Thinking Outside the Multiplex in Indiana (May 28, 2010)

by MIKE MACCOLLUM

So the only new limited-release film opening in Indiana theaters this Friday seems to be the documentary Racing Dreams– but it won’t be at the Indianapolis theater you might suspect would be showing it. But it will be showing at one Indy-area theater that has undergone a big change recently- and that is the headline news for this week’s back-from-vacation column….

THEATER OWNERSHIP CHANGE MERRY-GO-ROUND

Instead of the usual intro on limited-release movies opening in Indiana theaters this week, this time I think the really big news pertains to a good number of those theaters themselves. I first noticed that the AMC chain had acquired the Kerasotes theaters in Indiana several weeks ago- but I kept forgetting to write about the takeover until this week, when the (former) Kerasotes theaters started showing up on AMC’s site. A related issue is that as a result of the buyout, at least one other local theater has undergone an ownership change, and one more will be forthcoming. According to this article from The Indianapolis Star, the former AMC Greenwood Park 14 is now part of the Regal chain, due to “antitrust concerns”- and the Kerasotes-turned-AMC theater at the Glendale Mall must eventually be sold for the same reason.

Some AMC theatres- usually those with 20-plus screens- play some interesting, unusual movies every once in a while- subtitled commercial and/or arthouse imports from Korea or the Philippines, the occasional “almost, but not quite, straight-to-DVD” action/horror/whatever movie, and so on. It’s probably too much to expect that the former Kerasotes 16 and IMAX on the south side will be showing any of these movies now that it is the AMC Showplace Indianapolis 17- but I’m going to keep on hoping that they might be able to fit a few of these in, once the summer season ends.

And as for the potential new owners of the Glendale Mall theater- maybe the Cinemark folks could turn this into the only second-run theater on the north side of Indy…. (Or, since they have many first-run theaters as well, they could have their only first-run theater in the Indy area.) The Carmike chain has three other theaters in the state, and- at least on occasion- some of their theaters show a more interesting mix of movies than most of the other chains in the area… so maybe they could open their first theater in the state’s largest movie market. Or the US-branch of the Indian Phoenix/BIG Cinemas chain- which also shows more unusual movies more often than theaters already in the Indy area (even above and beyond the Indian films they program at many of their theaters)- could open their first theater in the state. (They already own at least one theater in Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, and Kentucky.) Or maybe the Goodrich Quality Theatres folks (who have the Hamilton 16 and IMAX in Noblesville), or the Rave chain (with the Metropolis 18 in Plainfield) could open their first theater in the city limits. Who knows? Whatever happens to the Glendale theater, let’s hope it stays open for the foreseeable future….

LIMITED RELEASE THEATRICAL FILMS OPENING IN INDIANA THIS WEEK

Racing Dreams– Academy-Award-nominated filmmaker Marshall Curry directed this documentary about three young people (aged 11 to 13) who race in the World Karting Association, and dream of competing in NASCAR someday. At the same time, they must deal with the same problems and issues as everyone else at this stage in their lives. Racing Dreams- winner of the Audience Award for best Feature Length film at the 2009 Indianapolis International Film Festival- starts on Friday, May 28, at the AMC Showplace Indianapolis 17 (the former Kerasotes ShowPlace 16 and IMAX- see above) and the Rave Metropolis 18 in Plainfield. The latter theater will have just two showings per day, by the way- an indication of how crowded the marketplace is this time of year, and also possibly a reflection of apparently underwhelming box office returns from openings in thirty-plus theaters out of state last week. Or at least so says boxofficemojo.com, which described Racing Dreams as “the greatest disappointment among limited releases” from last weekend. This isn’t meant as some sort of a slam against the movie, by the way- instead, I’m just letting you know that if you want to see this in a local theater, you had better do so this week.

Vedam– This is a Telugu-language action movie/drama from India with either three or five major characters/interwoven stories, depending on which source you believe. A young man from the slums, a rock star on the rise, and a hooker are three of the characters, per one source; another source claims that an older gentleman is another of the main characters, without adding any real information about the other character. According to manoranjaninc’s site, Vedam is currently scheduled to play at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis on Thursday, June 3, and Friday, June 4. Most Telugu films that get released to US theaters do not have English subtitles, so I suspect that that will be the case for Vedam as well- but I don’t have any evidence to confirm that as of yet. I also couldn’t find an official site for the film- but a youtube trailer is here, and Vedam‘s Wikipedia page is here.

