CATEGORIES Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Independent, New Releases, Columns, Features, Indie Spotlight, Movie News, Columns, New Releases, CinematicalHere's a quick look at what's opening in limited release this weekend. If they're not playing where you live, keep an eye out as they make the rounds. And if all else fails, there's always DVD....
First, be aware that Paranormal Activity has expanded into 160 theaters nationwide, with screenings all day (not just at midnight). The Coen brothers' A Serious Man (which might stretch the definition of "indie," but still) is also expanding a bit, though still in only about a dozen major cities.
Good Hair (pictured) is a highly enjoyable documentary by Chris Rock examining African American women's obsession with hair. I saw it at Sundance and, speaking as a white dude, I had no idea it was this big a deal. The black members of the audience, meanwhile, were nodding and smiling knowingly. Cinematical's Scott Weinberg had much the same reaction I did when he reviewed it at Sundance, and all but two of the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes are positive, calling it funny, informative, and enlightening. Playing on about 180 screens in the greater L.A., New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington D.C. areas.
An Education was a huge hit at Sundance this year, with raves all around for its star (Carey Mulligan) and its director (Lone Scherfig). It's a coming-of-age story about a girl in 1960s London, with a screenplay by Nick Hornby. Cinematical's James Rocchi adored it; so does almost everyone else who has reviewed it. (And one of the pans is from noted contrarian Armond White, who doesn't count anyway.) It's just in New York and L.A. right now, but don't worry: Sony will be pushing it for awards consideration, so you'll get a chance to see it.
From Mexico with Love is a drama about a young Latino boxer, an immigrant to America, who teams up with an old trainer. I can't find any reviews online, and barely any mention of the film at all. But it's playing on close to 300 screens in New York, Chicago, Florida, and throughout the Southwest; a full list is here. Has anyone seen it?
Adventures of Power was one of the more notorious flops at Sundance 2008, garnering terrible reviews from nearly everyone who endured it (including Cinematical's Scott Weinberg, who did better than me -- I left after 20 minutes). It's a Napoleon Dynamite rip-off -- nearly every critic mentions that -- about a guy in an air-drumming competition. Playing in New York City and Louisville, Ky. (Hey, why not?) A list of future release dates in other cities is at the film's website.
Bronson tells the fact-based story of a very angry and violent British man who spends much of his life being very angry and violent in a British prison. Cinematical's Scott Weinberg called it "raw, blistering, harsh, and compelling" when he reviewed it at Sundance, and professed outright awe for lead actor Tom Hardy's incredible performance. About 75% of the critics agree with him. Playing in New York for now.
The Damned United stars Michael Sheen (Tony Blair in The Queen) as a soccer (sorry, football) coach trying to turn a losing team around. It's based on a true story, and Cinematical's Jen Yamato notes that it's less a sports drama than a character study. She has mostly positive things to say about it, by the way, as do 90% of the other critics so far. Playing in New York and L.A.
Free Style stars High School Musical's Corbin Bleu as a kid chasing his dream of being a motocross racer. Most of the reviews so far as negative, calling it formulaic, by-the-numbers family-drama stuff. (Weird thing: I just realized I read the screenplay to this about four years ago! Someone I sort of knew had written it and wanted some feedback. It had a different title then -- a terrible one, which was one of the items of feedback I gave. Glad they changed it. From the looks of things, though, it doesn't look like much else was improved upon.) Playing in New York, L.A., Seattle, Denver, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and a few other scattered locales.
Peter and Vandy stars Jason Ritter and Jess Weixler as a New York City couple, with their relationship shown to us out of sequence. The reviews are about evenly split so far, though Cinematical's Erik Davis rather liked it at Sundance. Playing in New York and L.A.