only positive things to say about Julianne Moore's lurid dabblings in incest, and a glance at new DVD's reveals at least a few reassuring titles for the shut-ins among us. As always, our opinions are our own, but they're also just about bulletproof — finally, something we all can agree on!
WHAT'S NEW: We've heard Sex and the City referred to as everything from a "women's cultural moment" to "plow donkeys wearing lipstick," a fantastically diverse spectrum of hype that reflects a true phenomenon — if not necessarily guaranteeing a box-office windfall. But we'll stick with the conventional wisdom on this one, especially after a number-crunching source sends word that it's already over 1,000 sellouts and pushing $6 million before noon. With Indy 4 dropping at least 50%, and even with male moviegoers calling in dead, we're calling SATC for $51.5 million, Indy for $49 million, and the never-say-die Speed Racer hanging in there with about $200.
Also opening this week: the Mena-Suvari-in-cornrows horror/drama Stuck; the martial arts comedy The Foot Fist Way; and the gonzo steroid doc Bigger, Faster, Stronger*.
THE BIG LOSER: Universal thinks it's playing The Strangers just right, with the Liv Tyler/Scott Speedman home invasion thriller offering ideal counterprogramming against the estrogen-skewing SATC. We're a lot less optimistic, with critics pummeling it and the R rating thwarting a young (particularly male) audience that has nowhere else to turn. If it does more than $8 million we'll be stunned.
THE UNDERDOG: Now this is counterprogramming: Fifteen years after his queer tabloid romp Swoon, filmmaker Tom Kalin returns to true crime with the luridly omnisexual Savage Grace. Julianne Moore is in top form as Barbara Baekeland, whose marriage into the Bakelite fortune yields a roving husband (Stephen Dillane), a tormented gay son (Eddie Redmayne) and her own psychosis over years of imploded family ambitions. Moore's riveting interface with Redmayne — an essentially symbiotic passive to her aggressive, until an intimate coupling one must see to believe torpedos everything — is ripped straight from the scandalous headlines by Kalin, who orchestrates it all as one of the most dynamic melodramas in years.
FOR SHUT-INS: This week's new DVD's include the Woody Allen "thriller" Cassandra's Dream; the Forest Whitaker/Sarah Michelle Gellar/Brenadan Fraser ensemble stinker The Air I Breathe; Daniel Kraus's outstanding on-the-job doc Musician; and the ultimate anti-SATC tonic, Rambo: The Complete Collectors Set.
So can an old man outperform four younger women for three days straight? Are we misreading the odds for The Strangers? Recommend something to us for a change — what's good out there?