Thinking Outside the Multiplex: National Edition (January 7-20, 2011)

by MIKE MACCOLLUM

Early January brought a slightly smaller than usual number of limited release movies to American screens; this column (delayed in part by flash drive woes) covers such films that made it into American theaters from January 7 through 20. As usual, many (if not most) of these titles were in a very small number of theaters before Blu-Ray/DVD/Video on Demand availability. I saw three of the Indian movies mentioned below (No One Killed Jessica, Once Upon a Warrior, and Yamla Pagla Deewana) while they were in town; of the rest, I’m most interested in A Somewhat Gentle Man, The Woodmans, Americatown, Lightning Salad Moving Picture, and Twelve Thirty… but finding the time to see all of them will be difficult, to say the least.

And as a footnote- which is where I’ve decided theatrical re-releases should go, even if the film in question is a masterpiece- a restored version of Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin opened at the Film Forum in New York City on Friday, January 14. I’d love to have a chance to see that one on a big screen, too- but I doubt that I’ll get a chance to do so.

JANUARY 7

AMERICAN INDEPENDENTS (AND OTHERWISE)

Americatown

Genre: Comedy

Plot synopsis (official): Godspeed, and welcome to Americatown, home of head mountain, letter sign on the hill and giant gap in earth. Known for locally made above ground cars, an almost infinite variety of breakfast cereals and unbridled, bald-faced greatness. This little burg of exactly one thousand citizens is the only place worthy of you. That is, until one cataclysmic spilled cup of coffee sets off a chain of events destined to test the gumption of Americatown. Can the Americatonians pull together and weather the madness… (More)

Director: Kenneth Price

Cast: Jonathan Guggenheim, Cory Howard, Jon Stafford, Barbara Weetman

Release information: Opened at the reRun Gastropub Theater in Brooklyn, NY (following three showings of an “interactive” version of the film on March 4-6, 2010, at Jengo’s Playhouse in Wilmington, NC).

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Lightning Salad Moving Picture

Genre: Comedy

Plot synopsis (official): The Superkiiids! are bad-to-the-dinobone, they smash terrariums, ride real rock machines, spray paint and are woken up each morning by groundbreaking filmmaker, Robert Zemeckis, who briefs them of their daily assignment. Today’s mission —> write, direct, produce, cater and possibly star in part four of the epic $400 Billionmillion worldwide U.S. grossing, global-networking, time shredding franchise of the ‘Back To The Future’ films… (More)

Director: Kenneth Price

Cast: Jonathan Guggenheim, Cory Howard, Myke Holmes, Tiff Reece

Release information: Opened at the reRun Gastropub Theater in Brooklyn, NY.

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Violent Blue

Genre: Drama

Plot synopsis (official): An obsessed musician finds herself at the mercy of her sadistic ex-husband in this drama from director Gregory Hatanaka. Katarina is searching for the inspiration to finish her latest symphony when her brother Ondrej, a reclusive inventor, incurs the wrath of some rather unseemly financiers. Later locked in an enormous cage by her unstable ex-husband, Katarina recaptures her creativity after having a near-death experience and encountering a group of malevolent strangers.

Director: Gregory Hatanaka

Cast: Silvia Suvadova, Jesse Hlubik, Nick Mancuso, Barry O’ Rourke, Andrea Harrison, Garret Sato

Languages: English, and something else, apparently- the trailer (see below) is partially subtitled in English, but the computer I’m using now is malfunctioning, so I can’t listen to anything over it… and I can’t tell what the other language is (or hear if it’s just heavily accented English that gets the subtitles).

