Gemma Arterton hits theaters for the second weekend in a row (following last week’s “Unfinished Song”), this time as a vampire; a new documentary teaches us the real roots of punk, and Pedro Almodovar’s latest opens. Here’s a list of the indies opening this week, with synopses courtesy of the distributors, in alphabetical order.
“100 Bloody Acres”
Opening In: Limited Nationwide (Expanding July 5)
Synopsis: In “100 Bloody Acres,” brothers Reg and Lindsay Morgan are struggling to keep their organic blood and bone fertilizer business in motion. Their secret “recipe” for success (using dead car crash victims in their product) was a huge boon to business, but lately supply has been gravely low. Months have passed since their last find, and an important new customer is now waiting on a delivery. When junior partner Reg (amon Herriman of “Justified”) stumbles upon 3 travelers stranded on a remote country road, he cooks up a radical solution to their problem, and a way of finally gaining the respect of his bossy big brother (Angus Sampson, featured in the upcoming “Insidious: Chapter 2”). But when Reg starts to fall for Sophie, one of the intended victims, things get complicated. A bloody good time, the Cairnes’ brothers witty horror-comedy blends sly Australian humor, gory fun, and a clever storyline that gives “recycling” a whole new context.
“A Band Called Death”
Opening In: New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Detroit, Phoenix, Chicago, Seattle, Washington D.C. (Expanding July 5)
Synopsis: Punk before punk existed, three teenage brothers in the early ’70s formed a band in their spare bedroom, began playing a few local gigs and even pressed a single in the hopes of getting signed. But this was the era of Motown and emerging disco. Record companies found Death’s music and band name too intimidating, and the group were never given a fair shot, disbanding before they even completed one album. Equal parts electrifying rockumentary and epic family love story, “A Band Called Death” chronicles the incredible fairy-tale journey of what happened almost three decades later, when a dusty 1974 demo tape made its way out of the attic and found an audience several generations younger. Playing music impossibly ahead of its time, Death is now being credited as the first black punk band (hell… the first punk band!), and are finally receiving their long overdue recognition as true rock pioneers.
Opening In: Limited Nationwide (Expanding July 12 and July 19)
Synopsis: Copperhead is unlike any Civil War movie to date. A story of the violent passions and burning feuds that set ablaze the home front during the Civil War, “Copperhead” is also a timeless and deeply moving examination of the price of dissent, the place of the individual amidst the hysteria of war time, and the terrible price of war. Based on the extraordinary novel by Harold Frederic, which the great American critic Edmund Wilson praised as a brave and singular book that “differs fundamentally from any other Civil War fiction,” “Copperhead” is the story of Abner Beech, a stubborn and righteous farmer of Upstate New York, who deﬁes his neighbors and his government in the bloody and contentious autumn of 1862. With “Copperhead,” director Ron Maxwell, who with “Gettysburg” and “Gods and Generals” established himself as our foremost cinematic interpreter of the American Civil War, takes on the War from a stunning, unexpected and richly, unforgettably humanist angle. “Copperhead” is a parable of the Civil War and perhaps for our own time.
“Detention of the Dead”
Synopsis: It’s just after 3PM at Lincoln High and detention has begun. But when the school is suddenly attacked by ﬂesh-eating zombies, six trapped students – a lovesick nerd (Jacob Zachar of “Greek”), the goth-chick (Alexa Nikolas of “Zoey 101” and “The Walking Dead”), a stuck-up cheerleader (Christa B. Allen of “Revenge”) and her bully boyfriend (Jayson Blair of “The Hard Times Of RJ Berger” and “The New Normal”), a stoner (Justin Chon of “The Twilight Saga” and “21 & Over”) and a dumb jock (Max Adler of “Glee”) – must battle hordes of the hungry undead. Get ready for the gut-chomping, limb-ripping, head-severing horror-comedy that proves the only thing more cruel and desperate than trying to survive high school is fighting the zombie apocalypse!
Opening In: New York
Synopsis: “Gideon’s Army” follows the personal stories of Travis Williams, Brandy Alexander and June Hardwick, three young public defenders who are part of a small group of idealistic lawyers in the Deep South challenging the assumptions that drive a criminal justice system strained to the breaking point. Backed by mentor Jonathan “Rap” Rapping, a charismatic leader who heads the Southern Public Defender Training Center (now known as Gideon’s Promise) they struggle against long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads so common that even the most committed often give up in their first year. Nearly 50 years since the landmark Supreme Court ruling Gideon vs. Wainwright that established the right to counsel, can these courageous lawyers revolutionize the way America thinks about indigent defense and make “justice for all” a reality?
“How to Make Money Selling Drugs”
Opening In: New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Atlanta (Expanding July 5 and July 12)
Synopsis: A shockingly candid examination of how a street dealer can rise to cartel lord with relative ease, How to Make Money Selling Drugs is an insider’s guide to the violent but extremely lucrative drug industry. Told from the perspective of former drug dealers, and featuring interviews with rights advocates Russell Simmons, Susan Sarandon, and David Simon (creator of “The Wire”), the film gives you the lessons you need to start your own drug empire while exposing the corruption behind the “war on drugs.”
