First up, four indie films are hitting theaters this week, and none of them have snakes or Nazis.
- Postal is the latest video-game-based film from German attention whore Uwe Boll, whose most recent shenanigans involve declaring his inability to secure wide release for the film a "conspiracy." The film may be atypical, but it's definitely independent. It's opening today in just four theaters, in New York, L.A., Denver, and Austin.
- War, Inc. stars John Cusack, who also co-wrote it, and it's a scathing political satire about war profiteers. Most of the reviews so far are negative, including the one from Cinematical's Joel Keller, who really, really hated it. But I note that the critics who liked it really, really liked it. There doesn't seem to be any middle ground here. Opens in New York and L.A. today.
After the jump, two more indie film in theaters, plus our city-by-city list of special events....
- The Children of Huang Shi, from director Roger Spottiswoode (Tomorrow Never Dies), is about a Brit and an Australian who help save orphans during the Japanese occupation of China in 1937. Our Nick Schager's review is less than rapturous. It opens today in New York and L.A.
- The Edge of Heaven is the latest from German-Turkish filmmaker Fatih Akin (Head-On), and it recently cleaned up at Germany's film awards. Our James Rocchi admired but did not love it at Cannes last year, where it won the screenplay prize. It opened Wednesday in New York and L.A.
Boston: You know how a lot of the kids are putting little cartoons on the Interblogs? Well, now you can see them on the big screen, in the Animation Webjam show happening at midnight at the Coolidge Corner Theatre tonight and Saturday. Your old favorites Happy Tree Friends, Jibjab, and 30 Second Bunny Theater are included, among others.
Boston: The Brattle Theatre at Harvard Square will be the site of more French kissing than usual this weekend, thanks to "Une Liaison Française," a program of romantic films from that most romantic of countries. On the docket: The Lovers (1958) and Jules and Jim (1962) tonight and Saturday; Children of Paradise (1945) Sunday and Monday; and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) Tuesday and Wednesday. I would give my left boob to see a movie as sumptuous as Umbrellas of Cherbourg on le gran screen.
Brooklyn, N.Y.: It was 125 years ago this month that the Brooklyn Bridge (which you have seen in approximately every New York-set TV show and movie ever made) was finished. To celebrate, BAMcinématek is hosting a free screening Saturday of Brooklyn Bridge (1981), the first documentary ever made by a fellow named Ken Burns. He went around saying, "If you believe that, I've got a bridge I'd like to ... show you a movie about."
Chicago: You can help celebrate badness by attending a midnight screening of Troll 2 (1990) tonight at the Music Box Theatre. Two of the cast members will be there to take questions and abuse.
Denver: Anita O'Day was a pioneering jazz musician of the West Coast Cool school (like Mel Torme), and a documentary about her life, Anita O'Day: Life of a Music Legend is playing this week at the Starz FilmCenter courtesy of the Denver Film Society. Hip cats will be there, while squares who try to use 50-year-old slang will not.
Los Angeles: This weekend they're celebrating the morally questionable (and sometimes downright dirty) films of Old Hollywood at the Egyptian Theatre. Tonight is a triple feature of Why Be Good? Sexuality and Censorship in Early Cinema, a brief documentary on pre-code Hollywood, followed by Forbidden (1932) and Madam Satan (1930). Saturday is Beast of the City (1932) and Skyscraper Souls (1932). None of these films are available on DVD.
New York City: Do the words "Charles Boyer and the Art of Seduction" get you a little steamy? Then make haste in getting to the Walter Reade Theater this week, where the Film Society of Lincoln Center is hosting a series by that name. Films include: La Bonheur (1934), Gaslight (1944), and History Is Made at Night (1937), among others.
Salt Lake City: What better time to see creepy animatronic Muppets than at midnight, and what better place in Salt Lake City than the Tower Theatre? The Dark Crystal is the midnight flick this weekend. Come toast the weirdness of Jim Henson.
Seattle: The Seattle International Film Festival started yesterday and will run all the way through June 15, with over 200 features and, like, a million shorts playing. The many noteworthy titles are too numerous to mention; if you're in the Pacific Northwest, check out their site and I'll bet you find a dozen films you really want to see. Oh, and the nice part? The Seattle fest coincides with the three weeks out of the year when it's not raining.
Vancouver: Documentaries are a major part of almost every film festival -- so much so that it's become popular in recent years to organize fests that are nothing but docs. The DoxA Festival is Vancouver's contribution, and its seventh annual edition starts Tuesday and runs through next weekend. Topics include: AIDS in Africa, endangered turtles, Native populations in Canada, dictator hunting, teenagers and the Internet, and much more.