Workout, Hancock trailer and Blast of Silence
What: L.A. gym reality series, now available online.
Why: Cable TV shows--from The Hills and The Paper to Bravo's supermodels and real housewives--are becoming anatomies of female power and narcissism, even as most network shows stay a man's man's world. Jackie Warner, the seductive lesbian gym owner, is now the poster woman for the sexual, unapologetic dominatrix, as self-centered and commanding in the bar and bedroom as with her needy clients and employees. Her Greek chorus of acolytes endlessly speculates on her motives and mysteries as she barely registers their presence in her queenly self-possession.
What: Fourth of July action movie preview.
Why: "You're a superhero, for God's sake--people should love you," says the smarmy PR man to his dissipated, homeless, heavy-drinking client, who also happens to be a flying-through-the-air superhero. Will Smith continues down the antihero road paved by male movie stars before him, so his own desire to muddy his squeaky-clean image mirrors his character's. But how will America feel, with the endless presidential race winding into summer, about this cool, tall African-American man whose reluctant superpowers can save the world?
What: Restored 1961 film noir classic.
Why: "A killer who doesn't kill gets killed," snarls the gravelly narrator of this brutal existential parable, in which a lonely killer arrives in New York at Christmas to knock off a mob boss. He wanders the empty city like an alienated stranger, interacting with such vivid supporting characters as an obese gun supplier who keeps pet mice, and a meek woman whose kindness he drastically misunderstands. Short and terse, this influential film, freshly restored by Criterion, relies on impressionistic camerawork and hardboiled second-person voiceover, which aggressively verbalizes the hero's silent thoughts.