INDIE THEATRICAL RELEASES
- Deal is another gambling movie, this time about the World Series of Poker. It stars Burt Reynolds, Bret Harrison, and Shannon Elizabeth, and opens today on a few dozen screens nationwide (mostly L.A., NYC, Chicago, and of course Las Vegas).
- Then She Found Me, which has played at seemingly every film festival of the past six months, is the directorial debut of Helen Hunt, who also stars as a woman whose birth mother (Bette Midler) comes into her life just when it's at its most hectic. Cinematical's Ryan Stewart gave it a passing grade at Toronto last fall. It's in NYC and L.A. as of today.
- Roman de Gare comes to us from France, where the title is a term for popular, disposable novels (think John Grisham). Fittingly, the film is being described as a watchable but forgettable story about a mystery novelist who gets wrapped up in a real-life mystery. Opens today in NYC.
- Standard Operating Procedure, the latest scintillating documentary from Errol Morris, dives head-first into the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and includes interviews with several of the key participants (yes, including Lynndie England, famous for smiling and pointing at tortured prisoners while a cigarette dangled white-trashedly from her lips). The doc isn't Morris' best work, but it's sharper and more thought-provoking than nearly any other doc so far this year. Opens today in NYC.
- A Plumm Summer has played at several film festivals with words like "children," "family," and "inspirational" in their names, and today it opens on about 40 screens nationwide. It's set in 1968, when a beloved children's TV character goes missing, and two kids race with the FBI to solve the mystery. Sounds cute, right?
- Tashan is a Bollywood import opening on a few dozen U.S. screens today, mostly on the East and West Coasts, as well as in its native India. I can't find any reviews of it, but its Wikipedia page suggests it's about gangsters and stuff.
Austin: Local hero Mike Judge has compiled a new program of cartoon shorts called The Animation Show, premiering this week at the Alamo Drafthouse. Judge was one of the animators back in the early 1990s who changed the face of the genre; The Animation Show represents some of the talent we'll be seeing make it big in the next few years.
Boston: The Independent Film Festival of Boston is in full swing, running through Tuesday with more than 50 feature films. About half of them played at Sundance and/or SXSW this year or last year, including the great American Teen.
Brooklyn, N.Y.: BAMcinématek's "Creatively Speaking" program, running today through Sunday, is a collection of independent shorts, docs, and features meant to show "realistic, universal portrayals of people of color."
Chicago: Whether you prefer goofy Kurt Russell/John Carpenter collaborations or campy old anti-marijuana propaganda, the Music Box Theatre has a midnight movie this weekend to suit your needs! Big Trouble in Little China (1986) and the original Reefer Madness (1936) are both playing tonight and Saturday. The weed movie even comes with a Betty Boop short!
Denver: The extra-white Mile High City might not seem like an obvious choice for a Spike Lee retrospective, but that's exactly what The Man wants you to think. The Denver Film Society is celebrating Mr. Lee this week, showing Malcolm X on Sunday, The 25th Hour on Monday, Crooklyn on Tuesday, and Do the Right Thing on Wednesday. It all culminates Thursday night with a live appearance by Lee on the University of Colorado Denver campus.
Eugene, Ore.: I love the specialized fests. Is there a market for something like the DisOrient Asian American Film Festival in a city like Eugene, Oregon? Apparently so! It's happening this weekend, and titles include Big Dreams, Little Tokyo, Tie a Yellow Ribbon, Baby, The Trouble with Romance, and Ping Pong Playa. Represent!
Indianapolis: Tribeca, Shmibeca. Here in the heartland, the Indianapolis International Film Festival is also running until May 3. Lots of features and shorts are on the program, with Mongol and Young @ Heart being probably the most recognizable. Also, there's a short called The Legend of My Heart-Shaped Anus, which wins for best title if nothing else.
Los Angeles: Japanese action films from the 1960s! At the Egyptian Theatre, courtesy of American Cinematheque! All this weekend! You wouldn't recognize the titles if I listed them! Sounds fun anyway!
Los Angeles: There's no particular reason for the Aero Theatre to host a double feature of two Bill Murray films tonight -- but then again, do you really need an excuse to watch Caddyshack (a new 35mm print) and Groundhog Day? Of course not.
Newport Beach, Calif.: Welcome to the O.C., movie-lovers! (I happen to know that people who live in Orange County never get tired of hearing people call it "the O.C.") The Newport Beach Film Festival kicked off last night and runs through next Thursday. Features include Captain Abu Raed, The Cake Eaters, Good Dick, and Mister Foe; documentaries cover subjects as diverse as Rubik's Cube, Petey Greene, Alcatraz, ballerinas, and Coco Chanel. Oh, and American Teen.
New York City: The Film Society of Lincoln Center will help you relive history (or, if you're more than 80, "the good old days") tonight with big-screen showings of silent classics The Kid Brother (starring Harold Lloyd) and Beggars of Life (starring Louise Brooks). The best part? They're accompanied by a live orchestra, just like in the 1920s. Ticket prices are a little more modern, but I guess you can't have everything.
Portland: Locals are urged to attend -- or at least make a contribution to -- the D.K. Holm benefit show Sunday night at Cinema 21. Holm, one of Portland's most colorful characters and a great film critic, is being treated for esophageal cancer; all proceeds will go toward his medical costs.
Salt Lake City: Your midnight entertainment tonight and Saturday will be provided by The Outsiders (1983) at the Tower Theatre. Among films with characters named Ponyboy, this is one of the best.
San Francisco: The San Francisco Film Festival is one of the oldest in the world, with its 51st edition running now through May 8. Sundance hits The Wackness and American Teen are on the agenda, plus Stranded, Timecrimes, and dozens more.
Seattle: Among European leading men of the 1960s, who was cooler: Frenchman Jean-Paul Belmondo, or Italian Marcello Mastroianni? You've probably asked yourself that question many times. The Northwest Film Forum will help us decide with "Duel of the Cool," a series of the guys' best films, running Tuesday through May 14, with audience votes determining the eventual winner. The evidence for Belmondo's supremacy will include Breathless (1960), Le Doulos (1963), and Pierrot Le Fou (1965), while Mastroianni's defense consists of La Dolce Vita (1960), 8 1/2 (1963), and Leo the Last (1969).
Winston-Salem, N.C.: It doesn't matter whether you smoke Winstons or Salems, you can still come to Winston-Salem and enjoy the River Run International Film Festival, running until Monday. Among the noteworthy narrative titles are The Edge of Heaven, On the Road with Judas, and OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies; the documentaries include Secrecy, Up the Yangtze, and I.O.U.S.A.