Thinking Outside the Multiplex

by MIKE MACCOLLUM

Unless Lucy somehow snatches the metaphorical football away from Charlie Brown at the last moment yet again, the American version of John Woo’s Red Cliff finally will be on at least one big screen in Indiana this week. Additionally, the first Amitabh Bachchan film of the year to hit Indy, Rann, gets a few showings at the Georgetown 14, a new Kidtoons show starts at a few theaters around the state, Crazy Heart expands in a big way (to so many theaters, in fact, that it is now beyond the scope of this column) – and there are the usual number of holdovers and special screenings as well. For all of that – and news on a few promising-sounding upcoming releases as well – read on below….

[Follow the links in the Outside the Multiplex: Moviegoing in the Hoosier State section of the sidebar for showtimes, directions and other such information about the Indiana theaters appearing in this week’s column.]

LIMITED RELEASE THEATRICAL FILMS OPENING IN INDIANA THIS WEEK

Rann – The founder of India’s first independent news channel (played by Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan) is an idealist who believes in integrity and principles over the profit motive – which means that he is very much an odd man out in modern India. His own son thinks their channel should make money, and hates the fact that they are being bested in the ratings by a newer, flashier channel that is more than willing to sensationalize any story, no matter the cost to the nation. The head of the rival news channel and a very ambitious politician are also players in this story, which the film’s director sees as an expose of how news operations in capitalist societies can be changed by the profit motive. According to the manoranjaninc site, Rann is currently scheduled to show on at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis on Friday and Saturday, February 5 and 6, at 6 and 9 PM.

Red Cliff – After many would-be release dates came and went, the American version of John Woo’s latest film – which has been whittled down to two hours and change, from an original running time of around five hours – finally makes it to the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis. In an ideal world, Americans could see the unedited version on the big screen – but this is obviously not an ideal world. In any event, I have read a number of reviews saying that Red Cliff is worth seeing on the big screen – even in the hacked-down American version – in order to appreciate the epic-scale action scenes. The film is based on a massive, history-changing battle from 208 AD, in which the soldiers of two warlords faced off against the Chinese Emperor’s much larger army. Red Cliff is Woo’s first Chinese film as a director since 1992, per the IMDb, and is also reportedly the most expensive Asian film in history (although I imagine that it will be surpassed in that regard within a few years).

Super Why – The Kidtoons film-of-the-month for February, Super Why is about several superheroes (including Super Why himself) who go on two adventures in reading. (So in other words, it is two short cartoons joined together to make one shortish feature for kiddie matinees.) In “Comic Book: Attack of the Eraser,” the characters are inside a comic book, and must stop the bad guy “Eraser” from rubbing out the words; in “The Big Game,” the hero-kids learn why practice is so important. The Showplace East in Evansville will have Super Why daily at 11 AM this week, while the Rave Metropolis 18 in Fort Wayne will show it at 11:35 AM on Saturday and Sunday only. The Studio 10 in Shelbyville will also show the film on Saturday and Sunday only, but at 1 and 3:30 PM. The Kidtoons site says that three other Indiana theaters – the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis, the Encore Park 14 in Elkhart, and the Carmike 20 in Fort Wayne – will also be showing Super Why, but the title was not on the online schedule of any of these theaters when I checked on Thursday.

THEATRICAL HOLDOVERS, FILM FESTIVALS, REVIVAL SCREENINGS, AND OTHER SPECIAL SHOWINGS IN INDIANA THIS WEEK

Americana – Two American high-school seniors who will enlist in the Army after graduation are the subject of this documentary, which will be screened at 6:30 PM on Friday, February 5, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema. This showing is part of the Browning’s “ScreenPeace” film series.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans – Nicolas Cage and company will be at the Cinema Center @ Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne through Monday, February 8.

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day – Continues this week at the Starplex Coventry 13 in Fort Wayne, with two shows per day (at 6:50 and 9:20).

Broken Embraces – Penelope Cruz stars in Pedro Almodovar’s latest film, which will be shown at 6:30 and 9:30 PM on Thursday, February 11, through Saturday, February 13, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema.

The Dirty Dozen – Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, John Cassavetes, Charles Bronson, Robert Ryan, Jim Brown, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland and George Kennedy are just some of the names in the cast of Robert Aldrich’s 1967 war film. The Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Toby Theatre will show The Dirty Dozen on Friday, February 5, at 7 PM.

An Education – Carey Mulligan stars in Lone Scherfig’s drama, which holds over this week at the ShowPlace East 11 in Bloomington; it is also starts at – or returns to, depending on the theater – a number of theaters throughout the state on Friday, February 5: the Keystone Art Cinema and Glendale Mall ShowPlace 12 in Indianapolis, the Hamilton 16 and IMAX in Noblesville, the Shiloh Crossing 18 in Avon, the Cinema 7 in Muncie, the Showplace 12 in Columbus, the ShowPlace 12 in Muncie, the Encore Park 14 in Elkhart, the Honey Creek West 8 in Terre Haute, the Portage 16 in Portage, the ShowPlace 16 in South Bend, and the Eastside 9 in Lafayette.

