BOXOFFICE.COM FEATURED INDEPENDENT FILM:
Friends With Kids
When you're growing up, you pass every landmark with your friends: suffering junior high, graduating college, learning about the birds, the bees and the pain of rejection. When longtime friends Julie and Jason watch their pals reproduce, they want in on the fun (that their friends aren't really having) and make a platonic baby.
Director: Jennifer Westfeldt
Writer: Jennifer Westfeldt
Stars: Jennifer Westfeldt, Adam Scott, Maya Rudolph
A tragic love story about two people suffering from a rare disorder referred to as "Madness shared by two," this literally psychological drama is rooted in clinical truth. The onset of this couple's codependent disorder must have a remedy—but do you really want to heal when the alternative is tons of crazy hot snogging?
Director: Aaron Rottinghaus
Writer: Aaron Rottinghaus
Stars: Olesya Rulin, Josh Danziger, Bruce McGill
Bending the Rules
World Wrestling Entertainment commandeers comedian Jamie Kennedy for this wrestler-studded actioner about a district attorney chasing down a dirty cop in New Orleans. With WWE stars tangling all over the Big Easy, expect liquor-soaked chair smashing. Starring "Edge" (not the one from U2).
Director: Artie Mandelberg
Writer: Dylan Schaffer
Stars: D'Arcy Allen, Teresa Alvarez, Randy Austin, Jamie Kennedy
Ambitious executive Meghan is sent to the Mojave desert to acquire a multi-million dollar piece of land, but the owner is a Christian and he'd rather not sell to a heathen, money-worshiper like her. So in six days this landowner wants to do for Meg what God did to earth: total reconstruction. Sounds like a comedy-but it's not.
Director: Chris Armstrong
Writers: Delvin Molden, Cecil Chambers
Stars: Jenn Gotzon, Gib Gerard, Michael Toland
After an early career playing renegade teens, Christian Slater grew up to play cops. But not run-of-the-mill public servants-he's a cop that deals with ghosty-stuff. In Playback, the disappearance of a local teen reveals the town's darkest secret and Slater has to stop a renegade demon from searching for a body to inhabit. The thing's as ferocious as an apartment hunter in New York.
Director: Michael A. Nickles
Writer: Michael A. Nickles
Stars: Christian Slater, Ambyr Childers, Toby Hemingway
If the best priest understands doubt, does the best salesman question his own products? A pyramid scheme salesman goes against his shady script and tries to make one of his imaginary businesses work in the real world. Maybe this is the kind of faith only George Michael can explain. Plays the reRun in Brooklyn as an extension of SXSW.
Director: Jake Mahaffy
Writer: Jake Mahaffy
Stars: Jeff Clark, Paul Mahaffy
A Drummer's Dream
When Davis Guggenheim made It Might Get Loud, he shot musicians and their guitars like sex objects. John Walker aims at something similar with A Drummer's Dream: he targets drummers and focuses on seven stick-wielders including Dennis Chambers of Santana and solo artist Kenwood Dennard. Maybe drummers do have more fun...or, at least, tap more skin. Ahem.
Director: John Walker
Like an extension of SXSW's programming, this doc about a family who converts a four-centuries-old Dutch convent into a home and artist colony is playing the reRun Theater in Brooklyn for one night only. Far as I'm concerned, everywhere in the states is just a road trip away from Austin.
Director: Jarred Alterman
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
The art of sushi is as aesthetic as it is gustatory and 85-year-old sushi chef Jiro has dedicated his life to its mastery. His business is in the basement of an office building. While not as glam as Spago, you won't find more stringent quality control. Mastery isn't pretty, but Jiro suggests the result of perfection is beauty.
Director: David Gelb
Lou Harrison: A World of Music
The neat thing about the work of musicians is that it's not work—it's play. Literally! And Lou Harrison typifies this upbeat mindset by reinvented his music with ingenious found instruments and experimental orchestrations. Some kids play in a pen, others in the field, and Harrison was definitely one who did the latter. This doc was 20 years in the making.
Director: Eva Soltes
It's amazing to watch kids learn to manage stress and adjustment—and growing up is constant adjustment. The Drama Teachers Association of Southern California is a high school program that teaches kids classical drama after school, and it's got high-pedigree alumnae like Kevin Spacey, Val Kilmer and Richard Dreyfuss. But whatever its grads go on to do, the time they spent figuring out Hamlet (and their own feelings) is transformative.
