Now, "indie" can be a hard thing to pin down. Bill Maher's Religulous (opening today on 500 screens) might qualify, but you've probably already heard about it. Same goes for Blindness (1,700 screens). You don't need me for those. Instead, here are the five that we're shining the indie spotlight on: Allah Made Me Funny, An American Carol, Ballast, Kidnap, and Rachel Getting Married.
Rachel Getting Married
What it is: One of the big hits at the Toronto International Film Festival, it's a naturalistic drama about an addict (Anne Hathaway) who gets out of rehab just in time for her sister's wedding.
What they're saying: Cinematical's James Rocchi had almost nothing but good things to say about it in Toronto, particularly with regard to the screenplay and Hathaway's performance. (There's a bit of Oscar buzz around both.) At Rotten Tomatoes, the film stands at a solid 76%.
Where it's playing: New York City (Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, City Cinemas, Regal Union Square), Los Angeles (ArcLight Sherman Oaks, ArcLight Hollywood, Laemmle Playhouse in Pasadena, Edwards Westpark in Irvine, The Landmark), and International Falls, Minn. (Cinema 5).
More info: Sony Classics' official site.
What it is: A bleak drama about life and death among the lower classes on the Mississippi Delta.
What they're saying: Cinematical's James Rocchi praised the film at Sundance (and interviewed the writer/director, Lance Hammer, here). At Rotten Tomatoes, 75% of the critics agree with The Rocch. It won prizes for its directing and cinematography at Sundance, too.
Where it's playing: New York City (Film Forum).
More info: The official site says it will expand to "select cities" in two weeks.
An American Carol
What it is: Airplane! mastermind David Zucker co-wrote and directed this conservative spoof in which an America-hating liberal (think Michael Moore) is visited by three ghosts to make him more patriotic.
What they're saying: Right-wing political humor doesn't have a very good track record; then again, David Zucker does. Keeping his film hidden from critics and the press before its release doesn't bode well, but we'll see.
Where it's playing: Everywhere -- it opens on 1,700 screens today.
More info: Clips 'n' stuff at the official site.
Allah Made Me Funny
What it is: A concert film featuring three of the leading American Muslim stand-up comedians. You gotta admit, that's pretty intriguing.
What they're saying: Mixed reviews so far at Rotten Tomatoes, with even the positive notices saying the humor is uneven.
Where it's playing: Atlanta (Midtown Arts), Berkeley (Shattuck Cinemas), Boston (Kendall Square), Chicago (Century Centre), Dallas (Inwood Theatre), Detroit (Maple Art Theatre), Houston (Angelika), Los Angeles (Laemmle Sunset 5), Minneapolis (Lagoon Cinema), New York City (Quad Cinemas), San Diego (Hillcrest Cinemas), San Francisco (Opera Plaza), Seattle (Varsity Theatre), and St. Louis (Plaza Frontenac).
More info: The official site.
What it is: A thriller from India, opening simultaneously there and here, about, um, a kidnapping.
What they're saying: No reviews yet. We'll all solve the mystery together!
Where it's playing: A couple dozen locations all over the place, mostly in the suburbs around New York, L.A., Chicago, Houston, etc.
More info: The interactive official site.