We recently realized that this column expends an inordinate amount of ink on big-budget, major-studio releases, at the possible expense of good old-fashioned indies. So here’s a promise: We’re going to start concentrating more on independent cinema. As soon as somebody can prove to us it still exists.
A decade ago, the big story was every studio’s rush to acquire its own boutique indie imprint; now, with the battle of co-optation won and the concept of “independence” thus eradicated in the average moviegoer’s mind, those same studios are dropping their junior divisions like they’re hot. Warner Bros., for example, is shuttering both its Warner Independent and Picturehouse operations, which it feels have become redundant after its pickup of New Line Cinema. You remember New Line – they gave the world those obscure cult items, the Lord of the Rings movies. (Haven’t seen them? They’re kind of like Donnie Darko with better costumes.)
News of extinction, though, is always slow to reach the animals in question. Take Weinstein Company doyen Harvey Weinstein, who allegedly threatened to pull all of his contributions to the Democratic Party if they didn’t approve his plan for financing new primaries in Florida and Michigan. From that kind of swagger, you’d almost forget that his Weinstein Company practically went bust in 2007 after the fabulous disaster that was Grindhouse. Weinstein, natch, denies making the threat; then again, only a few years ago, he was claiming to be on a health kick and deep into anger management. We bet the stegosaurs talked a pretty good kabbalah in their sunset years, too.
Opening Thursday, May 22
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Well, here it finally is – and so far, the advance reactions mostly range from mild disappointment to outright indignation. Even George Lucas predicts he and Steven Spielberg are going to get savaged, given his experience with the supposedly overprotective Star Wars contingent. Hey, George: People don’t hate your franchise revisitations out of some adolescent finickiness; they hate them because they suck! Or, as a T-shirt we recently saw put it, “I love ALL THREE Star Wars movies.” (PG-13; Paramount)
Opening Friday, May 23
Control If you enjoyed the scenes of the doomed Ian Curtis in Michael Winterbottom’s dance-culture dramatization 24 Hour Party People, get ready to spend a full two hours in the company of the mopey Joy Division singer, whose creative response to once-in-a-lifetime success was to hang himself at age 23. We haven’t heard if there’ll be a shuttle bus running on Sunday between the theater and Independent Bar, but it might not be a bad idea. (at Enzian Theater, Maitland; R; the Weinstein Company)
Postal How much do we love a world with Uwe Boll in it? The unquestioned Worst Director of Our Age restricts himself to making movies that (like this supposed satire of trailer-trash frustration) are based on video games. And his combative persona and garbled English are every bit as entertaining as his “work.” Take his recent answer to an online petition that had sought to stop him from making any more films: “If you go on May 23 to Postal you will see that I deliver a movie that nobody else delivered in the last 10 years, what is way better as all that social-critic, George Clooney bullshit what you get every fucking weekend. You have to really wake up and you have to see me what I am: I am the only genius in the whole fucking business.” Um, owned! (R; Freestyle Releasing)
Available Tuesday, May 27
Heroes of the East/Come Drink With Me You know those vintage Shaw brothers kung fu epics that Quentin Tarantino is always yakking about? Well, now you won’t be lying when you say you’ve seen them, too. (The Weinstein Company)
Bomb It Here’s where the independent spirit has gone: into your living room. The first of three docs arriving this week that would have serious trouble getting booked into your average multiplex, Bomb It promises a globe-spanning investigation into the impact of street art – or, as we used to call it back in the day, graffiti. (New Video Group/Docurama)
American Drug War: The Last White Hope Previously available only through the Internet, filmmaker Kevin Booth’s condemnation of anti-drug hysteria comes to stores this week, bringing with it commentary by Jello Biafra, Ralph Nader and Tommy Chong. Hey, if anybody would know …. (Sacred Cow Productions)
What Would Jesus Buy? The colorful Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping take on Disney, Wal-Mart and all the other players who have conspired to make our lives a hollow commercial exercise. (The DVD retails for $24.95.) (Hart Sharp Video)
Available Tuesday, May 27
Sex and the City We’ll have lots more to say about this little gem of a franchise when the movie arrives next week. One hint: Indiana Jones got off easy. (New Line Records)