By Steve Greene | Indiewire April 18, 2014 at 12:23PM
These days, the number of indies premiering on a weekly basis can be both thrilling and intimidating. To help sift through the number of new releases (independent or otherwise), we've created the Weekly Film Guide. Below you'll find basic plot, personnel and cinema information for today's fresh offerings.
Here are the films opening theatrically in the U.S. today, Friday, April 18th (including a pair that debuted this past Wednesday). Synopses provided by distributor unless listed otherwise.
Director: Ask Hasselbalch
Cast: Oscar Dietz, Nicolas Bro, Samuel Ting Graf, Amalie Kruse Jensen
Synopsis: "Twelve-year-old Pelle leads a dreadfully dull life in his small Danish town, until a bite from a very special ant endows him with incredible powers. With the aid of his nerdy, comic book-obsessed classmate Wilhelm, he adopts the cape and cowl of a new, headline-grabbing superhero: Antboy! But, as Pelle soon discovers, with great power comes great responsibility — and when a villain named Flea begins to terrorize his town, he must mature into a new and extraordinary role. Will he realize in time that sometimes your uniqueness is your greatest strength?" [Toronto International Film Festival]
Heaven is For Real
Director: Randall Wallace
Cast: Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Connor Corum, Thomas Haden Church, Jon Ted Wynne, Jacob Vargas, Lane Styles, Darren Felbel, Darcy Fehr, Ali Tataryn
Synopsis: "Based on the #1 New York Times best-selling book of the same name, 'Heaven is For Real' brings to the screen the true story of a small-town father who must find the courage and conviction to share his son's extraordinary, life-changing experience with the world. The film stars Greg Kinnear as Todd Burpo and co-stars Kelly Reilly as Sonja Burpo, the real-life couple whose son Colton (newcomer Connor Corum) claims to have visited Heaven during a near death experience. Colton recounts the details of his amazing journey with childlike innocence and speaks matter-of-factly about things that happened before his birth ... things he couldn't possibly know. Todd and his family are then challenged to examine the meaning from this remarkable event."
Director: Abhishek Varman
Cast: Alia Bhatt, Arjun Kapoor, Amrita Singh, Ronit Roy, Revathi
Synopsis: "A story about a romantic journey of a culturally opposite couple - Krish Malhotra and Ananya Swaminathan. They meet at the IIM-Ahmedabad College and during the program they fall in love. Complications arise after the program comes to an end and they decide to get married. Krish and Ananya belong to two different states of India. Krish, a North Indian Punjabi boy from Delhi, and Ananya, a Tamilian Brahmin from Chennai. They take a conscious decision; they won't get married until their parents agree. Everything goes downhill when the parents meet. There is a cultural clash and the parents oppose the wedding. To convert their love story into a love marriage, the couple faces a tough battle in front of them. For it is easy to fight and rebel, but much harder to convince."
Director: Daniel Stamm
Cast: Ron Perlman, Rutina Wesley, Mark Webber, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Devon Graye, Brittney Alger, Stephanie Honore, Christopher Berry
Synopsis: "A cryptic phone call sets off a dangerous game of risks for Elliot, a down-on-his luck salesman. The game promises increasing rewards for completing 13 tasks, each more sinister than the last." [SXSW Film Festival]
Criticwire Grade Average: B- (3 reviews)
Director: Jeff Stephenson
Cast: Laura Vandervoort, Alan Thicke, Michael Seater, Joe Dinicol, Nicholas Campbell, Lara Daans, Ron Lea, Brandon Firla, Grace Lynn Kung, Dan Lett
Synopsis: "Life could not be better for best friends Neal and Isaac. They just graduated college and landed their dream job with a top investment bank. But when they discover their boss is planning a crooked student loan deal, their lives are thrown into turmoil. Determined to stop the corrupt plan, they concoct a crazy scheme of sex, drugs and espionage resulting in a wildly chaotic adventure."
Directors: Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey
Cast: John C. Reilly (narrator)
Synopsis: "Disneynature’s new True Life Adventure 'Bears' showcases a year in the life of a bear family as two impressionable young cubs are taught life’s most important lessons. Set against a majestic Alaskan backdrop teeming with life, their journey begins as winter comes to an end and the bears emerge from hibernation to face the bitter cold. The world outside is exciting—but risky—as the cubs’ playful descent down the mountain carries with it a looming threat of avalanches. As the season changes from spring to summer, the brown bears must work hard to find food—ultimately feasting at a plentiful salmon run—while staying safe from rival male bears and predators, including an ever-present wolf pack. 'Bears' captures the fast-moving action and suspense of life in one of the planet’s last great wildernesses—Alaska!"
