Thinking Outside the Multiplex

by MIKE MACCOLLUM

If February 12 represented a relative famine, then this Friday is much more of a feast, with eight movies (well, six movies, and two collections of shorts) opening in Indiana. (And who cares if the majority of these movies won’t have that many shows? I’m glad that they’ll be here at all….) Also, many more movies are opening out of state this week, compared to last week- and it was just announced that a horror movie with a very cool cast will be making its way to Indiana (and Kentucky) in April. For all of this and more, more, more, read on below….

LIMITED RELEASE THEATRICAL FILMS OPENING IN INDIANA THIS WEEK

The Last Station – Helen Mirren – who received an Academy Award nomination for her work in this film – stars as the Countess Sofya, the loving wife of Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer – also nominated for an Oscar), in this drama from director Michael Hoffman (Soapdish, Restoration, A Midsummer Night’s Dream). When Leo makes some drastic changes in his life – after the pair has been married for nearly five decades – Sofya suspects that this is all a result of maneuvering by Leo’s disciple Chertkov (Paul Giamatti). When a new assistant (James McAvoy) arrives on the scene, he finds himself being used by both Sofya and Chertkov in a struggle to control Tolstoy’s legacy (and fortune). The Last Station starts Friday, February 19, at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis.

Leader – Sekhar Kammula (who is apparently some sort of maverick/outsider in India’s Telugu-language film industry) wrote and directed this drama about a young, idealistic, and non-violent politician who is hoping to reform the political system in modern-day India – but finds that he himself may wind up being changed by the system instead. Leader started Thursday, February 18, at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis; additional showings are scheduled for Friday, February 19 (at 6 and 9:15 PM), and Saturday, February 21 (at 2, 5:30 and 9 PM) according to manoranjaninc.com. Leader also started on February 18 at eleven theaters where it will have a full-week’s run (two each in California and New Jersey, and one each in Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, Illinois, Connecticut, and Texas); it starts week-long runs at two theaters (one in California and one in Texas) on Friday, February 19, and will have more limited showings (one to twelve or so screenings) per week at sixteen other theaters across the US. (Note: I couldn’t find an official site for Leader, but I did find the film’s facebook page – and the film’s page on the site of its US distributor is here.)

Maya Bazaar – The colorized (and slightly edited) version of this 1957 Telugu-language film Maya Bazaar mentioned in the “Opening Elsewhere” section two weeks ago is now scheduled to play at the Georgetown 14 on Sunday, February 21, at 3 and 6:30 PM, and on Monday, February 22, at 8 PM, according to manoranjaninc.com. (The G14’s schedule page for February 21 on the movietickets.com site also mentions a 9:30 PM show on that date – but it isn’t on the manoranjan site, for whatever reason; perhaps that screening sold out?)

The Messenger – Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton and Jena Malone star in this drama about an army officer who is assigned to the Casualty Notification Service after his tour of duty in Iraq. After he informs one young woman of her husband’s death, he finds himself increasingly drawn to her – all while coping with his own memories of the war. The Messenger – which received two Academy Award nominations (for Best Original Screenplay, and for Woody Harrelson’s performance) starts at Fort Wayne’s Cinema Center on Friday, February 19.

My Bloody Wedding – Doug is a nerdy fellow with a lovely bride-to-be, Callista. Doug is worried about Callista, since she has started to sneak out at night, and has been lying to him about what she’s been doing. What Doug doesn’t know is that Callista has been possessed – and has been eating his family and friends. When he finally realizes what’s been happening, Doug bands together with a crazed gardener, a robot, and a masked wrestler to stop Callista and her (also possessed – and also hungry) bridesmaids. This made-in-Indiana comedy will be shown at 7 PM on Monday, February 22, through Thursday, February 25, at the Hamilton 16 and IMAX in Noblesville. There will also be an 11:59 PM show at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington on Sunday, February 21, and a 9 PM screening on Thursday, February 25 at Pruis Hall on the Ball State Campus in Muncie. (Next week, the Wabash Landing 9 in Lafayette will have an 11:59 screening starting on Friday, February 26, and the IMAX Theater at the Indiana State Museum in downtown Indianapolis will show the film at 7:30 PM on Saturday, February 27.)

The Oscar-Nominated Short Films 2010: Animated – With this program, you get not only the five nominees (French Roast, Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty, The Lady and the Reaper, Logorama and A Matter of Loaf and Death), but three additional animated shorts as well (The Kinematograph, Runaway, and Pixar’s Partly Cloudy). Those last three are from Poland, Canada, and the US, respectively; the nominees are from France, Ireland, Spain, France, and the UK, respectively. It sounds like most of the nominated films are comedies of some sort; A Matter of Loaf and Death is the latest Wallace and Gromit short. The Oscar-Nominated Short Films 2010: Animated will be at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis for one week only, with two shows per day – at 5:00 and 9:30 PM.

