Thinking Outside the Multiplex

by MIKE MACCOLLUM

For a while, it looked like the only new limited-release movie opening in Indiana on March 5 was a kiddie movie – but as it turned out, The Ghost Writer saved Indiana (or at least Indianapolis) fans of limited release films from getting only a strawberry-shortcake flavored lump of coal in theaters this Friday. Things are also pretty slow on the new art film front at other theaters across the US this week, for some reason (most likely a combination of the Oscars and Alice in Wonderland, I’m guessing). To see what is new out there – along with the relatively few holdovers, special screenings and so forth throughout the state this week – read on below….

LIMITED RELEASE THEATRICAL FILMS OPENING IN INDIANA THIS WEEK

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 – which co-stars Kim Cattrall and Olivia Williams and features appearances by Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Hutton, Jim Belushi, and Eli Wallach – starts Friday, March 5, at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis.

Strawberry Shortcake: The Berryfest Princess Movie – Strawberry Shortcake and her pals in Berry Bitty City must fight off a plague of flesh-eating zombies – no, wait… that’s the movie I want to see. Actually, SS and her friends try to prepare for the annual Spring Festival and Berry Big Parade in Berry Bitty City, following Ms. Shortcake’s appointment as Berryfest Princess. This children’s film will be at 10:50 AM daily at the Showplace Cinemas East in Evansville; other theaters in the state will have Saturday and Sunday only screenings – the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis (at 1 and 2:50 PM), the Studio 10 in Shelbyville (at 1 and 3:30 PM), the Encore Park 14 in Elkhart (at 12 noon), the Carmike 20 in Fort Wayne (at 12:30 PM), and the Jefferson Pointe 18 in Fort Wayne (at 12:25 PM).

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

The Boondock Saints: 10th Anniversary – The original theatrical release of The Boondock Saints was fairly limited, according to what I’ve read online – but the crime comedy/drama will be on big screens across the US for one night only at 7:30 PM on Thursday, March 11. A “brand new retrospective on the franchise’s ten year journey” is part of this event, according to its official site, and features interviews with writer/director Troy Duffy (who will also introduce the film) and several cast members. The Boondock Saints: 10th Anniversary screening locations include the Castleton 14, ShowPlace 16 and IMAX, and Galaxy 14 in Indianapolis, the Hamilton 16 and IMAX in Noblesville, and eleven other screens across the state.

Burning Life (and Oscar Viewing Party) – Maria Schrader won a German Film Award for her performance in this 1994 film, which will be shown at Bloomington’s Buskirk-Chumley Theater on Sunday, March 7, at 6 PM. The film – which is part of IU’s DEFA Project: WENDE Flicks series – is about a pair of women who become bank robbers in eastern Germany following reunification… and find that they are quite popular with the public. An Oscar viewing party will follow the film, at 8 PM.

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 in Indianapolis (which will have two shows per day, at 7:45 and 10:10 PM), and starts Friday at the Yes Cinemas in Columbus.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – Terry Gilliam’s latest film – and Heath Ledger’s last one – continues this week at the ShowPlace 11 East in Bloomington; it will also show through Monday, March 8, at the Cinema Center @ Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne.

Karthik Calling Karthik – This English-subtitled romantic/suspense drama from India about a put-upon young man – and the many changes in his life that begin when he gets a series of phone calls from a man who claims to be him – will be shown at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis on Friday and Saturday nights at 9.

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 continues this week at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis and the Cinema Center in Fort Wayne.

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.

Marina of the Zabbaleen – This American documentary is about a seven-year-old girl struggling to survive on the fringes of Cairo; she lives in a “village” located in a landfill, where the residents (including Marina) must recycle the garbage of others in order to make a living. Marina copes with her dreary existence by daydreaming about flying elephants and other magical creatures- including a witch. Marina of the Zabbaleen will show on in Bloomington this Saturday and Sunday, thanks to the Ryder Magazine and Film Series.

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) – continues this week at Fort Wayne’s Cinema Center.

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 gets married and launches 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.

No Impact Man – This documentary about a family trying to live lives that have little or no impact on the environment will be shown on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in Bloomington.

