The ol' clock on the wall says it's Friday -- wait, what kind of clock is that? -- and that means it's time for The (Mostly) Indie Film Calendar, your weekly look at what's cool and happenin' beyond the multiplexes of North America. If you know of something nifty happening in your city that you think should be on the calendar, send me a link! My e-mail is Eric.Snider (at) Weblogsinc (dot) com.

Now then! To the calendar!

INDIE THEATRICAL RELEASES

  • My Blueberry Nights, the much-anticipated English-language debut from Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai, opens in New York and Los Angeles today. It stars singer Norah Jones as a woman recovering from a breakup and traveling across the United States. Cinematical's James Rocchi saw it at Cannes last year and quite liked it.
  • Meet Bill, formerly just called Bill, is a comedy starring Aaron Eckhart as a man with crumbling marriage who reluctantly becomes a mentor to a teenage boy. It premiered at Toronto last year and opens today in various places in the Midwest.

  • Sex and Death 101, opening in New York and L.A., is a dark comedy about a man who gets an e-mail listing every woman he's ever slept with -- and every woman he ever will sleep with. Meanwhile, there's a woman roaming the city administering justice to sex offenders. Our Scott Weinberg reviewed it at Fantastic Fest last fall and found it worthy. Written and directed by Daniel Waters (Heathers).


SPECIAL EVENTS

Ashland, Ore.: Down at the southern end of Oregon is the picturesque city of Ashland, home to a world-class Shakespearean festival and an up-and-coming film festival. The 7th annual Ashland Independent Film Festival runs this weekend, featuring such noteworthy titles as Taxi to the Dark Side, Then She Found Me, Steal a Pencil for Me, and Secrecy. Filmmaker Albert Maysles will also be on hand for a special tribute to his work.

Austin: The good people at the Alamo Drafthouse don't just want to entertain you; they want to educate you, too. That's why they're running the Big Screen Sci-Fi Classics series all month, giving cinephiles a chance to see some familiar titles the way they were meant to be seen: on the big screen, with food in front of you. This weekend it's the original King Kong (1933), shown from a newly restored print.

Boston: Taking a cue from the Alamo Drafthouse, the Coolidge Corner Theatre offers two midnight sing-along events this weekend. Tonight you can croon along with R. Kelly in all 22 chapters of his "Trapped in the Closet" fiasco; then, speaking of trapped in the closet, Saturday night's event is a Michael Jackson sing-along. The lyrics will be on the screen, in case you don't happen to know all the lyrics already.

Boston:
The Brattle Theatre's "Schlock Around the Clock" mini-fest is 13 hours of cheesy movies in one convenient location, starting Saturday night at 10 p.m. Titles include Spice World (1997), The Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969), and Little Red Riding Hood & the Monsters (1962). I have chills already. I mean, seriously, Spice World?!

Brooklyn, N.Y.: What is The Saragossa Manuscript? Well, it's a 3-hour Polish movie from 1965 that has been claimed as a favorite movie by (at various times) Luis Buñuel, Jerry Garcia, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese. So I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that it's really, really weird. BAMcinématek has a new print of it that's screening today through Monday, so you can watch it and find out for yourself what it takes to blow Jerry Garcia's mind.

Chicago: The filmmakers and cast of Blood Scarab will be on hand for a midnight screening tonight at the Music Box Theatre. And just what is Blood Scarab, you ask? I quote the Music Box's description: "To exist in daylight, Elizabeth Bathory, the infamous Blood Countess and widow of the legendary vampire Count Dracula, makes a monstrous blood-pact with the Egyptian goddess Hathor -- one that involves three lovely victims plus a living Mummy!" IMDb adds the helpful tidbit that the Blood Countess is also a lesbian. Throw in some rocketships and dinosaurs and you've got the best guy movie ever made.

Denver: The Denver Film Society's "Cinema Q" series presents Gregg Araki's The Living End (1992) all this week. It's the story of two HIV-positive gay men going on a hedonistic rampage. Haven't seen it, but it sounds hilarious!

Los Angeles: What better place than the City of Angels, so frequently the setting of the dark dramas of the 1940s and '50s, to host a huge film noir festival? American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre is unspooling 27 films throughout the month, most of them unavailable on DVD and many of them from new 35mm prints. Check the link for a complete list of titles and descriptions.

Los Angeles: To celebrate what would have been Bette Davis' 100th birthday, the Aero Theatre is showing eight of her films, seven of which earned her Oscar nominations. You missed a double feature last night (sorry), but tonight there's Dark Victory (1939) and Now, Voyager (1942), with All About Eve (1950) and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) on Saturday, and The Whales of August (1987) and The Little Foxes (1941) on Sunday.

Madison, Wis.: The 10th annual Wisconsin Film Festival will occupy the heart of Madison this weekend, with several dozen features from around the globe crammed into just four days. Several titles were their countries' Oscar submissions this year, and there are screenings of some old classics in the mix, too.

Malibu, Calif.: Malibu isn't just home to wildfires, mudslides, and Mel Gibson DUIs. It's also home to the Malibu International Film Festival, the ninth edition of which takes place this weekend. The fest is still relatively small, with just four features, a few docs, and a couple dozen shorts unspooling over three days. But if you're nearby, it might be worth checking out. Support the small fests!

Philadelphia: Yo! The 17th Philadelphia Film Festival launched last night and will run through April 15, with more than 100 features on the program. Among the major titles: American Teen, Baghead, Body of War, The Forbidden Kingdom, Mongol, and Phoebe in Wonderland.

Portland, Ore.: A couple dozen features relating to the Jewish experience will play as part of the 16th Portland Jewish Film Festival, running at the Northwest Film Center through April 17. Gentiles welcome!

Salt Lake City: It's midnight, you live in Utah, and you want to escape. May I suggest Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? It's Michel Gondry's poignant comedy about intentional memory loss, and it's the midnight movie tonight and Saturday at the Tower Theatre, a place that always helps you forget you live in Utah.

Seattle: Are you a big fan of football, and by football I mean soccer? The Northwest Film Forum has two kick flicks playing this weekend that will give you a unique perspective of the sport. Zidane, a 21st Century Portrait uses multiple high-definition cameras to focus exclusively on the superstar player during a match, putting you right there on the field with the famous head-butter. Then there's Football As Never Before, a 1971 German film that did essentially the same thing with George Best.

Vail, Colo.: Telluride, Shmelluride. The Vail Film Festival, taking place in another of Colorado's scenic resort towns, runs through the weekend with 16 features, 10 documentaries, and a bunch of shorts. Among the titles: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Bi the Way, Moving Midway, Mary Stuart Masterson's The Cake Eaters, and Amy Redford's The Guitar.



Is there something cool going on in your city? Send me a link! Eric.Snider(at)weblogsinc(dot)com.