The Oscar-Nominated Short Films 2010: Live Action – This year’s five nominated shorts are The Door (from Ireland – but it’s set in Russia, and has Russian dialogue), Instead of Abracadabra (from Sweden), Kavi (a US/India co-production, apparently), Miracle Fish (from Australia), and the Danish/US co-production The New Tenants (which has Vincent D’Onofrio and Kevin Corrigan in the cast). As far as I can tell, the first and third films are dramas, while the second is a comedy, and fourth one sounds like a fantasy – and the last film could be a quirky comedy/suspense drama; check the official site for this event for yourself, and see what you think. The Oscar-Nominated Short Films 2010: Live Action will be at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis for one week only, with two shows per day – at 2:30 and 7:20 PM.

Serj Tankian: Elect the Dead Symphony – According to its official page, Serj Tankian: Elect the Dead Symphony features Grammy winner Tankian’s “operatic vocals” backed by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra playing orchestral arrangements of the “epic songs” from Tankian’s album “Elect the Dead.” Serj Tankian: Elect the Dead Symphony will show at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis at 7 PM on Friday, February 19, through Sunday, February 21; it will screen in Bloomington (courtesy of The Ryder Magazine and Film Series) at 7 and 10:30 PM on February 19 and 20.

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

African Adventure 3D: Safari in the Okavango – This 2007 IMAX documentary – shot in the Okavango Delta in Botswana – will be shown at 9:30 AM on Friday, February 19, at the Hamilton 16 and IMAX in Noblesville.

Celine: Through the Eyes of the World – Celine Dion’s 2008-2009 world tour is the focus of this concert documentary, which also features behind-the-scenes footage of Dion with her family, other musicians, and fans. Celine: Through the Eyes of the World will be shown at 2 PM on Saturday, February 20 and Sunday, February 20 – and at 7:30 PM on Monday, February 22, and Thursday, February 25 – at seven theaters around Indiana: the Castleton Square 14 and the Kerasotes ShowPlace 16 & IMAX in Indianapolis, the Hamilton 16 and IMAX in Noblesville, the Metropolis 18 in Plainfield, the Showplace Cinema East in Evansville, the Jefferson Pointe 18 in Fort Wayne, and the Kerasotes ShowPlace 12 in Schererville.

Cool Hand Luke – Paul Newman, George Kennedy, and a bunch of hard-boiled eggs star in Stuart Rosenberg’s 1967 film, which will be shown at 6:30 PM on Saturday, February 20, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema; it kicks off the “Films and Faith: Faith and Doubt” series.

Don Quixote – A ballet version of Cervantes’ novel – as performed by the Mariinsky Theatre of St. Petersburg, Russia – will be shown at 7 PM on Thursday, February 25, at the Rave Jefferson Pointe 18 in Fort Wayne.

An Education – Carey Mulligan received an Academy Award nomination for her performance in Lone Scherfig’s drama, which holds over this week at the Keystone Art Cinema and the Glendale Mall ShowPlace 12 in Indianapolis. The Keystone Art Cinema will have two shows per day (at 2:15 and 7:30 PM) this week; An Education will also be screened at the Cinema Center @ Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne through Monday, February 22.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – Terry Gilliam’s latest film – and Heath Ledger’s last one – starts (or re-starts) Friday at the Stadium 16 in Evansville, the ShowPlace 11 East in Bloomington, and the Cinemark Movies 14 in Mishawaka; the latter location will have only one show per day, at 12:55 PM.

Keeping the Faith – Edward Norton directs and co-stars (with Ben Stiller and Jenna Elfman) in this 2000 romantic comedy/drama; it will be shown at 9:30 PM on Saturday, February 20, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema, as part of the “Films and Faith: Faith and Doubt” series.

Leipzig in the Fall (Leipzig im Herbst) – The Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington will be the venue for a free screening of this 1989 documentary at 7 PM on Sunday, February 21; it will be followed by a showing of the short 1991 documentary Eastern Landscape. The first film captures the demonstrations in Leipzig that took place just before the fall of East Germany in the fall of 1989; the second takes a camera into a Berlin garbage dump to reveal what people got rid of after the fall of the German Democratic Republic. Both films are part of the WENDE FLICKS series on the last days of East Germany’s DEFA Studios, and both will be followed by a question and answer session.

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.

Miracle at St. Anna – Spike Lee’s 2008 drama about World War 2 (and a shooting that takes place decades later) will be shown at 7 PM on Friday, February 19, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema.