Film, Television and Theater Talks – Director Danielle Beverly will present excerpts from her 2005 film Learning to Swallow and the forthcoming Project: Rebirth (which she field produced) at 4 PM on Friday, February 5, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema.

Harvest Moon Film Festival – On its official site, this festival states that it “aims to provide the regional community with a gathering of films and filmmakers celebrating the Midwest” and “provides opportunities for the community to experience the art of film and promotes Midwestern filmmaking.” The Harvest Moon Film Festival starts Thursday, February 11 in downtown Muncie, and runs through Saturday, February 13. For more details, visit the festival’s official site.

Hunger – Michael Fassbender (from Inglourious Basterds and Fish Tank) stars as Bobby Sands, the Irish Republican Army prisoner whose 1981 hunger strike in the Belfast prison, The Maze, led to his death. This 2008 British/Irish co-production will be shown at 6:30 PM on Saturday, February 6, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema; the screening is part of the “ScreenPeace” Film Series.

The Hurt Locker – This Academy-Award nominee returns to the big screen in Indiana with engagements at both the Cinemark Movies 8 Washington Market in Indianapolis and the Starplex Cinemas Coventry 13 in Fort Wayne.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – Terry Gilliam’s latest film – and Heath Ledger’s last one – starts Friday at the Yes Cinema in Columbus.

The Killing Fields – Sam Waterston, Haing S. Ngor, John Malkovich and Julain Sands star in Roland Joffe’s 1984 film about the Cambodian civil war and its tragic after-effects; it will be shown at 9:30 PM on Saturday, February 6, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema, as part of the “ScreenPeace” Film Series.

Lewis and Clark: The Great Journey West – This 2002 film will be showing this week at the IMAX Theater in downtown Indianapolis’ Indiana State Museum.

The Maid – Raquel, the longtime maid to an upper-class Chilean family, has worked for them for such a long time that she almost seems like part of the family – but not quite. Although devoted to her work, she is increasingly plagued by headaches and other health issues – not to mention a gloomy, downcast state of mind. The family tries to help out Raquel by hiring a series secondary maid to assist her – but Raquel has other ideas, and tries to drive them away…. until the family hires Lucy, who may help Raquel turn her life around. The Maid will be shown on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Bloomington, by way of The Ryder Magazine and Film Series; see their site for more information.

Mall of America and 0% Down – These two short films by Josephine Meckseper will be shown simultaneously (on different walls of the same gallery) at the Indianapolis Museum of Art through Sunday, February 7, 2010.

Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs – Christopher Lee – who played a mummy himself back in the day – narrates this 2007 documentary, which will be showing this week at the IMAX Theater at the Indiana State Museum in downtown Indianapolis.

Omer Fast: The Casting – This fourteen minute, four channel video installation continues at the Indianapolis Museum of Art through February 21, 2010. The piece intercuts excerpts from the artist’s conversations with a soldier about to leave for his second tour of duty in Iraq with footage of actors mimicking the dialogue.

Open Mic’rs – A locally-made comedy from 2006 about amateur stand-ups trying their luck at open mic nights, Open Mic’rs will be shown at 7:30 PM on Saturday, February 6, at the Indiana State Museum’s IMAX Theater in downtown Indianapolis. According to this site, the screening will be preceded by the world premiere of the five minute short film Believin’, which features Survivor’s Rupert Boneham as God; admission is $13.50, and proceeds benefit Rupert’s Kids.

Otello – The Salzburg Opera’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera – which was based on Shakespeare’s Othello – will be shown at 7 PM on Thursday, February 11, at the Rave Jefferson Pointe 18 in Fort Wayne.

Pete Seeger: The Power of Song – This documentary about the veteran folk singer will be shown at 9:30 PM on Friday, February 5, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema; it’s part of their “ScreenPeace” film series.

A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor – For those of you who thought that Robert Altman’s film strayed too far from the “real” Prairie Home Companion, here is a big-screen PHC that may be more to your liking – an encore showing of a live performance of the show from the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, with several musical guests (including Elvis Costello) and the show’s regular performers (such as Sue Scott and Tim Russell). This event will be shown at 8 PM EST on Tuesday, February 9, at the ShowPlace 16 and IMAX, the Castleton Square 14, and the Galaxy 14 in Indianapolis, along with the Hamilton 16 and IMAX in Noblesville, and eleven other theaters across the state; for more information, go to the Fathom Events website.

Preacher’s Kid – Angie is a twenty-something young woman who is indeed the daughter of a preacher. Her father is a community leader in their small Georgian town; since her mother died when she was young, Angie has been watching over her father’s health for many years, in addition to accompanying her dad to church several times a week, singing in the choir, and doing various church missions. Longing for a chance to see the outside world, Angie jumps at the chance to join a traveling play with gospel music – even though her father wants her to have nothing to do with it. After a number of harsh experiences, Angie starts to think about going home, but is scared that she might find that her father does not love her any more. Preacher’s Kid holds over for another week at the Eagle Highlands 10 in Indianapolis.

