Thinking Outside the Multiplex

by MIKE MACCOLLUM

Sometimes- like the last few months, for example- it’s all too easy to be a pessimist about the movie scene in Indiana: a lot of cool-sounding films never get any theatrical play here- while at the same time, we get multiple copies of the same old stuff that opens everywhere else, with a list of titles that might as well have been cut and pasted from one mall multiplex to another. This week feels like a long-delayed antidote to the last few months- an extremely well-reviewed Romanian film makes it to the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis this Friday, a new documentary opens at the IMAX in downtown Indy, The Runaways starts at a theater in Schererville- and it looks like some other excellent-sounding movies are on their way well as well….

LIMITED RELEASE THEATRICAL FILMS OPENING IN INDIANA THIS WEEK

Hubble 3D– Leonardo DiCaprio narrates this documentary about NASA’s space telescope, its much-publicized initial problems, and the efforts of astronauts to repair the Hubble. According to its official site, Hubble 3D lets moviegoers “journey through distant galaxies to explore the grandeur and mysteries of our celestial surroundings;” it starts on Friday, March 19, at the IMAX Theater in downtown Indianapolis’ Indiana State Museum.

Police, Adjective– Romania’s Corneliu Porumboiu follows up his first feature film, 12:08 East of Bucharest, with this low-key comedy/drama about Cristi, an undercover cop facing a moral dilemma: either he can arrest a teen who offers hashish to others in his class, or Cristi will be punished by his superior officer. Cristi knows that the student is being irresponsible, but thinks that an arrest would be an overreaction, and would destroy the young man’s life; his boss, however, stands firm. Police, Adjective was Romania’s selection for a Best Foreign Language Film nomination for the 2009 Academy Awards, and won both the FIPRESCI and “Un Certain Regard” prizes at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival; it has also received a number of truly outstanding reviews, if the quotes on its official US site are any indication. Police, Adjective starts Friday, March 19, at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis.

The Runaways– In 1975, California teenagers Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) and Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) meet each other and- in the words of the film’s official site- “become the heart and soul of the seminal all girl band, The Runaways.” The band finds success- but as the two friends grow more famous, their relationship becomes increasingly turbulent…. Floria Sigismondi wrote and directed The Runaways, which co-stars Michael Shannon, and was co-executive-produced by Joan Jett herself; it starts Friday, March 19, at the ShowPlace 12 in Schererville, and over one hundred other screens across the US. Per the Keystone Art Cinema’s home page, The Runaways is currently scheduled to open at that theater on April 9.

The Wiggles’ BIG BIG Show in the Round– The children’s performers come to the big screen with this recording of a performance in Sydney Australia last December. It will be shown at noon on Saturday and Sunday at the Carmike 20 in Fort Wayne and the Encore Park 14 in Elkhart.

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

Akeelah and the Bee– The historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin will show this 2006 drama about an eleven year old girl and her spelling-bee coach (Laurence Fishburne) on Friday, March 19, and Saturday, March 20, at 7:30 PM.

Cape No. 7– This 2008 romantic comedy/drama with music from Taiwan became the second-highest grossing film ever at Taiwanese theaters– just behind (you guessed it) Titanic, according to Cape No. 7‘s Wikipedia page. It also opened the 2008 Taipei film festival, and won three awards there, according to that same site– and the film’s “awards” page on the IMDb notes other prizes that it won at other festivals– and the IMDb’s “trivia” about the film includes the (perhaps not so trivial) information that Cape No. 7 was Taiwan’s official submission to the 2009 Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category (it didn’t make the cut for a nomination, however). The story involves Aga, a Taiwanese rocker who returns to his home town after failing to hit it big in Taipei. When Tomoko, a Japanese fashion model, comes to his town to organize a concert for a pop star from Japan, she finds that she has been forced by local officials to add a recently-organized band (led by Aga) as the opening act. Aga and Tomoko eventually start a romantic relationship– although Tomoko does not plan to stay in Taiwan. But the film begins in the 1940s, with a Japanese soldier and a Taiwanese woman falling in love during the Japanese occupation…. Not surprisingly, this aspect of the film eventually ties in with the modern-day characters. Cape No. 7 will be shown at 9 PM on Friday, March 19, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema; the screening is part of the Browning’s Asian Film Festival.