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.

My Name Is Khan – Bollywood’s reigning superstar Shah Rukh Khan is Rizvan Khan, a Muslim man from India who moves to San Francisco and falls in love with Mandira. The couple get married and launch a small business, but the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 lead to turmoil in their relationship. When Mandira leaves him, Rizvan (who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome) is heartbroken – and he leaves San Francisco on a difficult voyage across America to win back Mandira. My Name is Khan holds over for another week at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis.

Omer Fast: The Casting – This fourteen minute, four channel video installation continues at the Indianapolis Museum of Art through this Sunday, February 21. 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.

Otello – The Salzburg Opera’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera- which was based on Shakespeare’s Othello – will be shown at 1 PM on Sunday, February 14, at the Rave Jefferson Pointe 18 in Fort Wayne.

Paired Photographs, Paired Films – John Waters’ 1998 comedy Pecker and Steven Shainberg’s 2006 drama Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus – two films with photographers as main characters – will be shown at the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Toby Theatre on Sunday, February 21, as part of the ongoing “Paired Photographs” exhibition; showtimes for the movies are 1 and 3 PM, respectively.

Preacher’s Kid – Angie (the preacher’s kid of the title) wants to escape her father’s strict control – but once she does, she eventually starts to wonder whether being on the road with a theatrical troupe is what she really wants out of life. Preacher’s Kid holds over for another week at the Eagle Highlands 10 in Indianapolis.

Prospero’s Books – Director Peter Greenaway is scheduled to be present for a screening of his adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest at 7 PM on Thursday, February 25, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema. (Greenaway is also scheduled to be there for other events and screenings next weekend; see Next Week and Beyond, below.)

The Road – Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce and Charlize Theron face the end of the world this week at the Cinemark Movies 8, Washington Market, on East Washington Street in Indianapolis.

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 at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, February 24 at the Hamilton 16 and IMAX in Noblesville, the Galaxy 14, Kerasotes ShowPlace 16 and IMAX and Castleton Square 14 in Indianapolis, and eleven other theaters throughout the state. (See the Fantom Events site for more information.)

A Single Man – Colin Firth stars with Julianne Moore in this drama, which continues this week at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis (which will show it daily at 4:45 and 10 PM), and the Cinema Center in Fort Wayne.

Still Bill – That’s Bill as in Bill Withers, who wrote or co-wrote a number of classic songs – including “Just the Two of Us,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Lean on Me” and “Lovely Day.” This documentary about Withers will be screened at 8:30 PM on Friday, February 19 at the ArtBox Gallery (Suite 125, 217 W. 10th St., Indianapolis); the showing will be followed by a dance party, the Hip Drop Funk & Soul Jam, which will feature DJs MetroGnome, Salad Bar, Sir Doug, Chase, Twin Peaks, Jerb, and Hellhammer. This is the first in a monthly series (“A Film With Some Funk”) planned by the ArtBox Gallery; see the gallery’s site for more details.

Super Why: Attack of the Eraser – 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, this is apparently 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 Jefferson Pointe 18 in Fort Wayne will show it at 12 noon 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, while the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis will have Saturday/Sunday screenings at 1 and 2:35 PM.; the Encore Park 14 in Elkhart and the Carmike 20 in Fort Wayne will also have Saturday and Sunday showings of Super Why, at 12 noon and 12:30 PM, respectively.

Three Idiots – Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, and Boman Irani are in the cast of this comedy/drama from India, which will be shown this week at Cinemark Movies 8, Washington Market, on East Washington Street. (And the fact that an Indian film has made it to a second-run theater – other than the Georgetown 14, during that period in which it was a second-run house – ought to demonstrate just how much money Three Idiots made in its US theatrical release.)

To Save a Life – This drama about a teen who is a popular, successful student at his high school – but finds that he must reevaluate his life after a tragic incident involving one of his childhood friends – starts Friday at the Great Escape 7 in Bedford.

21 Grams – Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and Benicio Del Toro star in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s 2003 drama, which will be shown at 3 PM on Sunday, February 21, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema, as part of the “Films and Faith: Faith and Doubt” series.

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.

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.

Wild and Scenic Film Festival – According to the page for this event on the Buskirk-Chumley Theater’s site, it “brings together a selection of films from the annual festival held the second week of January in Nevada City, CA. ‘The films tell a story about our planet, highlighting issues, providing solutions and giving a call to action,’ says Tour Manager, Susie Sutphin. ‘Their collective energy empowers communities to initiate conversations that can bring about compromise and collaborative efforts that positively impact our wild places.’” The event takes place at 7 PM on Thursday, February 25, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington. The festival is sponsored by the Indiana Forest Alliance; their page for the event can be found here.

