By Steve Greene | Indiewire May 9, 2014 at 9:26AM
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. the week of Friday, May 9th. (Synopses provided by distributor unless listed otherwise.)
Director: Dana Ben-Ari
Synopsis: "'Breastmilk' is an intimate exploration of women and the constructs that can make breastfeeding daunting for so many. Pregnant women and nursing mothers, partners, as well as experts from medical, alternative and academic fields all comment on this ancient, primal and controversial bond between mothers and babies."
Theatrical Release: New York (opens in Irvine and Los Angeles on May 16th and San Francisco on May 23rd)
Llyn Foulkes One Man Band
Directors: Tamar Halpern and Chris Quilty
Cast: Llyn Foulkes, Dennis Hopper, Johnny Carson, Paul Schimmel
Synopsis: "During the seven years chronicled in the film, artist and musician Llyn Foulkes uses hammers and saws to create, destroy, and recreate a pair of large-scale, three-dimensional paintings, one that costs him his marriage, while trying to keep afloat in the fickle art market. With interviews from veterans of the 1960s Los Angeles art scene such as Dennis Hopper and George Herms, the film reconstructs Foulkes’s uncompromising, up-and-down career as he was kicked out of the legendary Ferus Gallery and walked away from a successful career as an L.A. pop artist. Structured like one of Foulkes’s constantly reworked paintings, the film tracks his artistic struggles, ending as he is at last rediscovered by the international art world at age 77. With music written and performed by Foulkes on a massive, fanciful, self-invented musical instrument he calls 'The Machine,' Llyn Foulkes One Man Band is an intimate portrait of an artist battling his own demons as well as the perceived demons of the art world."
Theatrical Release: New York (opens in Los Angeles May 16th)
Director: Bobby Boermans
Cast: Hannah Hoekstra, Isis Cabolet, Robert de Hoog, Jeroen Spitzenberger, Matthijs van de Sande Bakhuyzen, Alex Hendrickx
Synopsis: "Anna, a student at the University of Amsterdam, lives with her best friend Sophie and balances psychology classes with supporting her brother and his recovery following a traumatic motorcycle accident. She’s never far from her cellphone, and after a night of partying in the dorms, Anna wakes up groggy and hungover only to find that a new app has been inexplicably added to it. Initially helpful and clever, IRIS soon begins behaving mysteriously, answering personal questions it shouldn’t know the answers to, and sending inappropriate images to her contacts. When it becomes clear she can’t simply delete the unwanted evil app, Anna’s efforts to confront it will set in motion a fearful series of events that will put her life, and that of her roommate and her fragile brother, in fatal danger."
Theatrical Release: Various (including Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Miami, Sacramento, San Diego and Vancouver)
Director: Justin Owensby
Cast: Jesse Johnson, Christopher Masterson, Christine Woods, Caitlin Thompson, Jordan Potter, Alex Saxon, Catherine Bach, Dennis Haskins, Greg Lang, Nelly Weiser
Synopsis: "Alex Fletcher, a locksmith trapped inside the wreckage of a life numbed by drugs and regret, receives an unexpected and troubling letter that draws him back to his childhood home, an idyllic town in the Colorado Rockies. Although facing heartbreaking memories and the demons from his past is anything but idyllic, Alex’s journey does lead to a confrontation that may be the key to his emotional healing and freedom."
Theatrical Release: New York and Los Angeles
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey Jr., Emjay Anthony
Synopsis: "When Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) suddenly quits his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman), he is left to figure out what’s next. Finding himself in Miami, he teams up with his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara), his friend (John Leguizamo) and his son (Emjay Anthony) to launch a food truck."
Criticwire Grade Average: B (11 reviews)
Theatrical Release: New York and Los Angeles (expands to various other cities throughout May)
Director: Atom Egoyan
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Mireille Enos, Stephen Moyer, Kevin Durand, Collette Wolfe, Elias Koteas, Bruce Greenwood, Amy Ryan, Alessandro Nivola, Martin Henderson
Synopsis: "Three teenagers are accused of murdering three young children as part of a satanic ritual."
