Five Minute Film Guide: Every Indie Film Opening This Weekend (1/20/12 Edition)

on January 20, 2012 by Sara Maria Vizcarrondo


Miss Bala/Fri, 1/20/12
The path of Laura, a girl determined to become the next Miss Baja California pageant queen, is severely derailed when she witnesses a drug-related battle in a dancehall. From thereafter, she's inadvertently swept up in the drug cartel's extensive web and her futureand the reach of the cartelmay never again be separated.
Director: Gerardo Naranjo
Writers: Mauricio Katz, Gerardo Naranjo
Stars: Stephanie Sigman, Noe Hernandez, Irene Azuela


Watching TV With the Red Chinese/Fri, 1/20/12
Though college is a time dedicated to a study, it's also an odd in-between place where you have adult obligations (ugh, rent and housekeeping) but act like a giant kid-"Keggers!" In Manhattan 1980, Dexter has a house full of Chinese exchange students, communist geniuses who learn English by TV (like Splash!) and whose naïveté inspires Dexter's parental instincts. With Community's Gillian Jacobs.
Director: Shimon Dotan
Writers: Netaya Anbar, Shimon Dotan
Stars: Ryan O'Nan, Leonardo Nam, Gillian Jacobs

Coriolanus/Fri, 1/20/12
Actor Ralph Fiennes' directorial debut corrals some breathtaking talent in one massive Shakespeare+Machismo demonstration of thespian swagger. Vanessa Redgrave plays the tiger-mother of General Coriolanus (Fiennes) and she steals the show from his wife (Jessica Chastain) in an at home Battle Royale. Meanwhile Coriolanus dukes it out with past nemesis Tullus (Gerard Butler) to regain reputation and supremacy in his home of Rome.
Director: Ralph Fiennes
Writer: John Logan
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Brian Cox

Scalene/Fri, 1/20/12
Emmy Nominee Margo Martindale (Justified) plays the harried mother of a grown man with severe mental handicaps who violates his college-age caregiver. Though the crime is unclear, it ends with an accusation of assault, and when he's incarcerated his mother goes postal. Sounds like an edgy cross between Kurosawa's Rashomon and Joon-ho Bong's Mother.
Director: Zack Parker
Writers: Brandon Owens, Zack Parker
Stars: Margo Martindale, Hanna Hall, Adam Scarimbolo

The Red Machine/Fri, 1/20/12
A story of spies in Washington, 1935, The Red Machine banks on its sex appeal and the under-explored subject of Japanese encryption machines to tell a story about double agents and double-dealing before America was part of the second World War.
Directors: Stephanie Argy, Alec Boehm
Writers: Stephanie Argy, Alec Boehm
Stars: Lee Perkins, Donal Thoms-Cappello, Meg Brogan


Ayn Rand and the Prophesy of Atlas Shrugged /Tue, 1/17/12/Doc
This doc looks at the forecasts made by Ayn Rand in her objectivist epic Atlas Shrugged and deduces how accurate those prophesies are today. Guaranteed to start arguments in the parking lot.
Director: Chris Mortensen

Carol Channing: Larger than Life /Fri, 1/20/12
Carol Channing made the principle character of Hello, Dolly! into an icon. Some adore her, some find her creepy, but she's one of incredibly few performers who's made a living on Broadway and lived to tell about it. This doc looks at the 89-year-old star today and surveys her career.
Director: Dori Berinstein

Crazy Horse
On the heels of Boxing Gym, documentary veteran Frederick Wiseman chooses another unique location, but this time with more salacious results. The Parisian burlesque hall Crazy Horse Saloon is not your regular strip club: the dancers are perfect and the choreography aims at art incarnate (if you know what I mean). Wiseman inspects desireand the ways we survive it.
Director: Frederick Wiseman

The City Dark
Urbanites choose well-lit streets over dim ones any day-their safety depends on iteventually even suburbanites would seek safety in light. But if light covers the nights from the cities to the towns, where can we find the night sky and the stars meant to light our paths? This doc about light corruption suggests we're bending nature to meet security.
Director: Ian Cheney

Pruitt-Igoe Myth
Built with high hopes in 1954, the Pruitt-Igoe housing project replaced crumbling tenements for thousands of St. Louis residents, but as the local economy tanked, it also became where the harshest blow was felt. How did such a clear and supportable vision fail? And why do we declare this accomplishment of architecture (designed by the man responsible for the World Trade Center) and urban renewal a cautionary tale?
Director: Chad Freidrichs

Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston/Fri, 1/20/12
Before it became a parody of butterfly collars and punk slashed t-shirts, '70s fashion was dedicated to glamour. Rumor has it fashion wanted to exorcise the "naturalism" of the hippies from fashion for good. Whether that's fact or fiction, the guy with his finger on '70s glamor was Halston and this doc lets him shine like the last star at Studio54.
Director: Whitney Smith


Full Metal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos/Hagane no renkinjutsushi: Mirosu no seinaru hoshi
Based on a popular manga-turned-TV-series, Full Metal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos is one of many feature-length extensions to Hiromu Arakawa's anime. His oddball characters hunt down forms of alchemy and protect the mystical art from the greedy, duplicitous or incompetent.
Director: Kazuya Murata
Writer: Yûichi Shinbo
Stars: Shelley Calene-Black, Rie Kugimiya, Shinichirô Miki

Grey Matter/Fri, 1/20/12
This Rwandan film-within-a-film begins with a filmmaker struggling to make a movie about a brother and sister after the nation's genocidal nightmare. Grey Matter slips into and out of the sibling drama to show the limitations that beset the three in their effort to commit the nation's political horrors to film.
Director: Kivu Ruhorahoza
Writer: Kivu Ruhorahoza
Stars: Ruth Shanel Nirere, Shami Bizimana, Hervé Kimenyi

The Front Line/ Go-ji-jeon /Fri, 1/20/12
The final battle of the Korean War determined the line that would divide North and South, as well as the nation's communist and democratic ideologies. The civil war, like any civil war, was a battle of brothers, and in this drama by Hun Jang (Secret Reunion) this conflict that began and ended with division is full of twists and backstabbing.
Director: Hun Jang
Writer: Sang-yeon Park
Stars: Ha-kyun Shin, Soo Go, Seung-su Ryu

The Viral Factor/Fri, 1/20/12
Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou was hot in Green Hornet (though who wouldn't be against Seth Rogen?) and he carries on with Kato-kung fu skill in this Hong Kong actioner about a family split by a criminal organization. Can Chou find his brother? Can they rescue Chou's niece? Will Chou make it with the hot doctor? (Are they using her for the band-aids?)
Director: Dante Lam
Writers: Dante Lam, Wai Lun Ng
Stars: Bing Bai, Jay Chou, Andrew Dasz


Tags: Miss Bala, Watching TV With the Red Chinese, Coriolanus, Scarlene, The Red Machine, Ayn Rand and the Prophesy of Atlas Shrugged, Carol Channing: Larger Than Life, Crazy Horse, The City Dark, Pruitt-Igoe Myth, Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston, Full Metal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos, Grey Matter, The Front LIne, The Viral Factor

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