by MIKE MACCOLLUM
This is another good week for off-beat theatrical films in Indiana- so good, in fact, that I don’t have the time to write a real introduction. To learn more, you’ll just have to keep reading….
LIMITED RELEASE THEATRICAL FILMS OPENING IN INDIANA THIS WEEK
Care Bears: Care Bears to the Rescue– This was a stunner- I thought the Care Bears had gone extinct a decade or so ago, but some marketing genius somewhere has brought them back, apparently. (Assuming, that is, that they ever really went away at all.) Anyhow, the story is set against the backdrop of an awards show for the most helpful rescue bears, such as- nope, I won’t spoil the suspense. If you want to find out for yourself, this will be at the Showplace East in Evansville this week, with daily shows at 10:50 AM. Other theaters throughout the state will have shows only on Saturday and Sunday- the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis will show Care Bears: Care Bears to the Rescue at 1 and 3 PM this weekend, while the Studio 10 in Shelbyville will have 1 and 3:30 shows. The Jefferson 18 in Fort Wayne has 11:35 AM shows on Saturday and Sunday, while the Metropolis 18 in Plainfield has 12:35 PM showings. (The site for this film says that the Carmike 20 in Fort Wayne and the Encore Park 14 in Elkhart would be showing this as well, but it wasn’t on the schedule page of either theater when I checked on Wednesday.)
Fish Tank– Mia (Katie Jarvis) is a fifteen-year-old girl who is constantly fighting with her family– and just about everyone else, besides– in this coming-of-age drama from Britain. Mia has to keep her love for hip-hop dance a secret, even though it is the only way she has to express herself and to work off her excess energies. After she meets her mother’s new boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender), Mia thinks she has found someone who could help her out– but she doesn’t realize that Connor may have something else in mind. Fish Tank– which won the 2009 British Independent Film Awards for Best Director (Andrea Arnold) and Most Promising Newcomer (Katie Jarvis), and which also garnered Arnold a Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival– starts Friday, April 2, at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis.
Paiyaa– Ah, good- this Indian film has an official site- and better still, that site says that it has a “synopsis” page. So, let’s click there and… oh… well… this is, uh, all it says: “Paiyya is all about the protagonist meeting his love and hate on his journey. The action packed entertainer is being made in a different way with highways and travel as the backdrop.” That’s it- thirty-plus words, and not a lot of information; I just saved you some clicking. But I still recommend that you do go to that page on the film’s site for yourself- if you want to see a cool photo of Paiyaa‘s hero about to punch the living snot out of some dude with his back to the camera. As of now, just two showings of this (apparently unsubtitled) Tamil-language film are booked at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis, according to manoranjaninc’s site: at 4 and 7 PM on Sunday, April 4.
A Prophet– Writer/director Jacques Audiard follows his impressive The Beat That My Heart Skipped with this drama, which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Tahar Rahim stars as Malik, an illiterate young man of North African background who is sentenced to a French prison for alleged violent acts against the authorities. When Luciani– the convict who controls the prison’s most powerful gang– orders Malik to kill fellow prisoner Reyeb, Malik complies. He becomes Luciani’s underling in the gang– and is so helpful that Luciani sets up furloughs for Malik so that he can carry out Luciani’s orders in the outside world. Malik also starts to set up his own criminal enterprise, however. As the danger around him grows ever greater, Malik thinks he is being guided from beyond by the late Reyeb– and when he lives through an unusual car accident, some people start to think that Malik may be some sort of a prophet…. A Prophet starts Friday, April 2, at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis.
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 Friday, 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.
THEATRICAL HOLDOVERS, FILM FESTIVALS, REVIVAL SCREENINGS, AND OTHER SPECIAL SHOWINGS IN INDIANA THIS WEEK
Banff Mountain Film Festival– This film festival from Canada will be shown at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington on April 3 and 4 at 7 PM; the event’s official site has a link with the titles of the twenty-plus films that will be shown.
Chloe– Catherine starts to suspect that her husband David is fooling around on her- and after she meets escort-for-hire Chloe, Catherine decides to employ the young woman in order to test David’s fidelity. When Chloe reports back to Catherine with reports on what she and David have been up to, Catherine’s emotions may start to get the best of her…. Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried star in this remake of the French film Nathalie; it continues this week at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis, the ShowPlace East 11 in Bloomington, the ShowPlace 16 in S Bnnd, Stadium 16 in Evansville, and the Cinema Center in Fort Wayne. (That last venue, however, will not show the film on Wednesday, April 7.)
Frankenstein Rising– On Thursday, April 8, this horror film with several veteran actors in the cast will have a 7 PM screening at the Studio 10 in Shelbyville; it will also have two shows at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis on Friday, April 9, at 4 and 7 PM. (Full disclosure time: I emailed this movie’s official site last year and requested that it be shown in the Indy- area- so I’m not exactly neutral with regards to this movie. I haven’t seen it myself yet- but I am very happy and excited to know that it is on the way.)