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

Other links: Trailer on Youtube; information for the film on the site of distributor Cinema Epoch (scroll down to second title)

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Dear Doctor

Genre: Drama/Comedy

Plot synopsis: I couldn’t find an official synopsis in English- and here’s what Google Translate did to the Japanese language synopsis on the site of co-producer Bandai Visual Co.: “A small mountain village. The disappearance of one doctor was only liked by people as a doctor. The police came and began the investigation, villagers Surprisingly, only getting their yearning for a doctor. For the man or did not know anything definite origins. Eventually, even the obscure history of hometown doctor, let alone get a weird behavior of floating nervous Ino.” From what I’ve seen elsewhere, Dear Doctor is about a young physician named Keisuke; he has been assigned to a health clinic in a rural village with a fair number of elderly residents. Dr. Ino- who showed up in the village several years ago- already works at the clinic, and shows Keisuke a few things about interacting with patients that he didn’t learn in medical school. But Dr. Ino mysteriously vanishes one day, and the village soon learns his secret…

Director: Miwa Nishikawa

Cast: Tsurube Shôfukutei, Eita, Teruyuki Kagawa, Haruka Igawa, Kimiko Yo, Kaoru Yachigusa, Ryô Iwamatsu, Yutaka Matsushige, Kanzaburô Nakamura, Takashi Sasano

Language: Japanese

Release information: Opened at the Ward Stadium 16 in Honolulu, HI.

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No One Killed Jessica

Genres: Crime Drama/Suspense

Plot synopsis (official): New Delhi, 1999. The guns at Kargil are still blazing when another one goes off, this time in the nation’s capital. Jessica, a young attractive model trying her hand at bartending, is shot dead at a celebrity party. Her crime – refusing to serve a drink after closing hours! The culprit Manish, son of a prominent politician, inebriated by a deadly cocktail of alcohol and a sense of entitlement, pulls the trigger in a fit of rage… (More)

Director: Raj Kumar Gupta

Cast: Rani Mukherjee, Vidya Balan, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Myra Karn

Language: Hindi

Release information: Opened at forty-one US theaters: eight in California, seven in New Jersey, five in Texas, four in Illinois, three in New York, two each in Virginia and Massachusetts, and one each in Washington state, Arizona, Minnesota, Louisiana, Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland, and Connecticut.

Comments: The always-interesting Rani Mukherjee was my favorite part of this one- she plays a reporter (and a very non-“traditional” Indian woman) who gets drawn into the case.

Other links: Facebook page

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The Time that Remains

Genres: Dark comedy/Drama

Plot synopsis (official): An intimate semi-biographical portrait of Palestinians living as a minority in their own homeland between 1948 and the present day, from the acclaimed director of DIVINE INTERVENTION.

Director: Elia Suleiman

Cast: Ali Suliman, Elia Suleiman, Saleh Bakri, Amer Hlehel

Languages: Hebrew, Arabic, English

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

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD (WITHOUT SUBTITLES)

Ang tanging ina mo: Last na ‘to!

Languages: Filipino, Tagalog, English

Release information: Opened on eight US screens: four in California, and one each in Hawaii, Washington state, Nevada, and New Jersey.

JANUARY 11

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD (WITHOUT SUBTITLES)

Parama Veera Chakra

Language: Telugu

Release information: Opened on January 11 at the Serra Theatre in Milpitas, CA; over the next week, it also started at eighteen or nineteen other theaters in the US (although some had only a screening or two of the film): three in Florida, three or four (I could never be certain about one theater) in Ohio, two each in California and New Jersey, and one each in Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, and Virginia.

Additional information: Parama Veera Chakra is yet another credit for extremely busy actor Brahmanandam, according to Wikipedia– although it isn’t on his 875-titles-and-counting IMDb filmography as of yet.

Other links: One minute trailer on Youtube (with an action/stunt scene that’s worth a look); extremely colorful two-minute trailer on Youtube

JANUARY 12

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD (WITHOUT SUBTITLES)

Mirapakaay (a.k.a. Mirapakai; a.k.a. Mirapakaya)

Language: Telugu

Release information: Opened at nine US theaters: three in California, two in Texas, and one each in Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and New Jersey. Over the next week, the film opened on three additional American screens- one each in Illinois, Ohio, and New Jersey.