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, with one show per day (at 1 PM); it also shows through Monday, February 22, at the Cinema Center @ Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne.

OPENING ELSEWHERE – Here’s a change from the last several weeks – one of the movies opening out of state this week, The Ghost Writer, actually has an Indiana theatrical run scheduled; it’s supposed to start at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis on March 5. Also, Blood Done Sign My Name is going out on approximately 100 screens – and with that many prints out there, there’s a pretty good chance that this one will show up in a few Indiana theaters, as long as it does fairly decently in its opening week. And Mysteries of the Great Lakes could make it onto one or more of the IMAX screens in the state, while Happy Tears and/or The Good Guy also might show up at an Indiana theater or two – although the other titles on this list most likely will not. That’s too bad – I’d love to see The Red Baron, Phyllis and Harold, Lourdes, and Scream of the Bikini on the big screen…. (As usual, I found out about a few out-of-state releases from last week – and before – only after my deadline for last week’s column; those films are covered this week.)

All’s Well, Ends Well 2010 – According to the IMDb, this 2010 comedy from Hong Kong is the fifth in a series of movies that started back in 1992. The plot summary on this film’s official site is quite lengthy and detailed – so much so that summarizing it would be very difficult for someone like me who has never heard of these movies (and the numerous characters in them) before. Suffice it to say that the story involves a fictional kingdom, amnesia, and mistaken identity – in other words, this looks like the sort of light, colorful comedy that no one will ever mistake for a work of harsh neo-realism. All’s Well, Ends Well 2010 started last week at the 4-Star Theatre in San Francisco, where it shared a screen with 72 Tenants of Prosperity (see below).

Blood Into Wine – Reclusive musician Maynard James Keenan escaped LA in the mid-nineties and moved to a small ghost town in an Arizona valley. Keenan likes wine, and it wasn’t long before he started to think that the region just might be a great place for a vineyard. With the assistance of a wine mentor, Keenan starts to make progress – but he also faces challenges, like the valley’s unforgiving terrain, and the skepticism of almost everyone else in the industry. Blood Into Wine opened this weekend at four theaters in Texas, two in California, and one in Iowa – but apparently will be screened only one to four times this week at these locations. The film’s official site says that it will start a weeklong run at the Harkins Valley Art Theater in Tempe, AZ, on Friday, February 26.

Blood Done Sign My Name – A young black soldier who survived the Vietnam War returns to his hometown – only to be beaten and killed by a well-known white businessman and his sons. Following the crime – and a phony trial for the businessman and his boys – a number of local young black men riot in the streets. But a cousin of the murdered soldier thinks that a massive march on Raleigh, NC, would be a better way to protest against the lack of justice in their small town. Few people participate in the march at first, but over the course of the three days and fifty miles it took to get to Raleigh, the crowd grows to a size of several thousand. Nate Parker, Lela Rochon, Rick Schroder, and Michael Rooker are in the cast of Blood Done Sign My Name, which was based on the non-fiction book of the same name. The film opened at ninety-five theaters (twenty-three in North Carolina, eleven in Texas, ten in New York, nine in Virginia, eight in Georgia, six each in California, Illinois and Maryland, five in New Jersey, three each in Pennsylvania and Michigan, two in Washington, DC, and one each in Delaware, South Carolina, and Tennessee) on Friday, February 19.

Bulletproof Salesman – In this day and age, it’s probably fairly unusual to hear someone refer to themselves as a war profiteer – but that’s exactly what Fidelis Cloer does in this documentary. After twenty years of selling (mostly) small numbers of bulletproof vehicles to various leaders and countries, Cloer thinks he has found a golden opportunity to make money when the Iraq war begins – he can sell hundreds and hundreds of vehicles to the US military. As Iraqis who oppose the US presence in Iraq start to build bigger bombs to defeat the armored vehicles, Cloer finds that he must respond by trying to make his vehicles even safer…. Bulletproof Salesman starts Friday, February 19, at the Downtown Independent theater in Los Angeles.

Dhrona – Since I couldn’t find a web site for Dhrona (which is also know as Drona) – and since neither one of the two trailers I found online had English subtitles – I’m not entirely certain about the plot of this Malayalam-language movie from India. The most accurate-sounding review I found online says that Dhrona involves a pair of brothers; the younger one is a playboy and non-religious type, while the older one is deeply spiritual. The younger brother – who does not believe that that the family’s ancestral home is haunted – buys the house… but soon wishes that he hadn’t. When the older brother arrives on the scene, he is determined to find out what is really going on with the house; he eventually discovers that the mystery may have something to do with a pair of rich local families who have been battling each other for many, many years. Dhrona started Friday, February 19 at the FunAsia Bollywood 6 in Houston, TX.