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

Babies– This documentary is about four little ones- one living in Tokyo, another in Mongolia, a third in San Francisco, and the last in Namibia. According to its official site, the film “joyfully captures on film the earliest stages of the journey of humanity that are at once unique and universal to us all.” Babies holds over this week at the Keystone Art Center in Indianapolis (which will have four shows per day, the last at 7:15), the AMC Evansville 16, and the AMC Showplace Muncie 7 (which will have three shows per day). Also, the site for Fort Wayne’s Cinema Center says that Babies will start there on Friday, June 4.

Big Night– Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci co-directed (and appear in) this 1996 drama about a pair of brothers hoping to save their restaurant. It will be shown for free at Fort Wayne’s Cinema Center on Tuesday, June 1, at 7:30 PM, as part of the Cinema Center’s “Food Flicks” series.

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 holds over this week at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis, where it will be shown two times per day (at 4 and 9 PM).

The Eclipse– According to its official site, this is “a film about the challenges of love, fear of the unknown and release from the burden of grief.” Since the death of his wife two years ago, teacher Michael Farr has been raising his two children himself. More recently, he has started to have odd visions- and hear weird noises- in the night. Michael doesn’t know whether these sights and sounds are a product of his imagination, or if they have a supernatural source. When Michael volunteers at a literary festival in his town, he meets author Lena Morelle, whose books deal with haunted houses and other unearthly topics; Michael tells Lena all about what he has been going through, in the hope that he has found someone who might believe that his house could be haunted. But Lena is distracted by the presence of fellow writer Nicholas Holden. She had a short-lived romantic relationship with the much better-known Holden last year; he is in love with her- and even wants to abandon his wife for Lena- but she just wants to find a way to avoid Nicholas’ attentions. Over the next few days, Michael, Lena and Nicholas will find their lives altered in ways they never could have expected. Ciarán Hinds, Iben Hjejle and Aidan Quinn star in The Eclipse, which will be shown in Bloomington on Friday, May 28, and Saturday, May 29; go to The Ryder’s site for more information on when and where.

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 Starplex Coventry 13 in Fort Wayne.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo– A smash-hit in Europe, and based on an international best-seller, this is a thriller 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 that someone is very determined to prevent them from finding the truth…. Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Sven-Bertil Taube and Gunnel Lindblom (Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, The Virgin Spring, Scenes from a Marriage) are all in the cast of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which holds over this week at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis (with one show per day, at 9:15), and opens on Friday, May 28, at the Yes Cinema in Columbus.

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 at the IMAX Theater in downtown Indianapolis’ Indiana State Museum, with one morning show per day (except on Tuesday).

Jaws– Steven Spielberg’s movie about a big, hungry shark will be shown at the historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin on Friday, May 28, at 2 and 7:30 PM, and on Saturday, May 29, at 7:30 PM.

Kites– Hrithik Roshan stars as J, a wounded man who has been left to die in the brutal heat of the Mexican desert. He struggles to stay alive only because he is determined to find Natasha (Barbara Mori). Although she was engaged to another man, Natasha and J fell head-over-heels in love at first sight. The pair attempted to flee, but could not outrun their pursuers- and now, J may be on the verge of making a horrifying discovery…. Kites– the original Indian version, and not the Brett Ratner “remix,” thankfully- continues this week at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis. According to manoranjaninc.com’s site, Kites will be shown twice daily (at 5 and 7:30 PM) through Wednesday, June 2, at the G14- although the theater’s “schedule” page on movietickets.com has different show times. I suspect that the latter page has the more accurate information, but you might want to call the theater yourself, just to be certain.

Mother– Bong Joon-ho (The Host; Memories of Murder) directed this murder mystery about a single mother with a twenty-seven year old son, Do-joon, who is (as the film’s page on the official site of its US distributor puts it) “simple-minded” and frequently “behaves in foolish or simply dangerous ways.” After getting drunk one night, Do-joon sees a schoolgirl, and he follows her until he loses track of her. When the girl’s body is found the next morning, Do-joon is accused of committing the crime. Since the local police don’t really put a lot of effort into the case- and since the Do-joon has less-than-top-flight legal representation- he is quickly convicted. Do-joon’s mother, however, cannot believe that her son is a killer, and sets out to find the real murderer. Mother will be shown this week (except for Tuesday, June 1) at the Cinema Center in Fort Wayne. Also, there will be screenings in Bloomington on Friday, May 28, and Saturday, May 29; go to The Ryder’s site for time and location info.

