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May ’09: In Theaters

May '09: In Theaters

The following is a list of upcoming theatrical releases for the month of May. It is subject to change, and will be updated regularly as information becomes available. If you have news on an upcoming release that should be featured here, or in future editions, don’t hesitate to contact us at editors@indiewire.com

Also check out March and April theatrical releases.

May 1, 2009

The Limits of Control (Focus), U.S.
Dir: Jim Jarmusch
Writer: Jim Jarmusch
With: Isaach de Bankolé, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton
Synopsis: Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, “The Limits of Control” is set in the varied landscapes of contemporary Spain and shot by acclaimed cinematographer Christopher Doyle (“In the Mood for Love,” “Paranoid Park”). “The Limits of Control” is the story of a mysterious loner (played by Mr. De Bankolé), a stranger, whose activities remain meticulously outside the law. He is in the process of completing a job, yet he trusts no one, and his objectives are not initially divulged. His journey, paradoxically both intently focused and dreamlike, takes him not only across Spain but also through his own consciousness. [Synopsis courtesy of Focus Features]

The Skeptic (IFC Films), U.S.
Dir: Tennyson Bardwell
Writer: Tennyson Bardwell
With: Tim Daly, Tom Arnold
Synopsis: Following the mysterious death of his aunt, power lawyer Bryan Becket (Tim Daly) moves into the elderly woman’s purportedly haunted Victorian mansion. A die hard skeptic, he dismisses one eerie incident after another, until the haunting turns so personal and vicious, Becket’s cool, unemotional veneer begins to unravel. Whispers in the night, things he sees in the darkness, clues of a horrible secret, turn our rationalist into a terrified and reluctant seeker. A seeker of a truth so unspeakable it could destroy him. And the mystery, always just out of reach down the darkened hall, is not fully revealed until the film’s final moments. And even then, it leaves a tantalizing question. [Synopsis courtesy of IFC Films]

Battle For Terra (Lionsgate), U.S.
Dir: Aristomenis Tsirbas
Writer: Evan Spiliotopoulos
With: Evan Rachel Wood, Justin Long, Luke Wilson, Brian Cox
Synopsis: Animated sci-fi film about a post-apocalyptic battle for Earth. Mala (voice of Evan Rachel Wood) is a precocious girl living on the beautiful planet Terra, a place where peace and tolerance are celebrated. Unbeknownst to Mala and her fellow Terrians, the last inhabitants of Earth have exhausted the resources of their planet and those of three others, and are now searching for a new home. This Earthforce has discovered that the use of a Terraformer will make Terra habitable for humans but poisonous for Terrians. [Synposis courtesy of the film’s official website]

May 8, 2009

Julia (Magnolia), U.S./France
Dir: Erick Zonca
Writer: Erick Zonca, Aude Py, Michael Collins, Camille Natta
With: Tilda Swinton, Ezra Buzzington, Eugene Byrd, Kate Del Castillo
Synopsis: Julia, 40, is an alcoholic. She is a manipulative, unreliable, compulsive liar, all strung out beneath her still flamboyant exterior. Between shots of vodka and one-night stands, Julia gets by on nickel-and-dime jobs. Increasingly lonely, the only consideration she receives comes from her friend Mitch, who tries to help her. But she shrugs him off, as her alcohol-induced confusion daily reinforces her sense that life has dealt her a losing hand and that she is not to blame for the mess she has made of it. Glimpsing imminent perdition, and after a chance encounter with Elena, a Mexican woman, Julia convinces herself – as much in panic and despair as for financial gain – to commit a violent act. As the story unfolds, Julia’s journey becomes a headlong flight on a collision course, but somehow she makes the choice of life over death.
iW Coverage: “I Don’t Live On This Planet”: Tilda Swinton On Her Post-Oscar Career and the Evolution of Independent Film; BERLINALE ‘08 | Swinton on Zonca