Carmen– This production of Georges Bizet’s opera by the Teatro alla Scala di Milan will have an encore screening at 1 PM on Sunday, March 21, at the Jefferson Pointe 18 in Fort Wayne.

Chicken Poets– Yun Fei is a thirty-something poet who toils away in obscurity- or at least he had been toiling away, until he faced a recent bout of indecision about his future and lack of inspiration. When Yun Fei goes to suburban Beijing to see an old friend, he finds that his friend is a businessman who has prospered by breeding chickens. This further dampen’s Yun Fei’s mood- although his life starts to improve when he begins a relationship with a color-blind young woman. The poet’s life really changes, though, when he purchases a pirated recording with magic properties. This leads to the fame he has always wanted- but he finds that it isn’t nearly as satisfying as he had hoped…. Chicken Poets– a 2002 Mandarin language film- will be shown at 8 PM on Saturday, March 20, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema; the screening is part of the Browning’s Asian Film Festival.

Documenting Taiwan: Children of Heaven and Malakacaway- The Rice Wine Filler- This pair of documentaries will be shown at 3 PM on Saturday, March 20, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema; they are part of the Browning’s Asian Film Festival. Children of Heaven is a fourteen minute film from 1997 about a group of native people who live in shacks that they build under the Sanying Bridge. On a yearly basis, they are accused of violating a law and evicted from their houses, which are demolished by the authorities- but then the native people come back to the same location and rebuild their homes, starting the cycle all over again. Malakacaway- The Rice Wine Filler (a seventy-minute doc from 2009) concerns the Makutaay tribe of the Pangcah people, who live on Taiwan’s east coast and have retained several features of their traditional lifestyle. As part of their five day Ilisin, or “annual ceremony,” some of the men are part of a group known as “Malakacaway,” whose duties include raising money, gathering rice, and “Patakit”- repeatedly toasting others in the group with rice wine, for all five days of the ceremony.

An Education– Carey Mulligan received an Academy Award nomination for her performance in Lone Scherfig’s drama, which starts Friday at the Cinemark Movies 8 Washington Market, in Indianapolis.

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- holds over for another week at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis, and starts Friday at the Hamilton 16 and IMAX in Noblesville, the Metropolis 18 in Plainfield, the Stadium 16 in Evansville, the Carmike 20 and Jefferson Pointe 18 in Fort Wayne, the Eastside 9 in Lafayette, the Village Park 17 in Carmel, the ShowPlace 16 in Schererville, the Great Escape 16 in New Albany, the ShowPlace 16 in South Bend, the Honey Creek West in Terre Haute, the ShowPlace 11 East in Bloomington, and the ShowPlace 7 in Muncie.

The Hurt Locker– The Academy Award winner for Best Picture holds over at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis, the ShowPlace East 11 in Bloomington, the Honey Creek West in Terre Haute, the ShowPlace 16 in Schereville, and the Stadium 16 in Evansville.

Koryo Saram, the Unreliable People– Director David Chung’s documentary is about Stalin’s 1937 deportation of 180,000 Soviet citizens of Korean origins from Far East Russia to Kazakhstan, over 3500 miles away- and the story of how these Kazakhstani-Koreans have fared over the decades, and how they have assimilated into Kazakh society. David Chung is scheduled to be present to introduce and discuss his film when it is shown at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema on Friday, March 19, at 6:30 PM. (According to the Browning’s listing for this film, the “Koryo Saram” part of the title is a “Soviet Korean phrase for Korean person”- and Stalin had declared the Koreans to be “an ‘unreliable people’, and enemies of the state.”)

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, with two shows per day (at 1:20 and 6:40 PM).

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. According to the Georgetown 14’s schedule page on movietickets.com, Leader will return to the G14 for three showings this weekend- at 9 PM on Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Manoranjaninc’s site listed only the Friday and Saturday shows as of Thursday night, for what it’s worth. (By the way- the last time I checked, the film’s official site didn’t have much information on it; Leader‘s Facebook page has more information.)

Lewis and Clark: The Great Journey West- This 2002 film will be shown at 11:15 AM this Friday at the IMAX Theater in downtown Indianapolis’ Indiana State Museum.