The Road – Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce and Charlize Theron face the end of the world this week at the Starplex Coventry 13 in Fort Wayne.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show – The seventies cult perennial screens again at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis this Saturday night at 10 PM.

Simon Boccanegra – Placido Domingo sings the title role in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of this work by Giuseppe Verdi, which is described on the event’s official site as a “gripping political thriller” about “a father and his lost daughter.” James Levine conducts the orchestra for this production, which will be shown live and in HD at fifteen theaters across Indiana at 1 PM on Saturday, February 6. (The Indianapolis-area theaters are the Castleton Square 14, the Galaxy 14, the Kerasotes ShowPlace 16 and IMAX, and Noblesville’s Hamilton 16 and IMAX; for more information on theaters, go to the Fathom Events site.) Also, the Browning Cinema at the University of Notre Dame will have a screening of Simon Boccanegra at 1 PM on Sunday, February 7.

A Single Man – Colin Firth stars with Julianne Moore in this drama, which continues for another week at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis, and the Yes Cinema in Columbus; it also starts Friday at the Hamilton 16 and IMAX in Noblesville, the Showplace Cinema East in Evansville, the ShowPlace 11 in Bloomington, the Eastside 9 in Lafayette, the Portage 16 in Portage, and the Cinema Center in Fort Wayne.

Super Bowl XLIV – If you want to see The Indianapolis Colts and The New Orleans Saints on a really big screen (for free), go to the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis on Sunday, February 7; doors open at 5 PM. The theater’s site notes that this will be a family-friendly event, free of alcohol and smoke. The Greenbriar CinemaGrill in Indianapolis will have a Super Bowl “Tailgate Party with Rupert (Boneham)” on Sunday, starting at 6 PM; items will be auctioned off to benefit the charity Rupert’s Kids.

Survivor Season Premiere Benefit – I couldn’t find anything about it on the theater’s website as of Thursday night, but the Greenbriar CinemaGrill in Indianapolis has an ad in this week’s edition of Metromix that says they will be hosting this event – to benefit Rupert’s Kids – on Thursday, February 11, at 8 PM.

35 Shots of Rum – The Ryder Magazine and Film series of Bloomington brings back Claire Denis’ French drama for one more showing this Sunday at 4:30 PM.

A Thousand Suns – The Gamo people – who live in the African Rift Valley, in the area where Ethiopia borders Kenya – view nature as something sacred, and have practiced sustainable farming for thousands of years; in this documentary, their views and lifestyles are contrasted with Americans who view nature as something to be used for money-making purposes. A Thousand Suns will be shown as a double feature with Water First (see below) starting at 7 PM on Friday, February 5, at the Epworth United Methodist Church (6450 Allisonville Road in Indianapolis).

To Save a Life – This drama about a teen who is a popular, successful student at his high school – but finds he must reevaluate his life after a tragic incident involving one of his childhood friends – holds over for another week at the Galaxy 14 in Indianapolis, the Metropolis 18 in Plainfield, the ShowPlace 12 in Columbus, the Eastside 9 in Lafayette, and the Honey Creek West 8 in Terre Haute; it also starts Friday at the Stadium 16 in Evansville.

Under the Sea 3D – You can go deep – both water-wise and dimensionally – with this 2009 IMAX 3D documentary, which will be showing again this week at the IMAX Theater in the Indiana State Museum.

Water First – Charles Banda is a Malawi man who is attempting to solve his country’s many water related problems – and who has drilled hundreds of water wells all over Malawi. Banda’s efforts are the focus of this documentary, which also presents a number of facts related to the lack of fresh, clean water worldwide – including the astonishing number of children who die each day due to the lack of drinkable water. Water First will be shown as a double feature with A Thousand Suns starting at 7 PM on Friday, February 5, at the Epworth United Methodist Church (6450 Allisonville Road in Indianapolis).

We Live in Public – The Bloomington-based Ryder Magazine and Film series will present this documentary (which won a Grand Jury Prize for US docs at Sundance) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend. We Live in Public follows the life of artist and Internet millionaire Josh Harris for over a decade – with a special emphasis on Harris’ project “Quiet: We Live in Public,” in which one hundred people lived in a bunker under New York City for thirty days – with multiple cameras showing everything that they did during that period.

Whisper & SHOUT – Bloomington’s Buskirk-Chumley Theater will show this 1988 documentary from East Germany at 7 PM on Sunday, February 7; the screening is part of the “Wende Flicks” series of films from the last years of East Germany’s DEFA Studios. Whisper & SHOUT is a road documentary in which the filmmakers travel around East Germany with bands like Feeling B and Silly in order to document the local music scene in the late eighties; it was screened at the Berlin Film Festival in 1989.

Who Killed the Electric Car? – Chris Paine’s 2006 investigative documentary will be screened at 5:30 PM on Thursday, February 11, at the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Toby Theatre. At 7:30 PM, Paine will give a talk on the recent resurrection of the electric car.

