Five Minute Film Guide: Every Indie Film Opening This Weekend (5/11/12 Edition)

on May 11, 2012 by Sara Maria Vizcarrondo


A Bag of Hammers
Families are stabilizing forces, even to lazy car thieves like Ben and Allen. Bros for life, they spent their youths running from commitment, but when they find a neighbor boy whose mom isn't around, they see in him the lost kid they were (er, still are) and take him in.
Director: Brian Crano
Writers: Jake Sandvig, Brian Crano
Stars: Jason Ritter, Jake Sandvig, Chandler Canterbury
Genre: Comedy

Changing the Game
He spent his life working his way out of the hood and into the Fortune 500. But now that he's reached the top, the hood finds a way to suck him back in. Candyman's Tony Todd appears as a short fused police investigator in this actioner about homecomings with handguns.
Director: Rel Dowdell
Writers: Rel Dowdell, Aaron R. Astillero
Stars: Tony Todd, Sticky Fingaz, Irma P. Hall
Genre: Action

Dragon Eyes
Veterans Jean-Claude Van Damme and Peter Weller appear in this actioner about a corrupt cop- and cartel-infested neighborhood whose hero might be an Asian ex-con. Where Van Damme once played the pacifist who learned muy thai to avenge his brother, here he's the sifu, training Cung Le to "get kicked like a man." Who'd know better?
Director: John Hyams
Writer: Tim Tori
Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Peter Weller, Cung Le
Genre: Action

El Gringo
If you loved Christian Slater so much you saw Young Guns 2 (and were disappointed when he played a ghost-cop on TV) your feelings of dissatisfaction are likely to follow him into this effort. A goofy Desperado-style knock off about a millionaire hitman caught in the wrong Mexican border town, El Gringo believes in magic bullets and angelic barmaids.
Director: Eduardo Rodriguez
Writer: Jonathan W. Stokes
Stars: Scott Adkins, Yvette Yates, Christian Slater
Genre: Action

Girl in Progress
Post-vixen Eva Mendes plays an over-committed single mom in Seattle. She's not the greatest role model for her daughter Ansiedad, who uses the coming of age stories she's reading at school as a template for her own high-speed maturation. She'll get out of her tweens one way or anotherbut she's determined to hit adulthood using the expressway.
Director: Patricia Riggen
Screenwriter: Hiram Martinez
Stars: Matthew Modine, Eva Mendes, Patricia Arquette, Eugenio Derbez, Russell Peters, Cierra Ramirez
Genre: Dramedy

God Bless America
God Bless America
may be the angriest movie about human kindness ever made. Writer/Director Bob Goldthwait says he wrote the film for his wifelikely excusebut the story of a mild-mannered part-time dad who goes postal on a string of reality TV stars is built for catharsis. Watch with cautioncontents may bite.
Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Writer: Bobcat Goldthwait
Stars: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr, Mackenzie Brooke Smith
Genre: Satire

In 2007, Dakota Fanning was in a southern-soaked semi-gothic called Hounddog, which critics ripped to shreds mainly because of its excessive display of Fanning's underage fanny. Promising more suggestion and less show, this similarly southern saga of jailbait-in-peril stars this year's Fanning-surrogate, Chloë Grace Moretz, as the runaway smart enough to manipulate boys in trucks but lonely enough to want them around.
Director: Derick Martini
Writers: Andrea Portes
Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz, Blake Lively, Rory Culkin
Genre: Dramedy

Somewhere mid-adulthood, Sarah and Neil stopped having fun. Now Neil can't face the end of coolness: he loves the girl he married, but can't recognize the one he buys settees with. They live the upper class malaise of '90s dramas, so to escape, they break into their old apartment and party like a John Hughes movie.
Director: John Chuldenko
Writers: John Chuldenko
Stars: Todd Grinnell, Ali Hillis, Kevin Linehan
Genre: RomCom

Small, Beautifully Moving Parts
Sarah's great with technologyshe can fix anything so long as she can take it apartso when she gets pregnant, she approaches it like an engine she must rebuild. Her estranged mom in the Southwest is hard to reach and might not answer any of her questions-but if she can't, who can?
Directors: Annie Howell, Lisa Robinson
Writers: Annie Howell, Lisa Robinson
Stars: Anna Margaret Hollyman, Richard Hoag, Andre Holland
Genre: Comedy