Lunafest- This festival of short films “by, for, about women” will take place on Wednesday, March 24, from 4 to 8 PM at IUPUI’s Campus Center in downtown Indianapolis; tickets are $5 or $20, according to this page for the event. For a list of the films, click here– then click on the individual titles (on the left side of the page) for more information.

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)- will be shown in Bloomington on Friday and Saturday, according to The Ryder’s site.

The Mistake (Die Verfehlung)– In this German drama from 1991 (or 1992- sources vary), a West German man falls in love with an East German woman; when they get together at an apartment in East Berlin, a suspicious resident of the apartment building reports the unregistered visitors to the authorities. The Mistake will be shown at 7 PM on Sunday, March 21, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington; the screening- which will be followed by a question and answer session- is part of the IU DEFA Project: WENDE Flicks Series, showcasing films from the last days of the East German film studio DEFA. (And in case you were wondering- yes, I did list this one in last week’s column as well. I must have been pretty sleepy last week, since I didn’t realize at the time that The Mistake would be showing this Sunday, not last Sunday. Sorry about that….)

Monseñor, the Last Journey of Oscar Romero– Monseñor Oscar Romero was the Archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, until he was assassinated in March of 1980. This documentary about the final years of Romero’s life will be shown at 8 PM on Thursday, March 25, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema.

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 and Saturday in Bloomington.

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.

Strawberry Shortcake: The Berryfest Princess Movie– Strawberry Shortcake and her pals in Berry Bitty City must fight off a plague of zombies hungry for strawberry-flavored flesh- no, wait… that’s the movie I want to see. Actually, SS and her crew 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 3 PM), the Studio 10 in Shelbyville (at 1 and 3:30 PM), and the Encore Park 14 in Elkhart (at 12 noon). (The Carmike 20 in Fort Wayne will also show this at 12 noon, but on Friday only, according to their schedule page.)

Taxi Driver– Robert DeNiro stars in Martin Scorsese’s classic film, which will be shown at 3 PM on Sunday, March 21, at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema.

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.

OPENING ELSEWHERE

Perhaps some sort of cosmic/harmonic convergence has taken place- whatever the cause, after weeks and weeks of movies which (mostly) had little or no chance of making it to Indiana, this week we have four movies (out of sixteen) which are supposed to open in Indiana. Better still, those four movies look like they could be good- really good….

City Island– Vince Rizzo is a prison guard, father, and would-be actor. Vince fathered a son, Tony, twenty years ago, but abandoned him. When the two meet again, Vince decides to take Tony home to his “new” family- but he doesn’t tell them the truth about Tony’s identity. That isn’t all that unusual, though, since everyone else in his family has some pretty big secrets of their own- until everything starts unraveling, and some embarrassing truths are revealed. Andy Garcia stars as Vince, and Julianna Margulies plays his wife; Emily Mortimer and Alan Arkin are also in the cast of this comedy, which starts Friday, March 19, at The Landmark in Los Angeles and the Angelika Film Center in New York City.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo– Full disclosure time: I am really psyched about this one, especially after reading the book it was based on. In case you aren’t familiar with the book, it’s about an investigation into the decades-old disappearance of a young woman, Harriet Vanger, from a small Swedish island- most of which is owned by her wealthy and powerful family. Harriet’s now-elderly uncle Henrik is convinced that she was murdered- most likely by a member of their own very odd family. Henrik wants to get to the bottom of the mystery before he dies, so he hires investigative reporter Mikael Blomkvist to look at the case with fresh eyes. Blomkvist eventually finds himself working with a most unexpected partner- a hyper-intelligent (and extremely anti-social) computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander (the dragon-tattooed girl of the title). As the pair gets closer to discovering what really happened, they find themselves in greater and greater danger…. Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Sven-Bertil Taube and Gunnel Lindblom (Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, The Virgin Spring, Scenes from a Marriage) star in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which starts Friday, March 19, at thirty-five theaters (seventeen in California, four in New York, three in Massachusetts, two each in Washington state, Virginia, and Illinois, and one each in Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Maryland). According to its official US site, the film- which was apparently a big hit in Europe last year- will open at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis on April 23.

