By Neil Pedley
There’s a welcome change of pace this week, with nary a Nazi in sight. Character actors go to work both in front of and behind the camera, there’s a white wedding, a black comedy and a bizarre love triangle in Plautdietsch just over the Mexican border.
“8 Films to Die For: After Dark Horrorfest 2009”
For one week only, nasty niche distributor After Dark Films terrorizes 300 screens across the country with their third annual “Horrorfest” showcase featuring a selection of eight indie horror films. This year’s selection comprises of: “Autopsy,” the Lena Headey-Richard Jenkins’ thriller “The Broken,” “The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations,” “Dying Breed,” “Perkins’ 14,” “Slaughter,” the Korean frightfest “Voices,” and “From Within,” which Alison Willmore noted during its Tribeca premiere wasn’t exactly for God-fearing types. Eight films to die for is what they say — we’ll settle for being made to perhaps feel a bit sick afterwards. Check your local listings.
Opens in limited release.
It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a Richard Gere or a Hugh Grant on board, but quite honestly, what’s a wedding comedy minus the men? Much like actual weddings, this one is all about the bride. Anne Hathaway, who between this and the universally applauded “Rachel Getting Married” must be developing a taste for prop wedding cake, co-stars with Kate Hudson as a porcelain pair of lifelong friends who crack up when they discover only one of them will be able to have their wedding at their dream venue. “Tadpole” director Gary Winick helms this battle of the bridezillas.
“Just Another Love Story”
Despite a somewhat innocuous title and a plot that bears more than a passing resemblance to Sandra Bullock’s dreadfully vanilla rom-com, “While You Were Sleeping,” Danish helmer Ole Bornedal has darkened the mood with something of a lurid farce littered with betrayal and dead bodies. Anders W. Berthelsen stars as Jonas, a crime scene photographer who visits the hospital room of Julia (Rebecka Hemse), a woman left comatose from a flaming car wreck that he was involved in. With Julia’s family convinced that Jonas is her longtime boyfriend Sebastian, Jonas pretends to be him even after Julia awakes until her violent past reemerges and some unpleasant people looking for the real Sebastian (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) come knocking. In Danish with subtitles.
Opens in New York.
“Not Easily Broken”
Perhaps best remembered as a former Schwarzenegger cohort from “Predator” and “Commando,” Bill Duke has enjoyed a long and distinguished career filling out roles that typically come with phrases like “dogged” and “hard-nosed” attached. Lesser known as a director, he’s been honing his skills on films like “A Rage in Harlem” for almost thirty years, and shows a softer side to his game with this uplifting adaptation of T.D Jakes’ novel. Morris Chestnut stars as Dave Johnson, a former baseball star whose marriage woes are exacerbated when his wife (“Benjamin Button”‘s Taraji P. Henson) is hurt in a car accident and Dave befriends her physical therapist (Maeve Quinlan).
This latest offering from provocative Mexican writer/director Carlos Reygadas has positively cleaned up during its two-year festival run, nabbing most notably a Jury Prize at Cannes en route to a nod for best foreign film at the upcoming Independent Spirit Awards in February. Set in a Mennonite colony in Mexico, this elegant, ecumenical drama tells of Johan (Cornelio Wall), his wife Esther (Miriam Toews), and their crisis of faith as they persist with their marriage in the face of Johan’s full and frank disclosure of his ongoing affair with Marianne (Maria Pankratz). In English, French, Spanish, and Plautdietsch with subtitles.
Opens in New York.
From the underappreciated “The Crow: City of Angels” to the “Blade Trilogy” with a cult classic like “Dark City” in between, if it’s a grungy, gothic sci-fi flick or a comic book film that’s actually any good, chances are you’ll find David S. Goyer’s name somewhere on the screenplay. Clearly more comfortable banging away at a typewriter, Goyer’s more likely counting money from “The Dark Knight” than recovering from the reviews for previous directorial outings such as “The Invisible” and “Blade: Trinity,” and while this psychological horror yarn is unlikely to raise his profile as a director, it should be good for a scare or two. The film stars Odette Yustman as a girl who’s slowly being taken over by the malevolent spirit of her twin, who died while still in the womb. It also has Gary Oldman as the girl’s spiritual adviser, which automatically makes it 13% better.
With a dash of “Ocean’s 11” and a smidge of “Rain Man,” Robert Celestino’s life-affirming story of familial reconciliation bubbling underneath the “one last big score” pizzazz of a casino scam might strike a chord with viewers looking for something, well, a little less Holocausty. Chazz Palminteri plays the titular Joe, a “mechanic with dice and cards” who must find enough cash to send his son with down syndrome (Tom Guiry) to a special school after he’s kicked out of his old one and into Joe’s care. Christine Lahti, Michael Lerner, and Linus Roache fill out Celestino’s underworld.
Opens in limited release.
[Photo: “The Broken,” After Dark Films, 2008]