Winter Daydreams – This animated pair (or trio?) of short films for young children will be shown on at 1 and 2:35 PM on Saturday and Sunday only at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis.

The Young Victoria – Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Jim Broadbent, Miranda Richardson, Paul Bettany and Thomas Kretschmann are in the cast of this period drama, which holds over for another week at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis and the ShowPlace East 11 in Bloomington, and plays at the Cinema Center at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne through Monday, February 8. The Young Victoria also starts Friday at the ShowPlace 16 in Schererville.

OPENING ELSEWHERE

Several cool-sounding titles start out of state this week, most notably Ajami, the District B13 sequel, the Red Riding trilogy, Shinjuku Incident, and Terribly Happy. So it’s too bad, then, that none of the movies mentioned below (with the notable exception of Maya Bazaar) are very likely to play in an Indiana theater… even with that Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award Nomination for Ajami. (As usual, I found out about several movies that came out last Friday after the deadline for last week’s column – so those movies are listed in this week’s column as well.)

Aasal – This Tamil-language action/suspense film from India is about a large family business that is on the brink of being destroyed by a number of greedy, self-interested schemers. Only one man, Shiva, is making a real effort to save the company – but with so many different factions, Shiva does not know who is worthy of his trust… and who will try to betray or even kill him. Aasal (the title also appears as Asal on some sites) started Thursday, February 4, at three theaters – one each in California, Michigan and Texas; it will play at other theaters (one in Michigan, one in Illinois, and two more in Texas) starting this weekend. (By the way: as far as I could tell, the film’s official site didn’t have a trailer – so if you want to see one, click here.)

Ajami – The official US site for this Israeli film says that it is “a powerful crime drama set on the streets of Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood- a melting pot of cultures and conflicting views among Jews, Muslims and Christians.” Ajami the film reflects the neighborhood by featuring multiple intersecting storylines, with characters who reflect the neighborhood’s diversity – leading to “a dramatic collision of different worlds and the tragic consequences of enemies living as neighbors.” Ajami started Wednesday, February 3, at the Film Forum in New York City, and opens on Friday, February 5, at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Cinema Arts Centre – both also in New York City.

Bindaas – Of all the movies on this week’s list, this is the most obscure – there doesn’t seem to be an official site for the film, and even its Wikipedia page has very limited information. I was able to discover the following, limited though it may be: Bindaas is a Telugu-language action film from India with a love story, and the main character is named Ajay. Everyone else seems to believe that Ajay has a very carefree attitude about his life, when he actually spends a great deal of time thinking about his future – especially after some (unspecified) surprising developments lead to some (also unspecified) big changes in his life. If you want to see some footage from the film, click on this link and this one to see some “trailers” on youtube – but be aware that both are actually just excerpts from musical numbers featured in the film, and reveal little or nothing about the plot. Whatever it is, Bindaas starts Friday, February 5, at (at least) four theaters – one each in California, Illinois, New Jersey and Virginia.

Black Mail – Taylor Nichols – from Metropolitan and Barcelona – stars in this Chicago-made comedy, which was freely adapted from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Nichols plays Lee, whose movie theater is going down the drain – especially when he starts to obsess over a woman who wants nothing to do with him. Lee’s wife, meanwhile, is being romantically pursued by another man – and while she suspects that her hubby wants to be unfaithful to her, she has misidentified the object of his newfound affections. Black Mail opens Friday at Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center, and will have several other screenings there throughout the week, according to the theater’s site.

Bodyguard – In this Malayalam-language film from India, the main character, Jayakrishnan, is a man who has always admired anyone who leads a dangerous life or displays any sort of bravery. As Jayakrishnan grows older, he starts to think that crooks usually take more risks than cops, so he starts to idolize criminals; as a result, he winds up being the bodyguard for Ammu, the college student daughter of local bigwig Ashokan – and things start to get complicated when romance blossoms between the pair. Bodyguard – which “unfolds the exquisite artistic beauty of human life through many phases of breathtaking moments” and which “goes through mind blowing sequences of Romance, action & comedy,” according to its official site – started Friday, February 5, at (at least) five US theaters – three in Texas, and one each in Illinois and California.

District 13: Ultimatum – Cop Damien Tomasso and former vigilante Leito are back in this follow-up to District B13, set two years after the original ended. Unfortunately, life is still pretty hard in District 13 – and now several politicians have joined forces with some corrupt cops to provoke riots in the area, hoping that they can use the unrest as a pretext for leveling the district… and then raking in the big bucks when it is redeveloped. Of course, Damien and Leito aren’t going to take this lying down, and they band together to do whatever they can to prevent the annihilation of the area. District 13: Ultimatum starts Friday, February 5, at nine theaters – three in California, and one each in Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington state.

Eyes Wide Open – Aaron – an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem butcher with a wife and four children – meets and falls in love/lust with a twenty-two year old student named Ezri. When Aaron becomes obsessed with Ezri – to the extent that he more or less forgets about his family and others in the community – he starts to feel tormented by both guilt and the increasing insistence of others that he return to his former life. Eyes Wide Open started Friday, February 5, at the Cinema Village in New York City.