Greenberg– Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) directed this comedy/drama about forty-something Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller), who has come back to Los Angeles so that he can housesit for his brother Phillip while Phillip and his wife and children are on a long vacation out of the country. Roger had been part of a band in LA back in the day, and he uses his return to the city to catch up with both fellow former band member Ivan (Rhys Ifans) and ex-girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Jason Leigh- who co-wrote the film’s story with Baumbach and co-produced with Scott Rudin). While Ivan and Beth have done something with their lives in the intervening years, Roger tells the world that he has been “doing nothing.” But even Roger may be inspired to do “something” after he meets Florence (Greta Gerwig), who has been working as a personal assistant to Phillip Greenberg and family while pursuing her dream of becoming a singer…. Greenberg starts Friday at three theaters (one in Los Angeles and two in New York); it will open on March 26 at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis, according to that theater’s webpage.

The Killing Jar– How long has it been since you’ve seen a movie with a poster and/or ad that features Michael Madsen pointing a gun at you? If it’s been too long, then this is your kind of movie…. Madsen plays Doe, who has just arrived in an isolated rural diner when several nearby murders are reported on a radio news bulletin. Others in the diner suspect that Doe may be responsible for the killings- and they may be right, since they become Doe’s hostages following a clash. But one of the hostages might turn out to be more unbalanced- and more deadly- than Doe himself. Danny Trejo, Amber Benson, Jake Busey, Harold Perrineau and Kevin Gage co-star in The Killing Jar, which starts Friday, March 19, at five US theaters (in or near Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Houston).

Kimjongilia– Interviews with former prisoners of North Korea’s network of prison camps are intercut with old North Korean propaganda movies and what this documentary’s site refers to as “original performance” (whatever that means) in a film that is (per the film’s site) the first to “fully expose the humanitarian crisis of North Korea.” Kimjongilia– which had filmmaker Mike Figgis as an executive producer- opens on Friday, March 19, at the Cinema Village in New York City.

Mid-August Lunch– One of the writers of Gomorrah, Gianni Di Grigorio, stars in and directs this film- which sounds like quite a change of pace. Di Grigorio plays Gianni, who lives in an apartment in Rome with his nonagenarian mother. The pair is out of money, but the manager of their building is willing to forget about their ever-increasing debt if they will host his mother over the course of the big summer holiday “Pranzo di Ferragosto.” Gianni and his mother agree- but then the manager decides to bring not only his mother but one of his aunts as well… and one of Gianni’s friends leaves his own mother at the apartment. With limited money and a small apartment, Gianni does his best to keep his mother and their guests happy. Mid-August Lunch- which is described on its official site as “both a warmly vibrant family drama and a delicately balanced comedy of manners” that “won numerous prizes at international festivals”- started Wednesday, March 17, at the Film Forum in New York City.

Miss You Like Crazy– Alan- a man who has found love with a woman he regards as perfect, and who is in line for a big promotion at work- meets Mia while the two are riding a ferryboat. Mia is coming back to the Philippines after two years of hard work in Malaysia, only to be faced with an emergency in her family. The pair finds that their chance meeting will have a profound impact on the rest of their lives…. This romantic drama from the Philippines opens on Friday, March 19, at eight screens in the US (three in California, and one each in Hawaii, Nevada, Illinois, New Jersey, and Washington state).

Mobile Suit Gundam UC (Unicorn)– Well, you can certainly learn something new writing a column like this. I had heard of Mobile Suit Gundam before, but I had no idea that the Gundam phenomenon (including several different animated TV series and movies) started way back in 1979. This installment of the saga starts with a celebration of the beginning of human efforts to settle planets deep in space- a celebration that is cut short by a terrorist attack. The story then leaps ahead nearly a century into the future, when a small scale war between the Earth Federation and something called Neo Zeon has been going on for several years. The latter group has uncovered some possibly embarrassing secrets about the Earth Federation- and the Earth Federation wants to make sure these secrets don’t get out. Meanwhile, a college student with the improbable name of Banagher Links is drawn into the war- and discovers that his father and another interested party have put a new “mobile suit,” the RX-O Unicorn Gundam, into his hands. Mobile Suit Gundam UC (Unicorn) starts Friday, March 19, at the VIZ Cinema in San Francisco.

