By Steve Greene | Indiewire April 11, 2014 at 11:38AM
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 11th. Synopses provided by distributor unless listed otherwise.
The Anonymous People
Director: Greg D. Williams
Cast: Interviews with Chris Herren, Kristen Johnson, Tara Conner, William Cope Moyers, Patrick Kennedy, Jim Ramstad
Synopsis: "The addiction recovery advocacy movement questions the approach the U.S. has taken in regards to addiction: criminalizing a health condition, marginalizing those impacted, and giving superficial treatment to the chronic illness of addiction. This failure has resulted in an annual price tag of over $350 billion, lost lives and disrupted families and communities. The Anonymous People explores how deeply entrenched social stigma and discrimination have kept recovery voices silent for decades. The vacuum created by this stigma has been filled by sensational depictions of addiction that continue to perpetuate a fascination with the dysfunctional side of what is a preventable and treatable health condition."
Theatrical Release: Los Angeles
Director: James Griffith
Cast: Chris O'Dowd, Ian McShane, Rashida Jones, Nick Frost, Rory Kinnear, Olivia Colman
Synopsis: "In 1987, a thirteen-year-old natural born dancer with fire in his heels and snakes in his hips is working himself up to explode all over the UK Junior Salsa Championships. But then: a freakish bullying incident on the mean streets of London robs him of his confidence, and our young hero finds his life diverted down a very different path. Twenty-two-years later, an adult Bruce Garrett (Nick Frost) finds himself out-of-shape and unloved - trapped in a downward spiral of self-pity, repression and Nando's take-outs. Only Julia (Rashida Jones), his smart, funny, gorgeous new American boss, gives him reason to live. But she's untouchable; out of his league. Luckily for him, she also has a secret passion. Thus, Bruce is once again brought face-to-face with the darkest and most powerful of his inner demons. Somehow, someway, Bruce must learn how to unshackle his dancing beast, regain his long lost fury and claim the love of his life...and he's going to do it all On The Dance Floor."
Criticwire Grade Average: C (2 reviews)
Theatrical Release: Various in Southern California (Expansion to follow next week)
Dancing in Jaffa
Director: Hilla Medalia
Synopsis: "After decades abroad, renowned ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine returns to his hometown of Jaffa, Israel, nostalgic for the streets of his youth but nervous and dismayed by the strong current of racial animosity that now serves as the norm. Fueled by his belief in dancing’s power to build self-esteem and social awareness, Dulaine brings his popular Dancing Classrooms program to three diverse, Jaffa-based schools where he teaches ballroom basics to the ethnically mixed population of children. Dulaine selects the most focused dancers to train for a citywide competition, pairing Palestinians with Jews, putting many of the children’s and, more pointedly, their families’ beliefs to the test. As Dulaine’s passion for dance and no-nonsense style of teaching rubs off on the reluctant children, the competition offers the perfect window into their lives. Hilla Medalia’s story beautifully shows these historical archenemies forging an innocent but ultimately meaningful relationship that quickly takes on a much larger significance than what initially meets the eye. 'Dancing in Jaffa' is a sweet and incredibly moving tale filled with moments of truth, poignancy and humor, offering a glimmer of hope in the in the intractable conflict."
Theatrical Release: New York and VOD (Opening in Los Angeles on April 18th)
Director: Ivan Reitman
Cast: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Tom Welling, Sam Elliott, Terry Crews, Ellen Burstyn, Rosanna Arquette, Frank Langella, Chi McBride, Denis Leary, Patrick St. Esprit, Christopher Cousins, Chadwick Boseman, Wade Williams, W. Earl Brown, Kevin Dunn, Brian Haley
Synopsis: "On the day of the NFL Draft, general manager Sonny Weaver (Kevin Costner) has the opportunity to save football in Cleveland when he trades for the number one pick. He must quickly decide what he's willing to sacrifice in pursuit of perfection as the lines between his personal and professional life become blurred on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men with dreams of playing in the NFL."