Oscar Parties and Fundraisers – Several Academy Awards-related parties are scheduled for this weekend. The Indianapolis International Film Festival will have a viewing party at Forty Five Degrees (on Mass. Ave.) in Indianapolis on Sunday, March 7; the doors open at 7, and the show starts at 8. Free appetizers and a silent auction are also part of this event, and admission is free. On Indy’s west side, the Georgetown 14 will have an Oscar viewing party that doubles as a benefit for wounded American soldiers; tickets are $25, and the event begins at 6. Some local “film industry participants” will be in attendance as well, per the weekly email from the G14, and food from local restaurants will be provided. The Cinema Center in Fort Wayne will have an Oscar Party starting at 6:30 on Saturday, March 6; food, beverages, live music, and Oscar trivia are part of this event, per the Cinema Center’s site. The Murat Shrine’s Arabian Room in Indianapolis will have the “Oscar Night America” event on Sunday to benefit United Way of Central Indiana‘s Ready to Learn, Ready to Earn priority. 7:30 is the start time for this event, which has a 1920s theme, and features live jazz music by Round Midnite, a bar, and silent auction. And as noted above, the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington will have an Oscar Night Viewing Party starting at 8 PM.

The Oscars on the Big Screen – The Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis and the Hamilton 16 and IMAX in Noblesville are two of the theaters in the state that will have the Academy Awards ceremony on one of their screens on Sunday night. There doesn’t seem to be any site listing all theaters showing the Oscars – and I didn’t have time to check the sites of all theaters in the state – but I assume that a number of other theaters throughout Indiana will show this event as well.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show – The seventies cult perennial screens again at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis this Saturday night at 10 PM; a poster at the G14 says that some sort of pre-film activity (I forgot to write down the exact wording) starts at 9:30 PM.

A Sea Change – Former history teacher Sven Huseby travels the world to investigate the rising acidity level of the world’s oceans, and the impact this will have on the food chain – including the many people who rely on fish and other sea food for protein. This documentary will be shown at the Epworth United Methodist Church (on Allisonville Road in Indianapolis) at 7 PM on Friday, March 5; it’s part of their “Eco-Movie Night” series.

A Single Man – Colin Firth stars with Julianne Moore in this drama, which starts Friday at the Metropolis 18 in Plainfield, the Jefferson Pointe 18 in Fort Wayne, the Great Escape 7 in Bedford, the Cinemark at Valparaiso, and the ShowPlace 16 in Schererville; it will also show through Monday, March 8, at the Cinema Center @ Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne.

Sweetgrass – Bloomington’s Ryder Magazine and Film Series will have screenings of this documentary on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; check the Ryder’s site for times. Sweetgrass – which opened last month in New York City – follows a group of modern shepherds as they lead their flocks of sheep on the frequently dangerous trek into Montana’s Absaroka-Beartooth mountains for the summer.

Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails – Thomas the Tank Engine finds another engine named Hiro, who is apparently destined for the scrap heap. Thomas and his friends don’t like the sound of this, and come up with a plan to save Hiro – but will it succeed? Thomas and Friends – which was shown at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis last fall, and which is described on its official site as “the most heroic movie of the year” – returns to an Indiana theater with 12:20 PM showings on Saturday and Sunday at Plainfield’s Metropolis 18.

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 – holds over for another week at the Great Escape 7 in Bedford and the Coldwater Crossing in Fort Wayne; it also starts Friday at the Yes Cinemas in Columbus.

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.

The White Ribbon – Michael Haneke (Cache; The Piano Teacher; both versions of Funny Games) wrote and directed this double Academy-Award nominee (for Best Cinematography and Best Foreign Language Film) about mysterious and creepy events taking place in a German village during the months leading up to World War 1. The White Ribbon holds over for another week at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis, with two shows per day (at 1:30 and 4:45 PM); it will also be shown at 6:30 and 9:30 PM on both Friday, March 5, and Saturday, March 6, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema.

Windsong Film Festival – Formally known as the 11th Annual International Windsong Pictures & IPFW Communication Department Film Festival, this event takes place from March 8 and 13 at the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University in Fort Wayne. It looks like the films (many, if not most, apparently by student filmmakers) are mostly shorts, but cover a variety of genres and formats (fiction, documentary, animated).

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 starts Friday at the Starplex Coventry 13 in Fort Wayne and the Great Escape 7 in Bedford.

OPENING ELSEWHERE

Aagathan – This is a Malayalam-language drama from India about Gautham, a man who lost several members of his family in a terrorist attack; later, he meets a young woman whose father was an Army Major on duty in the area where the attack took place. The young woman’s family wants her to marry Gautham – but then he tells the Major a secret that changes the course of the rest of the film…. Aagathan started Thursday, March 4, at the Golf Glen 5 in Illinois.

Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge? – In this Hindi-language comedy from India, Munmun and Puneet have a very happy marriage – until a distant relation, Chachaji, shows up, and moves in with them. When Chachaji keeps staying on with them, the couple gets increasingly desperate to find some way – any way – to get him to move out. Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge? opens Friday in at least nine theaters (two each in California and New Jersey, and one each in New York, Michigan, Georgia, Virginia, and Illinois); it may be in other theaters, too, but these are the only ones I know about as of now.

