The arrival of Watchmen this weekend has caused the other studios to flee in terror, but not the indies! There are several smaller films opening in limited release today, and the Indie Spotlight is here to round 'em up for you. Make a note of the ones that sound good and watch for when they come to your city (or to cable, or to DVD, etc.).
Tokyo! is an anthology of three short films by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Leos Carax (The Lovers on the Bridge), and Joon-ho Bong (The Host), all celebrating the title city. Think Paris Je T'aime, only a lot weirder (and about Tokyo, not Paris, duh). It's at 71% on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics suggesting it's a little uneven but overall worthwhile. Opens in New York today.
- Everlasting Moments (pictured) is a Swedish drama, based on a true story, about a young female photographer in the early 1900s. It was on the shortlist for the foreign-language category at the Oscars this year, but was not nominated. Cinematical's Kim Voynar lurved it at Telluride last September, calling it "that rare cinematic experience that you settle back, bite into, and then savor as the subtle richness of the film cleanses the palate and fills the soul." Mmm... Swedish palate cleanser.... At Rotten Tomatoes, 85% of the reviews agree with Kim.
- Phoebe in Wonderland delighted many of us at Sundance last year (including Cinematical's Kim Voynar) with its imaginative, funny depiction of a smart little girl who has trouble conforming to society's rules. I'm a little surprised by the mixed reviews (about half and half) at Rotten Tomatoes; I thought the general consensus was a lot more positive. Oh well. Don't listen to them, listen to Kim and me. It's a sweet movie. Look for it on about a dozen screens around the country.
- 12, from Russia, was nominated for an Oscar last year. That makes sense, considering it's a remake of 12 Angry Men, which was nominated for three Oscars itself back in 1957. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 89%, with critics using words like "riveting," "aggressively entertaining," and "intense." It's playing in L.A. and New York now, and it will tour the country in the coming weeks.
- Sherman's Way is a comedy about a couple of buddies driving cross-country, stopping in a small town, and meeting locals. It's the ol' "road-trip-coming-of-age" thing, and most of the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes are negative, saying the film is formulaic and tired, though several still admit it's kind of funny, too. Sounds very middle-of-the-road, but hey, sometimes that's just what you're looking for. Opens in New York today.
- 13B comes to us from India, and it's a horror film about a family terrorized by their TV, which comes to understand its power over them and use that to its advantage. