Cheat Sheet

4 minute read
Lev Grossman


GRINDHOUSE Rated R; opens April 6

It’s an inspired premise: to commemorate, update and parody the infra-dig, ultraviolent ’70s genre movies that used to fill three hours at scuzzy urban theaters. And just the right auteur-perps showed up for the job: Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) and Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill), plus a few other cult directors to provide zesty trailers of fake horror films. Rodriguez’s Planet Terror is a zombie thriller with some bloody fabulous effects; it’s fast, icky and smart. You can skip the second feature: Tarantino’s Death Proof, above center, offers an hour of gaseous girl talk and an inane car chase. More than the autos get totaled here; so does Q.T.’s reputation as cinema’s fanboy-genius.


BOBBY Rated R; on DVD April 10

It’s not that Emilio Estevez made a bad film. It’s just that, like the family of the man whose story it tells, there’s so much of it: too many stars (including Elijah Wood and Lindsay Lohan, above right), too many story lines, too many messages. Laurence Fishburne offers wisdom over blueberry cobbler! Ashton Kutcher’s a peaceful stoner! Helen Hunt’s rich but sad! It’s as if Estevez fears history isn’t interesting enough.



Rated R; on DVD April 3

A single mom (Penélope Cruz, above left) hears rumors that her dead mother (Carmen Maura) is haunting their hometown. This unlocks closets full of family secrets and director Pedro Almodóvar’s unique mix of earthy wit and fire. So maybe he’s not working at quite the apogee of emotion and cinematic daring of his All About My Mother and Talk to Her. That makes Volver only about the sixth best film of the past decade.


Who’s Playing Danny Pearl?

Dan Futterman, right, is an actor, a writer and an actor who plays writers. Most viewers met him as the writer brother of Judge Gray on Judging Amy. Then he penned 2005’s Capote, about a reporter’s relationship with a murderer. And this summer in A MIGHTY HEART, Futterman plays the Wall Street Journal’s Danny Pearl, left, who was murdered by terrorists in Pakistan. Angelina Jolie stars as Pearl’s pregnant wife Mariane, on whose book the film is based. Despite starting with the morning of Pearl’s 2002 abduction, the film tells more of how the energetic reporter lived than how he died, says Futterman. “Danny was an incredibly happy guy,” he says, and Pearl’s family hopes the movie inspires “understanding rather than anger.” It can’t hurt to have such a literate lead.


Our critics’ favorite lines from three hot new novels

‘Spenser was the oldest, proudest bank on Wall Street, but it had entered into the early stages of a slow decline around the time I was hired. It was in all honesty this trend toward mediocrity that best explains my hiring.’ –PAGE 54 OF mergers & acquisitions BY DANA VACHON

‘The word love was required to cover such a range of emotions that it almost meant nothing at all. Since the love we distill for each beloved conforms to such a specific, rarefied recipe … you really needed as many different words for the feeling as there were people whom you cared for in your life.’ –PAGE 240 OF the post- birthday world BY LIONEL SHRIVER

‘We were fractious and overpaid. Our mornings lacked promise. Most of us liked most everyone, a few of us hated specific individuals, one or two people loved everyone and everything. Those who loved everyone were unanimously reviled.’ –PAGE 3 OF then we came to the end BY JOSHUA FERRIS

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