Theatrical Release: Wide
Director: John Turturro
Cast: Liev Schreiber, Sofia Vergara, Sharon Stone, Woody Allen, John Turturro, Vanessa Paradis, Max Casella, Aida Turturro, Bob Balaban
Synopsis: "Fioravante decides to become a professional Don Juan as a way of making money to help his cash-strapped friend, Murray. With Murray acting as his "manager", the duo quickly finds themselves caught up in the crosscurrents of love and money."
Criticwire Grade Average: B- (8 grades)
Theatrical Release: New York City and Los Angeles
The Final Member
Directors: Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math
Cast: Sigurdur Hjartarson, Páll Arason, Tom Mitchell
Synopsis: "Paris has the Louvre, London has the Tate Modern, and New York the Metropolitan Museum. But Husavik, Iceland—a diminutive village on the fringe of the Arctic Circle—boasts the world’s only museum devoted exclusively to painstakingly preserved male genitalia. Founded and curated by Sigurður 'Siggi' Hjartarson, the Icelandic Phallological Museum houses four decades worth of mammalian members, from a petite field mouse to the colossal sperm whale, and every 'thing' in between. Lamentably, Siggi’s collection lacks the holy grail of phallic phantasmagoria: a human specimen. Siggi’s world changes dramatically when he receives generous offers from an elderly Icelandic Casanova and an eccentric American. However, as the competition for eternal penile preservation heats up between the two men, Siggi soon discovers that this process is more complicated than it initially appeared."
Criticwire Grade Average: B+ (6 reviews)
Theatrical Release: New York City (Los Angeles on April 25th)
Director: Louise Archambault
Cast: Gabrielle Marion-Rivard, Alexandre Landry, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin
Synopsis: "The musically gifted but developmentally challenged Gabrielle lives in a group home with four other adults who have similar disabilities. Like all young women, Gabrielle wants her independence, but of course her situation is exceptional. When she falls in love with a similarly challenged young man in her choir, she discovers that both the families and the social workers are alarmed; can these two handle an adult relationship? Then Gabrielle’s beloved and supportive sister confesses that she is going to move to India, and Gabrielle’s world is truly in danger of falling apart. With stubborn courage and a real zest for life, Gabrielle prevails against all odds to win her freedom."
Half the Road
Director: Kathryn Bertine
Synopsis: "Modern society has long believed that women hold up half the sky in terms of equality and progression. So when it comes to the world of professional cycling why aren't women receiving half the road? Directed by pro cyclist, author and activist Kathryn Bertine and narrated by former pro cyclist and TV commentator Bob 'Bobke' Roll, 'Half the Road' explores the world of women's professional cycling, focusing on both the love of the sport and the pressing issues of inequality that female athletes face in a male dominated profession. With footage from some of the world's most challenging and exciting races to interviews with Olympians, World Champions, rookies, coaches, officials, doctors and family members, 'Half the Road' offers a unique insight to the drive, dedication, and passion it takes for a female cyclist to thrive."
Theatrical Release: New York City
A Haunted House 2
Director: Michael Tiddes
Cast: Marlon Wayans, Jaime Pressly, Ashley Rickards, Scott Burn, Dave Sheridan, Cedric The Entertainer, Affion Crockett, Audrey Petenbrink, Rick Overton, Steele Stebbins
Synopsis: "Malcolm, after exorcising the demons of his ex, is starting fresh with his new girlfriend and her two children. After moving into their dream home, Malcolm is once again plagued by bizarre paranormal events."
Theatrical Release: Wide
Director: John Stockwell
Cast: Jonathan Daniel Brown, Kenny Wormald, Ron Perlman, Aaron Yoo, Amanda Tapping, Corey Large, Bryce Hodgson, Lochlyn Munro, John C. McGinley
Synopsis: "The true story of an Idaho teen dropout who builds a multimillion-dollar marijuana ring by trafficking drugs through the woods across the Canadian border. But his pursuit of the high life - complete with girls, guns, and vicious rival drug lords - may leave this ex-pizza boy in way over his head."
Theatrical Release: New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Miami, Honolulu and Toronto
In the Meantime: If you haven't already, check out the Mark Binelli article in Rolling Stone that served as the basis for the film.
Director: Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez
Synopsis: "High above a jungle in Nepal, pilgrims make an ancient journey by cable car to worship Manakamana. "
Criticwire Grade Average: A- (16 reviews)
Theatrical Release: New York
Make Your Move
Director: Duane Adler
Cast: Derek Hough, Will Yun Lee, Izabella Miko, Miki Ishikawa
Synopsis: "Aya (Kwonin) and Donny (Hough) are from very different backgrounds- she's from Korea, he's from New Orleans; and to top things off, their families own competing dance clubs and are bitter rivals. But there is only one thing that Aya and Donny care more about than dancing- and that's the impossible and dangerous love they have for each other. This modern day Romeo and Juliet will risk everything, fight anyone, take-on anything and out-dance everyone, just to stay together. With the whole world against them, all they need is each other."