“I’m So Excited”
Opening In: New York, Los Angeles
Synopsis: A very varied group of people are in a precarious situation aboard a plane flying to Mexico City. A technical failure (a kind of justifiable negligence, even though it sounds contradictory, but that’s what human actions are) has endangered the lives of the passengers on Peninsula Flight 2549. The pilots, hardened, experienced professionals are striving, along with their colleagues in the Control Center, to find a solution. The flight attendants and the chief steward are atypical, baroque characters who, in the face of danger, try to forget their own personal problems and devote themselves body and soul to the task of making the flight as enjoyable as possible for the passengers, while they wait for a solution. Life in the clouds is as complicated as it is at ground level, and for the same reasons, which could be summarized in two: sex and death. The travelers in Business Class consist of a pair of newlyweds, party goers, worn out by their wedding celebration; a financier and embezzler; unscrupulous in business but also a father afﬂicted by his daughter’s estrangement; an inveterate Don Juan with an uneasy conscience who is trying to say goodbye to one of his women (girlfriends); a rural psychic; a queen of the gossip magazines and a Mexican with an important secret. Each of them has a project in Mexico City, either to work or to escape. They all have some kind of secret, not just the Mexican. Their defenselessness in the face of danger provokes a general catharsis among the passengers and the crew, and this ends up becoming the best way to escape from the idea of death. This catharsis, developed in the tone of a riotous, moral comedy, fills the time with sensational confessions that help them forget the anguish of the moment.
Opening In: New York, Boston, Seattle, Denver, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, Gainsville (July 5 Los Angeles, San Diego, July 19 Phoenix, Tempe)
Synopsis: Laurence Anyways tells the story of an impossible love between Frederique and her long-term boyfriend Laurence, a man who reveals his inner desire to become his true self: a woman. Set during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the story spans a decade, chronicling the doomed love of Fred and Laurence, as well as the trials and tribulations that they face. The film begins by introducing Laurence, an average 35-year-old man, who is an award-winning novelist and literature teacher in Montreal. He is very much in love with his girlfriend, the fiery and passionate Frederique. On the day of his birthday, he reveals to Fred his biggest secret: he has felt for his entire life that he was born in the wrong body and says that he has been living a lie. He wishes to rectify his situation and restart his life as a woman. Fred accuses him of being gay, and takes the news hard. They separate for a short time, but she arrives at the conclusion, much to the chagrin of her mother and sister, that she must be there for Laurence. Their romance resumes and Fred becomes Laurence’s biggest supporter. She teaches Laurence how to do her makeup and buys her a wig. She urges Laurence to dress as her true self, in female clothing. Laurence shows up to work one day in a dress. All seemingly goes well until she is released from her position at the school due to the negative reception of her transformation.
Opening In: New York
Synopsis: To escape the pressures of growing up, magic-obsessed kids congregate at the one place they can be themselves: Tannen’s Magic Camp, the world’s oldest and most prestigious training ground for young magicians. They want to prove themselves on the same stage where superstars like Blaine and Copperfield once performed. To get there, they need more than sleight of hand. They have to find the magic inside. “Magic Camp” is an award-winning documentary from two-time Emmy-nominated director Judd Ehrlich (“Run for Your Life,” “Mayor of the West Side”) and the cinematographer of Sundance favorites “Word Wars” and “American Teen.”
Opening In: New York
Synopsis: When a Vienna museum guard befriends an enigmatic visitor, the grand Kunsthistorisches Art Museum becomes a mysterious crossroads which sparks explorations of their lives, the city, and the ways art works reflect and shape the world.
Opening In: New York
Synopsis: The story of a family whose growth is stunted… a family that learns how to love themselves while loving each other (a little too much). Brittany Snow and Thora Birch star in Ash Christian’s must-see dark comedy about a family of New Yorkers coming to terms with the chaos and misgivings of life. From pregnancy to sex addiction to overbearing parents, “Petunia” is a film about the unpredictability of life that is sure to have you laughing the whole way through.
Opening In: Limited Nationwide
Synopsis: A thriller centered on an war veteran who has reinvented himself as an upper-class Londoner has to embrace his violent past when his girlfriend is murdered.
“The Secret Disco Revoution”
Opening In: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkley, Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland, Palm Springs, Columbus, Fort Lauderdale.
Synopsis: The disco era, long dismissed as a time of hedonistic excess, has been gravely misunderstood. Revisionist historians now argue the era was in fact an important time of protest: liberating gays, blacks and women. “The Secret Disco Revolution” juxtaposes disco revisionists against revealing new interviews with the era’s biggest stars: The Village People, Gloria Gaynor, Kool and the Gang… A goldmine of rarely seen stock footage, and enough disco hits to shake your booty straight back to 1978. But the film’s form is as revolutionary as its content:This quietly hilarious doc-satire also features an unreliable Nabokovian narrator; “reenactments” that are speculative to the point of complete fantasy; and a unique tone of sustained irony that both presents a fresh look at a well-known era, and compels audiences to question it, without ever allowing them off the dancefloor.
Opening In: New York, Los Angeles
Synopsis: Based on his play by the same name, Neil LaBute‘s script follows a successful writer (Adam Brody) who, on the eve of his wedding, travels across the country to meet up with ex-lovers in an attempt to make amends for past relationship transgressions. Crisscrossing from Seattle to Boston, he reunites with high school sweetheart Sam (Jennifer Morrison), sexually free-spirited Tyler (Mia Maestro), married college professor Lindsay (Emily Watson), his best friend’s little sister Reggie (Zoe Kazan), and “the one that got away” Bobbi (Kristen Bell). Daisy von Scherler Mayer (“Party Girl”) directs this journey of a modern-day Candide stumbling through a landscape familiar to most men—messy breakups.