Other links: Wikipedia page

DOCUMENTARIES

I’m Dangerous With Love

Summary (official): I’M DANGEROUS WITH LOVE is about addiction and rehabilitation, activism and shamanism. It features Dimitri Mugianis, once the heavily addicted front man for the band Leisure Class, who finally ended his long drug and alcohol addiction with an experimental treatment that uses the hallucinogen Ibogaine, and now devotes his life to helping others overcome addiction through the treatment… (More)

Director: Michel Negroponte

With: Dimitri Mugianis

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

Other links: Youtube trailer

JANUARY 13

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Petty Romance

Genre: Romantic comedy

Plot synopsis (from the site of CGV Cinema see below; it’s the closest thing to an official summary I could find in English): Adult comic romance, between adult cartoonist and sex columnist, which takes place in both reality and dream. Cartoonist Jeong-bae gets rejected every time he tries to sell his work. One day Jeong-bae sees a prize for an adult cartoon contest. He tries to find a story writer for his new comic. Da-rim, who screws every work that she does, is kicked out from her company. While finding a new job, she is interviewed by Jeong-bae. Attracted by this huge amount of prize money, Da-rim starts to write a scenario for Jeong-bae…

Director: Jung hoon Kim

Cast: Sun-gyun Lee, Gang-hee Choi

Language: Korean

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

Other links: CGV Cinemas page for the film- including an English-subtitled trailer

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD (WITHOUT SUBTITLES)

Kaavalan (a.k.a. Kavalan; a.k.a. The Bodyguard)

Language: Tamil

Release information: Opened at the Bloomfield 8 in Bloomfield, CT; over the next week, it also started in three theaters in California, two in New Jersey, and one each in Texas, Minnesota, Illinois, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Other links: Trailers on Youtube

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Once Upon a Warrior (a.k.a. Anaganaga O Dheerudu)

Language: Telugu

Release information: Opened in nine US theaters- one each in Washington state, Texas, Minnesota, Kansas, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Connecticut, and Delaware. Over the next eight days, it also played in a number of additional theaters- four in California, three each in Texas, Wisconsin, and Illinois, two each in Arizona, Florida, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, and one each in Oregon, Oklahoma, Colorado, Missouri, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland.

Additional information: According to Once Upon a Warrior’s official site, the film marked the first collaboration between “a Hollywood studio” (Walt Disney) and “a production house from South India”. Given the Disney connection, I was hoping that the US theatrical prints would be subtitled in English- but that wasn’t the case. It was an interesting movie to see on a big screen, but subtitles would have helped in spots. For example, was that one character really a female impersonator, and what was up with the spinning pinwheels instead of breasts? And did those characters who were supporting the bad guys have costumes that were deliberately designed to make them look like Buddhist monks?

Oh- and like Parama Veera Chakra above, this is another of the hundreds of Telugu language films with actor Brahmanandam in the cast.

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Siruthai

Language: Tamil

Release information: Opened on six US screens- two in California, and one each in Georgia, Illinois, Virginia, and New Jersey; over the next week, it also started in two other American theaters (one each in Texas and Massachusetts).

JANUARY 14

AMERICAN INDEPENDENTS (AND OTHERWISE)

Burning Palms

Genre: Dark comedy

Plot synopsis (official): Burning Palms is a dark comedy, interlacing multiple stories where no taboo is left unexplored. Framed as a graphic novel come to life, the film unfolds in five popular neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Each story from the sandy beaches of Santa Monica, the the gated mansions of Holmby Hills, a motley crew of characters careens toward a hilarious and twisted fate in a movie unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

Director: Christopher Landon

Cast: Adrianna Barazza, Robert Hoffman, Lake Bell, Shannen Doherty, Jamie Chung, Nick Stahl, Dylan McDermott, Rosamund Pike, Paz Vega, Zoe Saldana, Jon Polito, Anson Mount, Peter Macdissi, Colleen Camp

Release information: Opened at the Sunset 5, West Hollywood, CA; the Winnetka All Stadium 21 in Chatsworth, CA; the Starlight 20 in Tampa, FL; and the Parisian 20 and IMAX City Place in West Palm Beach, FL.