Stash House
First time homeowners are so vulnerable to crime. Here Sean Faris and Briana Evigan buy their dream house for a song, and in it find heroin stacks lined up like library books. Enter Dolph Lundgren as the crook that wants his dope back.
Director: Eduardo Rodriguez
Writer: Gary Spinelli
Stars: Dolph Lundgren, Briana Evigan, Sean Faris
Genre: Action

The Cup
The Olivers are a prestigious Australian horse racing family who lost their father in a mid-race trampling. In 2002, the younger Oliver has a chance to race in the Melbourne Cup but they fear he'll follow in his father's tragic footsteps. With the support of his loved ones he'll revive his family name from its tragic legacy. Based on a true story.
Director: Simon Wincer
Writers: Simon Wincer , Eric O'Keefe
Stars: Bryan Martin, Stephen Curry, Jodi Gordon
Genre: Drama

The Observers
A drama about scientists brought to Mount Washington, New Hampshire to observe the countryside. At the same time, their research brings about poet relationships between the titular observers and the durable landscape they study.
Director: Jacqueline Goss
Stars: Katya Gorker, Dani Leventhal
Genre: Drama

The Philly Kid
After a decade in jail, an ex-wrestler has to win a round of matches to save a friend's life. It's a good thing his girlfriend is some kind of nurse-but it's a confusing thing that nurse previously starred as the vengeful rape victim in 2010's I Spit on Your Grave remake. Either way: don't cross her.
Director: Jason Connery
Writer: Adam Mervis
Stars: Wes Chatham, Devon Sawa, Sarah Butler
Genre: Action

Jim Caviezel is a reformed criminal with a family in need of some team-building activities. When his wife finds a bag of money neither of them knows was planted by armored robbers, she ditches him in the street-and the robbers go after her car to deliver the world's ugliest, "I told you so."
Director: Antonio Negret
Writer: Michael Gilvary
Stars: Jim Caviezel, James Frain, Elisabeth Röhm
Genre: Action

You Are Here
At once a suspense film about a librarian and a metaphysical puzzle about our ability to learn, this near-comical trick of storytelling garnered great praise at TIFF.
Stars: Tracy Wright
Director/Writer: Daniel Cockburn
Genre: Suspense


Otter 501
A doc with its fins in the San Francisco Bay, this story of an orphaned baby otter begs to be received by the cooing field-trippers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where many scenes were shot. C'mon? Baby otters and bottles? I can hear squeeling from the distance.
Director: Bob Talbot

Patience (After Sebald)
W.G. Sebald's hard-to-categorize literature went in many directions, but most notably, it honored the landscape its characters traveled. This doc is a visual response to the writer's work as it takes us through the territory of Suffolk, guided by the voice of Jonathan Pryce.
Director: Grant Gee

Portrait of Wally
Egon Schiele's painting of his mistress "Wally" is a work of unique modesty and sweetness. Seized by Nazis during the war, it was presumed lost until 1997, when it was uncovered in a wall of the NY MOMA-Wha?! How?!and a series of lawsuits emerged to claim ownership. Now, the painting has a new air of infamy.
Director: Andrew Shea

Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview
The mid-90s TV show Triumph of the Nerds featured a short interview with the founder of Apple Computers, Steve Jobs. After Jobs' death, the interviewer emerged with the remaining minutes of footage-previously unseen-that captured Jobs' charisma and insight.
Director: Paul Sen

Under African Skies
Oscar nominated documentarian Joe Berlinger follows Paul Simon back to South Africa, where he went to record his famous Graceland album. Though the film shows that Simon broke with a UN Cultural Boycott of South Africa designed to hobble the last Apartheid regime, the album also raised awareness among Americans. Did it help? Did it hurt? It's worth asking...and worth making a doc about.
Director: Joe Berlinger


Romance makes you loopyor so these Hindi-speaking loons learn as their attraction turns to dizziness and increasingly disconcerting behaviors. Choosing between a socially appropriate arranged marriage and this uncouth emotional imbalance can't be hard. But will these crazy kids will come to their senses?
Director: Anurag Basu
Writer: Anurag Basu
Stars: Priyanka Chopra, Ranbir Kapoor, Ileana
Genre: Romance; Hindi-language, subtitled

Poets use the bonsai tree as a metaphor for editingcut carefully at the basic materials and something greater emerges. Here, a young writer struggles with a story about a couple bound together as they care for a plant. But with little more than that to unite them, they stop fine-tuning and the writer's story, as well as their romance, dries out.
Director: Cristián Jiménez
Writers: Cristián Jiménez
Stars: Gabriela Arancibia, Cristóbal Briceño, Julio Carrasco
Genre: Drama; Spanish-language, subtitled