DreamKiller – Back in the early forties – or so this film’s site claims – the Nazis were working on a psychological weapon that could halt the advance of enemy troops by inducing them to become psychotic. All information on this project was supposedly destroyed by Allied soldiers after World War 2… In the present day, patients with extreme/chronic cases of phobia and/or fear are going through an experimental form of psychotherapy designed to cure their problems. Unfortunately for them, a killer is at work, murdering the patients in the way that they feared they would die. Could there be any connection to the Nazi’s plan from decades past? DreamKiller starts Friday, February 19 at three theaters (the Pacific Lakewood Center Stadium 16, the Beverly Center 13, and the Pacific Winnetka All Stadium 21) in the Los Angeles area.

Flexing with Monty – According to its official site, Flexing with Monty is a “comedy/drama/horror/mystery” that began production in 1994, and was not completed until 2008. The late Trevor Goddard stars as the narcissistic and bigoted Monty, a dedicated bodybuilder whose gym is the center of his world. Monty’s more thoughtful brother Bertin is also a part of Monty’s unusual life – until a nun (Sally Kirkland) shows up at Monty and Bertin’s door, leading to all sorts of changes in the lives of both brothers. Flexing with Monty will have 11:55 PM showings at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 in West Hollywood on Friday, February 19, and Saturday, February 20.

Gaiir – This is a Marathi-language thriller from India about a young couple, Sameer and Neha, who have just gotten married. Everything seems fine for a while, especially when Sameer is winning prestigious awards at a very young age. Soon, however, a double for Sameer is spotted around town – first by one person, then another and another. After the mystery man goes to Sameer’s house and sleeps with Neha, a local police official begins an investigation. Gaiir starts Friday, February 19, at the Towne 3 in San Jose, CA, and the Movie City 8 in Edison, NJ.

The Ghost Writer – A talented British ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) signs on to finish the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), even though the previous writer who was working on the project – who was also the ex-PM’s longtime assistant – died before he could complete his work. Soon after the new writer and the politician meet to discuss the project, one of Lang’s former cabinet members claims that Lang authorized a war crime. The writer starts to suspect that his predecessor’s death wasn’t an accident – and that the former British leader may have been doing the CIA’s bidding while he was in office. Roman Polanski’s political thriller starts Friday, February 19, at four theaters – two in New York City, and two in the Los Angeles area.

The Good Guy – Alexis Bledel stars in this romantic comedy as Beth, a young woman who is living in Manhattan and aggressively pursuing a career as an urban conservationist. Beth falls in love with a young king of Wall Street, Tommy – but starts to have second thoughts when she meets Tommy’s more sensitive co-worker, Daniel. (Could he be the title character? Hmmmmm….) The Good Guy starts Friday at nine theaters – six in the greater Los Angeles area, and three in New York City.

Happy Tears – Sisters Jayne and Laura (Parker Posey and Demi Moore) return to the house they grew up in so that they can take care of their aging, irritable father (Rip Torn). The flighty Jayne doesn’t want to deal with the harsh reality of the situation, but Laura begins to suspect that their dad will need around-the-clock care – and the different lifestyles of the sisters only increase the tensions in their relationship. All of that makes the film sound like pretty heavy going, but the page for Happy Tears on the site for its US distributor describes it as a “hilarious and touching comedy.” Whatever it may be, Happy Tears starts Friday, February 19, on fifteen screens – three each in California and Florida, two each in Ohio and Texas, and one each in Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, New York and Oregon.

Harlem Hostel – When he gets sick and tired of living in the same place as his mother and her boyfriend, a type-A young man moves into an apartment in a Harlem brownstone with some of his more irresponsible friends. In order to get more money for rent, they turn the place into an illegal youth hostel – only to find that their short-term guests leave chaos and disorder in their wake. Although the young men enjoy meeting attractive young women who stay in the hostel, the situation starts to get out of hand, and they decide to make some changes. Harlem Hostel – “a comedy about growing up,” according to this page for the film on the site of distributor Maya Entertainment – starts Friday, February 19, at the Sunshine Cinema in New York City.

La Maison de HIMIKO – Saori has hated her father for years, ever since he left her mother for a man. When her father’s much younger lover tells Saori that her father is terminally ill, and is living in a retirement home for gay men, she is somehow hired to take care of him. She accepts the job solely for the money – but as time goes along, her relationship with her father starts to change, and she also sees both the other residents of the home and her father’s lover in a different light. This 2005 film from Japan started on Friday, February 19, at the Viz Cinema in San Francisco; the theater’s site is here, and La Maison de HIMIKO‘s Japanese site is here.

