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Your Brother. Remember?
As kids, the Oberzans had fun re-enacting Jean-Claude Van Damme's Kickboxer. Two decades later after drugs and prison, the family regroups to re-enact that movie about a loyal brother avenging his fallen hero. Intercut with images of their own history, the project takes on a striking poignancy.
Director: Zachary Oberzan
They're young and hungry so they're grabbing cash at an ATM. But then these hot, urban professionals spot a poorly lit straggler in a parka who's murdering people on the sidewalk. They're trapped with their own cash—and boy does this brightly lit ATM booth suddenly feel like a spotlight...of death.
Cast: Alice Eve, Josh Peck, Brian Geraghty, Aaron Hughes
Director: David Brooks
Screenwriter: Chris Sparling
Damsels in Distress
Few things are more perilous to a girl of virtue than a first year in college—especially a liberal arts free love campus where everybody's just so chipper and frank. Director Whit Stillman does for the upper echelons what Kevin Smith did for the working class. Consider Damsels the more elegant Clerks, but with tap-dancing, suicide hotlines and a lot of snooty angst.
Cast: Greta Gerwig, Anneleigh Tipton, Adam Brody,
Director/Screenwriter: Whit Stillman
We The Party
This makes Project X look like Dave Chappelle's Sesame Street Party. Directed by Mario Van Peebles, son of the Sweet Sweetback, this party flick is as ambitious as the teens who star in it, making the whole film look like one big stunt that risks everything. With a cameo from Snoop Dogg, naturally.
Director: Mario Van Peebles
Stars: Mario Van Peebles, Snoop Dogg, Michael Jai White
Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope
Though his face is absent from this doc, Morgan Spurlock's familiar snark isn't, and his valentine to the comic book convention turned marketing and social gathering extravaganza sells its super heroes and sweetness in spades. No Wookies were harmed in the making of this doc—we think.
Director: Morgan Spurlock
MIS-Human Secret Weapon
We hear a lot about spies during WWII, but we never hear about Japanese spies. MIS were Japanese-Americans tasked with gathering intelligence in Japan while their beloved adopted country interned their friends. They knew how to infiltrate their homeland, but we don't know about them—and this film proves they saved lives and shaved years off the war.
Director: Junichi Suzuki
Based on Richard Wright's book The Short History of Progress, this doc interrogates the myths behind progress and human potential. When we build a faster computer or make a savvier piece of pop culture, we think we're progressing. But doing the same thing twice, or 200 times, isn't progress—and it's certainly got nothing to do with humanity.
Directors: Mathieu Roy, Harold Crooks
They Call It Myanmar - Lifting The Curtain
You can't bring cameras into Burma, which is why documentarian Robert H. Lieberman's two-years-worth of clandestine footage is so unique. That and his epic access to the imprisoned (though recently released) politician Aung San Suu Kyi make this doc something to seek out.
Director: Robert H. Lieberman
Winnipeg native Guy Maddin has made silent cinema oddities for the decades and this, his first film released after silent picture The Artist won the best picture Oscar, is ironically verbose. Ulysses (Jason Patric) is on an epic journey to find his wife Hyacinth (Isabella Rosselini) in a house of mystery where each keyhole leads somewhere we can't define.
Director: Guy Maddin
Writers: George Toles, Guy Maddin
Stars: Jason Patric, Isabella Rossellini, Udo Kier
Based on the 1994 hijacking of an Air France plane by Algerian extremists, The Assault resembles United 93, in that both are true stories about the plights of their passengers—but director Julien Leclercq also weaves in the back stories of the police negotiator, one of the Algerian extremists.
Cast: Vincent Elbaz, Grégori Derangère, Mélanie Bernier
Director: Julien Leclercq
Screenwriter: Simon Moutairou, Julien Leclercq
Genre: Action; French-language, subtitled
Willem Dafoe is hunting the supposedly extinct Tasmanian Tiger, and to find the creature he has to track through forests as dangerous as his hard-to-find prey. Families have lost their fathers to the pursuit of it—call it the cat version of Ahab's white whale—and while Dafoe seeks living samples of the tiger, others seek living samples from him.
Cast: Sam Neill, Frances O'Connor, Willem Dafoe
Director: Daniel Nettheim
Screenwriter: Julia Leigh
Genre: Drama, Foreign
We Have a Pope
Doctors face life and death, teachers guide young minds from becoming a**holes, but men and women of the cloth-they help people prepare their souls for eternity. No wonder they're not famous for their wit. But in this Italian comedy, the man elected to be the "Lord's First Servant" charmingly cracks under the pressure.
Cast: Nanni Moretti, Michel Piccolli, Margherita Buy
Director: Nani Moretti
Screenwriter: Nanni Moretti , Francesco Piccolo, Federica Pontremoli
Genre: Comedy; Italian-language, subtitled