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Big Screen | This Week’s Top 5: From “Barney” To Skarsgård To “The Green Hornet”

Big Screen | This Week's Top 5: From "Barney" To Skarsgård To "The Green Hornet"

Each week indieWIRE offers five recommendations for theatrical viewing, tackling new releases, film festivals, curated series and events. This week, some expanding December releases, Richard J. Lewis’s “Barney’s Version,” and the curious case of “The Green Hornet” top the list.

1. Expanding December Releases
Mike Leigh’s “Another Year” will expand to San Francisco, Scottsdale and Chicago this Friday, Sylvain Chomet’s “The Illusionist” will also hit San Francisco and Chicago, and both Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine” and John Cameron Mitchell’s “Rabbit Hole” will expand considerably across the United States. While these films aren’t receiving the same awards attention going to films like “Black Swan,” “True Grit,” “The Fighter” and “The King’s Speech,” that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the attention of filmgoers. So check local listings and see if one of them is heading your way.

2. Barney’s Version
Technically also a December release, this Richard J. Lewis-directed adaptation of the celebrated Mordecai Richler novel had an awards-qualifying run last month that resulted in a Golden Globe nomination for star Paul Giamatti. However, Sony Pictures Classics is giving the film its official limited debut this Friday and it’s this weekend’s highest-profile specialty release. Starring Giamatti, Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver, Rachel Lefevre, Bruce Greenwood, and Scott Speedman, it follows romantic, impulsive and blunt Jewish philanderer Barry Panofsky (Giamatti) and the many women in his life. “There was nothing I didn’t like about the character,” Giamatti said after the film’s well-received North American premiere in Toronto last fall. “It was so fun to get the chance to play this impulsive man’s life out. I’m not like him – I’m a wimp.”

Check out the film’s trailer here:

3. A Useful Life (La Vida Útil)
Screening as part of the Global Lens 2011 series at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Uruguay’s Federico Veiroj (Acné) brings us his second feature in “A Useful Life.” Shot in black and white and cropped to the Academy aspect ratio popular in the 1950s, it follows a cinema worker (played by real-life Uruguayan film critic Jorge Jellinek) who is forced to adjust to life in the real world when the cinema he worked at for over 25 years is forced to shut down.

Check out the trailer here:

4. A Somewhat Gentle Man
Stellan Skarsgård stars in this Norwegian import from director Hans Petter Moland (“The Beautiful Country”), which follows a man coming out of a 12-year prison sentence for killing his wife. The film debuted at last year’s Berlin International Film Festival to warm notices and went on to screen at fests in Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro, Mill Valley, Denver, Thessaloniki and last weekend in Palm Springs. Strand Releasing is giving the film a theatrical U.S. release beginning this weekend.

Check out the trailer here:

5. The Green Hornet
Though not a specialty release by any means, Michel Gondry’s “The Green Hornet” might deserve your curiosity this weekend. Despite Gondry’s considerable pedigree, the film – which stars and was co-written by Seth Rogen – was plagued by bad buzz and Sony shifted it from a December release date to the general studio deadzone that is January. However, it’s suddenly seeing a flux of warm buzz after reportedly testing very well in preview screenings. It stars Rogen as a wealthy and spoiled young man who, following his father’s death, teams with his dad’s assistant Kato (Jay Chou) to become a crime-fighting duo. Cameron Diaz and Christoph Waltz co-star as Rogen’s love interest and nemesis, respectively.

Check out the trailer below:

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