For a Moment, Freedom – This movie about several different groups of Iranian/Kurdish refugees – all of them stuck in a Turkish hotel, waiting to see if their requests for asylum will be accepted – was Austria’s submission for a 2010 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award Nomination. For a Moment, Freedom didn’t make the cut for a nomination, but its official site notes that it “has already won 22 international awards.” Variety.com recently added this title to their list of films opening on January 29 – but neither the film’s official site nor any other site that I checked said anything about where in the US this movie might have been playing last week.

Frozen – A group of snowboarders are planning to make one more run down the slope at the end of the day – but instead, they get stuck on the chairlift as the resort starts to shut down for a period of several days. As it becomes clear that no one else knows they are there – and as the temperature falls into the danger zone – the increasingly desperate snowboarders do whatever they can to survive the night… Frozen opens on 106 screens on Friday, February 5, according to boxofficemojo – but I could find only 101 screens for the film (thirty-two in California, fifteen in New York, eleven in New Jersey, nine in Illinois, eight in Pennsylvania, seven in Texas, five each in Utah and Massachusetts, four in Minnesota, three in Colorado, and one each in Connecticut and Deleware).

Josee, the Tiger, and the Fish – Tsuneo is a college student with a very casual attitude towards life and love – until he meets Josee, an intelligent and quick-witted young woman who also happens to be physically disabled. This 2003 romantic drama from Japan starts Friday, February 5, at the Viz Cinema in San Francisco.

The Korean – Like last week’s The Weathered Underground, The Korean is being released by Indican Pictures – which seems to have some sort of corporate policy against revealing where its movies are showing (at least when it comes to the company’s site, and the sites of the films it is handling). In the case of The Korean, Indican’s site says that it will be a “DVD Release” – but then again, it is on Variety.com’s theatrical release chart as a February 5 opener… and they were right about The Weathered Underground going theatrical, so I am guessing that they are right about The Korean as well. In any event, the film is about a crime boss who gets very mad when four of his underlings steal both his money and his girlfriend. Facing imminent arrest, the mobster puts in a call to the best hitman on the East Coast – a mysterious fellow called “The Korean” – and orders him to track down and kill the four traitors.

Maya Bazaar – One of two re-releases this week (Ran is the other), Maya Bazaar is a 1957 Telugu-language film from India involving the romantic intrigues of several characters from The Mahabharata – and how the gods intervene in their lives. I had never heard of this movie until I read about it just this week, but it seems to be regarded by a number of people as one of the all-time classics of Telugu cinema. For this re-release, Maya Bazaar has been colorized, and several web sites say that two songs have been cut from the original as well. (According to the film’s Wikipedia page, these songs had to be edited out because the film’s negative was not in good shape for those sections of the film.) Additionally, this site says that the film has been “converted to a full scope movie” and the sound was re-mastered from mono to DTS. (I don’t know what “converted to a full scope movie” means – unless maybe they are projecting the film in widescreen when it was not shot wide. Then again, I could find nothing on either the IMDb or Wikipedia about Maya Bazaar‘s original aspect ratio – and this widescreen trailer for the re-release appears to be framed correctly, so who knows?) Maya Bazaar starts Friday, February 5, at six theaters in the Phoenix Big Cinemas chain – one each in California, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia. (The manoranjaninc site says that the film will play at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis at some point in the future – but there is no start date for Maya Bazaar on the site as of yet.)

My Father’s Will – Wildly successful Italian immigrant Frank Olivetti spends his days and nights partying with a number of different women, until his father makes a deathbed request: he wants Frank to spend one month living as a poor man in New York City. As the month goes by, Frank starts to reconsider his former life – especially after he meets Diane (Ione Skye). Talia Shire and the late Ron Silver are also in the cast of this film, which is an “adventure filled romantic comedy,” according to its official site. My Father’s Will started Friday, January 29, at four theaters in the Showcase Cinemas chain – three in Massachusetts, and one in Rhode Island.

Paano Na Kaya – This romantic comedy from the Philippines is about a love triangle involving Mae, Bogs, and Anna. Mae has been in love with Bogs for a long time, but he has always thought of her as just a friend. After a series of relationships with a number of different girlfriends, Bogs falls for Anna in a big way. When Anna breaks up with Bogs, Mae starts to think that she might have a chance – until Anna comes back… Paano Na Kaya starts Friday, February 5, at six theaters in the US – three in California, and one each in Hawaii, Illinois and Nevada.

Ran – Last week, the Indian film Rann was released in the US. This week, Akira Kurosawa’s  begins a 25th-anniversary re-release in America with a showing at the Film Forum in New York City. (And no, apart from the similar titles, these movies have nothing else in common – as far as I know.) I saw Ran in a theater back in 1985-86, and would love to have a chance to see it on the big screen again – but as of now only seven other cities are scheduled to get this re-release, and Indianapolis certainly isn’t one of them.