My Year Without Sex– Director Sarah Watt follows up her well-done Look Both Ways with this film about Natalie, a Melbourne housewife who is rushed to the hospital for surgery when she suffers an aneurysm. Natalie’s doctor then tells her that, as part of her recovery process, she must stay away from sex- and anything else that causes too much excitement or anxiety- for the next year… even though Natalie and her husband Ross are already dealing with money woes and concerns about whether Ross will get fired from his job. While all of that sounds like it could make for a fairly grim movie, several reviews online suggest that (as the title implies) this film actually has a dryly comic tone (at least at times). My Year Without Sex started somewhere or other in the US on Friday, March 12; I can’t tell you where, because US distributor Strand Releasing does not make this sort of information available on its site (as far as I can tell), and a Google search did not reveal anything either. Wherever that theater may be, this film made a little bit over $500 there this past week, according to boxofficemojo.

Neil Young Trunk Show– Jonathan Demme (Stop Making Sense, The Silence of the Lambs) directs his second Neil Young concert movie (following Heart of Gold); this one features footage from two different shows at Pennsylvania’s Tower Theater, while Young was on his Chrome Dreams II tour. “Like a Hurricane” and “Cinnamon Girl” are two of the numbers featured in the film, which starts Friday at eleven theaters (three in New York, and one each in California, Massachusetts, Washington state, Michigan, Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC).

See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary– Stand-up comic CJ Jones, musician Bob Hiltermann (drummer and producer for Beethoven’s Nightmare- “the world’s only deaf rock band,” according to this film’s official site), actor and teacher Robert DeMayo (who teaches at Juilliard but is also homeless) and singer TL Forsberg (who is hard of hearing and- per the film’s site- “struggles to be accepted by the deaf community” since she “‘passes’ in the hearing world” and is “not a native sign language user”) are the four entertainers featured in this documentary. The film (which is fully subtitled) uses their stories to give audiences insight into deaf culture so that they can “see this vibrant community in a fascinating new light,” according to the documentary’s site. See What I’m Saying starts Friday, March 19, at the Sunset 5 in Los Angeles.

Shutterbug– Alex, a fashion photographer based in New York City, is increasingly dissatisfied with his job, and decides to devote his efforts to more personal and creatively satisfying works. After he accidentally looks into the sun when trying to take a shot of the sunrise, Alex starts to see things that others cannot. He becomes convinced that he is able to look into another dimension- and that he can find out why this is happening if he takes a tour of the seamier side of the city. Shutterbug– the second film of the year (as far as I know) to claim Dante’s Inferno as an inspiration of sorts (the other one being the quite different-sounding Saint John of Las Vegas)- starts Friday, March 19, at the Cinema Village in New York City.

Third Person Singular Number– Ruba is an independent, well-educated, middle-class woman who lives in the city of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, with her boyfriend Munna. Ruba doesn’t much care that many others look down on her for “living in sin”- until her relationship with Munna undergoes a drastic change, and she faces life as an outcast in a society where many traditional customs still hold sway. Third Person Singular Number– a Bengali-language romantic drama with music- starts Friday, March 19, at Big Cinemas Loehmann’s Twin Cinema, Falls Church, VA

Vincere– Veteran Italian filmmaker Marco Bellocchio (Fists in the Pocket; Devil in the Flesh; The Eyes, the Mouth; Leap Into the Void) directed this story about Benito Mussolini and his first wife, Ida Dalser. She was mesmerized by the charismatic future dictator, and fervently supported him- until he vanished during the first World War. Later, Ida discovers that Mussolini has abandoned both her and the son she bore him, and has married another woman as well. Soon, both Ida and the child are thrown into asylums- and though they are locked up for years, the strong-willed Ida is not the sort of person who will just accept this sort of thing and suffer in silence. Vincere– which was shown at Cannes, Toronto, Telluride, and other film festivals in 2009- starts Friday, March 19, at three theaters (two in New York City, and one in Los Angeles). The film’s official site also says that it will open at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis on April 16. (I hope that it does open in Indy, although April 16 sounds to me like it might be a bit too soon after its US opening for an Indianapolis booking- but we shall see….)

