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.