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. Michael Shannon, Alia Shawkat, Tatum O’Neal and veteran actress Peggy Stewart are all in the supporting cast of The Runaways, which was co-executive-produced by Joan Jett herself; it starts on Friday, May 28, at the Starplex Coventry 13 in Fort Wayne.

The Secret in Their Eyes– Retired criminal court worker Benjamin Esposito decides to use his new-found free time to write a book. Following the maxim “write what you know,” Benjamin bases his novel on a 1974 murder case which he tried to help solve at the time. But Benjamin lived in Buenos Aires, and the Argentina of 1974 could be a dangerous, violent place- so his investigation puts him and the friends who are helping him in peril. As the present-day Benjamin writes his novel, his memories of the past- especially the mistakes he made, and the opportunities he lost- threaten to overwhelm him…. The Secret in Their Eyes– which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film a few weeks ago- holds over for another week at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis.

Also getting theatrical play in Indiana this week: Barbie in a Mermaid Tale. For more information – including theaters, show times, and days- click on the title, and follow the trail of cyber-breadcrumbs until you reach the desired information.

NEXT WEEK AND BEYOND

OK, all of the links I tried to post in my comment from last Thursday about upcoming films never surfaced, so I will be repeating a lot of info from that comment- but with updates and links (where needed and/or appropriate) this time.

Exit Through the Gift Shop– I saw a free preview of this one last week, and I’m still not certain if it’s a real documentary, a put-on, or some combination of the two. Whatever this movie might be, it is now scheduled to open at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis on Friday, June 11, according to the theater’s home page.

Harry Brown– Michael Caine stars as a vengeful Korean War veteran in this drama from England; the Keystone Art Cinema’s home page now says that Harry Brown is supposed to open there on Friday, June 11.

Mother and Child– Writer/director Rodrigo Garcia’s ensemble drama about three women dealing with issues related to adoption is now scheduled to open at the Keystone Art Cinema on Friday, June 18, per the theater’s home page.

Across the Universe– Julie Taymor’s 2007 drama with lots of music from the Beatles kicks off the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s “Summer Nights” series of outdoor films on Friday, June 4.

Burma VJ– This award-winning documentary about a 2007 uprising in Myanmar/Burma- which was shot by an independent group of journalists in that country- will be shown as a fundraiser for Exodus Refugee of Indianapolis at the Central Library in Indianapolis on Friday, June 18, at 7 PM.

Godkiller– According to its official site, this is both the “epic story of a boy’s quest to save his sister” and “a twisted, sci-horror animated film.” Lance Henriksen, Danielle Harris and Bill Moseley are among the voice cast of Godkiller, which will be shown at the Cinema Grill in Indianapolis on Friday, June 4. (As of now, this looks like a one-night, one time showing- but it may turn out to be a full week run. I’ll let you know when I find out more definite information.)

Leach– The Hamilton 16 and IMAX will have an encore showing of this made-in-Indiana thriller at 9:30 AM (yes, AM) on Saturday, June 5.

The Lottery– This documentary about students hoping to win spaces in a charter school will be shown at the Metropolis 18 in Plainfield on Tuesday, June 8, at 7:30 PM.

Singam– Manoranjaninc added this Tamil-language film to their site this week; as of now, it is scheduled to be shown at the Georgetown 14 in Indianapolis on Saturday, June 5, at 9:30 PM. And while the image for the film on manoranjaninc’s site makes Singam look like a romance or comedy, the film’s official site says that it is about a cop going after smugglers- and at least some of the images here are much darker in tone. Then again, since Singam is an Indian film, it is probably both a gritty action film about a cop and (to a greater or lesser extent) a romance, and/or comedy and/or musical….