Criticwire Grade Average: C- (7 reviews)
Theatrical Release: Various (including Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia and Tampa)
Director: Richard Ayoade
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Noah Taylor, Yasmin Paige, Noah Taylor, James Fox, Cathy Moriarty, Chris O'Dowd, Sally Hawkins, Craig Roberts, Paddy Considine
Synopsis: "Simon is a timid man, scratching out an isolated existence in an indifferent world. He is overlooked at work, scorned by his mother, and ignored by the woman of his dreams. He feels powerless to change any of these things. The arrival of a new co-worker, James, serves to upset the balance. James is both Simon's exact physical double and his opposite - confident, charismatic and good with women. To Simon's horror, James slowly starts taking over his life."
Criticwire Grade Average: B+ (22 grades)
Theatrical Release: New York and Los Angeles (opens in seventeen other states and Washington, DC throughout May and June)
Director: Stephanie Soechtig
Synopsis: "Upending the conventional wisdom of why we gain weight and how to lose it, Fed Up unearths a dirty secret of the American food industry—far more of us get sick from what we eat than anyone has previously realized. Filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig and TV journalist Katie Couric lead us through this potent exposé that uncovers why—despite media attention, the public’s fascination with appearance, and government policies to combat childhood obesity—generations of American children will now live shorter lives than their parents did." [Sundance Film Festival]
Criticwire Grade Average: B (5 reviews)
Theatrical Release: Various (including Austin, Cincinnati, Seattle, Portland, Charlotte, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal)
Director: John Slattery
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jenkins, Christina Hendricks, John Turturro, Eddie Marsan
Synopsis: "In the gritty, blue-collar neighborhood of God's Pocket, Mickey Scarpato's crazy stepson, Leon, is killed in a construction 'accident,' and Mickey quickly tries to bury the bad news with the body. But when a local columnist comes sniffing around for the truth, things go from bad to worse. Mickey finds himself stuck in a life-and-death struggle compounded by a body he can't bury, a wife he can't please, and a debt he can't pay." [Sundance Film Festival]
Criticwire Grade Average: C+ (16 reviews)
Theatrical Release: Limited (expands nationwide on May 16th)
The Hornet's Nest
Director: David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud
Cast: Members of 101st Airborne, 2nd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment and the 187th Airborne “Rakkasans”
Synopsis: "Mike and Carlos have embedded with U.S. Forces fighting on the front lines in Afghanistan, amidst the constant threat of the Taliban. Their journey, The Hornet’s Nest, unfolds a true story of survival not only for the soldiers, but for a father and son team who seek to re-connect under the most harrowing of circumstances."
Theatrical Release: Dallas and Oklahoma City
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
Director: Dan St. Pierre
Cast: Lea Michele, Dan Aykroyd, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Dancy, James Belushi, Oliver Platt, Kelsey Grammer, Tom Kenny, Brian Blessed, Megan Hilty, Martin Short, Bernadette Peters
Synopsis: "Dorothy’s only just returned home from her first incredible journey to Oz, but she’s already being called back for another adventure! After waking to post-tornado Kansas, Dorothy (Lea Michele) and Toto are whisked to Oz on a magical rainbow mover sent by their old friends the Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), the Lion (Jim Belushi) and the Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer). Time in Oz has passed much faster than back in Kansas, and Dorothy discovers that the Jester (Martin Short) – the devious brother of the Wicked Witch of the West – is taking Oz over one region at a time, holding their leaders captive and casting a pall of darkness over the beloved land. Even Glinda (Bernadette Peters) is unable to combat the Jester’s evil powers, making Dorothy their only hope."