Dangerous Ishhq
This Bollywood drama is a 3D operatic romance that takes place over the course of many eras, as runway model Sanjana (super-starlet Karisma Kapoor) loses the man she loves and has to find out why fate conspires against her. She travels back through her past lives to see how strong-willed she was when taken from her man-and to find when her love lives ran off the rails.
Director: Vikram Bhatt
Writer: Vikram Bhatt
Stars: Karisma Kapoor, Rajneesh Duggal, Jimmy Shergill
Genre: Romance; Hindi-language, subtitled

I Wish
Japanese Railways commissioned writer/director Hirokazu Kore-eda to make a film as publicity for the Shinkansen Bullet Train, and this feel-good movie about imperfect circumstances is the result. Two brothers are separated when their parents divorce, but when they hear that wishes made at the juncture of speeding trains come true, they launch an exodus and wish for family reunion alongside Japanese Railways own divining rods.
Director/Screenwriter: Hirokazu Kore-Eda

Stars: Koki Maeda, Ohshirô Maeda, Ryôga Hayashi, Cara Uchida, Yoshio Harada, Hiroshi Abe

Genre: Dramedy; Japanese-language, subtitled

Nobody Else But You/Poupoupidou
A writer driving through a snowy hamlet imagines his next mystery novel: Starlet famous for cheese commercials murdered in small town. But bombshells are interchangeable and so are murderers, so the writer drinks, fantasizes about the distressed damsel and eats too much cheese en route to his next pulp masterstroke.
Director: Gérald Hustache-Mathieu
Writers: Gérald Hustache-Mathieu
Stars: Jean-Paul Rouve, Sophie Quinton, Guillaume Gouix
Genre: Thriller; French-language, subtitled

Sleepless Night/Nuit blanche
After hardcore Indonesian crime thriller The Raid earned major love from action fans despite requiring minor reading, hope sprang eternal for foreign thrillers like this one. A cop's indiscretions come back to haunt him when a drug dealer kidnaps his son to insure their deal goes his way.
Director: Frédéric Jardin
Writers: Frédéric Jardin, Nicolas Saada
Stars: Tomer Sisley, Serge Riaboukine, Julien Boisselier
Genre: Action; French-language, subtitled

The Road
An isolated road leads to the country house time forgot. It sits idyllic, in weather that never varies and vegetation that never overgrows. But a cycle of murders has held the place in stasis and when some joyriding kids lose their car on the road, they won't all make it back.
Director: Yam Laranas
Writers: Aloy Adlawan, Yam Laranas
Stars: Carmina Villaroel, Rhian Ramos, TJ Trinidad
Genre: Horror; Filipino- and Tagalog-languages, subtitled

Tonight You're Mine
When strangers in dueling rock bands get handcuffed together by a comically irresponsible security guard, they have to travel the length of a muddy music festival to disconnect. These kids spent their freewheeling youths getting ready for the moment their song could connect with the worldand here they're stuck to each other and dying to get away. Irony or hypocrisy? Your call.
Director: David Mackenzie
Writer: Thomas Leveritt
Stars: Luke Treadaway, Natalia Tena, Mathew Baynton
Genre: Musical/Romance

Where Do We Go Now? / Et maintenant, on va où?
In a small village that's half Christian and half Muslim, the men fight like cats and dogs. So the women recruit a handful of strippers to distract the men while they steal the town's weapons and bury them underground. It's a great catch-22: the guys lost their guns while they were looking where they shouldn't.

Director: Nadine Labaki
Nadine Labaki, Jihad Hojeily
Cast: Claude Msawbaa, Leyla Fouad, Antoinette El-Noufaily
Genre: Drama; Arabic- and French-languages, subtitled


Tags: A Bag of Hammers, Chaning the Game, Dragon Eyes, El Gringo, Girl in Progress, God Bless America, Hick, Nesting, Small Beautifully Moving Parts, Stash House, The Cup, The Observers, The Philly Kid, Transit, You Are Here, Otter 501, Patience (After Sebald), Portrait of Wally, Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview, Under African Skies, Barfii, Bonsai, Dangerous Ishhq, I Wish, Nobody Else But You, Sleepless Night, The Road, Tonight You're Mine, Where Do We Go Now?

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