Five-Minute Film Guide: Every Indie Film Opening This Weekend (11/11/11 Edition)

on November 11, 2011 by Sara Maria Vizcarrondo


The Conquest/ La conquête World
This French biopic-come-political-thriller does for French President Nicolas Sarkozy what Paolo Sorrentino's Il Divo did for Italian politician Giulio Andreotti. A speedy expose of the hard nosed politician through his quick ascent and public divorce, the film makes light of the (not-so)pleasantries of Sarkozy's suave but double-edged wheeling, dealing and enemy-making.
Director: Xavier Durringer
Writers: Xavier Durringer, Patrick Rotman
Stars: Denis Podalydès, Florence Pernel, Bernard Le Coq
Genre: Biopic; French-language, subtitled


Numbers can be mysterious (Pi) or ominous (TV's Lost), but as an instrument of terror, they're goofy. Remember Joel Schumacher's Number 23? Or the doomed hotel mystery 1408? Maybe the only scary math is remedial algebra. If this numerology-inspired indie horror is worthy it'll merge the phenomenon of Lost with the metaphysics of Pi and produce something scarier than a comedian in a hotel room.
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Writer: Darren Lynn Bousman
Stars: Timothy Gibbs, Michael Landes, Brendan Price
Genre: Horror

A Novel Romance
After undressing in American Pie and starring in many Lifetime movies, Shannon Elizabeth couldn't anticipate this bit part playing struggling novelist Steve Guttenberg's greedy girl friend, who he plans to throw over for a hottie names Milena. But his crush has her own bad boyfriend and tragedy will make him her superhero-helpful, since his book sales can't save them.
Director: Allie Dvorin
Writer: Allie Dvorin
Stars: Shannon Elizabeth, Natalya Rudakova, Steve Guttenberg
Genre: Romance

Fifty Nothing
Two established middle-aged men head out to relive their youth but instead stumble upon comfy relationships with invigorating middle age hotties. Previously titled About Fifty, this RomCom can't help feeling like a man version of TV's Hot in Cincinnatiand not just because they both star Wendie Malick, star of said sitcom. Also starring Drew Pillsbury, whose name sounds both flakey and fattening.
Director: Thomas Johnston
Writers: Thomas Johnston, Drew Pillsbury
Stars: Martin Grey, Drew Pillsbury, Wendie Malick
Genre: RomCom

Letters From Big Man
Disarmingly sincere, this story of a hydrologist's encounters with a Sasquatch sounds like an austere Harry and the Hendersonsbut the critics love it, so best not to prematurely judge this book by its (furry) cover. Plus, the film has an ecological angle that will make it valuable to more than just Bigfoot Believers.
Director: Christopher Munch
Writer: Christopher Munch
Stars: Lily Rabe, Jason Butler Harner, Isaac C. Singleton Jr.
Genre: Drama

Nothing Special
The impressive thing about Nothing Special is the echelon of talent first time writer/director Angela Garcia Combs pulled together: indie lifer and once bargain-basement scream-queen Karen Black stars as the director's bipolar mother, whom she's forced to take in after an eviction. The director's boss and surrogate mother is TV-veteran Barbara Bain. Production meetings must have been amazing for gossip.
Director: Angela Garcia Combs
Writer: Angela Garcia Combs
Stars: Julia Garcia Combs, Karen Black, Barbara Bain
Genre: Comedy

The Greening
Fussy princess Whitney Brown was Student Body President of her posh New York school when her dad lost his job and moved the fam to the farmhouse where he grew up. There, Whitney meets Kris Kristofferson as a down-to-earth grandpa and makes super-friends with a Clydesdale who helps her find herself and make it to prom in the big city.
Director: Peter Skillman Odiorne
Writer: Gail Gilchriest
Stars: Sammi Hanratty, Brooke Shields, Aidan Quinn
Genre: Comedy


Barbershop Punk
With a title that implies both gossip and dissent, this doc looks at the subject of Internet freedom and asks personalities from many schools of thought about how ideologically free our online information really is? With massive companies like ComCast and TimeWarner vying for control, the question isn't so hyperbolic.
Directors: Georgia Sugimura Archer, Kristin Armfield