Mi Verano Con Amanda: The Last Summer
Director: Benjamin Lopez
Cast: Eugene Rodríguez, Francis Rosas, Erik Rodríguez, Natalia Rivera, Danilo Beauchamp, Lizmarie Quintana, Lian Machin, Michelle López
Synopsis: "Fabio sufre de "persécolis" una enfermedad que le provoca una paranoia severa que necesita ser tratada con urgencia. RS y Chicho deciden llevarlo donde un naturópata un tanto raro para curarlo. Pero en el camino conocen a tres hermosas chicas que cambiarán el rumbo de esta aventura. Mientras tanto Gaby... bien gracias! Este será el último verano pero sin duda el más alocado y divertido de sus vidas."
Theatrical Release: Orlando, Tampa, Claremont and Kissimmee, FL
Director: Gary Lundgren
Cast: Shirley Knight, Tom Skerritt, Catherine E. Coulson, Sam Daly, Zena Grey, Brent Hinkley, Michelle Lombardo
Synopsis: "Marie, a reluctant resident of a retirement community in Southern Oregon, decides to walk 80 miles down the Redwood Highway to see the ocean for the first time in 45 years."
Theatrical Release: Bloomington, IN; Roslindale, MA; Moline, IL (opens in Los Angeles, Boulder, Reno and elsewhere throughout May)
Director: Joel Surnow
Cast: Bridget Moynahan, Christopher Meloni, Dean Norris, Amaury Nolasco, Xander Berkeley, Devon Bostick, Garcelle Beauvais, Charles Halford
Synopsis: "Inspired by a true story, Al Klein (Meloni) and his longtime friend, Ash Martini (Norris) own a used car lot. These two know every trick in the book when it comes to selling cars. Martini is a good time charley, who never settled down. Klein, however, still pines for his ex-wife Barbara (Moynahan) who left him years ago for a more successful man. After their son, Freddy (Bostick,) graduates high school, he decides to forego college in favor of selling cars with his old man. Klein is thrilled when Freddy moves in with him—it's the first time these two have lived under one roof since Freddy was a kid. Barbara, on the other hand, is very far from thrilled. But what’s good for Klein might not be the best thing for Freddy, as Freddy quickly transforms from innocent young man into a seasoned car salesman… leaving Al with a tough decision to make."
Director: Roger Gual
Cast: Stephen Rea, Fionnula Flanagan, Claudia Bassols, Jan Cornet, Vicenta Ndongo, Togo Igawa
Synopsis: "It’s been a year since Marc and Rachel booked a table at the best restaurant in the world, situated in an idyllic cove of Costa Brava. When it turns out that the booking is on the same date as the last night before the restaurant closes forever, their booking becomes even more important. The thing is just that Marc and Rachel are no longer together. They have been separated for a year and not seen each other during that time. Not willing to miss this unique culinary event, however, they both decide to meet at the restaurant - and it becomes a night of nothing you would have expected."
Theatrical Release: Los Angeles, New York and Santa Ana, CA (opens in San Francisco, Anchorage, Santa Fe and Coral Gables, FL throughout May)
That Demon Within
Director: Dante Lam
Cast: Daniel Wu, Nick Cheung
Synopsis: "A shootout on the night-time streets of Hong Kong results in a bleeding man being taken to hospital. Reticent policeman Dave doesn't think twice about donating blood to save him. But the wounded man turns out to be Hon Kong, head honcho of a brutal group of street-thugs known as the ‘Gang from Hell’. The gang commit murderous hold-ups wearing demon masks and show no mercy to either civilians nor the police. Dave is plagued by a guilty conscience and decides to dismantle the gang. He is haunted by increasingly dreadful visions which appear to be connected to his past. When Hon is betrayed by gang-members, Dave decides to throw in his lot with the criminal in order to achieve his goal. But boundaries become blurred: Dave falls under suspicion of murder, colleagues turn out to be corrupt and his visions become ever more threatening."
Theatrical Release: Various (including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver and Toronto)
Director: Wally Pfister
Cast: Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, Clifton Collins, Jr., Morgan Freeman
Synopsis: "Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him. However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed—to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can…but if they should. Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown. The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him."
Criticwire Grade Average: C (12 reviews)
Theatrical Release: Wide
Missed last week's? Here are all the releases from the weekend of April 11th.