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, the Metropolis 18 in Plainfield, the Village Park 17 in Carmel, the Stadium 16 in Evansville, the Jefferson Pointe 18 in Fort Wayne, the Eastside 9 in Lafayette, the ShowPlace 16 in Schererville, the Honey Creek West in Terre Haute, the ShowPlace 11 East in Bloomington, and the ShowPlace 7 in Muncie.
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 house sit 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 holds over this week at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis.
The Hedge School’s Short Film Favorites– The Cinema Center in Fort Wayne is the place to go for this festival of shorts, which takes place Wednesday, April 7, at 6:30 PM. More information here on the fest can be found at this site (scroll down to get to the relevant part)- but it isn’t all that much more info; “A Streetcar Named Perspire” is the only title mentioned.
Hopkins vs. Jones LIVE– If big-screen boxing is your thing, you can catch a live presentation of this bout on Saturday, April 3, at 9 PM; the Hamilton 16 and IMAX in Noblesville, the Eastside 9 in Lafayette and the Portage 16 with IMAX in Portage are the three Indiana venues.
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 continues this week (with morning and/or early afternoon showings, depending on the day) at the IMAX Theater in downtown Indianapolis’ Indiana State Museum.
The Hurt Locker– The Academy Award winner for Best Picture holds over at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis (which will have daily shows at 3:40 and 9:10 PM), and the ShowPlace East 11 in Bloomington.
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 (where it will be shown daily at 1 and 6:30), and starts Friday at the Yes Cinema in Columbus.
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, Saturday, and Sunday, according to The Ryder’s site.
NCAA 2010 Final Four Indianapolis: Live 3D on the Big Screen– As most of you probably know, the semi-finals are on Saturday, April 3, at 6 and 9 PM; the championship game is on Monday, April 5, at 9 PM. If you want to see any of them on a big screen in Indiana (rather than live and in person, and in 3-D+), the only location is the Showplace East in Evansville.
The Passion of the Christ– Mel Gibson’s film will be shown on at 8 PM on Friday, April 2, at the Strand Theatre in Shelbyville- which will also have showings on Saturday, April 3 (at 1:30 PM), and Sunday, April 4 (at 4:30 PM).
The Rocky Horror Picture Show– The ‘seventies cult perennial can be seen in its usual 10 PM time at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis this Saturday; there is also some sort of pre-show activity (I forget the exact wording that I saw on the poster the last time I was at the theater) starting at 9:30 PM.
Tournées Festival- 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.
A Town Called Panic– This looks very odd, and supercool. It is based on an animated TV show from Belgium, and features the strange adventures of plastic toys named Cowboy, Indian, and Horse. The film’s official site says it is something like a “Gallic Monty Python crossed with Art Clokey on acid.” It will be shown in Bloomington on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend, according to The Ryder’s site.
Varudu (Bridegroom)– The way that some Indian film producers and distributors provide only the sketchiest possible information about their films- even on the official sites for those films- is something that still amazes me, even though I first noticed this practice several months ago. I understand the desire to keep a certain element of surprise about a film (and in the case of this film, there was a deliberate effort to build up publicity about the little-known actress playing the female lead)- but why not at least give a hint of the story outline with a sentence or two of plot description? The makers of Varudu have cruelly ignored my silent, psychic plea, since I spent twenty to thirty minutes searching for a synopsis for this Tamil-language movie, and came up with very little- beyond what you could guess from the English-language translation of the title itself. However, there are hints that Varudu is not (just) a romantic comedy or drama- this trailer on youtube shows some wrestling around and gunfire, along with a possible ‘splosion. (Or at least it does once you get past the early part, which shows the film’s crew building a big set.) I’ve also read online reports that one hundred real-life families somehow figure in the film (ensuring a certain number of ticket sales, at the very least); additionally, I have read that the title was allegedly switched late in the game, after the director made massive changes to the screenplay. Whatever it’s all about, Varudu started Tuesday, March 30, at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis; it is currently scheduled to run through at least Saturday, April 4, according to manoranjaninc’s site.
This week’s openers include two with Mammootty. Who’s Mammootty? Read on below to find the answer….
Birdemic: Shock and Terror– I’ve seen some folks on the Interwebs proclaim that this is the next Plan 9 From Outer Space. I’ll withhold judgment until I actually see the movie, but these quotes from Birdemic‘s official site at least offer some hope: “A platoon of eagles & vultures attack the residents of a small town. Many people died. It’s not known what caused the flying menace to attack. Two people managed to fight back, but will they survive BIRDEMIC? Partly inspired by Hitchcock’s The Birds & there is a cameo by Ms. Tippi Hedren (Melanie in The Birds).” Birdemic: Shock and Terror has been getting some weekends-only showings lately (usually, but not only, at midnight or thereabouts); the earliest ones that I know of took place at the MADCAP Theaters in Tempe, AZ, on March 5 and 6. (And I didn’t know about them until just a few days ago- which is why this movie didn’t appear here until just this week.)
