Thinking Outside the Multiplex: National Edition (October 1-14)

by MIKE MACCOLLUM

Welcome once again to the world of limited theatrical releases around America. This installment covers films unleashed upon theaters across the country from October 1 through October 14. Some of these movies played (or eventually will play) on a fair number of screens across the US; others opened on only one screen, and will never see the inside of another theater after that. For most of us, our only opportunity to see most of the films mentioned below will be on DVD, Blu-Ray, and/or On-Demand; at the very least, you may read about an interesting movie you’ve never heard of before….

(And if you think there is a limited release movie that should be on the list below, but isn’t, then please add a comment and let us know about it. I try to find as many of these as possible, but it’s almost inevitable that something or other is going to get overlooked, since I have yet to attain my goal of omniscience with regards to matters cinematical.)

As for me, I’ve managed to see several of these movies- thanks to the Indianapolis International Film Festival and the Keystone Art Cinema, primarily. Of the ones I haven’t seen, I am most looking forward to seeing Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen– but Cell 211, Tamara Drewe, REDLINE, ZENITH, Detroit Wild City. Ghetto Physics, Marwencol, Ip Man, A Better Tomorrow, and S&Man are all of interest as well. I guess that’s a lot of movies, when I look at that list…. Ah, well… maybe someday….

*OCTOBER 1*

AMERICAN INDEPENDENTS (AND OTHERWISE)

Atlantis Down

Genre: Science Fiction/Suspense

Plot synopsis (official): 2025 – the Shuttle has been relegated to glorified taxi. On a routine mission shuttle Atlantis encounters bursts of light shutting down its instrumentation leaving it adrift in space with Rookie Astronaut TRAVIS BLACK. The rest of the crew find themselves in the middle of a barren, desert wasteland. Crew members begin dying in bizarre ways. Travis comes to realize that he has been chosen to compete in some sort of galactic chess game.

Director: Max Bartoli

Cast: Greg Travis, Dean Haglund, Travis Quentin Young, Kera O’Bryon, Mae Flores, Darla Grese, Anthony Ware, and Michael Rooker

Release information: Opened at the Commodore Theatre in Portsmouth, VA.

Other links: Page for Atlantis Down on the site of its production company, MaXaM Productions

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Barry Munday

Genre: Comedy

Plot synopsis (official): Barry Munday, a suburban wanna-be ladies man, wakes up in the hospital after being attacked in a movie theater, only to realize that he is missing one of his most prized possessions… his testicles. To make matters worse, Barry learns he’s facing a paternity lawsuit filed by a woman he can’t remember having sex with. With this being Barry last chance to ever be a father, Barry reaches out and embraces the journey of parenthood… (more)

Director: Chris D’Arienzo

Cast: Patrick Wilson, Judy Greer, Chlöe Sevigny, Jean Smart, Cybill Shepherd, Shea Whigham, Missi Pyle, Christopher McDonald; with Billy Dee Williams, and Malcolm McDowell

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

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Chain Letter

Genre: Horror/Suspense

Plot synopsis (official): When high school senior Jessie Campbell (Nikki Reed) and her tight-knit group of friends begins to receive a series of foreboding email chain letters, they have no idea the terror that awaits them. With a warning that if they break the chain, they will lose a life, the seemingly harmless email turns deadly when one-by-one the friends that do not forward the chain letter are hunted down and gruesomely killed by horror’s newest villain, the Chain Man.

Director: Deon Taylor

Cast: Nikki Reed, Keith David, Brad Dourif, Betsy Russell, Michael J. Pagan, Noah Segan, Matt Cohen, Michael Bailey Smith, Cody Kasch, Cherilyn Wilson, and Bai Ling (who isn’t mentioned on the film’s poster, for some reason)

Release information: According to its official site, Chain Letter opened at 406 theaters- eighty in California, fifty-one in Florida, forty-seven in Texas, forty-three in Georgia, thirty-five in Michigan, twenty-six in Illinois, eighteen in Arizona, seventeen in New Jersey, fourteen in New York, thirteen in North Carolina, eleven in Connecticut, ten in Nevada, seven in Missouri, six in Alabama, five each in Kansas and Indiana, four in Pennsylvania, three in South Carolina, two each in Iowa, North Dakota, Arkansas and Wisconsin, and one each in Delaware, Massachusetts and Ohio.

Comments: I thought about driving to Crawfordsville, IN, to see this at the Capri Cinema 8, but decided against it for several reasons- for one thing, I didn’t trust my car (which stopped working just a week or so later), and I thought that if I wrote the distributor an email, they might book the film in the Indianapolis area before Halloween (especially with over four hundred prints available). Well, I sent the email- but Chain Letter didn’t make it to any theater in (or all that close to) Indianapolis.

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Douchebag

Genre: Comedy

Plot synopsis (official): DOUCHEBAG begins as Sam is just a few days away from marrying Steph (Marguerite Moreau), his lovely live-in fiancée. As final preparations are underway, Steph remains uncomfortable with the fact that Sam’s only sibling, Tom, is not coming to the wedding. When she decides to surprise Sam by picking up Tom and driving him down for the event, the two men suddenly find themselves under the same roof, forced to confront whatever it was that drove them apart in the first place. Since Tom has no date for the wedding, Sam decides they should hit the road to find Tom’s former flame, Mary Barger. The problem is, he hasn’t seen her since the fifth grade… (more)

Director: Drake Doremus

Cast: Andrew Dickler, Ben York Jones, Marguerite Moreau, Nicole Vicius, Amy Ferguson, Sahara Hite

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

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Hatchet II

Genre: Horror/Comedy

Plot synopsis (official): A sequel to the old school American horror sensation Hatchet, Hatchet II picks up right where the 2007 original film ends as Marybeth (Danielle Harris) escapes from the clutches of the deformed, swamp-dwelling killer Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder). Marybeth returns to the Louisiana swamps along with an army of hunters to recover the bodies of her family and exact her revenge against Victor Crowley.