Comments: I haven’t done an exact count as of yet, but it certainly seems like Nick Stahl shows up in a lot of the movies that show up in this column- although Danny Trejo might be in even more of these films…

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Down for Life

Genre: Drama

Plot synopsis (official): Based on a true story, DOWN FOR LIFE depicts a single, fateful day in the life of a 15-year-old Latina gang leader. Leaving the gang, she discovers, is more difficult than joining. The film was shot on location in South-Central Los Angeles and stars local youths in the lead roles.

Director: Alan Jacobs

Cast: Danny Glover, Kate del Castillo, Laz Alonso, Calvin Broadus (a.k.a. Snoop Dogg), Elizabeth Peña, Emily Rios, Jessica Romero

Release information: Opened at five theaters in southern Texas.

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Every Day

Genre: Comedy/Drama

Plot synopsis (official): Helen Hunt, Liev Schreiber, Brian Dennehy, Eddie Izzard and Carla Gugino star in EVERY DAY, a story about a family’s struggle to survive life’s curve-balls that ultimately bring out the best and worst in us and make us closer. Ned is a television writer on a seedy drama whose life is turned upside down when his wife’s estranged father moves in with their family. EVERY DAY is an honest look at an ordinary family making it through life’s challenges together.

Director: Richard Levine

Cast: Liev Schreiber, Helen Hunt, Carla Gugino, Eddie Izzard, Brian Dennehy, Ezra Miller, Skyler Fortgang, David Harbour

Release information: Opened at the Sunset 5 in West Hollywood, CA; the South Coast Village in Los Angeles; and the Beekman Theatre in New York City.

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The Heart Specialist

Genre: Romantic comedy

Plot synopsis (official): THE HEART SPECIALIST is a romantic comedy about the personal lives of two young physicians one of whom is also an amateur stand-up comedian. It takes place at a south florida hospital where a graduate of Harvard Medical School (STOMP THE YARD’s Brian White) arrives for his internship. We soon learn he is a hardened womanizer… (More)

Director: Dennis Cooper

Cast: Zoe Saldana, Wood Harris, Brian White, Nephew Tommy, Marla Gibbs, Jasmine Guy, Jenifer Lewis, Terrence J, Leon, Caleb Pinkett, Method Man, Ed Asner, Irene Tsu, Mya

Release information: According to its official site (supplemented with additional information from other sources), The Heart Specialist opened in 417 American theaters: thirty-four each in Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina; twenty-eight in Texas; twenty-five in California; twenty-one each in Virginia and New York; twenty in Michigan; nineteen in Tennessee; eighteen in Alabama; seventeen in Louisiana; sixteen each in South Carolina and New Jersey; fifteen each in Illinois and Maryland; twelve in Ohio; eleven in Mississippi; nine in Pennsylvania; eight in Missouri; six each in Nevada, Arkansas, Wisconsin, and Indiana; five in Kentucky; four in Arizona; three in Connecticut; two each in Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Delaware; and one each in Kansas and Nebraska.

Comments: The IMDb says that this is a 2006 film; if that’s true, I wonder if there will be an older film going into wider release in the US at any time in 2011…

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Repo Chick

Genre: Comedy

Plot synopsis (official): Legendary indie filmmaker Alex Cox brings us another film in the “Repo” world which was shot on the 25th anniversary of his cult classic “Repo Man.” In this hilarious parody, infamous heiress Pixxi De La Chasse gets disinherited by her family for her wild and flamboyant antics and must find a job. Possessing a limited skill set to say the least, Pixxi gets a job in the repo industry and soon finds her calling as a badass take-no-prisoners repo man … or rather repo chick.