Red Riding Trilogy: Special Roadshow Edition – A trio of novels based on the case of the Yorkshire Ripper are the basis for these films – set in 1974, 1980, and 1983, and directed by Julian Jarrold (Kinky Boots; the 2008 Brideshead Revisited), James Marsh (Man on Wire), and Anand Tucker (Hilary and Jackie, Shopgirl), respectively. All three movies will be shown together starting Friday, February 5, at the IFC Center in New York City. The first film is about a young newspaperman looking into a number of child kidnappings and murders – crimes that may be linked to corrupt cops and government officials; in the 1980 film, the killer has yet to be caught, and there are signs that a copycat is also at large; the last part of the trilogy is about a detective who finds that a recent crime shares a number of characteristics with the murders from the seventies… even though someone has been sent to jail for the earlier killings. Paddy Considine, Mark Addy, Peter Mullan, James Fox, Eddie Marsan and Sean Bean are among the actors who appear in one or more of these films, which (according to the official site for the trilogy) constitute a “neo-noir epic.”

Shinjuku Incident – If you think The Spy Next Door sounds like a waste of Jackie Chan’s talents (not to mention your time), this R-rated action/crime drama might be more to your liking. A Chinese man with the bad-ass moniker “Steelhead” – played by Jackie, of course – goes to Japan in an attempt to find out what happened to his girlfriend Xiu Xiu, who went missing soon after she showed up in Tokyo. Steelhead soon finds out that Chinese immigrants who make their way to Japan without a visa or other official papers suffer many indignities – both from the Yakuza and other groups of immigrants – in addition to experiencing the ever-present fear of being sent back home. When Steelhead discovers that Xiu Xiu has taken a Japanese name and married a yakuza boss-to-be, Eguichi, he and Eguichi become allies – for a while. But when Eguichi tries to exploit some Chinese immigrants by using them in the drug trade, Steelhead decides that he must seek revenge. Jackie Chan in Shinjuku Incident – which seems to be the formal US release title for this 2009 Hong Kong production – starts Friday, February 5, on 19 screens: ten in California, three in Washington state, two in Hawaii, and one each in New York, New Jersey, Texas, and Georgia. (By the way: The US theatrical distributor of Shinjuku Incident is “Barking Cow Distribution.” That is the coolest name for a movie company I’ve heard in a long time….)

Striker – How long has it been since a movie has used the phrase “triumph of the human spirit” in its advertising/publicity? I don’t know, but this one comes pretty close – according to its official site, Striker “is a story of triumph of human spirit over indomitable odds.” And not only that – it’s “based on true-life accounts” as well. Striker tells the tale of Surya, who lives in a Bombay ghetto with his parents and older brother. During the mid ‘80s, when Surya is a child, he is frequently sick, and cannot go to school very often – which is why he discovers the game of carrom. Striker‘s site notes that carrom is “[q]uite similar to pool in its concept” and “is common among people from middle and lower income groups all over India.” Surya is soon an expert player, but starts to concentrate on getting a job in Dubai as he becomes a young man. Unfortunately, Surya is conned out all of the money he had saved up for his trip – and so he becomes a carrom hustler, both to earn his money back and to confront Jaleel, the longtime underworld boss of the ghetto area. The official site for Striker says that it starts Friday, February 5, at four theaters in the Phoenix Big Cinemas chain (one each in California, Illinois, New Jersey, and Virginia).

Thamizh Padam – If you’ve never seen a recent Tamil-language film from India, you might not be the ideal audience for Thamizh Padam, since the film’s Wikipedia page says that it makes fun of trends and cliches in recent Tamil films. The trailer on the film’s home page lacks subtitles, but the plot summary on Wikipedia says that this comedy is about the many heroic exploits of a character named Siva. (That synopsis also helpfully details which movies are being mocked at various points in the story.) Thamiz Padham – the title also shows up as Tamizh Padam on some sites – starts Friday, February 5, at the Peachtree Funplex 8 in Norcross, GA, and the IMC 6 in San Jose; the Entertainment Cinemas in Cambridge, MA and the Bloomfield 8 Cinemas in Bloomfield, CT will also have a few showings this weekend.

Terribly Happy – After Copenhagen cop Robert Hansen suffers a nervous breakdown, he is sent to a tiny rural town to be its marshal – the previous occupant of said post having left it under mysterious circumstances. Robert is far too used to the city (and too much of an outsider) to feel at home in the town, or understand the sometimes strange behavior of its inhabitants – but that doesn’t stop him from trying to solve a serious crime… or getting involved with a married woman. Terribly Happy was Denmark’s official selection for a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award Nomination; it didn’t get one, but this offbeat thriller/noir did win seven Robert Awards (the Danish equivalent of the Oscar). Terribly Happy starts Friday, February 5, at the Angelika Film Center in New York City.