Director: Adam Green

Cast: Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, Parry Shen, Tom Holland, R.A. Mihailoff, Colton Dunn, John Carl Buechler, Kathryn Fiore, Mercedes McNab

Release information: Opened on sixty-five US screens, according to the film’s Facebook page: nine each in California and Florida, six in New York, five in Texas, four in Ohio, three each in Alabama, Massachusetts, Michigan and Pennsylvania, two each in Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Washington state and Washington DC, and one each in Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, Missouri, Virginia and Wisconsin.

(I was going to try to verify the number and locations of these theaters, by the way, but I didn’t have a chance to do so until after Hatchet II’s opening weekend- and by that time, the film had already been pulled from most (if not all) of the theaters at which it had been showing. The reason(s) why this happened have been debated and discussed all over the Web, but all I know for a fact is that Hatchet II did get pulled from many (if not most or all) of its opening-week theaters, after just three days (or less, in the case of some theaters) in release. It wasn’t pulled from theatrical release entirely, however- Hatchet II later made its way to a number of independent/art house theaters across the country.)

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The Hungry Ghosts

Genre: Drama

Plot synopsis (official): Five New Yorkers – of different ages, races, backgrounds – hunger for sensual, emotional and spiritual fulfillment. Their intersecting and colliding paths reflect the zeitgeist of our times, in which the desperation of the West smacks up against the religious teachings of the East.

Director: Michael Imperioli

Cast: Steven R. Schirripa, Aunjanue Ellis, Nick Sandow, Sharon Angela, Emory Cohen, Paul Calderon, John Ventimiglia, Jerry Grayson, Angelica Torn, Ajay Naidu, Zohra Lampert, Elzbieta Czyzewska

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

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Is It Just Me?

Genre: Romantic comedy

Plot synopsis (official): Blaine is a typical young gay man looking for love…without much success. Enter Xander, the man of his dreams. After meeting in an online chat room, they quickly fall for each other and start a virtual relationship. Before long, they decide to meet face-to-face for a coffee date. But in Blaine’s world, nothing comes easy. He discovers he’s been chatting with his new online boyfriend under his roommate Cameron’s profile… (more)

Director: JC Calciano

Cast: Nicholas Downs, David Loren, Adam Huss, Michelle Laurent; with Bob Rumnock, and Bruce Gray

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

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RaSPBeRRY MaGiC

Genre: Drama

Plot synopsis (official): Raspberry Magic is a coming-of-age story about an 11-year-old girl who believes she must win the science fair in order to bring her father back after he runs out on the family. She blames herself for her parents’ problems, and takes charge when her mother falls into a deep depression. Set behind the backdrop of a beautiful Pacific Northwest forest, Monica’s experiment uses touch therapy to help raspberries grow… (more)

Director: Leena Pendharkar

Cast: Meera Simhan, Ravi Kapoor, Lily Javaherpour, Zach Mills, Randall Batinkoff, Alison Brie, Bella Thorne, Keya Shah; with James Morrison and Maulik Pancholy

Release information: Opened at the Galaxy Cinema in Cary, NC.

Other links: Facebook page

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Red White & Blue

Genres: Suspense/Drama

Plot synopsis (official): Erica (Amanda Fuller) lives rent-free in the local co-op, but spends her nights trawling the bars and beds of Austin. Damaged, emotionally withdrawn, never really connecting with anyone, and sleeping with multiple men is just what she does… until she meets the older and mysterious Nate (Noah Taylor), working in a hardware store, but with an “honorable discharge” from Iraq. Despite his quiet air of danger, Nate’s the only guy who doesn’t seem to want to get her into bed at the first opportunity, and the two form a hesitant bond. But one of Erica’s casual sexual encounters is about to bite back… (more)

Director: Simon Rumley

Cast: Noah Taylor, Amanda Fuller, Marc Senter

Release information: Opened at the Alamo South Lamar in Austin, TX

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S&Man (a.k.a. sandman)

Genre: Horror

Plot synopsis (official): When cult-favorite horror filmmaker JT Petty ventures into the dark world of underground horror, things don’t exactly go as planned. As he examines the comparison between filmmaking and voyeurism within the horror genre, he uncovers a collective of filmmakers, deviants, and self-professed possible murderers. The most notorious underground film series he discovers is called S&MAN, produced by the unassuming and creepy Eric Rost. The more Petty digs into his subject, the more Eric withdraws, claiming a desire to protect his “creative vision.” But Petty begins to suspect that the real reason may be that Eric’s “actors” are in fact “victims,” placing the filmmaker in dangerous territory and making S&MAN the most unsettling horror experience in years.

Director: J.T. Petty

Cast: Erik Marcisak, Debbie D., Michelle Glick, Bill Zebub

Release information: Opened at the ReRun Gastropub Theater in Brooklyn.

Additional information: An official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival and the SXSW Film Festival.

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Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives

Genre: Thriller/”Transploitation” (per the film’s Facebook page)

Plot synopsis (official): A group of transgender women are violently beaten by three straight guys and left for dead. After regaining their consciousness, the violated vixens turn deadly divas. With their new found confidence and courage, the ticked-off trannies slice their way to vengeance. An homage to the exploitation/revenge films of the 70’s and 80’s, “Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives” is loaded with titillating dialog, buckets of blood…and extreme violence.

