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Indie Snapshot: Fruitvale Station

by Ethan Alter July 12, 2013 5:55 am
Indie Snapshot: Fruitvale Station

The facts are these: just after midnight on January 1, 2009, a 22-year-old black man named Oscar Grant and several of his friends were detained by transit police offices while taking a BART train home from San Francisco to Oakland under suspicion of having participated in a fight aboard the train. While passengers looked on -- many filming the ensuing events with their cell phone cameras -- the suspects and the authorities traded heated words and eventually Grant was held down by two cops, one of whom drew his gun and shot him in the back. (During the ensuing trail, the officer claimed he confused his gun for his Taser.) Taken to a nearby hospital, Grant died of his wounds several hours later. Ryan Coogler's much-lauded Sundance favorite Fruitvale Station (named after the station where the shooting occurred) opens with actual cell phone-shot footage of this tragic incident, before rewinding time to the morning of New Year's Eve and dramatizing the hours leading up to Grant's fateful train ride in a noble effort to contextualize the life of a man who would become famous for the way that he died.

I Want My VOD: Save the Date

by Ethan Alter November 30, 2012 2:02 pm
I Want My VOD: Save the Date

You don't have to go to the theater this weekend to see Lizzy Caplan and Alison Brie in the same movie.

Indie Snapshot: The Sessions

by Ethan Alter October 19, 2012 5:59 am
Indie Snapshot: The Sessions

Helen Hunt auditions to replace Penelope Cruz in the English-language remake of Woman on Top. Also, quick takes on the French movies Holy Motors and All Together.

Smashed: Five Things This Movie is Not

by Rachel Stein October 12, 2012 6:00 am
Smashed: Five Things This Movie is Not

Based on the actors -- Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World's Mary Elizabeth Winstead, The Help's Octavia Spencer and royal comedy couple Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally -- Smashed sounds like indie movie gold. Writer/Director newcomer James Ponsoldt and his co-writer Susan Burke even debuted the film at Sundance and won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing. Unfortunately though, unless you're going into the film with fairly low expectations, you'll be sorely disappointed. To get you ready for what's to come, here are five things Smashed certainly is not.

Indie Snapshot: Josh Radnor Takes a Crash Course in the Liberal Arts

The How I Met Your Mother star tries to sweet-talk his Liberal Arts leading lady, Elizabeth Olsen, into playing his love interest this season. Also, our reviews of Arbitrage, Solomon Kane and two documentaries.

Boys vs. Girls: Bachelorette and The Inbetweeners

by Ethan Alter September 7, 2012 6:00 am
Boys vs. Girls: Bachelorette and The Inbetweeners

The eternal battle of the sexes spills over into the multiplex this weekend, as two raunchy comedies -- one female-driven and one distinctly for the boys -- compete for moviegoers' attention. In one corner, you've got Bachelorette, the Bridesmaids-like ensemble piece about a trio of bridesmaids (triple threats Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fisher) who get up to a whole lot of trouble the night before their best friend's wedding. And in the other corner stands The Inbetweeners, the feature film version of the hit British sitcom about four horny high-school kids (Simon Bird, James Buckley, Joe Thomas and Blake Harrison, reprising their small-screen roles) who celebrate their graduation by going on an alcohol-fueled holiday to a sunny Mediterranean party town. So which movie does its gender proudest? Here's how they stack up in a few key areas.

Seven Words to Describe The Words

by Ethan Alter September 7, 2012 6:00 am
Seven Words to Describe The Words

Following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival way back in January -- where it barely attracted an iota of buzz, despite the presence of its extremely photogenic cast -- the indie-ish bookworm drama The Words is dumped into theaters on an exceptionally slow post-Labor Day weekend. You might think this indicates a lack of confidence on the studio's part... and you'd almost certainly be right. Although it's production values positively ooze class and a handful of scenes actually prove somewhat compelling, the overall experience of watching Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal's directorial debut is the cinematic equivalent of staring at a blank page for roughly 90 minutes. Here are seven words that perhaps best encapsulate The Words.

Indie Snapshot: Cosmopolis, Compliance and More

by Ethan Alter August 17, 2012 1:09 pm
Indie Snapshot: Cosmopolis, Compliance and More

Cheer up, Rob. You may have lost KStew, but at least you've got a new person in your life: David Cronenberg. Also, our takes on Compliance, The Awakening and Side by Side

Indie Snapshot: Four Comedies and A Drama

by Ethan Alter August 3, 2012 6:00 am
Indie Snapshot: Four Comedies and A Drama

Laugh it up at this weekend with four indie comedies, including The Babymakers and Celeste and Jesse Forever.

Indie Snapshot: The Queen of Versailles

Lauren Greenfield's new documentary The Queen of Versailles begins like a promo for the next big Bravo reality serial... call it, Timeshare Royalty. In this case, the subjects who are opening their lives (and their two houses) to the camera are David and Jackie Siegel, who up until recently were one of the wealthiest couples in Florida, if not the nation. David Siegel made his fortune via the timeshare titan Westgate Resorts, which offers lavish condo units to prospective part-time owners. Following two previous failed marriages, he wed former model (and diploma-carrying computer engineer) Jackie in 2000 and four years later they started construction on their dream house: a 90,000 square foot estate modeled after the Parisian palace for which it's named: Versailles.

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