Yagam (a.k.a. Yagham) – And in last place, alphabetically speaking, is the most mysterious Indian film of the week for March 19. I couldn’t find a website for this one, but I can tell you that it is in the Telugu language, that most of it was shot in Bangkok, and that it has been described as an “action-thriller” about a man who believes that his only purpose left in life is to perform a “yagam,” or ritual sacrifice (that’s the closest I could get on Wikipedia, but it makes sense, in the context of what I have seen and read about the film). That’s about all the more I can tell you, plot-wise, since Googling “yagam” and “synopsis” didn’t turn up very much- but this youtube trailer certainly makes it look like somebody’s been studying up on their District B13. Yagam starts on Friday, March 19, at the Big Cinemas Towne 3 in San Jose, CA.

NEXT WEEK AND BEYOND

The Keystone Art Cinema’s home page has two updates this week- it now says that the well-reviewed British film Fish Tank will start at that theater on April 2, while The Runaways (see “Opening Elsewhere” above) will arrive there on April 9. And as noted above, the official sites of two other limited-release films opening out of state this week- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Vincere– claim that they will also open at the Keystone Art Cinema in April (on the 23rd and the 16th, respectively). There is no confirmation of either of those dates on the theater’s home page as of yet, but a cool poster for The Girl was up when I visited the KAC recently, for what it’s worth. Also, the KAC’s site has said for a week or two now that Greenberg (also in “Opening Elsewhere” above) would start there on March 26; I didn’t say anything about it at the time because I assumed that Greenberg would be going into wide release. It now appears that if Greenberg ever does go into wide release, it will not do so next Friday- so I thought that I should mention it here.

(And here’s hoping that all of the above movies get good turnout, since that will help ensure that more art films will get booked at the theater in the future.)

Manoranjaninc has added an image for the Telugu-language film Varudu (Bridegroom) to its site; as of now, there is only one scheduled showing at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis- at 8 PM on Wednesday, March 31.

Drive-Ins Reopen- The Tibbs Drive-In– the last drive-in theatre in the city of Indianapolis- will be back for yet another season, according to an ad in last Sunday’s Indianapolis Star, and a notice on the Tibbs’ website. The ad said that the Tibbs would re-open on March 26, but the theater’s site now says that they will awaken from their winter slumbers on April 2. Whatever the date, I’m always excited to see that the Tibbs will be around for another year, and I try to go there at least once each season. I’d be even more excited (and I’d go there more often) if they would show something you can’t see anywhere else in town on one of their four screens- even if they didn’t do this more than a few times each season, and even if they did put the movie(s) in question on that one screen that faces the airport, so you sometimes get distracted by planes departing and landing in the distance. But even if they show the same old same old as everyone else in and around Indy, this is still good news.

Anyhow, the Tibbs’ announcement led me to see what was up with two other area drive-ins; I found that the site for Martinsville’s Centerbrook proclaimed that it would be “celebrating 60 years” (!) starting on March 26, while the home page of Shelbyville’s Skyline Drive-In says that they will be back some time in April.

Horrorhound Weekend– This three day event gets under way on Friday, March 26, on the east side of Indianapolis. Scheduled guests include director George Romero, writer and sometimes actor Joe Bob Briggs, writer and filmmaker Clive Barker, Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman, actors David Hess (Last House on the Left), Sid Haig, Tom Noonan, Richard Lynch, Ashley Laurence, Doug Bradley, Robert Z’dar, and Louise Robey, and Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson (one of a number of horror-movie hosts scheduled to attend). Also, at least seven films will be screened during the weekend, including the first public screening of an extended edition of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, and Smash Cut, with convention guest David Hess. As if all that weren’t enough, a number of other events are scheduled as well, from a concert to a panel on George Romero’s Day of the Dead, with the director and members of the cast and crew.

Kenny Chesney: Summer in 3D– This concert documentary recently added theater listings to its official site; in Indiana, it will open at the Castleton Square 14, the Greenwood Park 14, the Rave Metropolis 18, the Jefferson Pointe 18 and Carmike 20 in Fort Wayne, the Showcase Cinemas East in Evansville, and the Encore Park 14 in Elkhart on April 21.

Letters to God– According to the Greenwood Park 14’s upcoming schedule on AMC’s site, the theater will open this inspirational drama (which co-stars Ralph Waite from The Waltons) on April 9.