Little Ashes (Regent Releasing), U.K.
Dir: Paul Morrison
Writer: Philippa Goslett
With: Javier Beltran, Robert Pattinson, Matthew McNulty
Synopsis: A romantic story about the young life and loves of artist Salvador Dali, filmmaker Luis Bunuel and writer Federico Garcia Lorca. In 1922, Madrid is wavering on the edge of change as traditional values are challenged by the dangerous new influences of Jazz, Freud and the avant-garde. Salvador Dali arrives at the university, 18 years old and determined to become a great artist. His bizarre blend of shyness and rampant exhibitionism attracts the attention of two of the university’s social elite – Federico Garcia Lorca and Luis Bunuel. Salvador is absorbed into their decadent group and for a time Salvador, Luis and Federico become a formidable trio, the most ultra-modern group in Madrid. However as time passes, Salvador feels an increasingly strong pull towards the charismatic Federico – who is himself oblivious of the attentions he is getting from his beautiful writer friend, Margarita. Finally, in the face of his friends’ preoccupations – and Federico’s growing renown as a poet – Luis sets off for Paris in search of his own artistic success. Federico and Salvador spend the holiday in the sea-side town of Cadaques. Both the idyllic surroundings and the warmth of the Dali family sweep Federico off his feet. Salvador and he draw closer, sharing their deepest beliefs, inspirations and secrets, convinced that they have found a kind of friendship undreamt of by others. It is more that a meeting of the minds; it is a fusion of souls. And then one night, in the phosphorescent water, it becomes something else. [Synopsis courtesy of Regent Releasing]

A scene from Atom Egoyan’s “Adoration.” Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

My Life in Ruins (Fox Searchlight), U.S./Spain
Dir: Donald Petrie
Writer: Mike Reiss
With: Nia Vardalos, Richard Dreyfuss, Rachel Dratch, Harland Williams
Synopsis: A Greek tour guide named Georgia (Nia Vardalos) attempts to recapture her kefi (Greek for “mojo”) by guiding a ragtag group of tourists around Greece and showing them the beauty of her native land in this sun-soaked comedy from director Donald Petrie. Along the way, she manages to open their eyes to wonders of an exotic foreign land while beginning to see the world through a new set of eyes in the process.

Adoration (Sony Classics), Canada
Dir/Writer: Atom Egoyan
With: Devon Bostik, Arsinee Khanjian, Scott Speedman, Rachel Blanchard
Synopsis: Sabine (Arsinee Khanjian), a high school French teacher, gives her class a translation exercise based on a real news story about a terrorist who plants a bomb in the airline luggage of his pregnant girlfriend. The assignment has a profound effect on one student, Simon (Devon Bostik), who lives with his uncle (Scott Speedman). In the course of translating, Simon re-imagines that the news item is his own family’s story, with the terrorist standing in for his father. Years ago, Simon’s father (Noam Jenkins) crashed the family car, killing both himself and his wife (Rachel Blanchard), making Simon an orphan. Simon has always feared that the accident was intentional. Simon reads his version to the class and then takes it to the Internet. In essence, he has created a false identity which allows him to probe his family secret. As Simon uses his new persona to journey deeper into his past, the public reaction is swift and strong. Then an exotic woman reveals her true identity. The truth about Simon’s family emerges. The mystery is solved and a new family is formed. [Synopsis courtesy of Sony Classics]
iW Coverage: TIFFG Unveils Canada’s Top 10 for ‘08; TORONTO ‘08 | “Adoration” for Blanchard and Bostick

Rudo y Cursi (Sony Classics), U.S./Mexico
Dir: Carlos Cuarón
Writer: Carlos Cuarón
With: Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal, Guillermo Fracella
Synopsis: Beto (Luna) and Tato (Bernal) are a pair of rivaling, dim-witted brothers who work on a dusty banana ranch and play soccer for their local team. Beto, a goalie whose hot temper on the field earns him the nickname of Rudo, dreams of becoming a professional soccer player, while Tato wants to be a famous singer. They both share the dream of building a big house for their mother, Elvira, but all of their desires seem completely out of reach, that is, until a talent scout, Batuta, discovers their skill on the field. To Beto’s chagrin, it is Tato, whose curlicue field play earns him the nickname of Cursi, who is chosen to become a star player. Not to be bested, Beto scores a goalie position on a rival team, further intensifying the competition between them. But success makes the brothers confront their own personal demons and sets them on a chase for more than just soccer balls. [Synopsis courtesy of Sundance Film Festival]
iW Coverage: Sundance Live III: Anna Wintour Hits Park City, “Amreeka,” “Rudo y Cursi,” “Push,” More; Gael Celebrates “Rudo” Premiere at Sundance; Sony Classics to Bring Sundance Title “Rudo Y Cursi” to North America

