Thinking Outside the Multiplex: National Edition (August 19 – September 1, 2010)

by MIKE MACCOLLUM

So here we go, we’re back with a new format for this feature. We’ve tried to break down the movies in a more user-friendly way here, so let us know what you think. As you can see, films are listed first by release date, then by category, and then alphabetically.

I’ll try to have a Frequently Asked Questions page posted soon, but for now, I’ll just note that this week’s column covers all of the movies I know of that came out in limited release in the US (outside Indiana) during the period August 19-September 1. If you know of any other movies that were first released during that time, please let me know by adding a comment.

As for the plot summaries (for fiction films) and “subject” summaries (for documentaries), all of these come directly from the official sites of the films in question, or their Facebook pages, or some sort of site connected to the film- whenever possible. I did make a few changes to some of these- like changing some of the punctuation when I noticed something that struck me as wrong- but otherwise used information directly from the sites themselves. However, if the summary isn’t followed by “(official),” that means I couldn’t find an official site for a given film (not in English, at least), and wrote up the plot summary myself.

Of all of the films below, I am most interested in seeing Mesrine: Killer Instinct, The Army of Crime, The Milk of Sorrow, Centurion, and Altiplano. Mesrine looks like it may well make it to Indianapolis- but it looks like DVD for the others in this neck of the woods….

*AUGUST 18*

DOCUMENTARIES

A Film Unfinished

Subject (official): In 1942, one of the only known films of the Warsaw Ghetto was shot. Scenes of Jewish life were documented. For decades after World War II, this footage was presented as truth. Until 40 years later, when a missing reel was discovered….

Director: Yael Hersonski

Languages: German, Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish, English

Release information: Opened in New York City at the Film Forum and Lincoln Plaza Cinema.

*AUGUST 19*

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Naan Mahaan Alla

Genre: Crime Drama/Suspense/Love Story

Plot (official): Jeeva (Karthi) has a picture perfect life with caring parents, affectionate sister and supporting friends to go about. His life is brimmed with intense joy as a girl (Kajal Agarwal) enters his life. Marked by abrupt transitions, Jeeva’s life undergoes a vivid change as the dark-crude side of Chennai has other plans for him…. (more)

Director: Susindran

Cast: Karthik Sivakumar (a.k.a. Karthi), Kajal Agarwal, Jayaprakash, Soori, Lakshmi Ramakrishnan, Neelima Rani

Language: Tamil

Release information: Played at seven theaters in its opening week- two in California, and one each in Texas, Illinois, Georgia, Virginia, and New Jersey. I’m not sure if it was at all of these theaters on opening day, however, as I was unable to check for individual theaters until later in the week.

Comment: The plot summary above was taken word for word from the film’s official site.

*AUGUST 20*

AMERICAN (INDEPENDENTS AND OTHERWISE)

Hiding Divya

Genre: Drama

Plot (official): Mental illness is the last frontier. People throughout the world — even in America — struggle with the “disgrace” of a family member who suffers from emotional instability. In the South Asian community, cultural expectations and misguided prejudices can tear apart families and can often bar the mentally ill from gaining proper medical treatment. Divya and her family are victims of these barriers. As a young woman in India, Divya seemed to have it all. She was beautiful, married to a handsome man of great wealth, and was mother to their precious daughter Linny. But when Divya began acting erratically, and, at times, outrageously, her seemingly-perfect life fell apart. Divya’s husband abandoned both Divya and their three-year-old daughter, and the family disowned her…. (more)

Director: Rehana Mirza

Cast: Madhur Jaffrey, Pooja Kumar, Madelaine Massey, Deep Katdare, Kunal Sharma, Ajay Naidu, Sakina Jaffrey

Language: English

Release information: Opened at the Fremont 7 in Fremont, CA, Big Cinemas Manhattan in New York City, the Columbia Park 12 in North Bergen, NJ, and the Movie City 8 in Edison, NJ.

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The Red Machine

Genre: Espionage Drama/Romance

Plot (official): Washington, DC, 1935: With storm clouds of war forming, an ace safecracker (Donal Thoms-Cappello) is forced to collaborate with a cool-as-ice Navy spy (Lee Perkins) to steal Japan’s new cryptographic machine…. (more)

Directors: Stephanie Argy, Alec Boehm

Cast: Lee Perkins, Donal Thoms-Cappello, Meg Brogan, Maureen Byrnes, Eddie Lee, Madoka Kasahara

Languages: English, Japanese

Release information: Opened at Facets Cinematheque in Chicago.