The Last New Yorker – Dominic Chianese and Dick Latessa star as Lenny and Ruben, who are both now in their seventies, and have lived in New York City for all of their lives. Both love the city, but feel increasingly out of place in an area full of people who are much younger and wealthier. Although Lenny has been something of a schemer for all of his life, it is only now that one of his little plans may have gone so wrong that he could be in real trouble. This leads him to search for the true love that he has never had in his life before – even if it means that he may have to leave his beloved NYC. The Last New Yorker starts Friday, February 19, at the Quad Cinema in (where else?) New York City.

Le Grand Chef 2: Kimchi War (a.k.a. Le Grand Chef 2: Kimchi Wars and Le Grand Chef 2: Kimchi Battle, depending on the source) – This follow-up to the 2007 South Korean comedy/drama Le Grand Chef allegedly was still in some South Korean theaters when it opened last week at the M Park 4 theater in Los Angeles; it expands to (at least) seven screens in the AMC Theatres chain (one each in Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington state) this week. Le Grand Chef 2 opens with the Korean president and the Japanese Prime Minister getting into an argument about where kimchi originated; this leads the president to propose a plan to increase the worldwide popularity of kimchi. When a contest to prepare the best kimchi dish is announced, both Jang-eun and her step-brother Seong-chan (the grand chef of the title) decide to take part in the competition – and both of them will be using their mother’s recipe…. I couldn’t find an English-language site for Le Grand Chef 2, but its Korean site is here, and its US distributor has a page for the film here. The Korean site has a relatively short trailer with no English subtitles (which you should NOT watch if you are hungry); click here for a much longer youtube trailer with English subtitles.

Lourdes – Sylvie Testud plays Christine, who has had to rely on a wheelchair for many years. When she starts to feel lonely, she goes on a trip to Lourdes, hoping for a miracle. When she apparently gets just what she had been hoping for, Christine finds that she must deal with the envy of others who were not so fortunate – and she also may have a chance at a romantic relationship with the man who is in charge of her pilgrimage group. At least one review described this as a deadpan, subdued comedy somewhat similar to the films of Finland’s Aki Kaurismaki – which can only be a good thing, as far as I’m concerned. Lourdes opened at the Film Forum in New York City on Wednesday, February 17.

Mysteries of the Great Lakes – I don’t know about you, but it seems like I’ve been hearing a lot lately about how fresh, clean water apparently will be in much shorter supply in the (near) future – so this Canadian large-screen documentary about the lakes that comprise twenty percent of the world’s fresh water supply sounds like it is nothing if not timely. The filmmakers cover several interconnected issues, such as the history of the lakes and the surrounding region, along with the impact of maritime shipping on the environment. According to a map of theater locations on its official site, Mysteries of the Great Lakes started on January 19 at the Maritime Aquarium IMAX Theater in Norwalk, CT, and has been playing on about ten other IMAX and Omnimax screens since then – but I didn’t hear about it until just this week.

Phyllis and Harold – Director Cindy Kleine uses family home movies, interviews, and animated sequences to tell the story of her parents’ tumultuous, decades-long marriage – and how keeping some things secret can affect a family. Phyllis and Harold – which is something like “Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage seen through the prism of I Love Lucy,” according to its US distributor, Rainbow Releasing – starts Friday, February 19, at the Cinema Village in New York City. (And while the sites for most films have all sorts of positive review quotes, the quotes on the site for this documentary struck me as going above and beyond the usual; check out what Ken Burns, Mike Nichols and others have to say about Phyllis and Harold, and see if you agree.)

The Red Baron – The long-awaited biopic of the guy who founded the Red Baron frozen pizza company, this fil- oh, wait. This World War I action drama is actually the story of that “other” Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen. In 1916, Baron von Richthofen is just 24, but is already a legend for his flying and aerial combat skills (not to mention his custom-painted red airplane). Many Germans idolize him, and enemy pilots respect him and fear him. While von Richthofen and other German officers live by a code of honor, and see their missions as sporting duels, they don’t notice that the German government has been using them for propagandistic ends. When von Richthofen falls in love with a nurse, however, he realizes what the government has been doing – and he also begins to see how horrible war can be. Joseph Fiennes, Til Schweiger and Lena Headey are all in the supporting cast of this Red Baron, while one Matthias Schweighofer plays the title role. The Red Baron had several showings last week at the Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale, and opens this Friday at the El Morro Theatre in Santa Fe, NM, and the Movies at the Museum @ the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine.