“Outrage” (Magnolia)
Dir: Kirby Dick
Synopsis: Academy Award nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick (“This Film Is Not Yet Rated”) delivers a documentary about the hypocrisy of closeted politicians who actively campaign against the LGBT community they covertly belong to. “Outrage” reveals the hidden lives of some of our nation’s most powerful policymakers, details the harm they’ve inflicted on millions of Americans, and examines the media’s complicity in keeping their secrets. [Synopsis courtesy of Magnolia Pictures].

May 14, 2009

O’Horten (Sony Classics), Norway
Dir: Bent Hamer
Writer: Bent Hamer
With: Baard Owe, Espen Skjonberg, Ghita Norby, Bjorn Floberg, Kai Remlov, Henny Moan, Bjarte Hjelmeland, Per Jansen
Synopsis: The moment the train leaves the station without engineer Odd Horten (Bard Owe) aboard, he realizes that the path ahead is a journey without printed timetables and well-known stations. Horten has been forced to retire after 40 years of traveling a very stable rail, and the platform does not feel like a safe place anymore. His orderly, solitary existence is about to give way to a future of unlikely adventures and puzzling dilemmas: will Horten ever travel by plane? Will he finally sell his prized boat? How does Horten end up in a pair of women’s red high-heeled shoes? Will he survive a nighttime drive with a blindfolded man at the wheel?

May 15, 2009

“Jerichow” (The Cinema Guild), Germany
Dir/Writer: Christian Petzold
With: Benno Fürmann, Nina Hoss, Hilmi Sözer
Synposis: At the outset of the film, Thomas (Benno Fürmann) is returning home for his mother’s funeral, a seemingly simple premise that rapidly becomes something far more complex and compelling. Running from a business associate to whom he owes money, Thomas stumbles across a man who is destined to change his life. Stopping at a roadside accident, he befriends Ali (Hilmi Sözer), a middle-aged Turk who, under the influence, has almost driven his van into a local canal. The two men soon find that they are very useful to each other. Ali, his licence now suspended, needs a driver to ferry him around his ragtag kingdom of local snack bars. Thomas, meanwhile, is penniless, and Ali seems cash-flush. The film takes a decidedly steamy and noirish turn when Thomas discovers that Ali is married to a hot young blonde (Nina Hoss). It is not long before Petzold seamlessly brings all of his characters’ competing needs and desires together. [Synopsis courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival]

The Brothers Bloom (Summit), U.S.
Dir: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
With: Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz, Rinko Kikuchi
Synopsis: Director Rian Johnson’s around-the-world adventure concerns brothers Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and Bloom (Adrien Brody), orphans who bonded in childhood and were mentored into highly skilled con men by an enigmatic Fagin figure (Maximilian Schell). By the time they are adults, they have established a fail-safe formula: Stephen is the “head,” creating elaborate plots with a Machiavellian glee, and Bloom is the “heart,” charged with playing the part of the front man. Bloom is as moody as Stephen is driven, however, and wants to quit after every assignment. Stephen finally implores him to do one more job – one so sweet it cannot be refused – agreeing to dissolve the partnership upon its completion. [Synopsis courtesy of the Toronto International Film Festival]
iW Coverage: TORONTO ‘08 | “Bloom” Guys; iW INSIDER | Major Pre-Fest Buy Blooms; Summit Makes Blind Eight-figure Deal for Rian Johnson’s “Brothers”

A scene from Rian Johnson’s “The Brothers Bloom.” Image courtesy of Summit Entertainment.