Criticwire Grade Average: B (3 reviews)
Theatrical Release: Wide
Go With Le Flo
Director: Michael Glover
Cast: Denis Aubert, Marina Senckel, Roberta Bianchini, Leslie Dubreuil, Luisa Wietzorek, Tommaso Ragno, Mathieu Charriere, Mathilde Haldenwang
Synopsis: "Florian is half-German, half-French and owns "Le Flo" - a French delicatessen in Berlin that specializes in salami. When he meets Camille, the daughter of a famous French director, it's love at first sight. Florian wants to ask Camille to marry him, but doesn't know she's already engaged to a movie star. Meanwhile, Florian's best friend Jenny, who's German and owns a bakery just down the street, is in love with Florian but doesn't know how to tell him."
Theatrical Release: Los Angeles
Hank and Asha
Director: James E. Duff
Cast: Mahira Kakkar and Andrew Pastides
Synopsis: "In this charming romantic comedy, an Indian woman studying in Prague and a lonely New Yorker begin an unconventional correspondence through video letters - two strangers searching for human connection in a hyper-connected world. When their relationship deepens, they must decide whether or not to meet face to face."
Criticwire Grade Average: B (6 reviews)
Theatrical Release: New York (Los Angeles on April 18th, Omaha on May 9th)
Director: Liza Johnson
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Nick Nolte, Hailee Steinfeld, Christine Lahti, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sami Gayle
Synopsis: "Johanna Parry (Kristen Wiig) is a profoundly shy, unadorned woman who is hired by Mr. McCauley (Nick Nolte) as a housekeeper and a primary caregiver to his granddaughter Sabitha (Hailee Steinfeld). Despite her outgoing nature, Sabitha carries wounds from the death of her mother years before, complicated by the circumstances of that death for which her grandfather still blames her father, Ken (Guy Pearce), a hapless recovering drug addict with a certain ragged charm. In an act of mean-spirited rebellion, Sabitha uses technology to foster a pseudo-relationship between Johanna and her father, never dreaming of the potential harm to either party. Sabitha doesn't understand that Johanna is not a demure cut-out, but rather a woman for whom the phrase "still waters run deep" could have been coined. The young girl's interference provokes Johanna to indulge in something long missing from her life: the dream of a future and a home of her own." [Toronto International Film Festival]
Criticwire Grade Average: B- (4 reviews)
Theatrical Release: New York, Los Angeles (also VOD)
Director: Jason Naumann
Cast: Tim Bagley, Mindy Sterling, Joel McCrary, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Catherine Reitman, Laura Silverman, Octavia Spencer, Jennifer Elise Cox, Christen Sussin, Carrie Aizley, Robert Bagnell, Timothy Brennen, Kevin Kirkpatrick, Edi Patterson, Damon Pfaff, Richard Pierre-Louis, Lindsay Stidham, Karen Whipple
Synopsis: "Based on the hilarious and popular FunnyorDie.com web series, the film charts the rise and fall of America's worst Christian pop band! Pastor Jerry gets possibly awful medical news and is determined to reach his rebellious teen while he still can. Jerry forms Cross My Heart, a Christian band, to keep his son on a "righteous" path. He finds four young musicians with varying levels of talent and the first single Save The World! takes off on multiple (and some unexpected) radio formats. But the band starts to unravel!"