Director: Alex Rotaru
The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye
Is love "having one mind and two bodies" or is it the other way around? Punk musician Genesis P'Orridge and artist Lady Jaye get plastic surgery to make themselves resemble each other—they want their love to be visually unified. The sacrifice seems great, but to hear them talk about it, there's nothing lost in their bargain.
Director: Marie Losier
To deal with her father's terminal illness (and her own instability), an alienated Greek named Bella obsesses over Richard Attenborough's nature docs. She's anthropologically detached but physiologically curious, and so she propositions a visiting engineer for detached animal sex—but that's not how it'll stay. Part of the Greek New Wave.
Director: Athina Rachel Tsangari
Writer: Athina Rachel Tsangari
Stars: Ariane Labed, Giorgos Lanthimos, Vangelis Mourikis
Yafo is a predominantly Arab portion of Tel Aviv, Israel, and it's where experimental film vet Nina Menkes set her interrogation of the violence in Israel. Theater actress Didi Fire plays a woman losing herself to the constant conflict—though intimations of revival aren't far behind.
Director: Nina Menkes
Writer: Nina Menkes
Stars: Didi Fire
Father and son biblical scholars (Talmudic professors, to be specific) work at opposite ends of the spectrum: Dad studies one text ceaselessly in isolation, while his son struck pop culture gold by making bible stories salacious. So when dad gets the lifetime achievement award for Talmudic study, son begrudges dad...and then finds out the honor was supposed to go to him.
Director: Joseph Cedar
Screenwriter: Joseph Cedar
Stars: Shmuel Shiloh, Lior Ashkenazi, Yuval Scharf, Albert Iluz, Shlomo Bar-Aba, Alma Zack
Good For Nothing
Americans like to think we invented the Western, but we're far from the genre's only practitioners. Australian Westerns are a feisty breed, with threads of aboriginal angst and poignancy and a particular interest in the power of people standing on vast plains. In this, an Aussie cowboy falls for a British "iron" lady—imagine the Down Under James Carville and Mary Matalin.
Director: Mike Wallis
Stars: Cohen Holloway, Inge Rademeyer, Jon Pheloung
With all of his colleagues promoted to higher posts, veteran detective Sang-gil gets stuck with a rookie on a case involving odd bite marks. The rookie investigates a strain of wolf-dog attacks while the veteran follows her along on a hunt for a killer whose other meal is Alpo. Maybe promotions pass him by because he watches CSI when his division watches Twilight.
Director: Ha Yu
Writer: Asa Nonami
Stars: Kang-ho Song, Na-yeong Lee
Vidya is pregnant when her husband disappears. Certain he needs rescue, she tries to find him-but deciding to leave London and seek him out in Calcutta makes her allies call her crazy and call him "imaginary." In this case, the squeaky wheel doesn't get the grease—it might get abandoned.
Director: Sujoy Ghosh
Writers: Sujoy Ghosh, Ritesh Shah
Stars: Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chatterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
This feel good movie begins when a Sheik hires a fisheries expert to help him bring salmon to the desert. Naturally, the expert politely cries "crackpot"—but then PR sways Parliament into considering the farfetched idea as a goodwill mission. Wouldn't the world feel better about the UK if we brought rivers to the desert? Next goodwill mission, we'll teach them how to make chips.
Director: Lasse Hallström
Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked
Sound of Noise
This Swedish comedy tracks a gang of gorilla percussionists who wreak havoc by grabbing anything at arm's reach to make thudding music. The premise sounds like a gag about musical competition, but it ultimately scratches at the rhetoric of terrorism—which is no joke, but it can certainly be joked about, especially by the apolitical Swedes.
Directors: Ola Simonsson, Johannes Stjärne Nilsson
Writers: Johannes Stjärne Nilsson, Ola Simonsson
Stars: Bengt Nilsson, Sanna Persson, Magnus Börjeson
The Decoy Bride
Reminiscent of a Scottish Notting Hill, The Decoy Bride is a rom com about a Hollywood actress who wants to get hitched in the U.K. and has to put another girl in her shoes—literally—to get the international paparazzi off her tail. Kelly Macdonald stars as the hottie decoy that the groom finds hard to resist.
Director: Sheree Folkson
Writers: Sally Phillips,
Stars: Kelly Macdonald, David Tennant, Alice Eve