Director: Israel Luna

Cast: Krystal Summers, Erica Andrews, Jenna Skyy, Kelexis Davenport, Willam Belli

Release information: Opened (with midnight shows on Friday and Saturday) at the Inwood Theatre in Dallas; a full week’s run followed at the Cinema Village in New York City, starting on October 15.

Other links: Facebook page

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ZENITH

Genres: Science Fiction/Suspense

Plot synopsis (official): Forty years from now, in a desolate and indefinite post-industrial future, the population has been genetically altered to live in a constant state of happiness. But what they soon discover is that without contrasting it with sorrow, happiness dissipates, leaving only a feeling of never-ending numbness. Only pain can now make people feel alive. Zenith is a retro-futuristic steampunk thriller. The story follows two men – a father and son – during two different time periods, who are each drawn to discover what is behind a grand conspiracy… (more)

Director: Vladan Nikolic

Cast: Peter Scanavino, Jason Robards III, Ana Asensio, David Thornton, Jay O. Sanders, Arthur French, Didier Flamand, Raynor Scheine, and Zohra Lampert

Release information: Opened with midnight showings (on October 1 and 2, and repeated for at least the next two weekends) at the IFC Center in New York City.

Additional information: One of two films opening in New York City on October 1 with Zohra Lampert in the cast; The Hungry Ghosts is the other one.

Other links: Facebook page

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Anjaana Anjaani

Genre: Romantic comedy (and drama?)

Plot synopsis (official): Akash and Kiara meet. But they meet in a situation as unusual as no other. But what if the two people who meet as strangers want to stay that way? They want to end right where they started – as strangers. This is the story of two strangers on an odyssey of discovery- down a path that is ridden with the exquisite pain and joy of falling in love, only they don’t realize it. A series of hilarious misadventures trace their bi coastal road journey as they go about fulfilling their last wishes. But then life interrupts, as is its habit; and painful choices must be made… (more)

Director: Siddharth Anand

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Pooja Kumar, Zayed Khan

Language: Hindi

Release information: Opened at seventy-two screens in the US, as far as I could tell: ten each in California and New Jersey, six each in Texas and New York, four each in Illinois and Virginia, three each in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Florida, two each in Georgia, Tennessee, Maryland and Connecticut, and one each in Washington state, Wisconsin, Oregon, Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, Louisiana, Kansas, Indiana, Colorado and Alabama.

I say “as far as I could tell” because I have seen some sites claiming that Anjaana Anjaani opened in ninety-one theaters in the US. I took the above list from the film’s official site, and added one extra theater (in Tennessee) that I found when I checked for theaters on October 5. I don’t know where the other nineteen screens came from- some could be in Canada, since it seems that some sources count Canadian theaters as part of the “domestic” (i.e., US) screen tally- as if Canada is part of America…?! Or maybe some (or all) of the nineteen screens I couldn’t find showed the film for one day (or two or three days) only, and weren’t showing it on the day I checked. It seems a number of theaters that play Indian films do this- and they don’t list the films on their official sites, or online schedules, so there’s no way you could tell that they are showing the film… unless you know the name (and site) of the company that books the films for them. I’m guessing that there are at least twenty such companies that book Indian films in the US like this, but I don’t know the names/sites of very many of them- so there’s no way for me to count all of the theaters that are showing at least some Indian films that are released in the US.

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Cell 211

Genres: Action/Drama/Suspense

Plot synopsis (official): Juan Oliver is about to become a prison officer. On the first day of his new job, two colleagues show him around the old prison… All of a sudden, and due to some building work, some plaster falls from the ceiling and hits Juan Olivier, who passes out. The guards take him into cell 211, which is empty, to try and revive him. But, as luck would have it, that’s when a riot breaks out at the high security FIES cell block, the one that houses the most dangerous inmates. Juan’s colleagues run away, leaving him stranded. When he wakes up in the cell he takes stock of the situation: if he wants to save his skin, he must pretend to be a prisoner.

Director: Daniel Monzón

Cast: Luis Tosar, Alberto Ammann, Antonio Resines, Manuel Morón, Marta Etura, Carlos Bardem

Languages: Spanish/Basque

Release information: Opened at the Varsity Theatre in Seattle

Additional information: Won Goya Awards (the Spanish Academy Awards) for Best Film, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor, Best New Actor, and Best Supporting Actress

Other links: Spanish site

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Hot Summer Days

Genre: Romantic comedy

Plot synopsis (official): During Hong Kong’s hottest summer on record, seven stories crisscross, magically intertwining and affecting each other: A chauffeur and a foot masseuse romance through text messages, unaware of each other’s identities; an innocent factory girl asks her admirer to stand outside in the heat for 100 days to prove his love; a sushi chef prepares the perfect meal so that the food critic he loves will stay with him forever; a blinded photographer must locate the beautiful model he insulted; an old man desperately searches for an antique light bulb for the shrine of his late wife and each night an air conditioner repairman challenges a mystery girl to a road race. Intense temperature sparks intense emotions as the fates of these couples are tested when a blackout spreads across Hong Kong and the city falls into chaos.

Directors: Wing Shya and Tony Chan

Cast: Jacky Cheung, Nicholas Tse, René Liu, Vivian Hsu, Angelababy, Da S (Barbie Hsu), Duan Yihong, Fu Xinbo and Jing Boran- with Maggie Cheung, Charlene Choi and others in cameo appearances.