The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry– Gavin MacLeod, Robert Guillaume and Jansen Panettiere star in this Christian-oriented film about an older man (MacLeod) who imparts his wisdom to a trio of pre-teen boys in 1970; it opened at one theater in Richmond last October, and will be coming back to Indiana on April 2, with engagements at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis, the Hamilton 16 and IMAX in Noblesville, the Studio 10 in Shelbyville, and the Eastside 9 in Lafayette.

Tournées Festival– I recently received an e-mail announcing that the third edition of this festival of French films will take place from April 6-11 at Marian University in Indianapolis. The films scheduled to be shown this year are Academy-Award nominee Entre les Murs (The Class), Un Secret, Academy Award nominee Indigenes (Days of Glory), and the documentaries Ballerina and Comme Un Juif en France (Being Jewish in France); they will be screened at the University’s Mother Theresa Hackelmeier Memorial Library. There is no admission charge for the festival- which is supported by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Ministry of Culture- but registration is requested; see the event’s official site for details.

Screenings and events for next Friday:

Blue Hawaii– As I was getting ready to type this entry, I suddenly realized that I have never seen an Elvis movie in its entirety- not on TV, not on the big screen, not anywhere. (I strongly suspect that this may have something to do with being traumatized by the jaw-dropping awfulness of the few minutes of Harum Scarum that I saw on TV years ago- although I think the after-effects of that horrifying incident have finally started to wear off….) I’m going to be too busy to see Blue Hawaii myself, but if you’d like to put some Elvis into your own life, you can catch a big-screen dose of The King at 2 and 7:30 PM on Friday, March 26, at the historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin; they will also show Blue Hawaii at 7:30 PM on Saturday, March 27. (As to the plot- always an important consideration in Le Cinema du Presley, from what I’ve read- it apparently involves Elvis, some pretty girls, surfing, and miscellaneous other characters (including Big E’s mother- played by the not-much-older-than-Elvis Angela Lansbury, of all people) who are neither Elvis nor one of “the girls.”)

A Film with Me in It– This dark comedy/thriller from Ireland is about a would-be actor who is having a rough time– he doesn’t manage to land even the minor roles he tries out for, his girlfriend is threatening to leave him, and his landlord is on the verge of kicking him out. Then, things somehow manage to go from bad to worse– much, much worse- as several deaths take place in the actor’s apartment, and the bodies start to pile up…. Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Neil Jordan appear in A Film With Me In It, according to the IMDb; it will be shown at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema on Friday, March 26 at 9:30 PM.

Five Minutes of Heaven– Back in 1975, Protestant “loyalist” Alastair Little (then sixteen years old) shot and killed Catholic James Griffin while James’ younger brother Joe looked on. Three decades later, both Alastair and Joe are going to be on a live television program designed to promote reconciliation between Protestants and Catholics- but Joe’s plans for Alastair have nothing to do with peace or reconciliation. Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt star in Five Minutes of Heaven, which will be shown at the University of Notre Dame’s Browning Cinema on Friday, March 26 at 6:30 PM; both Five Minutes of Heaven and A Film With Me In It are part of the Browning’s “Contemporary Irish Cinema” series.

The Wizard of Oz– The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra will accompany the 1939 film as it unspools on the screen at the Hilbert Circle Theatre in downtown Indianapolis at 8 PM on Friday, March 26 and Saturday, March 27- and at 2:30 PM on Sunday, March 28.

**********

Commentary Track reviews of movies featured in this week’s edition of Thinking Outside the Multiplex:
An Education
The Hurt Locker
The Messenger

7 responses to “Thinking Outside the Multiplex

  1. Watching ‘Police, Adjective” was almost painful at first but once I gave up expecting anything to happen, a la the usual police movie, I was fascinated. It might be called a comedy, if you include the dry bleak absurdist take on life as comic. Or it might be a drama because the protagonist is caught in a serious moral dilemma, even though it completely lacks any capital D “Drama”. Like Cristi, the beleaguered detective, I am struggling for definition.

    Anyone who wants to see something really different should move quickly and not miss this opportunity. Landmark doesn’t have such a bold impulse very often and I am grateful for these occasional gems. I just wish it didn’t feel so much like crumbs from the table of world cinema.