Attack the Gas Station 2 – When I checked around a few days ago, I couldn’t find very much information in English on this new film from Korea. It looks like it’s an action comedy (or action comedy/drama); the one synopsis I found in English said that it’s about a Mr. Park, who – ten years after his gas station was attacked by a biker gang – decides to get his revenge by hiring four shady characters. What Mr. Park doesn’t expect is that his new employees will turn on him when he doesn’t pay them the money he owes them…. Attack the Gas Station 2 started Friday, February 26, at the MPark 4 theater in Los Angeles. (And no, I don’t know why Mr. Park waited ten years to get his vengeance – I haven’t even seen the first Attack the Gas Station movie.)

Harlan- In the Shadow of “Jew Süss” – According to this documentary’s press book, director Veit Harlan’s 1945 pro-Nazi film Kolberg was the inspiration for the film-within-the-film near the end of Inglourious Basterds. But that certainly wasn’t Harlan’s only Nazi propaganda piece – he also made the infamous Jew Süss, which was (again, per the press book) “required viewing for SS members.” Harlan- In the Shadow of “Jew Süss” features excerpts from some of Harlan’s films, archive footage, home movies, and interviews with Harlan’s surviving family to explore the life of the director, who was “the only artist from the Nazi era to be charged with war crimes.” (I checked out Harlan on the IMDb, by the way – and amazingly enough, he was still directing movies into the early sixties, just a few years before he died.)

Harlem Aria – Why is a film that screened at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival opening this Friday at the Cinema Village in NYC? You’ve got me – it’s just another of the mysterious wonders of modern-day film distribution, I guess. Gabriel Casseus stars as Anton, a 28 year old man who works in a laundry, but dreams of becoming an opera singer; Damon Wayans co-stars as a con man who at first takes some of Anton’s money, and later offers to become his “manager.”

Hey, Hey, It’s Esther Blueburger – Keisha Castle-Hughes and Toni Collette star in this 2008 comedy/drama from Australia, which started on Friday, February 26 at the Village 8 Theatres in Louisville (and which apparently will not continue there this week). Esther is a young woman who runs away from her Bat Mitzvah party and becomes friends with the popular and cool Sunni, and then starts to avoid her own dysfunctional family.

Saadhyam – Here is this week’s most mysterious import from India. I couldn’t find a website for the film, a review or synopsis, or even a Wikipedia page – just this trailer on youtube. A few words in English appear in the trailer – friends, lovers, enemies, one bullet – so perhaps this is a romantic thriller about a relationship gone wrong. Back in the realm of certainty, I do know that this film is in the Telugu language, and starts Friday at the Movie City 8 in New Jersey, and the Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove, IL – but that’s about all that I can tell you for now.

NEXT WEEK AND BEYOND

The Keystone Art Cinema’s home page had no news about upcoming art/limited-release films this week – and Manoranjaninc’s site had no news about upcoming Indian films at the Georgetown 14 as of my deadline Thursday evening.

Screenings and events for next Friday:

The Philadelphia Story – Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart star in this 1940 classic, which will be shown at 2 and 7:30 PM on Friday, March 12- and at 7:30 PM on Saturday, March 13- at Franklin’s historic Artcraft Theatre.

Topsy-Turvy – Mike Leigh’s film about Gilbert and Sullivan (Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner) will be shown at the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Toby Theatre on Friday, March 12, at 7 PM.

**********

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
A Single Man
The Young Victoria

5 responses to “Thinking Outside the Multiplex

  1. Why hasn’t The Messenger played Indianapolis? Seriously. It has two Oscar nominations. It has a star. It’s a drama that’s gotten good reviews and doesn’t have a bizarre or off-putting subject. It’s played – multiple weeks – in Columbus and Fort Wayne. Why can’t it get a one-week engagement in Indianapolis, the state’s capital city and population center?