Scream of the Bikini – If you click on the title link and go to the film’s official site, you will see the claim that Scream of the Bikini is a “1960s action-spy-thriller” that was filmed “somewhere in South America in 1966, and poorly translated and dubbed by Germans.” The blog for Scream of the Bikini, on the other hand, calls it “a micro budget independent film that spoofs 1960s Eurospy Cinema,” and has much more detailed – and very different – stories about how (and when) the film was made. However, both sites agree that Scream of the Bikini is about the adventures of Bridget and Sophia – who are (of course) “beautiful super models by day, brutal bounty hunters by night,” and who must (of course) “match wits and martial arts with a coterie of madmen and women bent on world domination.” Taylor Negron and Randolph Mantooth (remember him?) are in the cast of this cool-sounding movie, which will have 11:55 PM showings at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 in West Hollywood on Friday, February 19, and Saturday, February 20.

Shanghai Red – Vivian Wu (from The Pillow Book and Eve and the Fire Horse) stars in a film described by its US distributor as a “time bending murder mystery that is part Memento and part Lover.” Wu plays an interpreter, Meili, whose businessman husband is shot dead just before he can sign an important contract. Meili seeks to avenge her husband’s murder – until she meets a mysterious, self-proclaimed corporate troubleshooter from America, and gets involved with several of his schemes… and a possible new romance. Several sites on the web claimed that Shanghai Red would be in American theaters this week – but when I checked Variety.com’s boxoffice returns chart for February 12-18, I found that the film was in one theater last week; moreover, the chart also said that Shanghai Red had first been released eleven weeks ago! I have no idea where the film has been playing, since US distributor Indican Pictures seems to take perverse pleasure from releasing movies without actually telling anyone where they are playing. Indican may have added theater information to their page for Shanghai Red since my deadline passed; you can see for yourself by clicking here.

72 Tenants of Prosperity – Several decades ago, greedy landlords attempted to evict 72 tenants – but the landlords are thwarted by “sworn brothers” Ha Kung and Shek Kin, who also manage to rescue a beautiful young woman, Pinky, from a would-be-husband she wants no part of. Both Shek and Ha fall in love with Pinky, but she can’t choose between them when they both propose to her – so she flips a coin, and marries Ha. This turns Shek and Ha into enemies. In the present day, the two are still bitter rivals, and both have electronics stores on the same street on which the original 72 tenants are still living. When a new landlord tries to triple the rent for everyone, the tenants band together – all while Ha’s son falls in love with Shek’s daughter, and Ha’s daughter is courted by Shek’s son…. According to the subtitles on its trailer, 72 Tenants is an “extravagant comedy” with music and romance; the film’s Wikipedia page says that it was produced in Hong Kong, and was released in several countries around the world on February 11. It opened at the 4-Star Theatre in San Francisco sometime last week – but I’m not sure whether it was on the eleventh, the twelfth, or some other day.

Uthara Swayamvaram – Prakash is an unemployed young man who is more interested in social work – especially at the village library – than in trying to find a job. He has long been in love with Uthara, but she doesn’t love him – even after he saved her from drowning. When Uthara’s wealthy father sets up an arranged marriage between his daughter and the son of another rich man, Prakash switches out of his normal laid-back mode, and tries to prevent the wedding from taking place. This Malayalam-language comedy from India opened in that country several weeks ago. It may have opened in the US a while back as well – but if it did, I didn’t see anything about it at the time. Uthara Swayamvaram will definitely be in the US this week, however; it starts Friday, February 19 at the Phoenix Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, IL. I couldn’t find an official site for the film, but a youtube trailer can be found here.

NEXT WEEK AND BEYOND

As of my deadline, the Keystone Art Cinema’s upcoming schedule on their home page had not changed since last week – The White Ribbon is still set to open on February 26, and The Ghost Writer still has a March 5 opening date.

In Georgetown 14 news, Manoranjaninc’s site still says that the Tamil-language romantic drama Vinnaithandi Varuvaayaa (Will You Cross the Skies for Me?) will have three showings – at 6 and 9:15 PM on Friday, February 26, and 5:30 PM on Saturday, February 27 – at the G14 in Indianapolis. There is also a new film on manoranjan’s site this week – the Hindi-language romantic-thriller (per manoranjan) Karthik Calling Karthik; it is currently scheduled for only two screenings at the Georgetown 14 – on Friday and Saturday, February 26 and 27, at 9:30 PM.