Theatrical Release: Wide
Mom's Night Out
Directors: Andrew & Jon Erwin
Cast: Sarah Drew, Trace Adkins, Sean Astin, Patricia Heaton, Sammi Hanratty, Abbie Cobb, Harry Shum Jr., Rhoda Griffis, Alex Kendrick, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, Jason Burkey, Logan White, Brett Rice, Lance E. Nichols
Synopsis: "All Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and conversation...a long-needed moms' night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation and food not served in a paper bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for three hours—what could go wrong?"
Theatrical Release: Wide
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Cast: Dave Franco, Zac Efron, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Rose Byrne, Seth Rogen, Lisa Kudrow, Jake M. Johnson, Carla Gallo, Chasty Ballesteros, Ali Corbin, Ike Barinholtz, Craig Roberts, Jason Mantzoukas, Jesse Heiman, Cassandra Starr
Synopsis: "By all appearances, new parents Mac (Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Byrne) are living the American Dream, one complete with an adorable little girl and a beautiful new starter home in the suburbs. Still, the early-thirtysomethings want to believe that they have a modicum of coolness left within them. This next phase of life is proving to be a challenge, as the reformed (sometime?) partyers struggle with the realities of entering an inevitable new stage: unapologetic adulthood. When Mac and Kelly discover that their new next-door neighbors are none other than dozens of Delta Psi Beta fraternity brothers—led by charismatic president Teddy Sanders (Efron)—they try to play along and make the best of an awkward situation. But when the frat’s parties grow increasingly more epic, both sides of the property line begin to fend for their turf."
Criticwire Grade Average: B (15 reviews)
Theatrical Release: Wide
Director: Gia Coppola
Cast: Emma Roberts, James Franco, Val Kilmer, Jack Kilmer, Keegan Allen, Nat Wolff, Colleen Camp, Olivia Crocicchia, Christian Madsen, Zoe Levin, Don Novello
Synopsis: "Palo Alto weaves together three stories of teenage lust, boredom, and self-destruction: shy, sensitive April (Emma Roberts), torn between an illicit flirtation with her soccer coach (James Franco) and an unrequited crush on sweet stoner Teddy (Jack Kilmer); Emily (Zoe Levin), who offers sexual favors to any boy to cross her path; and the increasingly dangerous exploits of Teddy and his best friend Fred (Nat Wolff), whose behavior may or may not be sociopathic. One of the strongest American directorial debuts of the past decade, Coppola's film has a palpable sense of time and place, but her characters — seeking cheap thrills and meaningful connections — could be teenagers from any generation." [Toronto International Film Festival]
Criticwire Grade Average: B (18 reviews)
Theatrical Release: New York and Los Angeles (expands throughout the country during May and June)
Director: Michael King
Synopsis: "'The Rescuers' uncovers the largely unknown stories of 13 heroic and courageous diplomats who, at tremendous personal cost, saved tens of thousands of Jews during World War II. The film follows Stephanie Nyombayire, a young Rwandan anti-genocide activist who lost 100 members of her family in the Rwandan Genocide of the 1990s, and Sir Martin Gilbert, the renowned 20th century and Holocaust historian, as they travel across 15 countries and three continents interviewing survivors and descendants of the diplomats. Nyombayire and Gilbert explore and contemplate the past in a quest, in part, to understand what should be done to stop the ongoing genocide in Darfur and elsewhere."
Theatrical Release: New York
Director: Jerome Sable
Cast: Minnie Driver, Meat Loaf, Allie MacDonald, Douglas Smith, Kent Nolan
Synopsis: "Starry-eyed teenager Camilla Swanson wants to follow in her mother's footsteps and become a Broadway diva, but she's stuck working in the kitchen of a snobby performing arts camp. Determined to change her destiny, she sneaks in to audition for the summer showcase and lands a lead role in the play, but just as rehearsals begin, blood starts to spill, and Camilla soon finds herself terrified by the horror of musical theatre." [SXSW Film Festival]
Criticwire Grade Average: B (3 reviews)
Theatrical Release: Various (including Dallas, Minneapolis, New York, Kansas City, Portland, Tuscon and Washington, DC)
Missed last week's? Here are all the releases from the weekend of May 2nd.