Director: Alex Cox

Cast: Jaclyn Jonet, Miguel Sandoval, Rosanna Arquette, Del Zamora, Chloe Webb, Xander Berkeley, Robert Beltran, Karen Black, Jennifer Balgobin, Angela Sarafyan

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

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Twelve Thirty

Genre: Drama

Plot synopsis (official): There are three women in the Langley household: Vivien (Karen Young), the mother, is caught between a fierce independence and an almost agoraphobic attachment to home; seductive and confident Mel (Portia Reiners) is a 19 year-old mirror of her mother; Maura (Mamie Gummer), 22, is alienated, afraid and unable to pinpoint her place in the world. They live together in a seemingly close household, yet each is very much alone. The man of the house, Martin (Reed Birney), left long ago to pursue a new way of life, but keeps a shadow presence: he maintains a comfortable erotic tie to his ex-wife… (More)

Director: Jeff Lipsky

Cast: Barbara Barrie, Reed Birney, Halley Feiffer, Jonathan Groff, Mamie Gummer, Portia Reiners, Rebecca Schull, Karen Young

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

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Ong Bak 3

Genre: Action

Plot synopsis (official): Martial arts legend Tony Jaa writes, directs, produces and stars in ONG BAK 3, the third and final installment in one of the most beloved action series of all time. Picking up at the cliffhanger ending where Ong Bak 2 leaves off, Jaa ramps up the epic supernatural elements of the previous film, while still maintaining the trademark bone-crunching action that the series is known for. This time he must face his ultimate enemy: a fierce supernatural warrior named “Demon Crow,” played by fellow martial arts sensation Dan Chupong (Dynamite Warrior). Eagerly anticipated by martial arts aficionados for some time, the matchup of Jaa and Chupong is explosive.

Directors: Panom “Tony Jaa” Yeerum, Panna Rittikrai

Cast: Panom “Tony Jaa” Yeerum, Dan Chupong, Primrata Dej-Udon, Saranyu Wongkrajang, Nirut Sirijunya, Chumphorn Thepphithak

Language: Thai

Release information: Opened at the Pearlridge West in Aiea, HI, the Kapolei 16 in Kapolei, HI, and the Village East Cinema in New York City.

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Out the Gate

Genre: Action/Crime/Music (per the film’s Facebook page)

Plot synopsis (official): After a turn of unfortunate events in Jamaica, Everton leaves his home to make it big in the music business in America. Everything is not a bed of roses in Hollywood, but with struggles and perseverance he finds love and success, only to have it all threatened when the Don of LA (Paul Campbell) wants his dues. Shot on location in Jamaica and Los Angeles.

Directors: The Village Brothers (per the film’s Facebook page and poster)/Stevie Johnson and Qmillion (per the IMDb)

Cast: Paul Campbell, Oliver Samuels, Shelli Boone, Everton (E-Dee) Dennis

Language: English

Release information: Opened with midnight screenings on Friday and Saturday at the Sunset 5 in West Hollywood- following a one-time-only screening at the Royal Theatre in West Los Angeles on January 13.

Additional information: The IMDb claims that Out the Gate is a Jamaican/US co-production, but a poster on the film’s Facebook page says it is a Jamaican film- so that’s why it’s in this section.

Other links: Facebook page

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A Somewhat Gentle Man

Genres: Dark comedy/Drama

Plot synopsis (official): Ulrik (Stellan Skarsgård) is a somewhat gentle man, as far as gangsters go. Reluctantly back on the streets following a stint in prison, Ulrik’s boss greets him with open arms and a plan to settle an old score. With a demented sense of professional pride, Ulrik’s boss sets in motion a plan to right the wrong done to his star employee. The problem is Ulrik would rather go about his own business, however mundane, than get involved with his ragtag colleagues again. This dark feel good comedy delivers laughs and gasps in equal measure.