Theatrical Release: Los Angeles, Denver, Atlanta, Tempe, Ann Arbor, Orlando, Danvers (MA), Bloomington (MN), Mentor (OH) and Lansing (PA)
Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Ronie Gene Blevins, Gary Poulter
Synopsis: "Directed by David Gordon Green ("Prince Avalanche", "Pineapple Express") the film brings Academy Award® winner Nicolas Cage back to his indie roots in the title role as the hard-living, hot-tempered, ex-con Joe Ransom, as he meets a hard-luck kid,(Tye Sheridan) ("Mud", "Tree of Life") who awakens in him a fierce and tender-hearted protector. Joe and Gary forge an unlikely bond. When Gary finds himself facing a a great threat, he turns to Joe and sets off a chain of events that play out with the brutal inevitability of tragedy and the beauty of a last stab at salvation." [SXSW Film Festival]
Criticwire Grade Average: B+ (18 reviews)
Theatrical Release: Several Cities
Director: Mike Flanagan
Cast: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan Ewald, James Lafferty
Synopsis: "10 years ago tragedy struck, leaving the lives of siblings Tim and Kaylie forever changed when Tim was convicted of the murder of their parents. Now in his 20s, Tim is released from protective custody and wants to move on with his life, but Kaylie is convinced that their deaths were caused by a malevolent supernatural force unleashed through the Lasser Glass, an antique mirror in their childhood home. Determined to prove Tim’s innocence, Kaylie locates the mirror, only to learn similar deaths have befallen previous owners. With the mysterious entity back in their hands, they find their hold on reality shattered by terrifying hallucinations and realize that their nightmare is beginning again." [SXSW Film Festival]
Criticwire Grade Average: B+ (5 reviews)
Theatrical Release: Several Cities
Only Lovers Left Alive
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Anton Yelchin, Slimane Dazi
Synopsis: "After being around for centuries and now living in the modern age, vampire Adam (Hiddleston) is a rockstar that cannot grow accustomed to the new modern world with all of its new technology. While he lives in Detroit, his wife Eve (Swinton) lives in Tangier, flourishing in the new world. But when she senses Adam's depression with society, she gets on a plane and goes to see him. Shortly after Eve gets there, her little sister, Ava (Wasikowska), shows up after 87 years and disrupts the couple's idyll reunion."
Criticwire Grade Average: A- (43 grades)
Speaking with Jarmusch: For more insight into the mind behind "Only Lovers Left Alive," be sure to check out Chris Patmore's Indiewire interview with Jim Jarmusch from the Thessaloniki Film Festival.
Theatrical Release: New York, Los Angeles
Director: Stanley M. Brooks
Cast: Abigail Breslin, Georgie Henley, Mira Sorvino, Jeffrey Ballard, Zoë Belkin, Jonathan Malen, James Russo, Rusty Schwimmer
Synopsis: "Sisters Sandra and Beth learned early in life that they had no one to depend on but each other. But when their addict mother Linda makes plans to move the girls in with her lecherous and abusive lover, the girls’ situation becomes unbearable. Seeing no other way out, Sandra and Beth recruit their classmates to help them plan their mother’s murder. When the girls’ guilt spins out of control and they compulsively confess their involvement to friends, rumors that they are cold-blooded killers reach the ears of the authorities."
Theatrical Release: Several Cities (including New York, Los Angeles and Toronto)
The Railway Man
Director: Jonathan Teplitzky
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgård, Colin Firth, Jeremy Irvine, Hiroyuki Sanada, Sam Reid, Marta Dusseldorp, Tom Hobbs, Masa Yamaguchi, Byron J. Brochmann, Shinji Ikefuji, Ewan Leslie, Charlie Ruedpokanon, Yukata Izumihara, Akos Armont
Synopsis: "Based on a remarkable autobiography, The Railway Man tells the extraordinary and epic true story of Eric Lomax, a British Army officer who is tormented as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labor camp during World War II. Decades later, Lomax discovers that the Japanese interpreter he holds responsible for much of his treatment is still alive and sets out to confront him, and his haunting past." [Tokyo International Film Festival]
Criticwire Grade Average: B+ (3 reviews)
Theatrical Release: Several Cities
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, Jamie Foxx, Andy Garcia, Bruno Mars, Jesse Eisenberg, Jemaine Clement, Rodrigo Santoro, Jake T. Austin, Amandla Stenberg, Kristen Chenoweth, John Leguizamo, Pierce Gagnon, Rita Moreno, will.i.am, Tracy Morgan, George Lopez, Natalie Morales
Synopsis: "Rich with grandeur, character, color and music, RIO 2 finds Jewel (Anne Hathaway), Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and their three kids leaving their domesticated life in that magical city for a journey to the Amazon. They encounter a menagerie of characters who are born to be wild."
Theatrical Release: Wide
Missed last week's? Here are all the releases from the weekend of April 4th.