Languages: Cantonese, Mandarin

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

Other links: Trailer on Amazon

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Ip Man

Genre: Action/Martial Arts, Drama, Biopic

Plot synopsis (official): Ip Man is the award winning film adaptation about the life story of Ip Man, the grand master of the Wing Chun style of kung fu and sifu (master) of legendary kung fu superstar Bruce Lee. Set in Foshan, China, during the Sino Japanese War, Ip Man vividly brings to life the brutality of the infamous Japanese occupation, where once proud men are forced to fight till their death for a precious bag of rice. Defined by courage and humility, one man rises to the fore, Grandmaster Ip Man (Donnie Yen), whose matchless fighting skills are revered all over China… (more)

Director: Wilson Yip (with Sammo Hung as “Action Director”, per the film’s official site)

Cast: Donnie Yen, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Fan Sui-Wong, Xiong Dai Lin, Wong You-Nam, and Simon Lam

Languages: Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese

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

Other links: Official US site; Facebook site for Ip Man in America

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Leaving

Genres: Drama, Romance

Plot synopsis (official): Kristin Scott Thomas is Suzanne, the bourgeois wife of a successful doctor, Samuel (Yvan Attal), living together with their children in the south of France. Weighted down by a thrill-less lifestyle and a stale marriage, Suzanne falls for the handsome young Ivan (Sergi López), an immigrant ex-con working on their property. Their affair is passionate, but Suzanne is wracked by guilt. When she confesses to her husband, his retaliation begins an ugly turn of events.

Director: Catherine Corsini

Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas, Sergi López, Yvan Attal, Gérard Lartigau, Geneviève Casile, Philippe Laudenbach

Language: French

Release information: Opened at the IFC Center and the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas- both in New York City.

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Release

Genre: Drama

Plot synopsis (official): Father Jack Gillie (Daniel Brocklebank) enters prison a guilty man, convicted for a crime that sees the Church abandon him, his congregation desert him and his faith challenged. His fellow inmates believe he’s been convicted of pedophilia and begin to plant the seed of doubt into the mind of his teenage cellmate, Rook (Wayne Virgo). After rescuing Rook from a beating Jack now becomes the inmates prey. Protection comes in the unlikely form of a prison officer… (more)

Directors: Darren Flaxstone, Christian Martin

Cast: Daniel Brocklebank, Gary Summers, Bernie Hodges, Wayne Virgo

Language: English

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

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Skeletons

Genre: “Surreal comedy” (that per the film’s Facebook page)

Plot synopsis (official): A pair of travelling salesmen wander in and out of people’s lives, performing a Procedure whereby hidden secrets and lies are exposed. When they arrive at a remote family home and can’t seem to get the job done, they discover that you can’t always get away from your own skeletons.

Director: Nick Whitfield

Cast: Jason Isaacs, Paprika Steen, Ed Gaughan, Andrew Buckley, Tuppence Middleton

Release information: Opened at the Indiescreen in Brooklyn (where it had one show per day on October 1, 3 and 6- followed by one show per day on October 9, 13 and 14).

Other links: Facebook page

DOCUMENTARIES

Freakonomics

Summary (official): FREAKONOMICS is the highly anticipated film version of the phenomenally bestselling book about incentives-based thinking by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Like the book, the film examines human behavior with provocative and sometimes hilarious case studies, bringing together a dream team of filmmakers responsible for some of the most acclaimed and entertaining documentaries in recent years… (more)

Directors: Heidi Ewing, Alex Gibney, Seth Gordon, Rachel Grady, Eugene Jarecki, Morgan Spurlock

Release information: Opened at twenty theaters- eleven in California, two in New York, and one each in Washington state, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Washington, DC, and Massachusetts.

Additional information: The IMDb has a cast list for this one- so it apparently breaks free from the standard “documentary” format (at least to a certain degree) in one or more segments. Still, it sounds more like a documentary than a fiction film, so that’s why it’s listed here.

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Ready, Set, Bag!

Summary (official): “Ready, Set, Bag!” chronicles the lives of eight state champions as they train for and compete in the National Grocery Bagging Competition in Vegas. What does it really take to be the best you can be?

Directors: Justine Jacob and Alex D. da Silva

Release information: Opened at the Starz Filmcenter in Denver.

Other links: Facebook page

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Up from the Bottoms: The Search for the American Dream

Summary (official): The documentary Up From the Bottoms: The Search for the American Dream tells the story of the massive migration of African Americans from the rural south to the prosperous north during the war years and beyond. The voice of Cicely Tyson guides us through these touching, thoughtful and often funny stories as told by fifteen residents of Muskegon, Michigan. Civil rights activist, comedian and author Dick Gregory gives a national perspective along with the renowned scholar of Black Americana studies, Dr. Ben Wilson. During the late 1930’s through the 1960’s, factory jobs in the north were abundant… (more)

Director: James Schaub

With: Dick Gregory, Dr. Ben Wilson; narrated by Cicely Tyson

Release information: Opened at three theaters in Michigan- the Celebration! Cinema Grand Rapids Woodland, the Cinema Carousel in Muskegon, and the Celebration! Cinema Lansing & IMAX.

*OCTOBER 2*

AMERICAN INDEPENDENTS (AND OTHERWISE)

Thomas & Friends: The Lion of Sodor

Genre: Children’s film/Animated

Plot synopsis (official): Thomas has to transport something called “The Lion of Sodor.” It’s actually a statue, but Thomas thinks it’s a real lion, and is too excited to listen to other engines who try to correct this misapprehension. Thomas gets his friends to help by giving the “lion” treacle, fish and straw. So, all because Thomas was in too much of a hurry to listen to advice, the statue is in a real mess. But Thomas manages to ask all the right questions and gets the statue cleaned and delivered to the Town Square in time for it’s unveiling.