Other links: Facebook page

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The Scenesters

Genre: Comedy/Mystery

Plot (official): When a serial killer starts picking off beautiful young hipsters on the east side of Los Angeles, a group of crime scene videographers hatch a plan to catch him. CHARLIE NEWTON (Blaise Miller) is your average down-on-his-luck guy, except his day job is anything but average. He works for Aftershocks Inc., Los Angeles’ number one service for the efficient clean-up of crime scenes. He’s been the “cleaning boy” for years – the butt of jokes from every cocky crime scene investigator. What no one realizes, though, is that his years of reading mystery novels and watching way too many forensics shows has led to a highly-developed Sherlockian sense of deduction…. (more)

Director: Todd Berger

Cast: Sherilyn Fenn, Blaise Miller, Todd Berger, Jeff Grace

Release information: Opened at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles.

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What If…

Genre: Inspirational drama

Plot (official): What if… tells the story of Ben Walker (Kevin Sorbo), who fifteen years ago left his college sweetheart Wendy (Kristy Swanson), and his calling to be a preacher, in order to pursue a business opportunity. Now with a high-paying executive gig, a trophy fiancé, and a new Mercedes, he hasn’t considered a family nor felt the need to set foot in a church in fifteen years. But God has other plans. While on a thrill ride outside the city, his new car mysteriously breaks down, and he’s visited by a tow truck driver named Mike (John Ratzenberger) who claims to be an angel sent to show Ben what his life would look like had he followed his true calling…. (more)

Director: Dallas Jenkins

Cast: Kevin Sorbo, Kristy Swanson, John Ratzenberger, Kristin Minter, Debby Ryan, Toni Trucks

Release information: Opened at 22 locations- eight in Arizona, five in Michigan, four in Illinois, and one each in New Mexico, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and Maryland. (Or at least that was what they said on the “theaters” page on the film’s official site. Boxofficemojo says that it opened on 23 screens, not 22.)

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Altiplano

Genre: Drama

Plot (official): War photographer Grace, devastated by a violent incident in Iraq, renounces her profession. Her Belgian husband, Max, is a cataract surgeon working at an eye clinic in the high Andes of Peru. Nearby, the villagers of Turubamba succumb to illnesses caused by a mercury spill from a local mine. Saturnina, a young woman in Turubamba, loses her fiancé to the contamination. The villagers turn their rage on the foreign doctors…. (more) (WARNING: The plot synopsis on the official site has spoilers after this cut-off point.)

Directors: Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth

Cast: Jasmin Tabatabai, Magaly Solier, Olivier Gourmet

Languages: Spanish, Quechua, French, English, Persian

Release information: Opened at the Village East Cinema in New York City.

Additional information: Magaly Solier also stars in The Milk of Sorrow, which opened in the US one week after Altiplano.

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The Army of Crime

Genre: Suspense thriller/war drama

Plot (official): In Robert Guédiguian’s taut, internationally acclaimed thriller, set during the French Resistance, Armenian poet Missak Manouchian (Simon Abkarian) and his French wife (Virginie Ledoyen) lead a ragtag assortment of volunteers — Jews, Poles, Hungarians, Italians, Spaniards and Armenians — in an assassination plot …. (more)

Director: Robert Guédiguian

Cast: Virginie Ledoyen, Simon Abkarian, Robinson Stévenin, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet

>Languages: French and German

Release information: Opened at the Sundance Kabuki and the Alliance Francaise in San Francisco, and at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

Additional information: Official Selection: Cannes International Film Festival

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Happy Happy Ga

Genre: Romance/Drama/Comedy

Plot (official): A happy person is always happy with what he gets!!!! Happiness is not there anywhere else, it is within you. (NOTE: This, by the way, is ALL of the “Plot outline” as is appeared on Happy Happy Ga’s Facebook page. For more information, see “other links” below.)

Director: Priyasharan (a.k.a. Priya Saran, apparently)

Cast: Varun Sandesh, Vega Tamotia, Saranya Mohan

Language: Telugu

Release information: Opened at six theaters in the US- two in California, and one each in Texas, Illinois, Virginia and New Jersey.

