Awards season is in full bloom, and Dallas is the beneficiary this weekend, with a flurry of independent movies clamoring for attention.
- Smashed features a noteworthy performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a young woman who recognizes her own symptoms of alcoholism and tries to go sober, without much assistance from husband Aaron Paul. (Landmark Magnolia; Angelika Plano)
- The Sessions is receiving attention for John C. Hawkes, who plays a not-so-young man confined to an iron lung for much of his life. He yearns to lose his virginity, a difficult proposition for someone with his physical limitations, and so he turns to a sex therapist (Helen Hunt) for assistance. (Landmark Magnolia; Angelika Plano)
- Samsara is a documentary by Ron Fricke (Baraka); the film “transports us to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders.” (The Texas Theatre)
- Sister stars Kacey Mottet Klein and Lea Seydoux in a drama “set at a Swiss ski resort and centered on a boy who supports his sister by stealing from wealthy guests.” (Angelika Dallas)
- The Details is the sophomore feature by Jacob Aaron Estes (Mean Creek) starring Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney, Kerry Washington, and Ray Liotta; it’s a dark comedy involving sex, extortion, and murder. (Angelika Dallas)
- The Other Son tells the “switched at birth” story of an Israeli and a Palestinian; no, it’s not a comedy. (Angelika Dallas)
- Amber Alert is a thriller about two young friends on the trail of a murderous child rapist. (Angelika Dallas)
And of those, I have seen in advance a total of none, unfortunately, but Smashed, The Sessions, and Samsara have all gotten above average critical notice, so I would start with one of those three. Unless you have children and/or love animated films about video games, in which case I recommend Wreck-It Ralph (read my review).
Also opening in wide release:
- Flight, a drama directed by Robert Zemeckis, with Denzel Washington as an airline pilot struggling with alcoholism.
- The Man With Iron Fists, martial arts action starring Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe; directed by the RZA, and not screened in advance for local press, which probably tells you all you need to know (i.e. not likely to be a critical fave, but could provide genre kicks). (UPDATE: Sad to say, a mediocre effort; read my review at Twitch.)