First up, we have a few...
INDIE THEATRICAL RELEASES
- Reprise is a Norwegian film about two friends, both would-be authors, who submit their manuscripts on the same day and go through all the rigors of an artist's life together. Cinematical's James Rocchi lavishes all kinds of praise on it in his review. Opens today in New York and L.A.
- How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer is a comedy about three generations of Mexican-American women enjoying their sexuality (not with each other, gross) one summer. Girl power! Ugly Betty is in it, but the film is from before she became Ugly Betty: It premiered at Sundance in 2005 (!) and is just now finally being released. Opens today all over California, as well as in Chicago, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Amarillo, Phoenix, and Mesa.
After the jump, more theatrical releases, plus our city-by-city rundown of special events taking place this week.
- Sangre de Mi Sangre won the grand jury prize at Sundance last year, when it was called Padre Nuestro. (The name change might be to avoid confusion with the Chilean comedy also called Padre Nuestro.) It's about two Mexican teens who sneak into America, one to find his father and the other to cause trouble. It's well acted but bleak, and it opens today at the IFC Center in New York.
Austin: If you'd rather be enraged or annoyed than entertained this weekend, head down to the Alamo Drafthouse for a screening of The 9/11 Chronicles -- Part 1: Truth Rising, in which director Alex Jones examines how 9/11 heroes have been mistreated, as well as how (sigh) many people question the official version of what happened on that day. Jones will be there in person to introduce the film.
Boston: In 2002, a maximum-security prison in Alabama let inmates participate in a rigorous 10-day Buddhist meditation program. A documentary about the event, Dhamma Brothers, examines what happened and addresses the age-old questions about whether violent, hardened criminals can reform themselves. It's showing this week at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, with the filmmakers (not the felons) in attendance this weekend and Monday.
Boston: The mere suggestion of a film series called "A Gathering of Coens" delights me, and the Brattle Theatre's program is exactly what it sounds like: a cavalcade of Coen Bros. flicks, starting with No Country for Old Men, then moving on to Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, Barton Fink, and Miller's Crossing. It starts today and runs through next week, friendo.
Brooklyn, N.Y.: Film critic and historian Elliott Stein has been hosting special screenings at BAMcinématek, and this week's is The Verdict -- not the 1982 Paul Newman film, but the 1946 film noir starring Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. It's showing twice Wednesday evening, though Stein will be there for a discussion only at the 6:50 screening. What, the 9:30 is past his bedtime?
Chicago: In this time of political turmoil and strife, the Music Box Theatre has a soothing balm: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the patriotic and inspiring Frank Capra film about an ordinary fellow fighting the Washington fatcats. It's this week's matinee film, showing at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Denver: You've probably always wished someone would make a documentary about graffiti, and so I'm here to tell you that your prayer are answered! Bomb It goes all over the world to trace the past, present, and future of graffiti (what were cave paintings, really, if not early examples of tagging?), and it's showing this week at the Starz FilmCenter courtesy of the Denver Film Society.
Little Rock, Ark.: It's only the second year for the Little Rock Film Festival (taking place through Sunday), but they've managed to get some very respectable titles, including several Sundance and South By Southwest entries. Among them: Cinematical's favorite comedy of 2008, The Promotion; dark horror comedy Stuck; another horror comedy, The Zombie Diaries; non-horror documentary Crawford (about GWB's Texas ranch); and the inspiring Beyond the Call. If you go to the fest's site, you can watch a video welcome from former Little Rock resident Bill Clinton.
Los Angeles: Size matters at the Egyptian Theatre this month, as American Cinematheque is celebrating the 70mm film format, which was developed in the 1950s as a means of competing with television. ("Sure, TV is convenient and free -- but these movies are HUGE!") Tonight they've got a very rare 70mm print of Apocalypse Now; Saturday it's Vertigo; and Sunday is Khartoum, starring Charlton Heston.
Los Angeles: I'm going to acknowledge my ignorance and say up front that I know almost nothing about Croatian cinema. But if I lived in L.A., I could totally change that this weekend! The Aero Theatre has a series of films from that region, all of them new, some of them making their Los Angeles debuts. Hooray for culture!
Massachusetts: Why, it's sure a nice time of year to visit the Berkshires! This weekend is the Berkshire International Film Festival, held in scenic Western Massachusetts in the town of Great Barrington and thereabouts. Among the films: Unspooled (set behind the scenes at a failed student film project), Savage Grace, Crawford, Phoebe in Wonderland, American Teen, and a tribute to Kevin Bacon!
New York City: Jennifer Jones, the starlet who appeared in dozens of films in the 1940s and '50s, is the subject of a tribute kicking off today at the Walter Reade Theater, courtesy of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Critics Andrew Sarris and Molly Haskell will be there tonight to officially introduce the series.
Portland: This one's for the ladies! The Portland Women's Film Festival (aka POW Fest) runs through the weekend at the Hollywood Theatre, with features, documentaries, and shorts made by female filmmakers, as well as panel discussions on relevant topics. Films include: Mary Stuart Masterson's The Cake Eaters; jump-roping documentary Jump!; and a synchronized swimming doc titled, obviously, Sync or Swim.
Salt Lake City: Do you love your dead gay son? Sure, we all do. And that is why we go see Heathers at midnight tonight and Saturday at the Tower Theatre.
Seattle: Portrait artist Alice Neel is the subject of a new documentary made by her grandson, Andrew Neel, that will play this week at the Northwest Film Forum.
Toronto: Yeah, the city's got that other film festival that happens in September. But right now, and running until May 25, is the Toronto Hispano-American Film Festival, featuring movies from all over the Spanish-speaking world, many of them making their North American debuts. The title that really caught my eye was The Pope's Toilet. Seriously, people, you should never underestimate the importance of a great title. It's even great in Spanish: El Baño del Papa!
Washington, D.C.: Everyone knows that Iraq-themed movies have tanked at the box office, but that doesn't mean there's no audience for military films. Attempting to tap into that audience is the G.I. Film Festival in Washington, devoted to movies made for -- and by -- America's enlisted men and women. The fest runs through this weekend, with screenings of Grace Is Gone, Music Within, a number of shorts and premieres, plus panel discussions.