This week’s slate gathers together so many big name stars in one place you’d think it was Oscar night already.
“Across The Hall”
A stripped-down neo-noir with a twist, this feature debut for filmmaker Alex Merkin began as a 2005 short (starring Adrian Grenier, which can be found online here). Grenier didn’t return, but Mike Vogel takes his place as Julian, a young man who races to a seedy hotel where his best friend’s wayward fiancée (Brittany Murphy) and another man have aroused the suspicions of his pal, who’s holed up “across the hall” with a bottle of whiskey and a gun.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.
Having garnered a great deal of attention with his grungy murder mystery debut “Kontroll,” American-born Hungarian helmer Nimród Antal first made his mark in Hollywood with the solid but forgettable “Vacancy.” He returns with another mostly single-location potboiler that’s a throwback to the slow-burning, character-driven action flicks of old. Columbus Short fronts an ensemble cast that Matt Dillon, Jean Reno, Laurence Fishburne and Skeet Ulrich. Short plays Ty Hackett, a rookie employee and the lone voice of conscience amongst a veteran crew of security guards who hatch a plan to steal $42 million from an armored truck.
Madeline Ivalu and Marie-Hélène Cousineau co-direct this gentle Inuit drama that marks the first feature of the Arnait Video Collective, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the age-old culture’s unique perspective from the point of view of its women. Exec produced by Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn, the duo who guided “The Fast Runner” to such great acclaim, this 19th century period piece sees a wise Inuit elder (Ivalu) and her young grandson (Paul Dylan-Ivalu) depart their village for an isolated island where they will prepare to hoard food for the coming winter. In Inuktitut with subtitles.
Opens in New York.
Since Jake Gyllenhaal was once tapped to take over for Tobey Maguire to play Spider-Man when longtime Peter Parker famously claimed a back injury on “Seabiscuit,” who better than the “Jarhead” star to step in to comfort the wife of Maguire’s Sam Cahill, a soldier who’s away at war. Natalie Portman plays the woman caught in between the pair when Cahill returns from a tour of duty in Afghanistan where he was presumed dead. A haunted man who’s unable to reacclimate to civilian life, Cahill doesn’t take it well when he learns that his baby bro has taken his place in Jim Sheridan’s remake of the Susanne Bier’s 2004 Danish drama “Brødre.”
Following the painful self-parody of “Righteous Kill,” the venerable Robert De Niro bounces back with what’s being reported as a return to form at the center of Kirk Jones’ remake of Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore’s quietly contemplative 1990 road movie. With his grown children having all inexplicably canceled their annual holiday stopover, De Niro’s fastidious widower Frank sets off to pay them each a surprise visit, dropping in on slacker composer Rob (Sam Rockwell), Vegas dancer Rosie (Drew Barrymore) and career woman Amy (Kate Beckinsale), and coming to the realization that he doesn’t know them as well as he’d like.
“FILM IST. a girl & a gun”
Charlie Chaplin was once quoted saying, “All I need to make a film is a park bench, a policeman and a pretty girl.” Austrian archivist and filmmaker Gustav Deutsch goes a long way towards proving Chaplin’s point with this collage of early film stock that offers a whirlwind tour through cinema’s formative years. In five acts, Deutsch mixes imagery ranging from propaganda to pornography during the first four and a half decades of cinema, presenting the birth pains of the burgeoning medium as preoccupied as it is now with eroticism, voyeurism, and violence.
Opens in New York.
Adrián Biniez picked up the Best Debut Award at this year’s Berlin Film Festival for this minimalist, innocent-as-kittens romance starring Horacio Camandule as Jara, a Uruguayan supermarket security guard who pines over the completely oblivious object of his affection, store janitor Julia (Leonor Svarcas), via the store’s surveillance cameras. When potential layoffs threaten his crush, Jara must spring into action… or at least step up in the low-key fashion appropriate for Biniez’s deliberately paced charmer. Think “Goodbye Dragon Inn” without the five-minute static shot of an empty theater (which is actually awesome, btw).
Opens in New York.