Summer Hours (IFC), France
Dir: Olivier Assayas
Writer: Olivier Assayas
With: Juliette Binoche, Charles Berling, Jérémie Rénier
Synopsis: The divergent paths of three forty-something siblings collide when their mother, heiress to her uncle’s exceptional 19th century art collection, dies suddenly. Left to come to terms with themselves and their differences, Adrienne (Juliette Binoche), a successful New York designer, Frederic (Charles Berling), an economist and university professor in Paris, and Jeremie (Jeremie Renier), a dynamic businessman in China, confront the end of childhood, their shared memories, background and unique vision of the future.
iW Coverage: NYFF ‘08 | Assayas Discusses His “Summer Hours”; TORONTO ‘08 | Desplechin, Assayas and Madame

Big Man Japan (Magnolia), Japan
Dir: Hitoshi Matsumoto
Writer: Hitoshi Matsumoto, Mitsuyoshi Takasu
With: Hitoshi Matsumoto
Synopsis: A middle-aged slacker living in a rundown, graffiti-ridden slum, Daisato’s job involves being shocked by bolts of electricity that transform him into a stocky, stick-wielding giant several stories high who is entrusted with defending Japan from a host of bizarre monsters. But while his predecessors were national heroes, he is a pariah among the citizens he protects, who bitterly complain about the noise and destruction of property he causes. And Daisato has his own problems – an agent insistent on branding him with sponsor advertisements, an Alzheimer-afflicted grandfather who transforms into a giant in dirty underwear, and a family who is embarrassed by his often cowardly exploits. [Synopsis courtesy of official website]

May 20, 2009
“Burma VJ” (Oscilloscope)
Dir: Anders Østergaard
Synopsis: Armed with pocket-sized video cameras, a tenacious band of Burmese reporters face down death to expose the repressive regime controlling their country. In 2007, after decades of self-imposed silence, Burma became headline news across the globe when peaceful Buddhist monks led a massive rebellion. More than 100,000 people took to the streets protesting a cruel dictatorship that has held the country hostage for more than 40 years. Foreign news crews were banned, the Internet was shut down, and Burma was closed to the outside world. So how did we witness these events? Enter the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), aka the Burma VJs. Compiled from the shaky handheld footage of the DVB, acclaimed filmmaker Anders Ostergaard’s Burma VJ pulls us into the heat of the moment as the VJs themselves become the target of the Burmese government. [Synopsis courtesy of Sundance Film Festival.]

May 22, 2009

Easy Virtue (Sony Classics), U.K.
Dir: Stephan Elliott
Writer: Stephan Elliott, Sheridan Jobbins
With: Jessica Biel, Colin Firth, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Barnes
Synopsis: The twenties have roared…the thirties have yet to swing. John Whittaker, a young Englishman, falls madly in love with Larita, a sexy and glamorous American woman, and they marry impetuously. However when the couple returns to the family home, his mother Mrs. Whittaker has an instant allergic reaction to her new daughter-in-law. Larita tries her best to fit in but fails to tiptoe through the minefield laid by her mother-in-law. Larita quickly realizes Mrs. Whittaker’s game and sees that she must fight back if she’s not going to lose John. A battle of wits ensues and sparks soon fly. Mrs. Whittaker manipulates every situation to undermine her, while Larita remains frustratingly calm and engineers sassy counter attacks. Before long, Mrs. Whittaker’s manipulation starts to work on John and Larita feels their love is in danger of slipping away. In a grand finale, where the secrets from Larita’s past are revealed, she finally makes a break for freedom from the suffocating house… [Synopsis courtesy of film’s official website.]

The Girlfriend Experience (Magnolia), U.S.
Dir: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Brian Koppelman, David Levien
With: Sasha Grey, Christopher Santos, Peter Zizzo
Synopsis: “Girlfriend” details five days in the life of an ultra high-end Manhattan call girl who thinks she has her life totally under control. She feels her future is secure because she runs her own business her own way, makes $2000 an hour, and has a devoted boyfriend who accepts her lifestyle. But when youre in the business of meeting people, you never know who youre going to meet.
Links: Sundance Live VI: “Girlfriend Experience,” “Education,” “Season” Deals, LGBT Panel, “Dare” Premiere