Other links: A Youtube trailer is here, and a review (with a little bit more about the plot, but no spoilers that I could see) is here.

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Lafangey Parindey

Genre: Drama/Romance/Action

Plot (official): A dash of style with loads of attitude and a hunger to reach the stars, Lafangey Parindey is about a group of youngsters living in the backstreets of Mumbai. It is an unusual love story of Nandu (Neil Nitin Mukesh) and Pinky (Deepika Padukone) whose path to love is paved by friendship, grit and hope. He is wild. He is born to fight. He is One-Shot Nandu. For the raw, champion street fighter…. (more)

Director: Pradeep Sarkar

Cast: Neil Nitin Mukesh and Deepika Padukone

Language: Hindi

Release information: Opened in five US theaters- two in New Jersey, and one each in Georgia, Illinois, and Michigan.

Other links: Trailer; Facebook page

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Malarvaadi Arts Club (a.k.a. Malarvadi Arts Club)

Genre: Comedy/Drama

Plot: Five young men in a small Indian village have a good time while working as troublemakers for a local political party. They refuse to get serious about their lives, until the family of one member of the group faces a crisis.

Director: Vineeth Sreenivasan

Cast: Apoorva Bose, Harikrishnan, Janardanan, Salim Kumar

Language: Malayalam

Release information: Opened at the Maveli Twin Cinema in Spring Valley, NY.

Additional information: According to at least one site, this film was supposed to open at the Maveli Twin back on August 6- but (as far as I can tell) all showings at the theater were canceled that week due to “technical difficulties”.

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Mao’s Last Dancer

Genre: Drama

Plot (official): The remarkable true story of ballet dancer Li Cunxin. Based on Li’s best selling autobiography, MAO’S LAST DANCER is the epic story of a young poverty stricken boy from China and his inspirational journey to international stardom as a world-class dancer. The story begins when a young Li is taken from his peasant home by the Chinese government and chosen to study ballet in Beijing. Separated from his family and enduring countless hours of practice, Li struggles…. (more)

Director: Bruce Beresford

Cast: Bruce Greenwood, Kyle MacLachlan, Joan Chen, Amanda Schull, Chi Cao, Jack Thompson

Languages: English, Mandarin Chinese

Release information: Opened at 26 theaters- twelve in California, three in Washington state, two each in Virginia, New York, and Massachusetts, and one each in Hawaii, Texas, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Washington, DC.

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Penpattanam

Genre: Drama

Plot: Four women who work as garbage collectors for Kudumbashree- a mission run by the government of the Indian state of Kerala- struggle to make ends meet on meager salaries. When they find a bag containing a lot of money, they think that their troubles are over and done with- but in fact, the money could cause them more problems than they could have imagined.

Director: V. M. Vinu

Cast: K.P.A.C. Lalitha, Revathy, Vishnu Priya (a.k.a. Vishnupriya), Shwetha Menon (a.k.a. Swetha Menon, Shweta Menon)

Language: Malayalam

Release information: Opened at the FunAsia Irving in Irving, TX.

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Sakudumbham Shyamala

Genre: Comedy/Romance

Plot (official): A cute small family love story. Title character Shayamala, a greedy woman… Shayamala was a rich family member before her marriage. Shayamala got love married with a middle class person, but she like upper class styles. She think if her son ‘Akash’ got married with an American settled girl…. (more)

Director: Radhakrishnan Mangalath

Cast: Urvasi (a.k.a. Urvashi, Urrivashi), Kunchacko Boban, Bhama (a.k.a. Bamma), Saikumar

Language: Malayalam

Release information: Opened at the Golf Glen 5 in Niles, IL.

Comment: The above plot summary was taken, as is (except for the deletion of one section of text), from the film’s official site.

Other links: Trailer

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Soul Kitchen

Genre: Comedy

Plot (official): SOUL KITCHEN film centers on a likable but hopelessly disorganized restauranteur, Zinos co-screenwriter Adam Bousdoukos) whose cafe is second home to a motley crew of lovable eccentrics. When his girlfriend Nadine up and moves to Shanghai, a love-sick Zinos decides to fly after her, leaving his restaurant in the hands of his unreliable ex-con brother Illias. Both decisions turn out…. (more)

Director: Fatih Akin

Cast: Adam Bousdoukos, Moritz Bleibtreu, Birol Ünel, Monica Bleibtreu

Languages: German, Greek

Release information: Opened at the IFC Center and the Lincoln Plaza Cinema (both in New York City).

Comments: Director Akin is probably best known for Head-On (2004) and The Edge of Heaven (2007). Soul Kitchen was one of the last films of veteran German actress Monica Bleibtreu; she was the mother of co-star Moritz Bleibtreu.

Additional information: Winner of the Special Jury Prize and the Young Cinema Award for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival.

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The Wind Journeys

Genre: Drama

Plot (official): For most of his life, Ignacio Carrillo travelled the villages of northern Colombia, playing traditional songs on his accordion, a legendary instrument said to have once belonged to the devil. He eventually married and settled in a small town…. (more)

Director: Ciro Guerra

Cast: Marciano Martínez, Yull Núñez

Language: Spanish

Release information: Opened at the Cinema Salem in Salem, MA.

DOCUMENTARIES

And Everything Is Going Fine

Subject: Steven Soderbergh directed this documentary about the late actor, writer and monologist Spalding Gray. Apparently, most of the film is composed of excerpts from Gray’s monologues, and interviews with Gray.

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Release information: at the Fallbrook 7 in West Hills, CA.

Comment: If a trailer for this movie is currently available online, I couldn’t find it.

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Earth Made of Glass

Subject (official): On August 6th, 2008, against the backdrop of the world’s deadliest war in neighboring Eastern Congo, Rwandan President Paul Kagame released a report detailing the French government’s hidden role in planning the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Three months later, his closest aide, Rose Kabuye, is arrested by France…. (more)

Director: Deborah Scranton

With: Paul Kagame, Rose Kabuye

Release information: Opened at the Fallbrook 7 in West Hills, CA, and the Coliseum Cinemas in New York City.

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Fathers of the Sport

Subject (official): Fathers of the Sport is a Feature Documentary and Companion DVD Library Series (Vol. 1-3) which uncovers the colorful and compelling history of legendary playground basketball. Produced by Providence Films and directed by Xavier Mitchell, it will chronicle the history and lives of the many “legends” and unsung heroes who dominated playground basketball courts…. (more)

Director: Xavier Mitchell

With: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, Walt Frazier, Bill Russell

Release information: Opened at the Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills.

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His & Hers

Subject (official): From kitchens, living rooms, and hallways across the Irish midlands, His & Hers delightfully combines observation and charm to tell a 90-year-old love story through the voices of 70 women. This intimate gender and cultural snapshot explores a woman’s relationships with the men in her life…. (more)

Director: Ken Wardrop

With: Seventy Irish women

Release information: Opened at the Cinema Village in New York City.

Additional information: His & Hers won the Audience award in the Dublin International Film Festival, The Feature Award in the Galway Film Fleadh, an IFTA for Best Feature Documentary and the Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival 2010.

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Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune

Subject (official): Phil Ochs, a folk singing legend, who many called “the emotional heart of his generation,” loved his country and he pursued its honor, in song and action, with a ferocity that had no regard for consequences. Wielding only a battered guitar, a clear voice and a quiver of razor sharp songs, he tirelessly fought the “good fight” for peace and justice…. (more)

Director: Kenneth Bowser

Features interviews with: Sean Penn, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Tom Hayden

Release information: Opened at the Fallbrook 7 in West Hills, CA, and the Coliseum Cinemas in New York City.

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Thunder Soul

Subject (official): THUNDER SOUL tells the true story of Conrad O Johnson and the legendary Kashmere Stage Band. It was afros and pleated shirts; James Brown and Bootsy Collins. It was the ’70s, and an inner-city Houston high school was about to make history…. (more)

Director: Mark Landsman

With: Conrad O. Johnson

Release information: Opened at the Claremont 5 in Claremont, CA, and the Coliseum Cinemas in New York City.

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The Tillman Story

Subject (official): When Pat Tillman gave up his professional football career to join the Army Rangers in 2002, he became an instant symbol of patriotic fervor and unflinching duty. But the truth about Pat Tillman is far more complex, and ultimately far more heroic, than the caricature. And when the government tried to turn his death into propaganda, they took on the wrong family. From her home in Northern California, Pat’s mother…. (more)

Director: Amir Bar-Lev

Release information: Opened at two theaters in Los Angeles/Hollywood (The Landmark, and the Arclight Hollywood) and at two in New York City (the Sunshine Cinema and the Lincoln Square 13).