5 responses to “Thinking Outside the Multiplex in Indiana (May 28, 2010)

  1. If the KAC wants to pick up a movie about motherhood, I wish they’d pick up Mother instead.

  2. As much as I would like to see Mother at the KAC, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen- even though Landmark and Magnolia (the company distributing Mother in the US) are corporate siblings. The reason (I am guessing) is that Magnolia, generally speaking, is not super-committed to getting its movies shown in theaters, when it comes right down to it. If they do have a movie that does very well in theaters (like Food, Inc., for example) they will book it as widely as they can- but for most of their movies, the theatrical release seems like sort of a sidelight to the Video-On-Demand (and XBox Live, and Playstation, and Amazon, and Vudu) release…. especially since Magnolia almost always makes most of their films available on VoD (and XBox Live, etc.) a month or so before the beginning of the theatrical release.

    Just out of curiousity, I went to Magnolia’s site last week, and checked to see if any of their movies had a booking at the Keystone Art Cinema in the future. One of them- I Am Love, with Tilda Swinton- does, but the other ten movies on the site right now under “New Releases” and “Coming Soon” do not. A few of these are smaller scale movies, and probably wouldn’t make it to Indy no matter who was releasing them in the US. On the other hand, Magnolia is also handling George Romero’s Survival of the Dead, and Neil Jordan’s Ondine, with Colin Farrell- and neither of these has a booking in Indiana as of yet. That could change, depending on how much money each movie makes in other theaters- but I think most other distributors would put these two out in theaters first, see how they did, and THEN go on to VoD and so on at some later point. But, generally speaking, that just isn’t how Magnolia does things. Interestingly enough, I Am Love was the only movie on the site (when I checked last week, at least) that mentioned a theatrical release without a prior VoD (and etc.) release. Maybe the producers of I Am Love contractually demanded no VoD ahead of the US theatrical release, and Magnolia complied- but that’s just speculation on my part. (And I am going by not only Magnolia’s site here, but also the individual sites for specific films- I Am Love in particular. And yes, the KAC might not be where Magnolia would book Survival of the Dead in any event- one of its out-of-state playdates is at an Illinois drive-in(!)- but it doesn’t have ANY Indiana theaters listed on its page on the Magnolia site as of yet.)

    As for Mother and Child- that’s from Sony Picture Classics, which is very much interested in getting its movies shown in theaters- the KAC, and as many others as possible. As far as I know, they are much more old school when it comes to video availability- they wait for VoD and etc. until the movie is out of theatrical release (or at least until it has nearly played out in first run theaters).

    So it mostly comes down to that- Magnolia (along with other companies, like IFC Films) is not focused on the theatrical release of its films nearly to the extent that Sony Pictures Classics is. That sort of stinks when you want to see a Magnolia movie (like Warlords) in a nearby theater- but when you are looking forward to seeing a Sony Classics release in a theater (like I am with Alain Resnais’ Wild Grass), it’s reassuring to think that the odds are pretty high that it will make its way to the KAC.

    And just a note about Racing Dreams- I was listening to the radio the other day, and I heard an ad for the movie that actually mentioned the two area theaters at which it was playing. It was unusual enough to hear an ad for a limited release film on the radio- but to also hear the theaters menioned at the end of ad really floored me. (Well, not literally, but still.) I remember watching horror movies on channel 4 back in the late seventies/early eighties, and the advertisements for Beyond Evil (or whatever) would close with a local announcer mentioning the theaters and (more likely) drive-ins that would be playing the movies- and I haven’t heard/seen that sort of thing in quite a while. (Most newspaper ads for movies these days- or at least the ones that I see- don’t even mention the theaters at the bottom of the ad- just something like “check local listings”.) Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to have done much for Racing Dreams- there were only four other people at the Saturday morning show I attended, and another radio ad (which again mentioned the two theater locations) on the Bob and Tom Show’s 500 Mile Race special edition said that the film would end Wednesday (?!) at both local theaters.

  3. Your thoughtful response is more than my comment deserved. :) It _is_ frustrating that Magnolia is seemingly uninterested in theatrical distribution; especially so as they distribute some really interesting and well-reviewed titles that I would really like to see on the big screen.