Director: Greg Tiernan

Voice Cast: Michael Brandon, Martin Sherman, David Bedella, Jules Dejongh

Release information: Opened on 165 screens- thirteen in Florida, ten each in California and Missouri, nine in New York, eight each in Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin and North Carolina, seven each in Michigan and New Jersey, six each in Louisiana, Alabama, Ohio and Connecticut, five each in Arkansas and Georgia, four each in Hawaii, Nebraska and Pennsylvania, three each in Minnesota, Kentucky, South Carolina and Virginia, two each in Arizona, Oklahoma, Iowa, Mississippi, Tennessee and Rhode Island, and one each in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, Maryland, New Hampshire and Maine.

Additional information: Apparently, this is made up of several episodes of the Thomas & Friends TV show.

*OCTOBER 6*

AMERICAN INDEPENDENTS (AND OTHERWISE)

Idiots and Angels

Genre: Dark comedy /Animation

Plot synopsis (official): Angel, a selfish and morally bankrupt man, wakes up one morning with wings on his back. He tries to hide them, but eventually everyone at Bart’s Bar, where he hangs out, discovers them and ridicules him about his bizarre appendages. Angel visits a doctor to try to have the wings removed, and the doctor realizes that the wings could be his ticket to fame and fortune. But before the doctor can remove the wings, Angel escapes from his office in fear. As Angel tries to adapt to the wings, he discovers that now that he can fly, he has greater opportunities to abuse others. However, the wings seem to have a will of their own, and they foil all of his greedy plans… (more)

Director: Bill Plympton

Voice Cast: None, apparently, since the film (per its official site) has no dialogue- just music and sound effects.

Release information: Opened at the IFC Center in New York City.

DOCUMENTARIES

Robert Jay Lifton: Nazi Doctors

Summary (official): An intense and illuminating conversationalist, world renowned psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton discusses the processes by which ordinary doctors became murderers, issues at the heart of his groundbreaking 1986 book “The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide”… Dr. Lifton… interviewed dozens of Holocaust perpetrators, including 40 former Nazi physicians. In Nazi Doctors we meet Lifton at his home on Cape Cod, where he engages in a lively discussion with Veteran German filmmakers Wolfgang Richter and Hannes Karnick about the doctors who served in Auschwitz… (more)

Directors: Wolfgang Richter, Hannes Karnick

With: Robert Jay Lifton

Language: English

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

Other links: Trailer on Film Forum’s site

*OCTOBER 7*

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD (WITHOUT SUBTITLES)

Khaleja (a.k.a. Mahesh Khaleja)

Language: Telugu

Release information: It’s hard to be certain about this, since the film was originally supposed to open on October 6, but it looks like those screenings were canceled. Assuming that this was indeed the case, Khaleja opened on twenty-four (or twenty-five) screens- six in California, three each in Illinois and New Jersey, two each in Texas and Georgia, and one each in Washington state, Arizona, Kansas, Minnesota, Michigan, Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts and (maybe- it was hard to be sure either way) North Carolina. Over the next three days, it also opened at sixteen other theaters- three each in California, Texas and Wisconsin, two in Florida, and one each in Arizona, Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina and New York.

*OCTOBER 8*

AMERICAN INDEPENDENTS (AND OTHERWISE)

As Good as Dead

Genres: Suspense/Drama

Plot synopsis (official): In this psychological thriller full of shocking twists starring Andie MacDowell and Cary Elwes, what begins as an average day for Ethan (Elwes) takes a dangerous turn when he’s kidnapped and held hostage in his New York apartment by three assailants. The home invaders aren’t looking to rob him… (more)

Director: Jonathan Mossek

Cast: Andie MacDowell, Cary Elwes, Frank Whaley, Matt Dallas, Brian Cox, Jess Weixler

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

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Bombay Summer

Genre: Drama

Plot synopsis (official): Bombay Summer explores the delicate friendship between three young people and its eventual disintegration in the face of betrayal. Set in contemporary Mumbai, the film subtly mirrors the turmoil within tradition bound Indian society as it struggles to cope with rapid modernization and social change. At the center of the story is Geeta, a self-assured career woman who seeks out new experiences while deftly balancing the competing demands of work, love and family. Unbeknownst to her conservative family, she is having a forbidden relationship with Jaidev… (more)

Director: Joseph Mathew

Cast: Tannishtha Chatterjee, Jatin Goswami, Samrat Chakrabarti, Gaurav Dwivedi

Languages: Hindi, English

Release information: Opened at Big Cinemas Manhattan.

Additional information: Bombay Summer was shot in India, with a mainly Indian cast- but everything I’ve read about it says that it’s an American production, and not an Indian-produced film.

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Cherry

Genres: Comedy/Drama

Plot synopsis (official): We meet Aaron, a very bright but sheltered freshman as he arrives at an Ivy League college to join their elite engineering program. He encounters Linda, a vivacious 34-year old former wild-child who has returned to school to straighten out her life. She becomes the first person to encourage Aaron to follow his own dreams and he is soon smitten… (more)

Director: Jeffrey Fine

Cast: Kyle Gallner, Laura Allen, Britt Robertson, Esai Morales, Matt Walsh, DC Pierson, Zosia Mamet, Stephanie Venditto, Kirk Anderson

Release information: Opened at the Celebration! Cinema Crossroads in Portage, MI.

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I Spit on Your Grave (a.k.a. I Spit on Your Grave: Unrated)

Genre: Suspense/Crime Drama/Horror

Plot synopsis (official): A beautiful woman from the city, Jennifer Hills, rents an isolated cabin in the country to write her latest novel. Soon, a group of local lowlifes subject Jennifer to a nightmare of degradation, rape and violence. Left for dead, she returns for vengeance. Trapping her male attackers one-by-one, she inflicts acts of physical torment upon them with a ferocity that surpasses her own ordeal. When the carnage clears, victim has become victor.

