BOXOFFICE.COM FEATURED INDEPENDENT FILM:
The Kid with a Bike/Le gamin au vélo World
The Dardennes Brothers are famous for their humanist portrayals of working class Belgians—many of whom prove the adage that a good deed never goes unpunished. The titular kid lands in an orphanage at the mercy of aggressive, recruiting thugs, until the local hairdresser takes him in. He breaks her heart, but the test of a hero is resolve and dedication.
Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Writers: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Stars: Thomas Doret, Cécile De France, Jérémie Renier
June's mentally challenged uncle makes her eccentricities looks like a family value. When she meets an illegal immigrant in the shipyards near her San Francisco home, the crush makes her question her oddness, and realize the universality of her otherwise totally crackpot universe.
Director: James Savoca
Writers: James Savoca, Linne Ha
Stars: Samaire Armstrong, Brad William Henke, Jon Gries
Casa de mi Padre
In a send-up as outrageous as a telenovela, Will Ferrell stars as the struggling Armando, whose father's ranch is in peril from local drug dealers—including his brother. Will Ferrell speaks Spanish—exclusively—in this comedy, giving Pantalion an opportunity to prove the financial validity of Spanish language films distributed stateside. Vaya con Dios!
Director: Matt Piedmont
Writer: Andrew Steele
Stars: Gael Garcia Bernal, Will Ferrell, Diego Luna, Efren Ramirez, Genesis Rodriguez
They say of substitute teachers: "If you stare into the abyss, it might stare back." Well, my friend Tim says that anyway, and that may be true for Henry Barthes (Adrien Brody) who buries his gift for teaching until a job subbing teaches him to stop being so lethargic. The abyss has a name—around 35 of them, actually.
Director: Tony Kaye
Writer: Carl Lund
Stars: Adrien Brody, Christina Hendricks, Marcia Gay Harden
Jeff Who Lives At Home
This comedy about fate and maturity is made by the guys behind Cyrus and The Puffy Chair, but unlike those ventures, this awkward family comedy looks directly into the soul of one wayward seeker, Jason Segel. He patiently awaits his call to action—whatever that might be—while his brother Ed Helms rages and mom Susan Sarandon begs him to at least leave the basement.
Directors: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Writers: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass (screenplay)
Stars: Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Judy Greer
This indie was ballyhooed years ago and then disappeared, returning again at SXSW 2011. Comedian Rachael Harris (Reno 911!) plays a devout Christian wife who grants her dying husband's last wish and retrieves his estranged, secreted, illegitimate son from Florida, where he left the boy years ago.
Director: Robbie Pickering
Writer: Robbie Pickering
Stars: Rachael Harris, Jon Gries, Matt O'Leary
Reuniting the Rubins
Larry (Timothy Spall) is about to reach retirement when his sickly mum coerces him into a family reunion with all his miserable children: the Buddhist monk, the born-again Rabbi, the eco-warrior and the conservative control-freak again under one intolerable roof. At least from a family therapy standpoint, they're all united by their high-strung-ness.
Director: Yoav Factor
Writer: Yoav Factor
Stars: Rhona Mitra, Timothy Spall, James Callis
Director Roger Donaldson (The Bank Job) is fantastic, and post-Mildred Pierce Guy Pearce is due for a comeback, but the presence of January Jones drags this "take your hands off my wife!" revenge thriller onto thin (box office) ice. That the film's seeing a limited release is a concern, but maybe Nic Cage can save the day with his patented bat-crazy mystique.
Director: Roger Donaldson
Writer: Robert Tannen
Stars: Nicolas Cage, January Jones, Guy Pearce
The words "Electric Boogaloo" come to mind. The future is a place of crime and dance dueling. One day, BTRO—a young man who duels on a light-up footboard—is slain while protecting Frazier Park from an evil gang. His brother JTRO isn't brave enough to dance and watches Frazier Park decay-until destiny forces him to step up to the footboard.
Directors: Brandon Trost, Jason Trost
Writers: Brandon Trost, Jason Trost
Stars: Jason Trost, Lee Valmassy, Art Hsu
Seeming less like All About Eve and more like Hamlet 2, this backstage drama about an ambitious (and morality free) understudy looks to court comedy with its small scale antics. Not in the mood for laughs? The gory play-acting adds a touch of horror. Hey, Shakespeare loved shocks.
