CATEGORIES Comedy, Documentary, Foreign Language, Gay & Lesbian, Independent, New Releases, Family Films, Harry Potter, Columns, Features, Indie Spotlight, Movie News, Columns, New Releases, CinematicalIt's a light weekend at the multiplexes, with just one new wide release to take in. The good news there is that once you're done watching James Bond kill and/or sleep with people, you'll have plenty of time to head to the art houses and see what the independent scene has to offer. The Indie Spotlight is here to round 'em up for you, and there are nine diverse choices opening today: Bohica, A Christmas Tale, Dostana, The Dukes, Faded Memories, House of the Sleeping Beauties, How About You, Slumdog Millionaire, and We Are Wizards.
Here's the lowdown on each of them:
What it is: It's the feel-good sensation of the year that has critics raving, that's what! It's about a kid from the streets of Mumbai who somehow makes it to the final round of India's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" -- and in particular about the events of his life that brought him there.
What they're saying: Cinematical's Kim Voynar called it Danny Boyle's best film to date when she reviewed it at Telluride. It's rocking a 92% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 8.2 out of 10, making it one of the best-reviewed movies of the year. If this movie doesn't make you feel good it must be because your heart is gnarly and cankered.
Where it's playing: New York City (Angelika, Lincoln Plaza), Los Angeles (The Landmark), Chicago (Landmark Century Centre, Century Evanston 18), San Francsico (Embarcadero).
More info: The official site has a list of when it opens in other cities. Expansion starts next week.
A Christmas Tale
What it is: A French comedy-drama about a fractured family gathering for the holidays, whereupon there are fistfights and other angst. Starring Catherine Deneuve.
What they're saying: It's tres bon! Cinematical's Kim Voynar, reviewing it at Cannes, said it's "deeply layered, intelligent." At Rotten Tomatoes, 91% of other critics have praised it, saying it might be slightly too long but that it's warm, human, and inventive.
Where it's playing: New York City (IFC Center, Lincoln Plaza) and Los Angeles (The Landmark; Laemmle's Sunset 5, Town Center 5, Playhouse 7, and Monica Fourplex).
More info: The official site is in French, FYI.
What it is: A Hindi-language comedy set in Miami about two guys who pretend to be gay in order to rent an apartment from a woman who fears straight tenants would harass her beautiful niece. What do you wanna bet the guys both fall for the niece and hilarity ensues?!!
What they're saying: No reviews so far. It's opening simultaneously in India, so no one's had a chance to see it yet.
Where it's playing: About a dozen theaters in the NYC, L.A., Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Austin, Miami, and Detroit areas.
More info: The official site plays music when you visit it. Just so you know.
What it is: A comedy starring Chazz Palminteri and Robert Davi as washed-up doo-wop singers who pull a heist to make some money.
What they're saying: Six of the seven reviews at Rotten Tomatoes so far are positive, calling it a cheerfully inconsequential, low-budget-but-who-cares? indie dramedy that's easily entertaining.
Where it's playing: New York City (AMC Empire 25, Cinemart, CC Village East, Malverne Cinema).
More info: The official site has a list of upcoming release dates in other cities.
House of the Sleeping Beauties
What it is: A German drama about a lonely elderly man who learns of a secret business where he can spend the night with a roomful of beautiful but unconscious women.
What they're saying: Cinematical's Nick Schager called it "agonizingly sluggish," which sounds about right for a movie about people who are asleep. The six reviews at Rotten Tomatoes are evenly split between yeas and nays. It definitely sounds ponderous and slow, which can be either good or bad.
Where it's playing: New York City (Quad Cinema).
More info: The official site has a brief list of future playdates.
What it is: Romantic drama about a teenage girl who has a phobia of physical contact with other people ... until she falls in love with a hunky teenage boy, that is. The writer, director, and star is Anne-Sophie, who was 14 when she wrote it and is only 17 now. She's so young she doesn't even have a last name yet.
What they're saying: No reviews yet. I'd be curious to see it based solely on its unusual backstory, though that same backstory -- teenagers making movies -- would make me cautious about expecting anything brilliant.
Where it's playing: Los Angeles (Laemmle Town Center 5).
More info: The official site.
How About You
What it is: An Irish comedy about a woman filling in at an senior citizens' home over Christmas, with the few remaining residents misbehaving and causing mischief. Vanessa Redgrave is one of them.
What they're saying: Seven for, three against at Rotten Tomatoes, with most calling it simple, entertaining, and sweet.
Where it's playing: New York City (Paris Theatre).
More info: I can't find an official site anywhere.
What it is: A drama about the futility of war, focusing on four bored soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. The title is a military acronym for "bend over, here it comes again," which coincidentally was also the theme of my senior prom.
What they're saying: No reviews yet.
Where it's playing: Los Angeles (Regency Fairfax Cinemas 3).
More info: Hey, it has a MySpace page! Just like your mom!
We Are Wizards
What it is: A documentary about hardcore Harry Potter fandom, with particular emphasis on the Potter-inspired rock bands that have sprung up.
What they're saying: Cinematical's Kim Voynar reviewed it at SXSW and found it unfocused and pointless. She's not alone: Only two of the eight reviews at Rotten Tomatoes are positive. One of the pans says it would have been better as a bonus feature on a Harry Potter DVD.
Where it's playing: New York City (Cinema Village).
More info: The official site has a little information on where it's playing next -- Denver, to be specific.