Jackie Chan leads a revolution, a creepy urban legend comes to life, and Butch Cassidy rides again in this week's roundup of independent film.
Opening This Weekend
Jackie Chan stars in 1911
, which will open on 33 screens across the country. Chan plays Huang Xing, a military leader who returns from Japan to discover his homeland in turmoil; he then leads a rebellion against the despotic rule of the Qing Dynasty. The large-scale historical epic also stars Li Bingbing, Winston Chao (as Sun Yat-Sen), Joan Chen, and Jaycee Chan. Jackie Chan served as "general director" of the film, sharing the credit with Zhang Li.
Martin Sheen stars in The Way
, written and directed by his son, Emilio Estevez. Sheen plays an ophthalmologist from California who travels to France after his son dies there in an accident. Only after he arrives does he learn that his son intended to make a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, an 800-kilometer journey on foot that some take for religious reasons and others for the adventure. The earnest and sincere film will appeal most to those interested in the journey itself. The Way, which also stars James Nesbitt, Deborah Kara Unger, and Yorick van Wageningen as fellow travelers. will open on 30 screens.
The Human Centipede 2: Full Centipede
has already built up a good bit of controversy after its recent world premiere at Fantastic Fest. In his review, our own John Gholson says
that it "craps all over the first film’s retroactive good taste by going all out and cramming in as many unpleasantries as possible into every nook and cranny of the film. It’s not just graphic; it’s contemptuous," while the imaginative Eric D. Snider hilariously presented his thoughts
in the article "A Proper Gentleman from 19th Century England Reacts to Seeing 'Human Centipede 2.'" (More articles on the movie can be perused here
.) See it only if you must; it will be out on 18 screens nationwide.
Juno Temple stars in Dirty Girl
, available for your viewing pleasure on nine screens. The titular character, a small-town Oklahoma high school girl, hits the road -- with a close male friend (Jeremy Dozier) who also likes boys -- in search of the father who abandoned her and her mother (Milla Jovovich). The cast includes William H. Macy, Mary Steenburgen, and Dwight Yoakam.
Also opening, in extremely limited engagements:
Hell and Back Again
, which opens today, is a documentary by Danfung Dennis that focuses on a soldier who was injured in Afghanistan and then returns home to North Carolina to recover from his wounds.
The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch
, directed by Jérôme Salle, is a thriller about a billionaire's son who races against the clock after his father is murdered to establish his own legitimacy and stop his father's killers from taking over his financial empire.
should not be confused with the 2006 sci-fi thriller starring Jet Li; this new film is described as a "romantic dramedy about a young Manhattan investment banker," which loses me right there.
The Sons of Tennessee Williams
, a documentary by Tim Wolff, relates the true story of gay men in New Orleans "who created a vast and fantastic culture of wildly popular 'drag balls' starting in the late 1950s," eventually leading to the overturning of discriminatory laws in the state of Louisiana.
Last Weekend's Indie Box Office
In a single engagement
in St. Charles, Illinois, where the film is set, Munger Road
leapt to the top of the indie chart, earning $36,505, per Box Office Mojo
. Written and directed by Nicholas Smith, the horror thriller stars Bruce Davison and Randall Batinkoff as small-town cops who search for a car-load of teens who go missing just before the town's annual Scarecrow Festival. It's based on an urban legend about children who were trapped in a school bus that was hit by a train; and then return to push cars safely off the tracks. It sounds … creepy.
Jeff Nichols' Take Shelter
, an intense apocalyptic drama starring Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, averaged $17,347 per screen in its opening frame. The film benefited from glowing reviews
-- see the one by our own Peter Hall
-- and that should carry over as it expands in the coming weeks.
Weekend, a well-reviewed gay romantic drama, expanded onto six screens in its second week of release and earned an average of $8,070 per screen, which makes it the top holdover this week.
There should probably be a special category for Space Station 3-D, an IMAX film that has been playing 494 weeks (?!) and has earned more than $84 million so far. Last weekend it took in $7,573, which proves that gorgeous space imagery can fire the imagination like little else, especially on a big screen.
Trailer of the Week
Without a Sundance Kid in sight, Butch Cassidy rides again in Blackthorn
, opening on six screens. (It's also currently available via various Video On Demand platforms.) Sam Shepherd plays the legendary outlaw, who survived a standoff with the Bolivian Army and has been hiding out for 20 years. His plans to return to the U.S. are delayed by one last adventure. Directed by Mateo Gil, the film also stars Eduardo Noriega, Stephen Rea, and Magaly Solier.
Watch the trailer below, and then read more about the film in last week's Cine Latino