Pontypool (IFC), Canada
Dir: Bruce McDonald
Writer: Tony Burgess
With: Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle
Synopsis: Shock jock Grant Mazzy has, once again, been kicked-off the Big City airwaves and now the only job he can get is the early morning show at CLSY Radio in Pontypool Ontario, which broadcasts from the basement of the small town’s only church. What begins as another boring day of school bus cancellations, due to yet another massive snow storm, quickly turns deadly when reports start piling in of people developing strange speech patterns and evoking horrendous acts of violence start piling in. But there’s nothing coming in on the news wires. Is this really happening? Before long, Grant and the small staff at CLSY find themselves trapped in the radio station as they discover that this insane behaviour taking over the town is actually a deadly virus being spread through the English language itself. Do they stay on the air in the hopes of being rescued or, are they in fact providing the virus with its ultimate leap over the airwaves and into the world? [Synopsis courtesy of film’s official website.]
iW Coverage: SXSW Snapshot: What Zombies? Bruce McDonald’s “Pontypool”

A scene from Sam Raimi’s “Drag Me To Hell.” Image courtesy of Universal Pictures

The Maiden Heist (Yari), U.S.
Dir: Peter Hewitt
Writer: Michael LeSieur
With: Morgan Freeman, Christopher Walken, William H. Macy, Marcia Gay Harden
Synopsis: “The Maiden Heist” gives us the most endearing characters ever to commit grand larceny: three museum security guards who live lives of quiet captivation, each enraptured by a particular work of art. Roger (Christopher Walken), Charles (Morgan Freeman) and George (William H. Macy) are each so lost in fascination with the particular objet d’art of his affection that although they have been coworkers for decades, they only just meet for the first time when crisis strikes: there’s a new curator in town, and his plan is to change the museum’s collection entirely, threatening to rob each man of his greatest secret passion in life. However, having found their kindred spirits, the men forge a plan to hold onto the works of art they hold most dear. Though hardly criminal masterminds, their inflamed hearts drive them to plan and execute the most daring art heist ever conceived from the inside – with bumblingly hilarious results! [Synopsis courtesy of Yari Film Group]

May 29, 2009

Departures (Regent), Japan
Dir: Yojiro Takita
Writer: Kundo Koyama
With: Masahiro Motoki, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ryoko Hirosue, Kazuko Yoshiyuki
Synopsis: “Departures” follows Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki), a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved and who is suddenly left without a job. Daigo decides to move back to his old hometown with his wife to look for work and start over. He answers a classified ad entitled “Departures” thinking it is an advertisement for a travel agency only to discover that the job is actually for a “Nokanshi” or “encoffineer,” a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life. While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo takes a certain pride in his work and begins to perfect the art of “Nokanshi,” acting as a gentle gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and the family of the departed. The film follows his profound and sometimes comical journey with death as he uncovers the wonder, joy and meaning of life and living. [Synopsis courtesy of Regent Releasing]
iW Coverage: “Departures” and the Best Foreign Language Oscar

Drag Me to Hell (Universal), U.S.
Dir: Sam Raimi
Writer: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi
With: Alison Lohman, Justin Long
Synopsis: Director Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man” trilogy, “Evil Dead” series) returns to the horror genre with “Drag Me To Hell,” an original tale of a young woman’s desperate quest to break an evil curse. Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is an ambitious L.A. loan officer with a charming boyfriend, professor Clay Dalton (Justin Long). Life is good until the mysterious Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) arrives at the bank to beg for an extension on her home loan. Should Christine follow her instincts and give the old woman a break? Or should she deny the extension to impress her boss, Mr. Jacks (David Paymer), and get a leg-up on a promotion? Christine fatefully chooses the latter, shaming Mrs. Ganush and dispossessing her of her home. In retaliation, the old woman places the powerful curse of the Lamia on Christine, transforming her life into a living hell. Haunted by an evil spirit and misunderstood by a skeptical boyfriend, she seeks the aid of seer Rham Jas (Dileep Rao) to save her soul from eternal damnation. To help the shattered Christine return her life to normal, the psychic sets her on a frantic course to reverse the spell. As evil forces close in, Christine must face the unthinkable: how far will she go to break free of the curse? [Synopsis courtesy of Universal Pictures]
iW Coverage: SXSW Snapshot: Sam Raimi’s “Drag Me To Hell”

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