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Winston Churchill: Walking with Destiny

Subject (official): The newest production from the Moriah Films Division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center focuses on the years 1940 and 1941, when the Swastika flew over continental Europe. Only England, with her back to the wall, under Winston Churchill, remained defiant…. (more)

Director: Richard Trank

Narrated by: Sir Ben Kingsley

Release information: Opened at the Claremont 5 in Claremont, CA, and the Coliseum Cinemas in New York City.

Additional information: The official site linked above does not have a trailer for this movie, as far as I can tell- and I couldn’t find a trailer anywhere else online, either.

*AUGUST 27*

AMERICAN (INDEPENDENTS AND OTHERWISE)

Baghdad Texas

Genre: Comedy

Plot (official): While a Middle Eastern dictator is fleeing his besieged country his plane crashes on the Mexican Border. He is inadvertently carried into Texas by illegal immigrants. Struck by a truck occupied by three cowboys he is taken to their exotic game ranch where their housekeeper nurses him back to health…. (more)

Director: David H. Hickey

Cast: Al No’Mani, Robert Prentiss, Melinda Renna, Barry Tubb

Languages: English, Spanish, Arabic

Release information: Opened at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

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Bushwick

Genre: Crime drama/Action

Plot (official): With the murder and investigation of a runaway Mexican-American teen in the down-and-out town of Bushwick, Brooklyn, Det. John Mejia must see that justice is done.

Director: Luis Landivar

Cast: Diego Kelman Ajuz, Yanillys Perez, Edgar Caraballo, Erika Robel, Harvey Kaufman, Andrea Leigh, Matthew McCurdy, Geri McKeon

Release information: Opened at the Village East Cinema in New York City.

Other links: Facebook page; additional page on the site of the film’s production company

Comment: A US/Ecuadoran co-production, per the IMDb, but I thought it should be listed here, since it was shot in the US.

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Circle

Genre: Thriller/Horror

Plot (official): CIRCLE is a clue-driven race against time that takes us on a labyrinth ride of knowledge into the unraveling motives of a serial killer. In this thriller, the FBI teams up with the U.S. Marshals in a hunt for escaped sociopath James Bennett, after he commits a series of meticulously planned murders. Unfortunately, Bennett is going back to his childhood home, where six graduate students are studying his surroundings for their thesis…. (more)

Director: Michael W. Watkins

Cast: Silas Weir Mitchell, Jason Thompson, Erin Lokitz, Peter Onorati, Gail O’Grady, Michael DeLuise, Kinsey Packard

Release information: Since distributor Indican Pictures does not think it is worth their while to let you know which theaters are playing their movies- and since I wasn’t able to find out this information by way of any other source- I can’t tell you where Circle opened. Boxofficemojo.com said that Circle opened at two theaters in the US- but that’s all the information they provide. If anyone out there has any additional details on which theaters played Circle, please let us know by adding a comment.

Other links: Circle’s page on the site of its US distributor, Indican Pictures (includes a link to “restricted” trailer)

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Aashayein (Wishes)

Genre: Drama

Plot (official): Aashayein is the story of a compulsive gambler who discovers new meanings of fortune and life through a dramatic turn of events…. (more)

Director: Nagesh Kukunoor

Cast: John Abraham, Sonal Sehgal

Languages: Hindi and English

Release information: Opened on eleven screens in the US (two each in California, Texas, and New Jersey, and one each in Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Virginia, and New York), according to the sources I checked that list individual screens. (Boxofficemojo claims that it opened at fourteen theaters, but I think they’re counting at least two Canadian theaters- and who knows where they got the fourteenth one….)

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Centurion

Genre: Action adventure

Plot (official): CENTURION is set during the war between Roman soldiers and Pict tribesmen during the 2nd century Roman conquest of Britain. Michael Fassbender stars as Quintus Dias, Roman centurion and son of a legendary gladiator who leads a group of soldiers on a raid of a Pict camp…. (more)

Director: Neil Marshall

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko, Ulrich Thomsen, Rachael Stirling, Imogen Potts

Release information: Opened on twelve US screens- four in California, two in Texas, and one each in Washington state, Utah, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts.