Breaking Upwards– The real-life attempt of a couple (actress Zoe Lister-Jones and actor/director Daryl Wain) to deliberately engineer their own semi/sorta/kinda break-up/separation/whatever formed the basis for this film; it starts Friday, April 2, at the IFC Center in New York City.
Breath Made Visible– Anna Halprin is the subject of this documentary, which opens at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco on Friday, April 2. And if you’re a cultural ignoramus, like me, and have never heard of Anna Halpin, then you might be interested to learn that (according to Breath Made Visible’s official site) Halprin is “one of the most important cultural icons in modern dance” and an “American dance pioneer who has helped redefine our notion of modern art with her belief in dance’s power to teach, heal, and transform at all ages of life.” So now you know.
Don McKay– Thomas Haden Church plays the title character, a high school janitor who hasn’t been to his old hometown- or seen his old girlfriend, who still lives there- for a quarter of a century. When Don hears that his ex, Sonny (Elisabeth Shue), is gravely ill, he comes home back to be with her- only to be reminded why he left in the first place… and to find that maybe even Sonny is trying to deceive him in some way. Melissa Leo, James Rebhorn, M. Emmet Walsh, Keith David and Pruitt Taylor Vince co-star in Don McKay, which starts Friday at the Sunset 5 in West Hollywood. (Variety.com claims that Don McKay will also open in New York City and Boston, but the Sunset 5 was the only theater I could confirm by my deadline).
The Greatest– Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon star as parents who are devastated by the death of their young son. They get a further shock several weeks later when Rose (Carey Mulligan) shows up on their doorstep, and informs them that she was their son’s girlfriend- and that she is pregnant with his child. As far as I can tell, Muhammad Ali is not in this particular The Greatest; it starts Friday, April 2, in at least six theaters- five in or near Los Angeles, and one in New York City.
Pramani– Mammootty- superstar of India’s Mayalayam-language cinema world- stars in this mostly (?) comic film as an affably corrupt politician/fixer whose main interest in life is accumulating money- until he decides to reform himself, and finds that his former allies don’t necessarily trust an honest man…. Pramani starts Friday, April 2, at the Norwalk 8 in Norwalk, CA. I couldn’t find an official site for this one, by the way- but a trailer can be found here, on youtube.
Sadiyaan– This is a Hindi-language romantic drama about a Muslim mother getting separated from her infant daughter during the turbulence surrounding the 1947 partition of India. A Hindu couple rescues the child and raises her, after trying in vain to find her parents. In the 1970s, the child is now an adult, and has fallen in love with a young Muslim man- but his parents disapprove, because she is a Hindu…. Sadiyaan opens Friday, April 2, at the Norwalk 8, in Norwalk, CA, and the Big Cinemas Bombay Theatre in Flushing, New York. The trailer can be found on youtube.
Secret Reunion (a.k.a. Brothers and Blood Brothers)– After a North Korean spy’s mission in South Korea ends in a public shoot-out on the crowded streets of Seoul, the spy is abandoned by his fellows, and the head of the South’s National Intelligence Agency is given his walking papers. Over half a decade later, the two men meet, and decide to go into business together- in spite of the fact that they could have some very good reasons to mistrust each other…. Secret Reunion starts Friday, April 2, on at least five screens in the US- two in California, and one each in Texas, New Jersey, and New York.
The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom– This documentary about the Dalai Lama’s effort to win independence for his homeland, the 2008 uprisings in Tibet, and the subsequent Chinese retaliation was co-directed by a Tibetan filmmaker, Tenzing Sonam; it started Wednesday, March 31, at the Film Forum in New York City.
Teza– An Ethiopian doctor living in Germany returns to his native country in this film, which (according to its official site) uses the doctor’s story as a way to examine both the history of Ethiopia and the “displacement of African intellectuals.” Teza opens Friday, April 2, at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema in New York City.
The Thorn in the Heart– Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep, Be Kind Rewind) directed this documentary about his aunt Suzette, a teacher, and her son, Jean-Yves; it opens Friday, April 2, at the Village East in New York City.