Director: Hans Petter Moland

Cast: Stellan Skarsgård, Bjørn Floberg, Gard B. Eidsvold, Jorunn Kjellsby, Jannike Kruse, Aksel Hennie, Bjørn Sundquist

Language: Norwegian

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

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Turning 30

Genre: Romantic Comedy/Drama

Plot synopsis (official): Turning 30!!! is Naina’s story as she grapples with heartbreak, and a crisis in her advertising career in the face of her 30th birthday. And as she fights her anxiety and fears about being 30 years old, Naina realises there’s a lot of growing up to be done. Set in the heart of urban Mumbai, Turning 30!!! is a humorous and heart-warming take on a single young woman’s journey of finding herself, discovering love and blossoming into a woman of substance.

Director: Alankrita Shrivastava

Cast: Purab Kohli, Sid Makkar, Satyadeep Mishra, Gul Panang

Languages: Hindi and English (apparently)

Release information: Opened at the Fremont 7 in Fremont, CA, and the Columbia Park 12 in North Bergen, NJ.

Other links: Facebook page

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Yamla Pagla Deewana

Genre: Comedy

Plot synopsis (official): The Father Son duo of Dharam Singh and Gajodhar Singh (Dharmendra and Bobby Deol) are the biggest conmen in Banaras. Their happy go lucky existence involves drinking and pulling off hilarious cons on unsuspecting people. The only hitch in their perfect albeit notorious life arrives in the form of Paramveer Singh Dhillon (Sunny Deol). A brawny and honest… (More)

Director: Samir Karnik

Cast: Bobby Deol, Sunny Deol, Dharmendra, Anupam Kher, Johnny Lever, Nafisa Ali

Language: Hindi (with a smattering of Punjabi, apparently)

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

FILMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD (WITHOUT SUBTITLES)

Aadhukalam (a.k.a. Aadukalam)

Language: Tamil

Release information: Opened at the Towne 3 in San Jose, CA, and the Movie City 8 in Edison, NJ.

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Golkonda High School (a.k.a. Golconda High School)

Language: Telugu

Release information: Opened at the Fremont 7 in Fremont, CA, and the Movie City 8 in Edison, NJ, on January 14- and at the Walnut Theaters in Garland, TX, on January 15.

DOCUMENTARIES

Breaking and Entering

Summary (official): Some say that to embrace one’s greatest talent is to make the world a better place. Others see a grown man spinning a twelve-foot hula hoop and snicker about trivial obsessions. Breaking world records is a mysteriously seductive tradition, alternately inspiring, reckless, and bizarre. Follow a joggler, a grape catcher, and a man who cycles nowhere as they battle the odds – and their respective nemeses – in pursuit of global dominance. Since when is it trivial to dream?

Director: Benjamin Fingerhut

Release information: Opened at the reRun Gastropub in Brooklyn, NY.

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Lemmy

Summary (official): Over four decades, Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister has registered an immeasurable impact on music history. Nearly 65, he remains the living embodiment of the rock and roll lifestyle, and this feature-length documentary tells his story, one of a hard-living rock icon who continues to enjoy the life of a man half his age. Shot on a combination of High Definition and Super 16mm film, “Lemmy” includes interviews with friends, family, bandmates past and present and such admirers/peers as… (More)

Directors: Greg Olliver, Wes Orshoski

With: Lemmy Kilmister, Dave Grohl, Ozzy Osbourne, Peter Hook, Billy Bob Thornton, Triple H, Alice Cooper, Mick Jones, James Hetfield, Ice-T, Dave Navarro, Marky Ramone, Nikki Sixx, Slash, Dee Snider, Lars Ulrich

Release information: Opened at the Clinton Street Theater in Portland, OR, and the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff, Dallas; also started at the The Plaza in Atlanta on January 15, and at the Times Cinema in Milwaukee, WI, on January 17.