Other links: Centurion’s page on the site of its US distributor

Comments: Neil Marshall’s last two films as director (The Descent and Doomsday) both opened wide in the US (plus or minus 2000 screens each, according to boxofficemojo). Centurion has some very good review quotes on the page linked directly above- but (as of now) its scheduled to play at less than thirty theaters in the US.

(By the way: The Angelika Film Center in Houston- one of the two Texas theaters mentioned above- closed down just a few days after Centurion opened there….)

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Chak Jawana (Go For It)

Genre: Drama

Plot (official): ‘Chak Jawana’ highlights the problems faced by youth in a Punjabi village. The young men fall prey to drugs, become irresponsible and disturb the peace.The elders despair about the future of the community. (more)

Director: Simerjit Singh

Cast: Gurdass Mann, Jonita Doda, Gaurav Kakkar

Language: Punjabi

Release information: Opened on four US screens (two in California, and one each in Texas and New York), according to several sources that list/specify the theaters. Boxofficemojo says that Chak Jawana was on fifteen screens, though- maybe some of them played the film for only a day or two, and didn’t do so until a few days after August 27? (And/or maybe they are including several Canadian theatres that played the film in their count- hard to say….)

Other links: Unsubtitled trailer

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Change of Plans

Genre: Romantic comedy/drama

Plot (official): CHANGE OF PLANS (LE CODE A CHANGÉ) centers around a summer dinner party where ten acquaintances, each attempting to mask their own personal troubles, come together for an evening of food, wine and friendship. It’s not long before the couples begin revealing their dissatisfaction with their partners…. (more)

Director: Danièle Thompson

Cast: Karin Viard, Dany Boon, Marina Foïs, Patrick Bruel, Emmanuelle Seigner, Christopher Thompson, Marina Hands, Pierre Arditi

Language: French

Release information: Opened at the IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinema (both in New York City).

Other links: Trailer (with English subtitles)

Additional information: Dany Boon played the lead character in Micmacs; Danièle Thompson also directed Jet Lag and Avenue Montaigne.

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Daniel & Ana

Genre: Drama

Plot (official): Daniel and Ana, brother and sister, best friends. Both are at pivotal, defining moments in their contented lives. Ana is about to be married, Daniel is a gregarious teenager discovering his personal and sexual identity. Yet their harmony is instantly shattered when they are kidnapped and are forced to engage in an unforgettable act for their freedom…. (more)

Director: Michel Franco

Cast: Dario Yazbek Bernal, Marimar Vega

Language: Spanish

Release information: Opened at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

Other links: Daniel & Ana’s Mexican website

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Eradane Maduve (a.k.a. Eradane Madhuve and Erandaneya Maduve)

Genre: Comedy

Plot: Vishwanath is a long-serving government official who has been suspended from his job as a result of trumped-up charges. While at home, he has to deal with his domineering wife, three haughty daughters, and controlling brother-in-law. When Vishwanath isn’t able to deal with his family’s low opinion of him any longer, his friend Murthy suggests a solution- one that may wind up causing Vishwanath more trouble in the end.

Director: Dinesh Baboo

Cast: Anant Nag, Suhasini Mani Ratnam

Language: Kannada

Release information: Opened at the Norwalk 8 in Norwalk, CA.

Other links: A Wikipedia page for the film is here, and a trailer is here.

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1st Time 16mm

Genre: Drama

Plot (official): 1st Time 16mm gives us the picture of the tribulations lived by Miguel Lencastre, a debutant director. Everything happens before, during and after the shooting of his first feature…. (more)

Director: Rui Goulart

Cast: Rui Goulart, Marisa Paredes, others

Language: Portugese

Release information: Opened at the Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills, CA.

Other links: Unsubtitled trailer (Warning: brief nudity)

Comments: The first film for more than a few cast members, apparently.

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Mesrine: Killer Instinct

Genre: Crime drama

Plot (official): MESRINE: KILLER INSTINCT introduces us to Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel), a loyal son and dedicated soldier back home and living with his parents after serving in the Algerian War

Director: Jean-François Richet

Cast: Vincent Cassel, Cécile De France, Gérard Depardieu, Roy Dupuis

Language: French (and English, Arabic, Spanish)

Release information: Opened on 28 screens- thirteen in California, two each in Texas, Illinois, New York and Massachusetts, and one each in Georgia, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington state, and Washington, DC.