Directors: David Conolly, Hannah Davis
Writers: Hannah Davis, David Conolly
Stars: Marin Ireland, Paul Sparks, Aasif Mandvi
The Wise Kids
A southern Baptist community rallies around a church play while the teens make their plans for graduation and college—but the straight and narrow path isn't favored by each kid an when one comes out the others don't know whether to pray or rid the community of him. It's a delicately handled and gently realized indie out of South Carolina.
Director: Stephen Cone
Writer: Stephen Cone
Stars: Molly Kunz, Tyler Ross, Allison Torem
Baseball, Dennis and the French
This one's a mind scramble. Paul Croshaw writes and directs this film about his own transformation from a politically liberal, baseball-loving, French Film connoisseur into a conservative Christian, all at the hands of the nationally syndicated radio show hosted by Dennis Prager. Stranger things have happened—but few got a full documentary.
Director: Paul Croshaw
Gerhard Richter Painting
German Gerhard Richter is a particularly mystifying artist. After a phase of painting formally accurate faces, he's moved on to canvases he layers so heavy with paint he has to sculpt and scrape the "painting" out of the mire. One of the world's most important living painters is shown at work in his studio—a rare treat.
Director: Corinna Belz
People vs The State of Illusion
A bombastic look at the stresses that degrade our quality of life, this doc resembles What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? in its vague but self-important proclamations about life, faith and love. Directed and narrated by "Former Lawyer Austin Vickers" and featuring a host of talking "experts," this doc wants you to love more—and stop doing stuff that's bad for mood. Whatever that means.
Director: Austin Vickers
Pray For Japan
As a volunteer, director Stu Levy corralled over 50 hours of footage of the tsunami devastation in 2011—not so much the drama of the storm as of the sprawling, shrapnel-heavy aftermath. He organized the footage into four categories: School, Shelter, Family, and Volunteers for a film that picks up where the news coverage faded away.
Director: Stu Levy
As they say: trust the Swiss for chocolate, the Italians for pasta and the French for lovemaking (or something like that). When Audrey Tatou (Amelie, The Davinci Code) loses her husband, her mourning slowly pushes her towards a tender Swedish coworker who sees her plight and offers her a bed to rest in. Based on the novel by writer/codirector David Foekinos,
Directors: David Foenkinos, Stéphane Foenkinos
Writer: David Foenkinos
Stars: Audrey Tautou, François Damiens, Bruno Todeschini
Free Men/Les homes libres
When Tahar Rabin starred in A Prophet, ladies swooned and casting directors took note. Today he's the face of French Algerians. In this WWII drama, Rahim makes his living on the black market. Found and cornered by the police, he's forced into spying on the Paris Mosque, jeopardizing the fate of the worshipers and the Jewish Algerian community they protect.
Director: Ismaël Ferroukhi
Writers: Alain-Michel Blanc, Ismaël Ferroukhi
Stars: Tahar Rahim, Michael Lonsdale, Mahmud Shalaby
Juan of the Dead
Juan is a 40-year-old couch potato so lethargic even his daughter abandoned him. When an unexplained zombie apocalypse takes Cuba, he finds his calling: "Ask me to kill your relatives!" he cries. Juan may be slow, but he's no dummy—this is, as the tagline states, "A New Cuban Revolution" that has more to do with Coca Cola than Castro.
Director: Alejandro Brugués
Writer: Alejandro Brugués
Stars: Blanca Rosa Blanco, Elsa Camp, Alexis Díaz de Villegas
Saviors in the Night/Unter Bauern
There's something about the horrors of WWII that puts the notion of heroism into relief. Based on Marga Spiegel's novel, which she published in 1965 and constructed around her own experiences, Saviors in the Night watches farmers in Munsterland hide a Jewish woman and her daughter from the camps in plain sight-sheltered the fields.
Director: Ludi Boeken
Writers: Otto Jägersberg, Imo Moszkowicz
Stars: Veronica Ferres, Armin Rohde, Lia Hoensbroech