Frankenstein Rising – Here’s a very pleasant surprise – a few days ago, I received an email with the news that this horror film will be showing at four Republic Theatres (including the Georgetown 14 and the Studio 10) in April. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I’m still excited, because I love movies with veteran actors in the cast – and Frankenstein Rising features Margaret O’Brien (who won a special Academy Award for “Outstanding Child Actress of 1944” for her performance in Meet Me in St. Louis), Jerry Maren (one of the Lollipop Guild in The Wizard of Oz), and Anita Page (who started out in silent films, and co-starred with Lon Chaney, Sr. in 1928’s While the City Sleeps). Actor Randal Malone, who plays the monster in Frankenstein Rising, will make personal appearances when it shows at the Studio 10 in Shelbyville (on Thursday, April 8), the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis (on Friday, April 9), the Dixie Dozen in Louisville, KY (on April 10), and the Movie Palace in Elizabethtown, KY (on April 11). From what I have heard so far, there will be only one showing of the film at the Studio 10, while the other theaters may have more than one screening; as more information becomes available, I’ll let you know.

Non-theatrical and revival screenings coming next Friday:

Cinema Is Wasted on Cinema – Director Peter Greenaway will present “an illustrated lecture on the excitements of new cinematic languages,” and how they can break down “barriers that inherently make cinema a passive art form” – that’s according to the site for the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema, which will be the site of the lecture. It takes place at 6:30 PM on Friday, February 26.

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover – The University of Notre Dame’s series “The Films of Peter Greenaway” continues with a screening of the director’s 1989 film, which will be shown at 9:30 PM on Friday, February 26, at the University’s Browning Cinema; Peter Greenaway is scheduled to be present.

E.T.: The Extraterrestrial – Steven Spielberg’s 1982 mega-hit will be shown at Franklin’s historic Artcraft Theatre on Friday and Saturday, February 26 and 27, at 2 and 7:30 PM.

Greenaway’s Inferno – Peter Greenaway will discuss A TV Dante, his adaptation of Dante’s Inferno, at 4 PM on Friday, February 26, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema. (It doesn’t sound like A TV Dante will be shown, but I could be wrong about that.)

Safety Last and One Week – Harold Lloyd stars in the 1923 comedy Safety Last (which runs in the 70 to 80 minute range, according to various sources I checked), and Buster Keaton is the star of the 1920 short comedy One Week. Both silent comedies will be shown with live musical accompaniment provided by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra on Friday, February 26, at the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Toby Theatre; the program starts at 7:30 PM.

Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks – Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis is not the sort of place you expect to see a movie – but at 8 PM on Friday, February 26, the Fieldhouse will be the location for a screening of this documentary about Reggie Miller’s triumphs over the Knicks (especially in the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals), and his interactions with Knicks fan Spike Lee. The film – which was directed by Peabody Award winner Dan Klores – was made for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series of sports documentaries, and will be shown on the channel in March.

**********

Commentary Track reviews of movies featured in this week’s edition of Thinking Outside the Multiplex:
An Education
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Messenger
Miracle at St. Anna
A Single Man
The Young Victoria

5 responses to “Thinking Outside the Multiplex

  1. I’d like to see 72 Tenants of Prosperity. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never seen any of the All’s Well, End’s Well movies either. My Hong Kong movie fan cred is on the line here!

    Mike, you’ll have to make a Meetup for Frankenstein Rising. You’re not the only Film Buff who would get a kick out of it. :)

  2. I just set up a Meetup for Frankenstein Rising. The tentative time is 7 PM, but I’ll change that if the actual time is different.

    And at least you had heard of the All’s Well, Ends Well movies before. In my case, they were completely new to me. It looks like the Indianapolis/Marion County library has one of the movies from the series in their collection- most likely the first one, but they have the year as “2000?”, so maybe not. I’ll try to remember to check it out when I have the time.

  3. The Oscar-nominated animated shorts are always fun to watch, especially to see the innovative ways light, color, and motion can be put to use on the screen. Although only a runner-up, perhaps because it breaks with the comic theme, the most interesting is the Polish entry, Kinematascope. It is simultaneously a stunning exercise in technique and a meditation on the history of cinema itself — and it profits greatly from the big screen where the artists’ virtuosity stands out. Well worth the price of those uncomfortable Landmark seats!

  4. The Yes Cinema in Columbus also has the Oscar Nominated shorts, but for three days only- Saturday and Sunday at 1, and Monday at 5:30. I didn’t notice this until today because I checked for Friday only, not suspecting that their weekend/Monday schedule would be any different.

  5. UPDATE- Once again, the Earth House Collective in Indianapolis will be showing a movie on Thursday night- one that wasn’t on their site last week. This week’s movie: The Hip Hop Project, a documentary about a group of teens in NYC whose work on an autobiographical rap album changes their lives for the better. (Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah “present” the film, according to the graphic on the Earth House’s site.) The film will be shown at 7 PM on Thursday, February 25; admission is $5.00.

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