The Trouble With Terkel– Terkel is a sixth-grader who is sick and tired of being pushed around by bullies. When he starts mocking someone else, he starts to become popular- especially when his rudeness leads the target of his insults to attempt suicide. As it happens, Terkel has no idea how to handle his new status, and he tries to cope by turning to firearms, liquor, and physical violence. The Trouble with Terkel– a collaboration between an independent American filmmaker and two Scandinavian animators- is “the Danish equivalent of South Park,” according to the page for the film on the site of its US distributor, Indican Pictures. It started Friday, March 26 at two US theaters, according to boxofficemojo, and Variety.com’s online boxoffice report for the past week. Where were those two theaters? You’ve got me- Indican never reveals such privileged information on its web site, as far as I can tell. Variety.com’s film release chart last week insisted that Terkel would open on March 26 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago- but I spent over a half hour looking through Fandango’s online theater listings for SF on March 25, and I found no mention of this title at any theater there… so I assumed it wasn’t really opening anywhere last week, and didn’t mention it in last week’s column. Well, it really did open, apparently- so maybe those two screens it was on last week were in LA and/or Chicago?
The Warlords– Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro star as a former general and two bandits who join forces in the nineteenth century- only to find that their pledge to be loyal blood brothers until they die might not work out quite as they anticipated…. The Warlords starts Friday, April 2, at three theaters- two in the greater Los Angeles area, and one in New York. (This movie sounds like a lot of fun, by the way. The only way to make it cooler? Have the three main characters get bitten by werewolves, and changing the title to The Werelords. And oh yeah- they should be snarling, nasty, mean-tempered werewolves- not the kind that sometimes just sort of stand around and do nothing, and have weird, comically unthreatening human names like “Rufus Rex.” I kid you not- the main werewolf in this “El Santo” movie I saw a few months ago went by “Rufus Rex” while in human form- and when he was a wolfman, sometimes just stood around, snarling a little, and not doing much else. Sheeeesh. But I digress….)
Yugapurushan– Sree Narayana Guru was apparently a peaceful social reformer in the Indian state of Kerala during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; this Malayalam-language film covers his life and teachings. Malayalam-language megastar Mammootty appears as a revolutionary who strongly supported the main character. Yugapurushan opens Friday, April 2, at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, IL. (NOTE: The film’s official site doesn’t seem to have a trailer on it, but youtube has one here.)
Zen– Dogen was a Buddhist monk from Japan who journeyed to China in the 1200s and left behind a record of daily life for Chinese peasants at the time. This film about Dogen’s life- and his interpretation of Zen Buddhism- opened Friday, April 2, at the Kahala 8 in Honolulu.
NEXT WEEK AND BEYOND
The Keystone Art Cinema’s home page has one new title this week: The Joneses, a comedy starring Demi Moore, David Duchovny, and Amber Heard. They pretend to be a perfect family, but they aren’t a family at all- the Joneses show off their possessions (which are actually new products, which they are being paid to push) in front of their wealthy neighbors; the idea is that once these trend-setters have the new goods, everyone else will want them, too.
Perhaps as a result of The Joneses moving in on the sixteenth, A Shine of Rainbows got pushed forward one week on the KAC’s schedule; the theater’s home page now says that both Rainbows and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo will both open on April 23. (Not that there will be many people going to both movies, based on what I’ve seen/read about them….) This is the first official confirmation from the KAC’s page that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo will be playing there, by the way- very good news indeed, that.
Manoranjaninc has added no new Indian films on its site in the last week (except for Paiyaa, which will play at the Georgetown 14 on Sunday, and is mentioned in the first section of this week’s column).
Cheech & Chong’s Hey Watch This– The film version of the comedy duo’s reunion tour will be in theaters on April 17 and 20. (It took me a little while, but I eventually realized that the latter date was chosen very deliberately. If you don’t get the joke yourself, Google “420” and see what shows up.) The site for this event posted the theater listings some time in the last few weeks; as of now, at least, it looks like Cheech & Chong’s Hey Watch This can be seen in Indiana at the Hamilton 16 and IMAX in Noblesville, the Eastsjde 9 in Lafayette, the Portage 16 and IMAX in Portage, and the Showplace East in Evansville.
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 site for Goodrich Quality Theaters says that the film will also be at the Hamilton 16 and IMAX in Noblesville and the Eastside 9 in Lafayette as well.
The Runaways– Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning star as Joan Jett and Cherie Currie in this film about the all-girl-band, which was written and directed by Floria Sigismondi. The Runaways co-stars Michael Shannon, Alia Shawkat, Tatum O’Neal and veteran actress Peggy Stewart, and was co-executive-produced by Joan Jett herself. Per the Keystone Art Cinema’s home page, The Runaways is currently scheduled to open at that theater on April 9.
Screenings and events for next Friday:
Blood Into Wine– This documentary about musician Maynard James Keenan’s effort to establish a vineyard in Arizona will be shown at Shelbyville’s Strand Theatre on Friday, April 9, at 7 PM.
Frankenstein Rising– As noted above, this horror film with several veteran actors in the cast will be shown at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis next Friday, April 9; show times are 4 and 7 PM.
Treasure Island– The historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin will show Disney’s 1950 film at 2 and 7:30 PM on Friday, April 9, and Saturday, April 10.