Director: Steven R. Monroe

Cast: Sarah Butler, Jeff Branson, Daniel Franzese, Rodney Eastman, Chad Lindberg, Tracey Walter, and Andrew Howard

Release information: Opened in twelve theaters: three in California, two each in Texas and New York, and one each in Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, Florida and Maryland.

Comments: Less than a week after the unrated Hatchet II was pulled from many (if not most or all) of the American theaters in which it was playing, another unrated film- reportedly much grimmer and more disturbing- opens, and doesn’t get pulled from any theaters, as far as I can tell… even though it is playing at some theaters in the chain that pulled Hatchet II from its screens after just a few days….

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Jim

Genres: Science Fiction/Drama

Plot synopsis (official): ‘Jim’ is a new science fiction drama by Jeremy Morris-Burke that juxtaposes a seemingly inevitable near-future of genetic commercialism against a distant post-human dystopia. A desperate, unemployed widower seeks to salvage his legacy by hiring Lorigen, a biotech firm specializing in genetic wares, to create an enhanced child in memory of his wife. Meanwhile, a corrupt industrialist presides over a dead planet awash in genetic inferiority. Nature intervenes and these two worlds converge… (More)

Director: Jeremy Morris-Burke

Cast: Dan Illian, Vanessa Morris-Burke, Abigail Savage, Michael Strelow, Atticus Cain

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

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Scar (a.k.a. Scar 3D)

Genres: Horror/Suspense/Crime Drama

Plot synopsis (official): IN THE SMALL COLORADO TOWN OF OVID,
the story of Ernie Bishop, the local undertaker, has become a scar on the community, never to be removed. Sixteen years ago, the terrifying legend began, and the town has never recovered. Ernie Bishop stashed teenage prisoners in the basement of his morgue, keeping them tied up in cabinets meant for dead bodies… (more)

Director: Jed Weintrob

Cast: Angela Bettis, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Ben Cotton, Devon Graye, Al Sapienza, Monika Mar-Lee, Tegan Moss, and Christopher Titus

Release information: Opened at the Culver Plaza Theatres in Culver City, CA.

Additional information: The official site has a 2007 copyright on it, for whatever it’s worth.

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Stone

Genres: Drama/Suspense

Plot synopsis (official): As parole officer Jack Mabry (De Niro) counts the days toward a quiet retirement, he is asked to review the case of Gerald “Stone” Creeson (Norton), in prison for covering up the murder of his grandparents with a fire. Now eligible for early release, Stone needs to convince Jack he has reformed, but his attempts to influence the older man’s decision have profound and unexpected consequences… (more)

Director: John Curran

Cast: Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Milla Jovovich, Frances Conroy, Enver Gjokaj, Pepper Binkley

Release information: Opened at six theaters- two in California and four in New York City.

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

A Call Girl (a.k.a. Slovenian Girl)

Genre: Drama

Summary (official): Having grown up in small-town Slovenia, 23-year-old Alexandra embraces the excitement and anonymity of big city life when she moves to the capital. She styles herself as a call girl, planning to take advantage of everything the city has to offer. But her isolated existence-English studies and mortgage payments by day, call girl lifestyle by night-is shattered when one of her clients, a visiting politician, dies of a heart attack… (more)

Director: Damjan Kozole

Cast: Nina Ivanisin, Peter Musevski, Primoz Pirnat, Marusa Kink, Dejan Spasic, Valter Dragan

Languages: Slovenian, English

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

Other links: English-language version of the film’s official Slovenian site; English-subtitled trailer (Warning: Brief nudity)

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It’s a Wonderful Afterlife

Genre: Comedy

Plot synopsis (official): Finding the perfect son-in-law can be murder. My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Shaun of the Dead meet in this charming and fun comedy romp about an Indian mother taking her obsession with marriage into frighteningly funny territory. Mrs. Sethi, a widow, can’t bear the thought of her daughter being alone and unhappy… (more)

Director: Gurinder Chadha

Cast: Shabana Azmi, Goldy Notay, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Sally Hawkins, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Shaheen Khan, Jimi Mistry, Zoë Wanamaker, and Mark Addy

Language: English

Release information: Opened at nineteen US theaters: Three each in California, Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey, two in Virginia, and one each in Georgia, Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, and (on Saturday) Florida. (Some online sources claim it was at twenty-one theaters in its opening week, but the above were the only ones I could find.)

Comments: I was wondering how this did at the American box office, so I went and checked on boxofficemojo- and it seems that the American distributor didn’t report on its grosses, for some reason. It doesn’t seem to be in US theaters any longer, however- which seems to indicate it didn’t do that well. Considering that the director made Bend It Like Beckham– and that Sally Hawkins and Mark Addy are in the cast- I thought this might have done better in the US…

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Letters to Father Jacob

Genre: Drama

Plot synopsis (official): Letters to Father Jacob is a warm-hearted and touching story of Leila, a life sentence prisoner who has just been pardoned. When she is released from prison, she is offered a job at a secluded parsonage; she moves there against her will. Leila is used to taking care only of herself, so trouble is to be expected when she starts working as the personal assistant for Jacob, the blind priest living in the parsonage. Every day the mail man brings letters from people asking for help from Father Jacob. Answering the letters is Jacob’s life mission…. (more)

Director: Klaus Härö

Cast: Kaarina Hazard, Jukka Keinonen, Heikki Nousiainen, Esko Roine

Language: Finnish

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

Additional information: Finland’s official selection for the Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Other links: Trailer on Youtube (without English subtitles; I could not find a trailer with subtitles)

