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by Andy Lauer
July 17, 2009 6:51 AM
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Women on the Verge, Zooey Out of Love: Hitting Theaters This Week

A scene from Max Färberböck's "A Woman in Berlin." Image courtesy of Strand Releasing.

Hitting theaters this weekend is not one but two films about the experiences of women during WWII, an "anti-romantic comedy" starring indie darling Zooey Deschanel, and the gritty independent crime drama "Off Jackson Avenue."

Max Färberböck's "A Woman in Berlin," which is being distributed by Strand Releasing, stars Nina Hoss as a German woman "who, in her desperation and will to survive, decides to look for an officer who can protect her. She meets Russian officer Andrej (Evgeny Sidikhin) with whom she develops a complex and symbiotic relationship that forces them to remain enemies until the bitter end." Ella Taylor of the Village Voice calls the film the film "[o]ne of the best of a new breed of indigenous movies prying open the Pandora's box of German suffering in World War II."

Meanwhile, Screen Media is releasing Boaz Yakin’s "Death in Love." The film, which stars Jacqeline Bisset, "depicts the effects of a Jewish woman's love affair with the doctor in charge of human experiments in a Nazi concentration camp on the lives of her sons many years later." indieWIRE has an interview with Yakin who confesses that the film "came about at a point where I was taking meetings with studios on various projects, and it became clear that what I saw as a viable creative approach and what they did were so far apart that we were wasting each others' time. It had been so long since I had done something I found interesting that I really felt if I didn’t do it right then, at that moment, I would not be able to go on creatively."

"'500 Days of Summer' is one of those quirky Sundance comedies that will show up at the festival until the end of time: A playful relationship comedy with broad strokes of bittersweet commentary, a simplistic crowd-pleasing sensibility and name actors whose names are synonymous with festival indies that aren’t actually indie," writes Eric Kohn in his review for indieWIRE. "Produced by Fox Searchlight, '500 Days' revolves around greeting card designer Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his not-quite girlfriend Summer (Zooey Deschanel), who develop a strong emotional and physical bond, but can’t quite figure out how to define their relationship."

If it's thrills you're looking for, there's John-Luke Montias' crime drama "Off Jackson Avenue," opening at the Quad Cinema in New York. The film "is an interwoven crime story set in New York City involving a Mexican woman (Jessica Pimentel) who has been tricked into sex-slavery by an Albanian pimp (Stivi Paskoski) and must find a way to break out; a Japanese hit man (Jun Suenaga) who is in town to do a job for the Chinese mob and must finish his assignment despite the fact that he is haunted by his recently-dead mother's ghost; and a local car-thief (John-Luke Montias) who must go on one last stealing spree to raise enough money to buy a tire store and go legit." In an interview with indieWIRE, Montias reflects: "There were a few different factors that led to 'Off Jackson Avenue.' Just prior to writing the script, I had suffered some very tough losses in my family. Lots of illness and death in a short period of time. I think I felt kind of ass-whooped by the universe. I guess the script is a reflection of that. None of the characters have an easy time."

Finally, you can still catch "Somers Town," which opened Wednesday at New York's Film Forum. "The film, which had its debut in the 2008 Berlinale, is remarkable for being financed by one of its stars—European rail operator Eurostar. Eurostar originally commissioned Meadows to make them a twelve-minute short that showed off the train’s new (in 2007) high-speed rain line from London to Paris through the Chunnel," noted indieWIRE's Bryce Renninger in a recent cinemadaily column. "Critics have used their reviews of the film to comment on the film’s relationship to the greater trend of product placement and corporate sponsorship of films, many of them noting that 'Somers Town' is an exception to all the reasons to complain about the practice."

Each film has its own page here at indieWIRE, complete with a round up of reviews, links to the coverage we’ve done on the films here, as well as general information, trailers, and - please note - the opportunity for you the reader to rate and comment on each film. Check out the links below:

Marc Webb's 500 Days of Summer
Boaz Yakin’s Death in Love
John-Luke Montias' Off Jackson Avenue
Shane Meadows' Somers Town
Max Färberböck's A Woman in Berlin

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