  4. Regarding Magnolia: Well, it could be “worse”- a fair number of movies deserving of wider theatrical release (in my humble opinion) wind up with a US distributor that is even less likely to get it into the KAC than Magnolia or IFC. Some of these distributors just might not have the power/pull in the industry to persuade a good number of theaters to play their films; others may be small companies (in terms of capitalization), and unlikely to be able to buy American rights to movies that will appeal to enough people to get them into wide release; other companies may dislike dealing with Landmark, for some reason (or vice versa); or there may be some combination of the above. Whatever the reason(s), there are a number of distributors out there which have had no movies (or just one or two) play at the KAC during the four-plus years it’s been open.

    But for companies like Sony Pictures Classics, Magnolia and IFC- which seem to me to be essentially at the same level in the industry (although SPC may have something of an edge)- it’s interesting that it’s kind of a crapshoot; if a film winds up with SPC, it is much more likely to get a broader theatrical release in the US than with the other two.

    And regarding Racing Dreams: Here’s something else that I noticed when I was at the Kerasotes-turned-AMC theater on the southside to see that film. They had small signs up (by the ticket-sellers) noting that as of the week of June 18, there would be no more need for the Kerasotes Five Buck Club, because all movies (except those with IMAX and/or 3D surcharges) would be $5 Monday-Thursday, no matter what time of day the movie started. I checked to see if there was some sort of exemption for movies in the first two weeks of release- but if it was there, I missed it. I forget what the prices were for Friday-Sunday, and I haven’t had a chance to check with the other newly minted AMC theaters in the Indy area, so I don’t know if they will have the same policy. (I was at Castleton the other day, though; I didn’t see a movie, but I stopped by to check the entryway where they sell tickets- and I saw no such sign there. That could be because Castleton has been an AMC venue since it opened, and never offered the Five Buck Club card in the first place.) I also don’t know how long this policy will last. But it’s nice to know that five dollar movies won’t be limited to pre-noon weekend showings and Five Buck Club cardholders at (at least) one theater in the city- for however long this lasts.

  5. Next thing you know you’ll be reminding me how fortunate I am to have an arthouse theater in my town at all! Actually, in all seriousness, I do appreciate it could be a lot worse. The Landmark KAC consistently programs arthouse films on a couple of its screens, and sometimes more than a couple, and the IMA has functioned as a part-time repertory theater since the Toby opened. There are many, many people who don’t have that much.

    Still, it’s frustrating to see important films bypass Indianapolis yet play in much smaller Indiana cities and towns like Bloomington, Fort Wayne, South Bend, and Columbus, IN. (And Fort Wayne and Columbus don’t have major universities to explain it.) Mother, The Messenger, 35 Shots of Rum, and Goodbye Solo are a few such recent releases that come to mind. It’s frankly depressing to know that smaller cities like Minneapolis and Columbus, OH can support full-time arthouse theaters programming a mix of the “mainstream” arthouse films favored by our Landmark and edgier and/or smaller films like The Red Riding Trilogy and Sweetgrass. The Minneapolis theater is even part of the Landmark chain! The worst part is knowing that Indianapolis could support that too- because it effectively did support it pre-Landmark, when Castleton and Key Cinemas were still operating. The galling part is the KAC’s self-promotion as an arthouse theater, and the Landmark’s contribution- direct and indirect- to those theaters closing. We were told we’d be trading up to seven arthouse screens, and instead we traded down to three, and saw the scope of the programming contract hugely as well.

    Really I do try (most of the time) to focus on building up what we have rather than lamenting what we’ve lost. There are at least four constructive actions any arthouse film lover can take:

    1) Buy a ticket. Wonderful and interesting films do play the KAC. Red Cliff, Police Adjective, The Secret of Kells, and The Secret In Their Eyes are some of this year’s examples.

    2) Sell extra tickets by taking along friends or family members who wouldn’t see the film otherwise. I like to make them Meetups.

    3) Recommend the movie to everyone who might be interested, _before_ it opens if possible. I can’t say how often I’ve raved about an arthouse film to someone only to have them say they had wanted to see it but didn’t know it had opened (and often, left). Not every prospective ticket-buyer haunts the theater’s online listings like we do!

    4) Ask at the Landmark if they’ll be getting a film. I try to target my requests to films that might actually have a chance of playing the KAC. I haven’t had any success with this so far, but it seems worth a shot. I’ve also asked the Georgetown 14 to get a couple of titles I thought might play well there, on the same off chance.

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