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Petition

Summary (Taken from the site linked above, by way of Google Translate- with some editing and guesswork by yours truly): Petition is a unique view of China today. Since 1996, Zhao Liang has filmed the petitioners who come from across China to Beijing to complain against the abuses and injustices committed by their local authorities… The complainants wait months or even years to get justice. Peasants driven from their land, factory workers in liquidation, smallholders whose homes were demolished without compensation- all cases are represented. Exposed to the most brutal intimidation from the local authorities, complainants insist that despite all hopes are often vain. [I’m not sure about what that last part there means, by the way…] Zhao Liang accompanied several petitioners, and particularly a mother and daughter whose story is followed over the course of ten years. A film shot until the dawn of the Olympic Games…, Petition shows the persistent contradictions of China’s booming economy.

Director: Zhao Liang

Language: Mandarin Chinese

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

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Plastic Planet

Summary (official): Plastic is cheap and practical. We are children of the Plastic Age. Synthetics are able to remain in the ground and in waters for up to 500 years, and can thereby harm our hormonal system due to their often-unknown additives. Did you know you’ve got plastic in your blood? In his investigative motion-picture documentary, director Werner Boote shows that plastic has emerged to a global threat. He asks questions that concern all of us… (More)

Director: Werner Boote

Languages: German, English, Italian, Dutch

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

Other links: HD trailer on Youtube; Austrian site for the film [not something that one types every day, by the way- or at least I certainly don’t…]

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The Secret to a Happy Ending

Summary (official): The Secret to a Happy Ending documents the Drive-By Truckers and their congregation of fans as they explore tales of human weakness and redemption. Filmmaker Barr Weissman followed the band during three critical years of touring and recording — years in which the band struggles to overcome the trauma of divorce and survives a near breakup… (More)

Director: Barr Weissman

Release information: As far as I could tell, The Secret to a Happy Ending opened at the Athens Cine in Athens, GA, on January 15- or at least that was the earliest date I could find at a “movie theater”. (The IMDb says the US “limited” release date was February 5, 2010- but the only places I could find the film at on that date with a Google search were a music and film festival in San Francisco, CA, and the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD- and a showing at either doesn’t seem (to my mind, at least) to count as a “theatrical release”, as such; from what I can tell, the Silver Theatre isn’t a “movie theater” kind of theater, but a more non-commercial place… and festival screenings usually don’t count for a theatrical release either.)

JANUARY 16

DOCUMENTARIES

Zeitgeist: Moving Forward

Summary (official): Zeitgeist: Moving Forward [2011] by director Peter Joseph is a 162 minute film work which continues what the prior two films of the Zeitgeist Film Series started: a critical look at the “Zeitgeist” or ‘Spirit /Awareness of the Time’. A prominent underlying thesis of the Film Series is that a great many notions, beliefs and practices currently engaged in today and assumed as “presupposed”, “given” or seemingly empirical to our societal approaches and values are not only intellectually/historically incorrect but highly detrimental to our personal and social progress and sustainability. Zeitgeist: Moving Forward focuses on the very fabric of the social order: Monetary-Market Economics… (More)

Director: Peter Joseph

Release information: Opened at the Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills, CA, on January 16 (following one-time-only showings at a number of venues across the country on January 15).

JANUARY 19

DOCUMENTARIES

The Woodmans

Summary (official): A fascinating, unflinching portrait of the late photographer Francesca Woodman, told through the young artist’s work (including experimental videos and journal entries) and remarkably candid interviews with her artist parents Betty and George (a ceramic sculptor and painter/photographer), who have continued their own artistic practices while watching Francesca’s professional reputation eclipse their own.

Director: C. Scott Willis

With: Francesca Woodman, Betty Woodman, George Woodman, Charles Woodman

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

Other links: Page for The Woodmans on the site of US distributor Kino Lorber

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