Aftershock – A group of Americans are traveling in Chile and looking for an experience that can’t be found in the average Lonely Planet guide. With a little assistance from a couple of locals, they find it, and man is it fun. They dance and drink the night away in an underground club, but then Mother Nature throws them a curve. An earthquake hits and the place comes tumbling down. Many die in very inventive fashions, but for the survivors, the real horror gets going. The earthquake freed a nearby prison and mayhem is loose. They are going to have to navigate their way to safety while the world around them is reduced to one big riot. Eli Roth, Ariel Levy, and Selena Gomez star alongside Andrea Osvárt and Nicolás Martínez Zembora. Written by Eli Roth and Nicolás López with López directing. Out in wide release from The Weinstein Company.
And Now a Word From Our Sponsor – We live in a world completely overrun by advertisement, what kind of effect does that have on us? Adan Kundle (Bruce Greenwood) is the CEO of the Kundle Advertisement Agency and one day, he just shuts down. Passes out in front of the TV and when he comes back, he can only communicate in ad slogans. Karen (Parker Posey) takes him in to assess his mental condition because Lucas Foster (Callum Blue) is closing in on taking over Adan’s company and needs to invoke a mental instability clause to do so. Karen is having problems with her daughter, Meghan (Allie MacDonald), but having Adan around will start to fix all that. Written by Michael Hamilton-Wright and directed by Zack Bernbaum, this independent sees a limited release from Paladin but is available everywhere from Amazon Instant.
The Great Gatsby – The long anticipated Baz Luhrmann adaptation of the Fitzgerald classic read by every English sophomore of the American Public School system finally makes it to screens. There is something about Gatsby that just speaks to every generation. Maybe because it revolves around a constantly decaying society obsessed with money and sex. Maybe because girls like the idea of a playboy doing whatever he can to impress the girl of his dreams, even if he hasn’t seen her in five years. Maybe we all like to imagine ourselves as Nick, the wide-eyed optimist who gets to bear witness to everything and document it. Whatever it is that makes this book so timeless, hopefully the style and energy of writer/director Baz Luhrmann can capture it. Luhrmann co-wrote the script with Craig Pearce and the cast of those oh-so-pretty faces includes, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Cary Mulligan, Isla Fischer, and Joel Edgerton. Out in wide release (finally) from Warner Brothers Pictures.
One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das – Documentary about Kirtan singer, Jeffrey Kagel. Kagel was a hippy rock n’ roller who walked out on the music business and potential success with Blue Öyster Cult to follow guru Neem Karoli Baba, The Maharaji. After the passing of Maharaji, Kagel, now known as Krishna Das, fell into the drug scene and cocaine and crack almost took him, but he cleaned up and saved himself by singing Kirtan. He is now a very successful Kirtan singer, and another live has been saved thanks to the healing and filling powers of music. Rick Rubin, Ram Dass, Daniel Goleman, and Susan Salzberg all weigh in on Krishna Das’s music and impact and Jeremy Frindel directs. Out in limited release from Zeitgeist Films.
The Painting – French animated film makes it to US Theaters and gets an English dubbing treatment. Set in a painting, characters have developed their own caste system: The Alldunns, the Halfies, and the Sketchies. Clearly The Painter favors the Alldunns because He finished them, and cast aside the others. The Halfies and Sketchies live in constant anticipation for The Painter to return and finish His creation. One Halfie, Claire, goes looking for Him and finds that she can travel through the paintings. Her journey takes her to wild worlds, wild paintings, and finally to The Painter Himself. What a wickedly fun parable! Jean-Francois Laguionie and Anik Leray scripted and Laguionie and Brahim Fritah directed. Out in limited release from Gkids Films.
Peeples – Wade Walker (Craig Robinson) loves his girl, Grace Peeples (Kerry Washington), and he wants to make an honest woman of her, but there is a small hang-up, Grace is a Daddy’s Girl. She also has avoided introducing Wade to her family because she knows how her Father can get. Wade takes matters into his own hands and travels to the Casa di Peeples in the Hamptons to ask for Grace’s hand in marriage. Papa Peeples (David Allen Greer) turns out to be the protective, competitive, and overly controlling Peeples that Grace warned Wade about. The rest of the family isn’t much more levelheaded, and things spin out of control. S. Epatha Merkerson, Tyler James Williams, and the great Melvin van Peebles co-star as family members, and first timer, Tina Gordon Chism, writes and directs. Out in wide release from Lionsgate Films.
Sightseers – Meet Chris (Steve Oram), a guy who just wants to show his sheltered girlfriend, Tina (Alice Lowe), the British Isles. Chris isn’t the kind of guy who likes to move with the maddening crowd and insists that they take a run down caravan and traversing the country in an archaic manner. Things don’t go well, but instead of a comedy of misadventures, Chris goes over the edge and starts killing anyone who rubs him the wrong way. Tina goes along with it because she’s a bit on the disturbed side as well. Not nearly as effective as Bonnie and Clyde, the two continue to travel around in their caravan trying to complete the trip. Amy Jump writes the script along with Oram and Lowe and Ben Wheatley directs. Out in limited release from IFC Films.
The Source Family – It is true that all religions start out as cults, small groups of people who exist either outside the norm or on the fringe. What makes certain religions succeed and others fail is how easily they can either be assimilated into the current belief system, or how it can incorporate the previous belief system into their own. In the late 1960s and early 1970s a whole bunch of new religious systems and communes cropped up, particularly in Los Angeles, and one of the more famous of them was The Source Family. Led by Yod, a restaurateur cum spiritual leader and rock band front man, the Source Family had about 140 followers. Sure enough, the government started investigating the goings on at The Source Mansion, and that led to their inevitable collapse. Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille direct and Independent Pictures release the movie into limited theaters.
Venus and Serena – Not many people have dominated their sport quite like the Williams Sisters have. Venus and her fifteen month younger sister, Serena, have been major players in the professional tennis circuit for the better part of a decade now. Both have been ranked No. 1 in the world, both have won as singles, and together they have captured the trophy as doubles. Other female players come and go out of fashion, ranking, and importance, but Venus and Serena persist. That is, until Father Time finally takes them out of the game. The French Open is right around the corner and Wimbledon is not far after that, so time to bone up on a little tennis and see this documentary from Maiken Baird and Michelle Major. In limited release from Magnolia Pictures, but available everywhere via iTunes and Amazon.
The World Before Her – Here are two completely opposite poles in the Indian world. On one side, the beauty contestants, who must train for thirty days before competing in the pageant. They are groomed, fashioned, and made up to look like Eastern Goddess, but for a Western market. Then we have another faction, the girls who are training in hand-to-hand and weapon combat so they can fight to preserve traditional Hindu beliefs. It takes all types for a society to work, and this documentary focuses its lens on two completely different forms of female empowerment from a part of the world that doesn’t care much for female empowerment. Written and directed by Nisha Pahuja and out in limited release from Cinedigm Entertainment.