And now: the Indie Spotlight. In which you are alerted to the smaller, under-the-radar films opening in limited release this weekend. They usually start in New York and Los Angeles, but be patient. They'll turn up at your local art house or on Netflix sooner or later.
Here's what opens outside the multiplexes today:
- Goodbye Solo (pictured), from Iranian-American wunderkind Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart), is about a young Senegalese taxi driver in North Carolina who befriends a cranky old coot. It has drawn universal acclaim -- literally, as 100% of the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes so far are positive. Cinematical's Kim Voynar reviewed it at Toronto last year and called it "a level of filmmaking that inspires without overwhelming, impresses without overreaching." Playing in NYC and Chicago.
- Spinning into Butter is a drama about race relations and political correctness on a college campus. Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Beau Bridges, and Miranda Richardson, it's based on an acclaimed play but isn't getting much praise as a movie: only 27% of critics at Rotten Tomatoes have liked it. Playing in New York, D.C., and Cambridge, Mass.
- American Swing is a documentary about Plato's Retreat, a famous New York sex club of the 1970s and '80s, back before AIDS came along and spoiled all the fun of casual unprotected sex with multiple anonymous partners. The reviews so far are about evenly mixed, with four in favor and six against at Rotten Tomatoes. Even those who liked it seem to acknowledge it's not terribly deep, though the subject matter might be inherently interesting to some. Playing at Quad Cinema in New York City.
- The Education of Charlie Banks, directed by Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst, is about -- wait, did I just blow your mind? Yes, Fred Durst. And no, it's not a movie about dirtbags. It's about a young man who has to deal with a bully from high school who has followed him to college. Jason Ritter and Jesse Eisenberg star. The reviews at Rotten Tomatoes are evenly mixed, and even the negative ones aren't too harsh. And it won a prize at Tribeca last year! Huh. Playing in New York and L.A.
- Shall We Kiss? is a French romantic comedy about the unintended consequences a simple "no strings attached" kiss can have. It's just a kiss, so I guess they don't mean pregnancy (unless the French are even more potent than I'd heard). At Rotten Tomatoes, 72% of critics so far recommend it, at least two of them comparing it favorably to the works of Woody Allen. Playing on four screens in New York City.