White Night (Baekyahaeng) – The murder of a pawnbroker goes unsolved for a year – and then, one of the three suspects in the case is also killed. Nearly fifteen years after the second murder, both killings are still unsolved, and the now retired cop who had been in charge of both cases feels the need to uncover the truth…. This 2009 film from Korea started last week at the M Park 4 Theatre in Los Angeles; the theater’s site has a trailer for the film (without English subtitles, although the film itself is subtitled, according to the theater), still images, and more.

Xaviera Hollander, the Happy Hooker: Portrait of a Sexual Revolutionary – If you’ve never heard of Xaviera Hollander, the title of this documentary tells you a fair amount already. According to this film’s home page, Ms. Hollander is “one of the world’s most important sexual icons” – and this doc covers a number of aspects of her life and career, including “Xaviera’s rise and fall as a madam, her deportation from the United States and her political significance to the Feminist Movement and Sexual Revolution of the 1970s.” Variety.com says that this film started somewhere in the US (or possibly Canada) on Friday, January 29 – and since they added this title to their Film Release Chart just a few days ago, that is most likely true. But repeated attempts to find out just where this was playing came to naught – even this page for the site of the film’s US distributor said nothing about a theatrical release the last time I checked.

NEXT WEEK AND BEYOND

The Keystone Art Cinema has tentative dates for several interesting titles on their web page this week: The Oscar-Nominated Short Films 2010- Animated and The Oscar-Nominated Short Films 2010- Live Action are both scheduled to be at the theater on February 19, and The Last Station and The White Ribbon are supposed to start on February 26.

Manoranjaninc now says that My Name is Khan will start at the Georgetown 14 on February 12. Two new titles also showed up on manoranjaninc’s site this week, although neither has a start date at the G14 as of now: the colorized version of the 1957 Telugu film Maya Bazaar is one (as noted above), and the Tamil-language romantic drama Vinnaithandi Varuvaayaa (Will You Cross the Skies for Me?) is the other.

Three-Minute Film Festival – A “new festival of three-minute films from all over the world,” this event will take place from 7 to 9 PM on Saturday, February 13, at the Studio Art Classes building in Mishawaka; admission (appropriately enough) is $3. Visit the fest’s home page for a list of scheduled titles and the filmmakers behind them.

Films and events for next Friday:

Casablanca – Franklin’s historic Artcraft Theatre will show this 1943 classic at 2 and 7:30 PM on Friday, February 12, and at 7:30 PM on Saturday, February 13.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg – Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo star in Jacques Demy’s 1964 romantic musical/drama, which will be shown in (35 mm) at 7 PM on Friday, February 12, at the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Toby Theatre. Matt Socey of WFYI will introduce the film.

**********

Commentary Track reviews of movies featured in this week’s edition of Thinking Outside the Multiplex:
An Education
The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans
The Hurt Locker
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
A Single Man

8 responses to “Thinking Outside the Multiplex

  1. Lots of good movies opening elsewhere this week. You’ve got me feeling depressed about the local foreign film options again. At least we got Red Cliff at last.

    When I saw the box ad for that Telugu film on the manoranjaninc site earlier this week, I thought, “That makes it sound like the movie’s been colorized.” Then I thought, “No. No way. No one does colorization anymore.” Wow. I can’t believe anyone still wants to watch a colorized movie.

    Having seen District B13 when it was in theaters a few years ago, I feel compelled to note that the most unbelievable part of the sequel has got to be the idea that the local government would need to manufacture a pretext to justify demolition/ redevelopment. Did they ever actually watch their own movie? However, if the free-running is as good this time around as it was in the first film, I’m willing to overlook (again) an idiotic script.

  2. Yes, Red Cliff at last and a surprisingly satisfying epic despite the compression. Two questions for the Commentary Track go to guy. The ad for Red Cliff proclaimed it #3 in the six shooter series – ? And what do you see about Warlords? I know it’s opening April 2 in some theaters but have you seen anything about distribution?

  3. Helen- Yes, “Opening Elsewhere” can sometimes be a dispiriting read- all of those movies are out there, and we get so few of them in theaters. Since I usually don’t pay attention to DVD release lists, I might not have heard about some of these titles myself if I didn’t write the column. As for Maya Bazaar- yes, I agree on colorization; I thought this was dead and buried years ago. And it does look like D13: Ultimatum has lots of action, but the per-theater average on Variety’s film release chart this week was not good (a little over $1000 per theater, as I recall) for an opening week. This lowers the already-low odds that this would play at the Keystone Art Cinema.