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Nowhere Boy

Genre: Drama/Biopic

Plot synopsis (official): Imagine… John Lennon’s childhood. Liverpool 1955: a smart and troubled fifteen year-old is hungry for experience. In a family full of secrets, two incredible women clash over John: Mimi, the buttoned-up Aunt who raised him, and Julia, the prodigal mother. Yearning for a normal family, John escapes into the new and exciting world of rock n’ roll where his fledgling genius finds a kindred spirit… (more)

Director: Sam Taylor-Wood

Cast: Aaron Johnson, Anne-Marie Duff, Kristin Scott Thomas, David Threlfall, David Morrisey

Release information: Opened at two theaters in California (The Landmark in Los Angeles and the Arclight Hollywood) and two in New York City (the Lincoln Square 13 and the Film Forum).

Other links: Facebook page

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REDLINE

Genre: Animation/ Science Fiction/Action/Drama

Plot synopsis: A race car driver with little to no regard for the rules is up against the woman with whom he is secretly in love- along with a number of other crazed, hyper-competitive drivers- in an illegal, no-rules race on the planet Roboworld.

Director: Takeshi Koike

Voice Cast: Takuya Kimura, Yû Aoi

Language: Japanese

Release information: Opened at the Viz Cinema in San Francisco.

Additional information: I couldn’t find an official English site or an English-subtitled trailer for this one- but the Japanese trailer (on the site linked in the title above) at least looks cool.

Other links: Information on the film in English on the Viz Cinema site (scroll down a bit to get to REDLINE)

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Tamara Drewe

Genre: Comedy

Plot synopsis (official): Based on Posy Simmonds’ graphic novel of the same name (which was itself inspired by Thomas Hardy’s classic Far From the Madding Crowd) this wittily modern take on the romantic English pastorale is a far cry from Hardy’s Wessex. Tamara Drewe’s present-day English countryside-stocked with pompous writers, rich weekenders from London, bourgeois bohemians, a horny rock star, and a great many Buff Orpington chickens and Belted Galloway cows-is a much funnier place. When Tamara Drewe sashays back to… (more)

Director: Stephen Frears

Cast: Gemma Arterton, Roger Allam, Bill Camp, Dominic Cooper, Luke Evans, Tamsin Greig, Bronagh Gallagher

Release information: Opened at four theaters- two in California (The Landmark in Los Angeles, and the Arclight Hollywood), and two in New York City (Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and the Union Square Stadium 14).

DOCUMENTARIES

Budrus

Summary (official): Budrus is an award-winning feature documentary film about a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier. Success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, launches a women’s contingent that quickly moves to the front lines… In an action-filled documentary chronicling this movement from its infancy, Budrus shines a light on people who choose nonviolence to confront a threat… (more)

Director: Julia Bacha

With: Ayed Morrar, Iltezam Morrar, Kobi Snitz, Ahmed Awwad, Yasmine Levi

Languages: Arabic, Hebrew, English

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

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Detroit Wild City

Summary: In parts of Detroit, with buildings that have been abandoned by humans for years, wildlife (both animal and vegetable) is making its way back into the city. This documentary shows the decay, but also (in the second half) covers the possibility of a revitalized/renewed city (albeit in substantially altered form from what it was before).

Director: Florent Tillon

Release information: Opened at the Burton Theatre in Detroit.

Additional information: The closest thing I could find to an official site for this one was the page on Vimeo (with two different trailers), linked in the title above.

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GhettoPhysics: Will the Real Pimps and Ho’s Stand Up!

Summary (official): The basic tenet of GhettoPhysics is that the interplay between the Pimp and the Ho is the simplest expression of the fundamental way that people interact in the world. But this interaction is so multilayered that it’s hard to see “the game”. However by looking at the world through the Pimp/Ho dynamic it becomes very easy to see the manipulations that keep society’s Ho’s forever in debt, disempowered and marching off to war. Part documentary, part “Saturday Night Live” satire, and part narrative story, GhettoPhysics begins by looking at the evocative world of the Pimp and Ho. It then moves out to encompass the entire social power game… (more)

Directors: William Arntz, E. Raymond Brown

With: Dr. Cornel West, Ice-T, KRS-One, Too Short, Cynthia McKinney, Leslie Garza, Norman Lear

Release information: Opened at nine theaters- three each in California, Michigan and Georgia, and one each in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Additional information: Like Freakonomics (released October 1), this doesn’t sound like a traditional documentary, since there are segments with actors playing characters. But it sounded more like a doc than not, so that’s why I put it (and Freakonomics) in this section.

Comments: That apostrophe is in the film’s title on its poster, so that’s the title I went with here. The same goes for the exclamation point, and the lack of space between the first two words in the title. (This would be the poster that’s on the IMDb, by the way; the full title appears at the bottom of this poster.)

Other links: Facebook page

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Going Blind

Summary (official): Going Blind is a unique documentary film that increases public awareness of sight loss and low vision issues profoundly affecting the lives of more and more people and those who love them. Documentary film director and journalist Joe Lovett has glaucoma, a disease that robs 4.5 million people of their vision world wide. Over the years, Joe has lost a significant amount of vision and in his concern about how to deal with more vision loss, he has started to talk with people who have already lost theirs… (more)

Director: Joseph Lovett

With: Joseph Lovett, Jessica Jones, Emmet Teran

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

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Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods

Summary (official): Grant Morrison is one of the most popular writers in comics, and one of the most controversial. He is the Rock Star of Comics, a philosopher and chaos magician, who has used his comics to change both himself and his audience. He is a man living on the border between FICTION and REALITY, and this is his STORY. The film was produced in close collaboration with Morrison and features extensive interviews with him… (more)

Director: Patrick Meaney

With: Grant Morrison, Amber Benson, Frank Quitely, Douglas Rushkoff, Cameron Stewart, Jill Thompson

Release information: Opened at the Roxie in San Francisco.