  2. Oh, and I almost forgot to add: It’s in English.

  3. From what I have heard, the Indianapolis theater most likely to play The Messenger most likely won’t play it at all unless it actually wins at least one of those Academy Awards. The reason (I am guessing) comes down to money. According to Variety.com’s boxoffice chart for last week, The Messenger has made only $975,000 or so in US theaters, and its per-screen average was a little over $2000 last week. Apparently, neither number is high enough for a movie to make it to the Keystone Art Cinema- unless that movie has won an Academy Award, and/or is being distributed in the US by Sony Pictures Classics, and/or the theater needs a movie to fill a last-minute opening caused by another movie’s distributor (for whatever reason) canceling or rescheduling that other movie’s booking at the last minute- so the theater takes whatever other movie they can get. (Although most of the time, I’m guessing that most theaters would be more likely to just hold onto something they already have, if they can, instead of trying to get something else). Of the limited-release films holding over at the Keystone Art Cinema this week, all three (An Education, The Last Station, The White Ribbon) are from Sony Pictures Classics. As far as I can recall, all of the other limited release titles to play the theater in recent weeks have either been from Sony Classics (like Broken Embraces and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus), or Lanmdark’s corporate sibling, Magnolia Pictures (like Red Cliff and the Oscar shorts programs), or had enough in the way of cast name recognition/awards/nominations/good reviews/buzz to make enough money to make it to the KAC (like A Single Man, or The Young Victoria- or Crazy Heart, back in its limited release days).

    As to why The Ghost Writer opened at the KAC yesterday, rather than later- I have no idea. As of five or six (?) days ago, the KAC said on their site that TGW would open there on 3/26 (I think)- and it apparently will not open in Louisville until then, FWIW. Given the cast/director/genre, it could go wide, eventually- but I haven’t a clue as why it made it to Indy so (relatively) soon after it opened in NY and LA. Most of the time, the best piece of advice I can give you is to wait until a movie starts to open in cities beyond the big ones (like NYC, LA, Chicago, etc.)- if it opens in those other cities at all, that is- and then check to see how much money the movie is making per screen, on average. I’m guessing that the higher that average is at that point, the more likely it will be to make it to the KAC. (Although, as noted above, movies from Sony Pictures Classics are apparently exempt from that general rule; I think every title they have released over the past two years has made it to the KAC, even if it played only one time per day for one week only, as with Jonathan Demme’s Jimmy Carter documentary.)

    One other possible reason for The Messenger not making it to Indy yet: as far as I know, its US distributor, Oscilloscope, has yet to open a film in Indy- and that may make it harder for them to open that first film in the city, somehow. (Especially if a distributor has its sights set on one theater in particular, and overlooks the possible alternatives- even when the theater they really want to play is not overly interested in a given film.) FWIW, a number of titles from Oscilloscope have played in Bloomington, thanks to the Ryder.

    Anyhow, based on the standard of “money made per screen once a movie moves out to ‘the sticks'” mentioned above, The Messenger is actually one of the movies on Variety’s chart this week that is most likely to make it to Indy- so who knows. Bad Lieutenant: PoCNO has made $1.7 million in the US, but its per-screen averages outside of megalopolises apparently was too puny to make it to the KAC. Ajami and the Red Riding Trilogy are both doing fairly well on a per-screen basis now, but neither (especially the latter) is in really wide release yet. I still think that The Yellow Handkerchief has a shot at making it to Indy, since Twilight’s Kristen Stewart is in it. And North Face seems to be doing pretty well, per screen, even though it has been in US release for a while now, and was playing in 28 theaters last week- so that’s another possibility.

    Sometimes, distributors have big hopes for a movie, but it just doesn’t work out. The Romanian film Police, Adjective opened in the US to some really outstanding reviews late last year, and I noticed that US distributor IFC had a theatrical schedule noting that the film would open at the KAC on March 12. Unfortunately, IFC either pulled it from US theaters or stopped reporting its numbers after just two weeks, when it had made just $53,000, after playing at a high-water-mark of just eight screens at a time, per boxofficemojo. IFC’s site still says that Police, Adjective will open at the KAC next Friday- but with those numbers, I doubt it (especially since there’s nothing on the theater’s page about the movie).

    One piece of good news I noticed just the other day: Music Box Films, US distributor for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, now says that that movie will open at the KAC on April 23. That may be wishful thinking on the part of the folks at Music Box Films, but they plan on opening TGwtDT on 33 screens (fairly wide, for a subtitled film) on March 19, and the movie is based on an international best-seller- so maybe it will be as popular as they expect it to be. I hope so, since I really want to see that one.

    But to get back to The Messenger (at the end of quite a long-winded response)- it never hurts to ask the folks at the KAC when or if they will play it, the next time you’re there. It may not have any impact at all- but it just might, especially if a number of others are asking about it as well. I’ve already done so myself.

  4. No Oscar for The Messenger, so that one looks unlikely for the Keystone Art Cinema. On the other hand, the theater’s site now says that Police, Adjective will open there on March 19.

  5. A $2000/screen avg. looks pretty good next to the grosses of a lot of movies playing the multiplexes. It’s a peculiar business.

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