Fans of Ewan McGregor, Kristen Stewart and James Van Der Beek (!) will be seeing double this spring, as arthouses and multiplexes host an array of indie films ranging from the travails of septuagenarian New Yorkers looking for love (“The Last New Yorker”) to 13-year-old assassins on the hunt for their first kill (“Kick-Ass”). If real life is more your speed, there are new documentaries about reviving animation strips (the Disney doc “Waking Sleeping Beauty”) and stripping down (the burlesque history “Behind the Burly Q”), while foreign wonders like the French crime epics “A Prophet” and “Mesrine” mix with Korean treasures “Mother” and “The Good, The Bad and The Weird.”
But of course, why limit yourself to just what’s playing in the first-run theater near you? We’ve also included a look at the films that will be playing Anywhere But a Movie Theater (online, on demand, and on DVD) in the next few months, as well as a tri-coastal calendar of repertory theaters that are hosting all kinds of one-night-only events, including a screening of “Up in the Air” writer/director Jason Reitman’s favorite films in Los Angeles. All in all, why risk being caught out in the rain or snow when the perfect storm of movie magic is happening inside.
“The Ghost Writer” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Timothy Hutton, Eli Wallach, Jim Belushi, Tom Wilkinson
Director: Roman Polanski
Fest Cred: Berlinale
The Gist: Arthouse fans may turn their nose up at the “Twilight” franchise, but you can probably thank the Cullens for empowering Summit to pick up the latest from Polanski, an adaptation of former political journalist Robert Harris’ novel about a disgraced British prime minister, Adam Lang (Brosnan), who holes up at an island retreat to pen his memoirs with the help of a ghost writer (McGregor). But when the new co-author begins to piece together the truth of an investigation into Lang’s involvement in torturing terrorist suspects, he begins to fear he may end up like the mysteriously disappeared writer he replaced on the project.
“2010 Oscar Nominated Shorts”
The Gist: Magnolia Pictures is once again teaming with the British-based Shorts International to present two programs — animated and live-action — of this year’s Oscar-nominated shorts on the big screen. In the animated category, those films include the latest adventure of Wallace & Gromit in Nick Park’s “A Matter of Loaf and Death,” Nicolas Schmerkin’s “Logorama,” Javier Recio Gracia’s “The Lady and the Reaper,” Nicky Phelan and Darragh O’Connell’s “Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty,” and Fabrice O. Joubert’s “French Roast.” In the live-action program, you will be able to see Juanita Wilson and James Flynn’s “The Door,” Patrik Eklund and Mathias Fjellström’s “Instead of Abracadabra,” Gregg Helvey’s “Kavi,” Luke Doolan and Drew Bailey’s “Miracle Fish,” and Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson’s “The New Tenants.”
“Blood Done Sign My Name” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Nate Parker, Ricky Schroder, Afemo Omilami, Lela Rochon, Nick Searcy, Michael Rooker, Darrin Dewitt Henson, Gattlin Griffith
Director: Jeb Stuart
The Gist: Not known for heavy dramas, “Die Hard” and “The Fugitive” screenwriter Stuart adapts fellow North Carolinean Tim Tyson’s autobiographical tome about the coalition of civil rights activists and religious leaders who came together to tame the social unrest that followed the acquittal of three white men of a racially charged murder of an African-American war vet in ’60s Oxford. As Stuart recently told the New York Times, this isn’t going to be “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
“Bulletproof Salesman” (IMDb, trailer)
Director: Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker
Fest Cred: SXSW, Silverdocs, Woodstock
The Gist: “Gunner Palace” and “How to Fold a Flag” docmakers Epperlein and Tucker are back with the story of Fidelis Cloer, an armored car dealer who traverses Iraq looking for sales and in the process reveals the reality of the wartorn nation. Los Angeles’ Downtown Independent is hosting the film’s exclusive one-week run.
“Dreamkiller” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Dario Deak, John Savage, Tyrone Power Jr., John Colton, Diandra Newlin, Penny Drake
Director: Catherine C. Pirotta
The Gist: This psychological thriller stars Deak and Colton as two doctors who aren’t allowed to celebrate for too long after their discovery of a cure for fear backfires when their patients’ previously held murderous inclinations begin to manifest into reality.
“The Good Guy” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Alexis Bledel, Scott Porter, Bryan Greenberg, Anna Chlumsky, Aaron Yoo, Andrew McCarthy
Writer/Director: Julio DePietro
Fest Cred: Tribeca
The Gist: Imagine if John Hughes had continued to probe the quarterlife crises of the Brat Pack generation that he seemingly abandoned with “Career Opportunities” in ’91 well into the glossier ’00s and you have a good idea of Chicago hedge fund manager-turned-director DiPietro’s feature debut, which stars “Friday Night Lights”‘ Porter and Greenberg as Wall Street day traders who ultimately vie over the same girl (Bledel).
“Happy Tears” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Demi Moore, Parker Posey, Ellen Barkin, Rip Torn
Writer/Director: Mitchell Lichtenstein
Fest Cred: Berlinale, Mill Valley, Starz Denver
The Gist: Unlike some who want to distance themselves from their famous lineage, “Teeth” director Lichtenstein is making no secret of being the son of Roy with his second feature, named after one of his dad’s paintings (and even uses it for the poster) and perhaps touches on something personal with the story of two sisters (Moore and Posey) who head back to their hometown of Pittsburgh to tend to their ailing father (Torn).
“The Last New Yorker” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Dominic Chianese, Dick Latessa, Kathleen Chalfant, Josh Hamilton
Director: Harvey Wang
The Gist: “The Sopranos” Chianese co-stars with Latessa as a pair of 70-year-old Manhattanites whose lifelong friendship is tested when Chianese’s Lenny decides to embark on a romance that may lead him out of living in the big city, much to the chagrin of his pal who can’t stand its ever-changing nature.
“Lourdes” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Sylvie Testud, Léa Seydoux, Bruno Todeschini, Gilette Barbier, Gerhard Liebmann, Irma Wagner
Writer/Director: Jessica Hausner
Fest Cred: Venice, Toronto, Pusan, Warsaw, London, Vienna, Sundance
The Gist: Once again proving to be an elusive filmmaker to categorize, “Hotel” director Hausner took home a bucket of awards from last year’s Venice Film Festival for this drama about a multiple sclerosis-afflicted woman, confined to her wheelchair during a pilgrimage to the Pyrenees, whose deeply held skepticism is put to the test when she actually experiences something miraculous at the religious shrine.
“Phyllis and Harold” (IMDb, trailer)
Director: Cindy Kleine
Fest Cred: Iowa Independent, Toronto Jewish, Jewish Eye, Santa Fe
The Gist: Following the death of her father, the titular Harold, Kleine makes a sequel to her 1998 doc “Til Death Do Us Part” about her parents’ different perspectives on their 55-year marriage. This time around, Kleine focuses more on her own upbringing and her relationship to her mother, who was indulging in an affair that Kleine had to protect from her father during the later years of their marriage.
“Scream of the Bikini” (IMDb)
The Cast: Kelsey Wedeen, Rebecca Larsen
Director: Kiff Scholl
Fest Cred: Thrillspy
The Gist: A spoof of ’60s spy thrillers, Wedeen and Larsen star as supermodels who moonlight as bounty hunters in this low-budget midnight movie that is being advertised as a lost South American production that was only recently uncovered.