This Fourth of July is a fine time to declare your love of independents, as these films are opening in art houses across the land: Diminished Capacity, Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Holding Trevor, Kabluey, Tell No One, The Wackness, and We Are Together.
What it is: Matthew Broderick plays a man suffering from memory problems who returns to his hometown to hang out with his uncle (Alan Alda), who has Alzheimer's. He connects with an old girlfriend (Virginia Madsen), too; not sure on whether she can remember things or not. Oh, and it's a comedy.
What they're saying: Cinematical's Christopher Campbell gave it a so-so review; boss man Erik Davis liked it better, but he's in the minority.
Where it's playing: New York City (Landmark Sunshine Cinema; Clearview's 62nd & Broadway), Chicago (Landmark Century Centre Cinema), and Los Angeles (Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills).
Official site: IFC Films.
Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
What it is: Sadly, Gonzo is not the long-awaited biopic of the misunderstood Muppet. It is instead a documentary about the legendary writer/journalist/hallucinogen-enthusiast whose work you might know from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The doc, by Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room), premiered at Sundance.
What they're saying: Cinematical's James Rocchi reviewed it favorably and interviewed Gibney. Our Nick Schager liked it, too.
Where it's playing: Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles and Orange County, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco and Berkeley, Seattle, Washington D.C.
Official site: Hunter S. Thompson Movie (includes scheduled release dates for other cities).
What it is: A comedy-drama about attractive gay men in their 20s living in L.A. The star, 27-year-old Brent Gorski, is also the screenwriter. Jay Brannan, whom you might recognize from Shortbus, is also featured.
What they're saying: The San Francisco Chronicle liked it; Slant hated it; Village Voice hated it; and so forth.
Where it's playing: New York City (Quad Cinema) and Los Angeles (Laemmle's Sunset 5).
Official site: Holding Trevor (includes scheduled release dates for other cities).
What it is: Written and directed by Scott Prendergast, who also stars, it's a comedy about an aimless man who moves in with his sister (Lisa Kudrow) to help care for her monstrous children. Meanwhile, he takes a terrible job that requires him to wear a ridiculous blue mascot costume and hand out fliers. Hilarity and pathos ensue.
What they're saying: Cinematical's Kevin Kelly adored it last year at the L.A. Film Festival. Kim Voynar and I saw it at this year's Oxford (Mississippi) Film Festival, where it won the jury prize, and adored it, too. (Here's my review.) And hey, check it out: currently sitting at 93% at Rotten Tomatoes (only one negative review, from someone who very bizarrely took messages from it that it doesn't have).
Where it's playing: New York City, at Cinema Village 12th Street.
Official site: Kabluey (includes scheduled release dates for other cities).
Tell No One
What it is: A French suspense thriller (based on an American novel) about a man whose wife was killed -- or was she?
What they're saying: Cinematical's James Rocchi has almost nothing but praise for it. He's not alone, either -- Rotten Tomatoes shows plenty of support, with the word "Hitchcockian" being thrown around a lot.
Where it's playing: New York City (Landmark Sunshine Cinema; CC Cinemas), Los Angeles (Laemmle's Sunset 5), Irvine, Calif. (Edwards Westpark 8), Laguna Niguel, Calif. (Regency Rancho Niguel), and International Falls, Minn. (Cinema 5).
Official site: There's just a U.K. site (where it's already on DVD) and a French site (which is in French).
What it is: The darling of just about every film festival it's played at (including winning the audience award at Sundance), it's a comedy about a teenage pot dealer (Josh Peck) in New York in 1994, trying to find his place in the world, and trying to score with Ben Kingsley's hot stepdaughter (Olivia Thirlby).
What they're saying: Cinematical's Scott Weinberg didn't care for it -- but he's aware he's in the minority. Our boss, Erik Davis, gave it high marks at Tribeca, and the other reviews have generally been good. It would seem that if you were a teenager in New York in the mid '90s, you're bound to love it.
Where it's playing: New York City, of course, on two screens at the Angelika Film Center, two screens at AMC Empire 25, and one screen at Lincoln Plaza. Also in Los Angeles at the ArcLight, The Landmark, and Laemmle Monica 4.
Official site: Sony Pictures Classics.
We Are Together
What it is: A documentary about South African orphans who use music to lift their spirits. It's won awards at several film festivals already; bring a hankie.
What they're saying: Mostly positive things, though not too many reviews have been filed yet.
Where it's playing: New York City, at Cinema Village.
Official site: We Are Together, where you can learn more about the extraordinary children and buy CDs of their music.