    Miriam- Magnolia Pictures, which is distributing Red Cliff in the US under the “Magnet Releasing” label (or subsidiary), is releasing six films over a period of months under that “Six Shooter” heading. Actually, this is the second “six shooter” pack; the first one included Let the Right One In- the only one of the group to play the Keystone Art Cinema, as I recall. I guess the idea is to showcase movies (like most under the Magnet label) that are more violent/edgier/action-oriented than “traditional arthouse fare”.
    Besides Red Cliff, there is one yet-unnamed “mystery movie” in this Six Shooter 2 group. Two of the others are already on DVD (Bronson and Ong Bak 2), or soon will be. District 13: Ultimatum is also part of Six Shooter 2- and so is The Warlords, coincidentally enough. I think I cut and paste a theater list for The Warlords from the Magnolia Pictures site a while back- but even if I did, it may have been updated since then, so here it is (again?):

    4/2/2010
    Santa Ana, CA: South Coast Village 3
    West Los Angeles, CA: Nuart Theatre
    New York, NY: Cinema Village

    4/9/2010
    Berkeley, CA: Shattuck Cinemas 10
    San Francisco, CA: Lumiere Theatre 3
    Washington, DC: E Street Cinema
    Aiea, HI: Pearlridge West 16
    Honolulu, HI: Kahala Theatres 8
    Cambridge, MA: Kendall Square Cinema

    4/16/2010
    San Diego, CA: Ken Cinema
    Philadelphia, PA: Ritz at the Bourse
    Seattle, WA: Varsity Theatre

    4/23/2010
    Denver, CO: Chez Artiste

    4/30/2010
    Minneapolis, MN: Lagoon Cinema

    There’s still no Indiana playdate, obviously- but if the movie does well in other theaters, it’s a possibility. Then again, a number of people seem to think that Magnolia/Magnet usually see theatrical release as something of an afterthought- or at least something that they don’t put a lot of effort/money into promoting, since they claim that they get more of a profit from their Video on Demand releases of most titles. (I’ve read some posts on one message board indicating that Red Cliff didn’t have a huge amount of publicity/advertising when it opened in New York City, for example.) Of the upcoming Magnolia releases, the one with the widest theatrical release is the upcoming Korean thriller Mother (from the director of Memories of Murder and The Host)- although there is no Indianapolis date for even that film, as of yet.
    As to why Magnolia/Magnet is using the “Six Shooter” label- I have no idea, beyond the to way that they seem to be using the Six Shooter designation (along with the Magnet label itself) to help distinguish these titles from the “usual” arthouse movies. However, it seems to me that most people pay little attention to this sort of thing (especially when Magnolia isn’t spending a great deal of time and money on publicity and advertising in the first place- and especially since the movies are being released over a period of a number of months, rather than one right after the other over a period of six weeks)- so I’m not sure how much this is helping to publicize the movies. Then again, they might put these out in a “Six Shooter DVD” 6-pack at some point, or there might be some sort of special heading for the Six Shooter titles on Video on Demand channels (especially on HDNet Movies, a corporate sibling of both Magnolia/Magnet and the Landmark Theatres chain)- but that’s speculation on my part, since I have not seen a DVD 6-pack for the first group of Six Shooter movies, and since I don’t have Video on Demand anymore.

  4. Thanks, Mike. I had looked at the Warlords website but couldn’t find the cities list for some reason. Chicago’s not there, let alone Indy, so it seems very odd. What a strange business. Some movies get enormous sums of money lavished on their promotion and others are tossed friendless into the world. The Imaginarium is one that received no support and I think could have been at least modestly successful if a little effort had been made. Your guess about the six shooter label seems a likely one; it certainly is useless as a theater promo since the films aren’t westerns and aren’t being distributed as a package or series.

  5. UPDATE- According to this week’s NUVO, The Earth House Collective in Indianapolis will show two short films starting tonight (Thursday) at 7 PM. NUVO says that both films- The Old Man and the Storm, and Fisher of Men- are about people in New Orleans dealing with the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina. There was nothing on the Earth House site about either film when I wrote last week’s column- and as far as I could see, there was still no mention of these films on their site today.

  6. Miriam- I read something online recently (from either Variety.com or some other “industry insider” sort of thing) claiming that the recession has led to lower prices for movie distribution rights at festivals like Sundance. At the same time, however, producers were requesting (and getting) distributors to agree to spending more money on advertising/publicity, and ensuring that the films in question would get wider theatrical distribution than many indie/art films have been getting in recent years. The article mentioned the way that some distributors have been buying the rights to movies and then giving them minimal theatrical releases, or sending them straight to video- and noted that these producers are now trying to make sure that their films would avoid this fate.

    I know some filmmakers (especially younger ones) don’t care if their films get much (if any) theater play, as long as the movies get seen somewhere (DVD, online, whatever), and they don’t get ripped off. But it sounds like other filmmakers and production companies are pushing back against those distributors that see theatrical release as an afterthought- and the end result may well be more art movies getting seen in more theaters.

  7. Red Cliff remains for one showing a night at the Landmark. See it! Although cut down from the original, the editing has been done with sense and spirit. It is a great tale in the spirit of Sun Tzu.

  8. Mike-That’s a positive trend for those of us who like to see movies in the theater space they are made for. Of course, the Weinsteins in their Miramax days were infamous for that practice, having locked up scores if not hundreds of movies by buying the rights but never releasing them. (It’s vindictive, but I rejoice in every story of their financial woes.) Another hopeful news report suggests that Disney may be offering that library for sale. I know it’s too late for any of them to be seen in a theater but we can be grateful that they’ll be available for viewing at all.

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