Other links: Home page for Mesrine: Killer Instinct on the site of its US theatrical distributor, Music Box Films

Additional information: Cassel and Richet won Césars (the French equivalent of the Academy Award) for Best Actor and Best Director, respectively.

The follow-up to Killer InstinctMesrine: Public Enemy #1– opened in the US on September 3.

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The Milk of Sorrow

Genre: Drama

Plot (official): Fausta suffers from “the milk of sorrow”, an illness transmitted through mother’s milk by women who have been violated or mistreated during the war of terrorism in Peru. The war has ended, but Fausta’s life is a reminder of it because “the illness of fear” stole her soul…. (more)

Director: Claudia Llosa

Cast: Magaly Solier, Susi Sanchez, Efrain Solis, Barbara Lazon

Languages: Spanish and Quechua

Release information: Opened at the Cinema Village in New York City.

Other links: Theatrical films page for The Milk of Sorrow’s American distributor, Olive Films; Olive Films page with links to trailer and presskit for The Milk of Sorrow

Additional information: This Spanish/Peruvian co-production was filmed in Peru, and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It is the last of the 2010 nominees in that group to go into theatrical release in the US.

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Soch Lo

Genre: Mystery/Action

Plot (official): The film takes off from the point where a wounded man is left to die in the desert. He survives the ordeal but loses his Identity. He then resorts to robbing solitary car drivers…. (more)

Director: Sartaj Singh Pannu

Cast: Sartaj Singh Pannu, Iris Maity, Himanshu Kohli, Barkha Madan

Language: Hindi

Release information: Opened on six screens in the US- two in California, and one each in Texas, Illinois, Virginia, and New Jersey.

DOCUMENTARIES

Highwater

Subject (official): Welcome to the North Shore of Oahu – the 7 Mile Miracle – surfing’s Xanadu. A freak of nature that is long considered the ultimate test for surfers. Six decades ago, it was the rite of passage for a select few…. (more)

>Director: Dana Brown

Release information: Opened at three theaters in Hawaii, and one in New York City.

Additional information: Dana Brown is the son of Bruce Brown (who directed The Endless Summer and On Any Sunday, among others).

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Nick Saban: Gamechanger

Subject (official): Perhaps no figure in college sports is as loved—and despised—as Nick Saban. The man who led high profile football programs at Michigan State, LSU, and—most recently—Alabama from hard times to good times, and the only coach…. (more)

Director: Trey Reynolds

Release information: Opened on twenty-six screens- twenty-two in Alabama, three in Florida, and one in Georgia.

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Something’s Gonna Live

Subject (official): Ten years in the making, SOMETHING’S GONNA LIVE is an intimate portrait of life, death, friendship and the movies, as recalled by some of Hollywood’s greatest cinema artists. Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Daniel Raim captures the late life coming together of renowned…. (more)

Director: Daniel Raim

With: Henry Bumstead, Haskell Wexler, Conrad Hall, Robert “Bob” Boyle, Albert Nozaki, Harold Michelson

Release information: Started at the Cinema Village in New York City.

*SEPTEMBER 1*

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

My Dog Tulip

Genre: Drama/Love story (of sorts)

Plot (official): Beautifully animated and featuring the voices of Christopher Plummer, the late Lynn Redgrave, and Isabella Rossellini, My Dog Tulip is a bittersweet retrospective account of author J. R. Ackerley’s 16-year relationship…. (more)

Directors: Paul Fierlinger, Sandra Fierlinger

Voice cast: Christopher Plummer, Lynn Redgrave, Isabella Rossellini

Release information: Opened at the Film Forum in New York City.

Additional information: According to its official site, My Dog Tulip is “the first animated feature ever to be entirely hand drawn and painted utilizing paperless computer technology.”

6 responses to “Thinking Outside the Multiplex: National Edition (August 19 – September 1, 2010)

  1. My top three from this list (in no particular order): Mesrine, Soul Kitchen, and Centurion. I hope I’ll get to see at least one of them in the theater. Frankly I can’t understand why that one shouldn’t be Soul Kitchen. It seems very marketable for the arthouse circuit (European, foodie movie, life-affirming, name director, awards and good reviews), yet all the signs point to it bypassing Indy. As you have often- and justly- pointed out, the ways of film distribution are indeed mysterious.