God's Fiddler: Jascha Heifetz
Jascha Heifetz's name is to violin playing what Einstein's is to intelligence. Like most people with talents larger than life, Heifetz was...quirky. Through interviews with family, friends and musicians, we learn about the man behind the performance in this doc about a talent whose playing was so transcendent, people spoke his and the name of God in one breath.
Director: Peter Rosen

Into the Abyss
Inspired by the inexplicable, Werner Herzog has a fascination with violence and the (in)sanity. Into the Abyss speaks to a man on death row. He's quiet, worn and eerily centered for a man about to die. Herzog's interested principally in why both people and the state see a need to kill. Critically acclaimed, it's a likely pick for the Academy's documentary short list.
Director: Werner Herzog

The Big Fix
This doc looks at the oil spill in the Gulf Coast and its aftereffects on the Big Easy (hence the title). After a disturbingly quick clean up, health hazards persisted with no further assistance. People got sick, fishermen dragged in toxic oysters and the local government took bribes from the responsible oil company to pretend nothing was happening. Get the real scoop in this advocacy doc.
Directors: Joshua Tickell, Rebecca Harrell Tickell

Under Fire: Journalists in Combat
War films are usually about the soldier or the politician, but seldom about the reporter. War correspondents risk their lives in the field to gather news on events of international import. For these unsung badasses with cameras, mics and notepads, the simple act of recording is an ethical act. Directed by correspondent veteran Martyn Burke.
Director: Martyn Burke


Dog Sweat
Today's Tehran is full of modern amenities and antiquated values. The characters in this critically acclaimed drama struggle to find a place in a society rigidly against non-conformism. Named for the black market moonshine its characters adore, the title's a great metaphor for the film: it's the urge for new experiences that have to be clandestine, lest you not see the days that come.
Director: Hossein Keshavarz
Writers: Hossein Keshavarz, Maryam Azadi
Stars: Ahmad Akbarzadeh, Tahereh Esfahani, Bagher Forohar
Genre: Drama; Persian-language

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within/ Tropa de Elite 2 - O Inimigo Agora É Outro
The sequel to Brazili's blockbuster Elite Squad, this actioner/police procedural watches Officer Nascimiento (now Lieutenant Colonel) launch a drug war that butts heads with the government and paramilitary forces. After a raid on a prison, Human Rights activists shout about police brutality. Meanwhile, Nascimiento uses the slums as the battlefield for his drug war. If the enemy is within, who's shooting at him through the rooftops?
Director: José Padilha
Writer: José Padilha
Stars: Seu Jorge, Wagner Moura, Irandhir Santos, André Ramiro
Genre: Action; Portuguese-language, subtitled

London Boulevard
Colin Farrell (make that Colin Feral) is an ex-gangster who's being coerced back into crime by Ray Winstone (channeling Ben Kingsley of Sexy Beast). Farrell's temp job is protecting a reclusive actress (Keira Knightley, oddly unconvincing)until, of course. they fall in love. Based on a Ken Bruen novel, this reunion of UK thespians is helmed by the guy who wrote The Departed.
Director: William Monahan
Writer: William Monahan
Stars: Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone
Genre: Crime Drama

As Kristin Dunst's epic wedding approaches, so too does planet Melancholia. Both events promise a collision course of devastating proportions with Dunst's depressive wild child battering everyone like a hailstorm. By some accounts, Lars von Trier's newest film is confounding, but no one who's seen it has called it anything less than spectacular.
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Rampling, Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgard, John Hurt, Brady Corbet, Alexander Skarsgard
Director/Screenwriter: Lars Von Trier
Genre: Drama

Rockstar lore is full of Faustian bargains. As anyone who took up smoking to for a gravelly voice will tell you, dedication to rock is hazardous. The nascent rock star in this musical drama thinks tragedy will make him a rock god-bring on the pain. But superstition proves true when he falls for the most dangerous girl in school and the heartbreak jettisons him to stardom.
Director: Imtiaz Ali
Writer: Imtiaz Ali
Stars: Ranbir Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Nargis Fakhri
Genre: Romance; Hindi-language, subtitled



Tags: 11-11-11, A Novel Romance, Fifthy Nothing, Letters From Big Man, Nothing Special, The Greening, Barbershop Punk, God's Fiddler: Jascha Heifetz, Into the Abyss, The Big Fix, Under Fire: Journalists in Combat, Dog Sweat, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, London Boulevard, Melancholia, Rockstar, The Conquest

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