CATEGORIES Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Independent, New Releases, Quentin Tarantino, Columns, Features, Indie Spotlight, Movie News, Columns, New Releases, CinematicalWhat with the Olympics and the Batman and the pineapple express and the pants, you might be a little overloaded with things to watch this weekend. On the other hand, maybe you've seen all that and want something different. In that case, hooray for the Indie Spotlight! It's our weekly roundup of what's opening beyond the multiplexes, designed so movie fans can keep an eye out for those less-publicized titles.
There are eight indie films for you to examine this week: Beautiful Losers, Beer for My Horses, Bottle Shock, Elegy, Hell Ride, Patti Smith: Dream of Life, Red, and What We Do Is Secret. Here's the skinny on each of them.
What it is: A fictionalized account -- very heavily fictionalized, it would seem -- about the plucky California winery that managed to beat French wines in a blind taste test in 1976.
What they're saying: The reviews at Rotten Tomatoes are almost evenly split down the middle. My own take: It's the Two Buck Chuck of wine movies.
Where it's playing: Various places throughout Northern and Southern California, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Detroit, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston.
Official site: Take a sip.
What it is: Executive-produced by Quentin Tarantino, it's Larry Bishop's homage to the sleazy biker movies of the early 1970s.
What they're saying: They're saying they hate it. Ten of the 12 reviews at Rotten Tomatoes are negative, and that includes the two from Cinematical, by James Rocchi and yours truly.
Where it's playing: Quite a few cities, actually; check out the map here.
Official site: Hop on, easy rider.
What it is: A documentary about some do-it-yourself artists who shook things up in the early 1990s.
What they're saying: So far, they're not saying much. Only a few reviews have shown up at Rotten Tomatoes.
Where it's playing: New York City (IFC Center)
Official site: Here you go. It has a schedule of release dates for other cities, too.
Beer for My Horses
What it is: A comedy starring -- and written by -- country singer Toby Keith (who has a song by this title, too) and raunchy Southern-friend comedian Rodney Carrington. They play small-town deputies who have to save a woman from drug lords. Is this a Larry The Cable Guy knock-off? Has it come to that?
What they're saying: Nothing yet. I can't find any reviews anywhere.
Where it's playing: According to the list on the film's site, it's in St. Louis, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Little Rock, Indianapolis, Nashville, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Buffalo, and Tulsa.
Official site: Drink up, Trigger.
What it is: An adaptation of a Philip Roth novel (The Dying Animal), starring Ben Kingsley as an academic who has an affair with a younger woman (Penelope Cruz).
What they're saying: The reviews at Rotten Tomatoes are 82% positive, so it looks like we have a winner.
Where it's playing: Seattle (Seven Gables Theatre), New York City (Angelika Film Center, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas), San Francisco (Embarcadero Center) and Los Angeles (ArcLight, Laemmle Monica 4).
Official site: None.
Patti Smith: Dream of Life
What it is: A documentary about the rock singer, duh. Did you think it was about Peppermint Patty? (That would be rad.) It won a cinematography award at Sundance this year.
What they're saying: Two-thirds in favor, one-third against at Rotten Tomatoes. Patti Smith novices might find there's not much for them here.
Where it's playing: New York City (Film Forum).
Official site: Rock on. Includes a list of release dates for other cities.
What We Do Is Secret
What it is: A biopic about Darby Crash and his punk rock band, the Germs, starring Shane West and Bijou Phillips. Sounds a bit like last year's Joy Division movie Control, only this time the band is much less famous.
What they're saying: It's at 60% at Rotten Tomatoes, with some critics admiring the low-budget amateur vibe and others consider it a defect.
Where it's playing: New York City (Landmark Sunshine Cinema).
Official site: Continue to rock on. Includes a schedule of upcoming release dates.
What it is: A Death Wish-esque thriller about a man (Brian Cox) who must deal with the punk kids who killed his dog. Based on a Jack Ketchum novel.
What they're saying: Rotten Tomatoes seems to be unware of the movie's existence. But I reviewed it for Cinematical at Sundance, and I called it "emotionally gripping if slightly overwrought." Solid film, though. Of course, as my friends will tell you, I love Cox, and I wish more movies had Cox in them, so perhaps my judgment cannot be trusted when it comes to Cox.
Where it's playing: New York City (Cinema Village 12th Street), Bethesda, Md. (Bethesda Row Cinema).
Official site: None that I can find.