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Inside Job

Summary (official): From Academy Award® nominated filmmaker, Charles Ferguson (“No End In Sight”), comes INSIDE JOB, the first film to expose the shocking truth behind the economic crisis of 2008. The global financial meltdown, at a cost of over $20 trillion, resulted in millions of people losing their homes and jobs. Through extensive research and interviews with major financial insiders, politicians and journalists, INSIDE JOB traces the rise of a rogue industry and unveils the corrosive relationships which have corrupted politics, regulation and academia.

Director: Charles Ferguson

Narrated by: Matt Damon

Release information: Opened at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and the Angelika Film Center, both in New York City.

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Marwencol

Summary (official): “Marwencol” is a documentary about the fantasy world of Mark Hogancamp. After being beaten into a brain-damaging coma by five men outside a bar, Mark builds a 1/6th scale World War II-era town in his backyard. Mark populates the town he dubs “Marwencol” with dolls representing his friends and family and creates life-like photographs detailing the town’s many relationships and dramas. Playing in the town and photographing the action helps Mark to recover… (more)

Director: Jeff Malmberg

With: Mark Hogancamp

Release information: Opened at the IFC Center in New York City.

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Rachel

Summary (official): RACHEL is a startlingly rigorous, fascinating and deeply moving investigatory documentary that examines the death of peace activist and International Solidarity Movement (ISM) member Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003. A few weeks after her little-reported death, an inquiry by Israeli military police concluded that Corrie died in an accident… (more)

Director: Simone Bitton

Languages: English, Arabic, Hebrew

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

*OCTOBER 9*

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD (WITHOUT SUBTITLES)

Mukhaputa (a.k.a. The Cover Page)

Language: Kannada

Release information: Opened at the Norwalk 8, in Norwalk, CA, with one showing per day on both October 9 and October 10.

(Note: I am assuming that this was shown without subtitles, since Indian movies in languages other than Hindi are rarely shown in US theaters with subtitles. However, Mukhaputa has been shown at international film festivals, so apparently subtitled prints do exist.)

*OCTOBER 13*

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen

Genres: Drama/Biopic

Plot synopsis (official): Hildegard von Bingen was truly a woman ahead of her time. A visionary in every sense of the word, this famed 12th-century Benedictine nun was a Christian mystic, composer, philosopher, playwright, poet, naturalist, scientist, physician, herbalist and ecological activist… Sukowa portrays von Bingen’s fierce determination to expand the responsibilities of women within the order, even as she fends off outrage from some in the Church over the visions she claims to receive from God. (more)

Director: Margarethe von Trotta

Cast: Barbara Sukowa, Heino Ferch, Hannah Herzsprung, Alexander Held, Lena Stolze, Sunnyi Melles, Annemarie Duringer

Languages: German; Latin

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

Comments: Margarethe von Trotta’s movies have been bypassing theaters here in Indianapolis for years now. I would love if it Vision became the first film by von Trotta I saw in a theater, but (as of now, at least) it looks like I’ll have to go to Louisville or Cincinnati to do so- and I doubt that I’ll be doing any traveling any time soon. (Vision does seem to be making money in its American theatrical release- but probably not enough to make it into Indianapolis’ Keystone Art Cinema, unfortunately.)

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD (WITHOUT SUBTITLES)

Brindaavanam

Language: Telugu

Release information: Opened on nineteen to twenty-two screens in the US- three in California, two- or possibly three (it was impossible to be sure either way) in New Jersey, two in Texas, and one each in Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Florida, Virginia, Delaware, New York, and Connecticut- and (maybe- again, I couldn’t be certain either way) one screen each in Georgia and North Carolina. Brindaavanam also opened in three theaters (one each in California, Texas and Illinois) on October 14, and in one theater in Michigan on October 15.

*OCTOBER 14*

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

A Better Tomorrow

Genres: Action/Drama

Plot synopsis (official): Hyuk and Chul are two brothers who have been separated since childhood. Hyuk, the older one, has now become a weapon-smuggling gang boss, while Chul has become a policeman. Hyuk and Young-chun share 10 years of friendship while leading the gang as two aces, but their tight friendship becomes damaged due to a dirty trick… (more)

Director: Song Hae-Sung

Cast: Joo Jin-Mo, Song Seung-Heon, King Gang-Woo, Jo Han-Sun

Language: Korean

Release information: Opened at the CGV Cinemas in Los Angeles.

Additional information: This is a remake of John Woo’s 1986 film of the same name, although the story in this version reportedly differs from that of the original film in more than a few ways. Also, Woo was one of the executive producers of the remake, according to the IMDb.

Other links: Page for the film on CGV Cinemas site (with English-subtitled trailer); Korean site

3 responses to “Thinking Outside the Multiplex: National Edition (October 1-14)

  1. I definitely want to see Ip Man, which was a big hit in Hong Kong- long enough ago that the inevitable sequel’s already been released. I don’t know what the point is (to the distributor) of giving it a nominal US theatrical release now, but I envy the people in NY who will get to see it on the big screen.

  2. I think Ip Man also made it to at least one other US theater- the 4 Star in San Francisco- and a few more may be on the way (though none around here, of course). At least one site I saw for Ip Man seemed to imply/claim that Ip Man 2 would get a wider theatrical rollout in the US, IIRC- although I’m not holding my breath…

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