  2. Helen-

    I don’t know if you noticed this, but IFC Films- which is distributing Soul Kitchen in the US- has a “Get the release schedule” link on their page for Soul Kitchen. (They also do that for a few other titles, like Cairo Time and Heartbreaker- but for the majority of the titles on their “In theaters + on-demand” page, there is no “get the release schedule” option.)

    In the case of Soul Kitchen, the page this link brings up isn’t all that helpful, since it has nothing for any date past August 27. But when I checked both IMDb’s “showtimes” page for SK, and then looked it up on Moviefone, it looked like SK is in 18 theaters this week- two weeks past August 27. (It might even be on more screens- Moviefone and the IMDb both miss/overlook a few theaters sometimes.)

    But the not-so-great news for Soul Kitchen is that (according to Variety’s weekly boxoffice totals for last week), it has made about $122,000 after three weeks of release in the US. That- and the lack of a star name in the cast (which may be part of the reason for the relatively low boxoffice take in the first place)- make it an unlikely contender to get a theatrical release in the post Key-Cinemas era around here.

    Centurion, on the other hand, has made a little bit shy of $100,000 after two weeks of US theatrical release. Also, its per-screen average is a little under $2000- also not a good sign (especially so early in its US release). Soul Kitchen, on the other hand, had a per-screen average of just over $3500- which is decent enough, but still probably not enough to get it into the Keystone Art Cinema.

    What puzzles me is that Cairo Time (like Soul Kitchen, also from IFC Films- and mentioned at the end of the “Indiana” column this week) doesn’t have a booking at the KAC (or elsewhere in the Indianapolis area) yet. It has Patricia Clarkson in the lead, it’s made over $900,000 after just five weeks in American theaters, and its per-screen average is over $4000. Maybe IFC just hasn’t updated its release schedule page for Cairo Time lately, just as they seem to have not updated the equivalent page for Soul Kitchen.

    Of course, all three movies mentioned abouve are being released in the US by companies that make most of their titles available on-demand at the same time as- or even before- their theatrical debuts. (Centurion is from Magnolia Pictures.) The folks that run these companies have contended (IIRC) that this does no serious damage to the overall theatrical grosses for their films- and while I they know the business better than I do, I wonder if they could make more money theatrically without the on-demand stuff. (Then again, I’ve also read that distributors get a higher percentage of money returned to them from an on-demand purchase than they do from the sale of a ticket in a movie theater- so maybe they don’t care that much if their theatrical take is less than it could be.)

  3. Mike –

    Per Magnolia et al and the on-demand vs theatrical release dynamic, how could on-demand hurt theatrical revenue since they won’t put their movies in more than a handful of theaters?? I don’t understand why they don’t make an effort to serve both markets. I won’t watch on-demand but I’d go to theater to see quite a few of the movies in your list.

    I wasn’t at all hopeful about Centurion when I saw it’s a Magnolia film (those people have replaced the Weinsteins of Miramax days on my”‘we hates ’em” list). Neil Marshall had a modest success, didn’t he, with The Descent? I was lucky and saw it in England instead of the altered ending version for the US. It was very stylish and exciting and I would have really liked to see Centurion on the big screen.

  4. Sorry, I got distracted gnashing my teeth about the usual frustrations and forgot to comment on the new format. It looks really good; each listing is easy to scan for details.

  5. Helen-

    I think that it’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy kind of a thing with Magnolia and IFC. Sometimes they have a movie that they seem to believe in- or that proves itself early on in its theatrical run- so they give it a fairly big push in theaters. (In the Loop is one example, off the top of my head, for IFC; Food, Inc. is an example for Magnolia, and Let the Right One In is an example from Magnolia’s “genre” label, Magnet.) Otherwise, though, they don’t seem to think that most of their movies will do all that well in theaters, so they don’t really give them a big push (in terms of advertising budget, number of prints, and so on)- so the not-at-all-surprising result is that these movies don’t do all that well in theaters.

    So they were right, see?

    Miriam-

    Thanks for the kind words on the new format- but most/all of the ideas were Helen’s, so she deserves the praise.

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