This week’s new releases include a Latin American double bill on the nature of the fame game, a British one-two centered on the macabre and a global smattering of meditations on love young and old.
Following on the heels of well-received festival performers “Funny Ha Ha” and “Mutual Appreciation,” mumblecore alum Andrew Bujalski delivers another characteristically lo-fi tale of post-grads trying to build lives for themselves. Complete with a who’s who of Austin indie film players (including SXSW film fest head Janet Pierson), this Texas-set ramble centers on the unfulfilled lives of twin sisters Lauren and Jeannie (non-pros Maggie and Tilly Hatcher), the former a carefree drifting spirit, the latter a headstrong business owner.
Opens in New York.
Progressive and traditionalist values clash against the barren backdrop of Eastern Turkey with the fate of a young girl in the balance in director Abdullah Oguz’s adaptation of Zülfü Livaneli’s politically charged novel. Özgü Namal stars as 17-year-old Meryam who, after having been discovered unconscious and assaulted, is sentenced to death in the ancient custom. Murat Han co-stars as Cemal, the conservative but conflicted young man tasked with carrying out her disposal on the road to Istanbul, who’s forbidden from returning until the task is complete. In Turkish with subtitles.
Opens in New York.
“By The People: The Election of Barack Obama”
Way back in 2006, when the African-American junior senator from Illinois announced his candidacy for president, many people scoffed. Two people who didn’t were cinematographer Amy Rice and producer Alicia Sams, who brought the idea of an inside account of this unlikely candidate’s campaign to Edward Norton, who ended up serving as the film’s producer. Three years and countless hours of footage later, the results were sold for a princely sum (seven figures) just days after Obama’s election, an award for the prescience of being there to document every step of Obama’s meteoric rise to political stardom virtually from the beginning.
Opens in Los Angeles.
Like something Charlie Kaufman forgot to write, French writer/director Sophie Barthes’ feature debut features an aging sad sack (Paul Giamatti, playing a rough version of himself) attempting to remedy a creative block via metaphysical pseudo-science. Driven to distraction by his inability to grasp the soul of the titular role in a production of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya,” Giamatti opts to have his own soul removed, turning to an upscale spiritual cosmetics company specializing in “soul storage.”
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.
DocuWeek, the annual New York and Los Angeles based theatrical exhibition of doc films for purposes of Oscar qualification, continues. Movies opening this week are: “Kimjongilia,” a glimpse into North Korea through the testimony of defectors (LA 8/7, NY 8/14); “Rock Prophecies,” about photographer Robert M. Knight’s quest for the world’s greatest undiscovered guitar player (LA 8/7, NY 8/14); “Split Estate,” in which Colorado residents fight the federal mandate permitting the energy industry to drill their land (NY, LA 8/7); and “Soundtrack for a Revolution,” which charts the role of music in the American civil rights movement (NY, LA 8/7).
“El Tinte De La Fama”
Serving as the Venezuela’s entry in the Best Foreign Language Film Award at the most recent Oscars, director Alejandro Bellame Palacios’ feature debut is a surrealist plunge into the intoxicating waters of stardom. Pressured by her nagging husband and their dwindling finances, blond beauty Magaly (Elaiza Gil) enters into a televised Marilyn Monroe look-a-like contest. Egged on by fellow participant and transsexual Hector (Miguel Ferrari), who believes he is the reincarnation of the late actress, Magaly’s fragile psyche begins to fracture as events in her life begin to oddly mirror those of the real Monroe. In Spanish with subtitles.
Opens in Los Angeles.
“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”
Between the ludicrous “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and the incoherent borefest that was “Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen,” it’s so far not been a banner year for movies based on merchandise, at least critically. Stephen Sommers’ contribution to the fold is a live-action version of the flag-waving ’80’s kids’ cartoon/action figure line, with the fate of the free world hanging in the balance — again — and Dennis Quaid, decked out like an uncool dad at Halloween, in the role of General Hawk.