  2. UPDATES:

    Fuel- I was at IUPUI briefly on Saturday, and noticed a poster for this documentary about America’s dependence on foreing oil, and energy in America in general. It will be shown at 12 and 6 PM on Tuesday, March 23, in Room 405 of CE- Campus Center, 420 University Boulevard, Indianapolis. I’m not 100% certain that this is open to the public- it is co-sponsored by the Student Activities Programming Board- but I am mentioning it here on the chance that it is.

    Harmony- Also on Saturday, I found out that this Korean film opened at the M Park 4 theater in Los Angeles on March 19;I would have included this in this week’s column, but the M Park 4’s site either doesn’t have a “Check our showtimes for next week/tomorrow” feature on it, or I can’t figure out where it is (most of the site is in Korean). I have tried to see their showtimes for future dates by going through Fandango, but they didn’t have any title or showtime information for the theater when I checked. In any event, I’ll have a plot synopsis and links to the film’s site in next week’s column.

    And another Saturday discovery: The Strand Theatre, Shelbyville. Thanks to a poster I saw in Broad Ripple, I noticed that the documentary Blood Into Wine will be playing at that theatre on Friday, April 9, at 7 PM. I had never heard of the theatre before- or at least I didn’t remember hearing or reading about it before. When I went to their site, I also found that they will be showing The Passion of the Christ on April 2, 3 and 4.

    And an error I noticed today: In “Next Week and Beyond”, I said that The Runaways was mentioned in “Opening Elsewhere”- which was true at the time I wrote it. However, I later found out that the film was opening at one theater in Indiana, so I moved it to the first section of the column- but forgot to change the reference in “Next Week and Beyond”. Sorry about that….

  3. And I wanted to add that I agree with Miriam about Police, Adjective- worth seeing, but you should know in advance that this movie is NOTHING like 99.9999% of American cop movies. You see the lead cop following the “suspect”, for minutes at a time; you see him go home and eat soup, or watch TV while his wife watches/listens to a Youtube (?) video over and over again; you see him wait outside the house of the kid he is tailing; you see him and his partner waiting in their boss’ office to see him; you even see him walk all the way down the hall to his office. It shows the decidedly non-glamorous side of police work- boring, not well paid (the place he lives is in distinct contrast to the undoubtably swankier-than-they-could-really-afford dwellings of most American movie and TV cops), and strong pressure from superiors to do things that he knows are not right, and will have bad consequences. (And this is all against the gray/brown background of a Bucharest [I think] that doesn’t exactly like the “Little Paris” that one character thinks would be a good marketing name for the city.)

    I agree that much of the dialogue is dryly funny (when there is dialogue at all), but the overall situation involving the main cop and what he is being pressured to do is anything but funny. And I am also glad that the Keystone Art Cinema is playing this one- even if it is for one week only. (There wasn’t a huge crowd- maybe eight or nine other people- when I was there.)

    But again, anyone thinking of seeing this should know what to expect before going in, I think. I had skimmed through several reviews, but had no idea how much of the movie would be silent- just showing the cop doing what he does. Several others in the audience didn’t know this either, apparently- I heard people exhaling loudly on several occasions, and one person left about halfway (or two thirds of the way) through. (And one couple left just a minute or so before the very low-key ending. I wonder if they even knew that it was about to end.)

  4. And here is something else I found out about, just today: Director Jonathan Walls will be present for a screening of his award-winning documentary Playing for Change at IUPUI on Tuesday, March 23. The screening will start at 6 PM, and will take place in Room 450B of CE – Campus Center, 420 University Blvd., Indianapolis. (This one sounds like it will be open to the public, since I heard about it in an email from the Indianapolis International Film Festival.) The screening will be followed by a question and answer session, a reception, and a silent auction to support the Playing for Change Foundation and the American Red Cross (Haiti relief).

  5. A couple left while I was watching the film, too. I hate the kind of trailer that tells you everything (or seems to) about a movie but I guess Hollywood does know something about mainstream audiences.

    The ending was simultaneously as low-key and as weighty as the rest of the film. The sound of his chalk sketching the sting arrest set-up was the sound of the existential bars coming down on all of them.

  6. Re: Police, Adjective – It was interesting and distinctive, but I must admit my eyes felt heavy at a few points. The film is almost too effective in conveying the dreary monotony of contemporary Romanian life.

  7. Police, Adjective also does a good job of suggesting the continuing effect of the Communist bureaucratic mindset upon this much abused Balkan country.

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