With the highest metacritic score so far this year, and that expanded best picture lineup, you might be able to catch an Oscar underdog in theaters: Kathryn Bieglow’s “The Hurt Locker,” hailed by The New York Times‘ A.O. Scott as “the best nondocumentary American feature made yet about the war in Iraq,” is also attempting to become the first financially successful one this weekend, leading a batch of seven limited releases fighting for business in the shadow of “Transformers,” which has already grossed $60 million since opening yesterday.
The other six include Michelle Pfeiffer’s overdue return to a leading role (in a theatrical role, unfortunately that is) in Stephen Frear’s version of Colette’s novel “Cheri,” which is perhaps a slight Oscar contender in its own right for the performance of Pfeiffer. indieWIRE‘s Michael Koresky isn’t a huge fan of the film, saying “Frears seems to not have much of a handle on the material,” but he does single out the actress for “her sharp, laserlike focus and, as always, her empathy.”
As well, Havana Marking’s doc “Afghan Star” is opening this weekend. The film won both Best Director and Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in the World Documentary section, and indieWIRE recently interviewed Marking, who described her film: “‘Afghan Star’ is a documentary about a TV show of the same name. It’s a powerful TV format we all know – a version of Pop Idol – but in a country that most of us don’t: Afghanistan. With the back drop of warfare and Taliban repression (they banned music and used to impale TVs on spikes) you certainly wouldn’t expect to find a music TV talent contest. But ‘Afghan Star – The Series’ is now one of the most potent forces of change the country has.”
Other options include Jennifer Chambers Lynch’s sixteen-years-later follow-up to “Boxing Helena,” “Surveillance”; Buddy Giovinazzo’s “Life is Hot In Cracktown,” about a pre-op transsexual working as a prostitute; Italian import “Quiet Chaos,” directed by Antonio Luigi Grimaldi; and Cyrus Nowrasteh’s “The Stoning of Soraya M.,” starring Shohreh Aghdashloo as a woman who has a harrowing tale to tell about her niece.
Each film has its own page here at indieWIRE, complete with a round up of reviews, links to the extensive coverage we’ve done on the films here, as well as general information on the films, trailers, and – please note – the opportunity for you the reader to rate and comment on each film. Check them out, and choose your “Transformers” alternative (please):
Havana Marking’s Afghan Star
Stephen Frears’s Cheri
Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker
Buddy Giovinazzo’s Life is Hot In Cracktown
Antonio Luigi Grimaldi’s Quiet Chaos
Jennifer Chambers Lynch’s Surveillance
Cyrus Nowrasteh’s The Stoning of Soraya M.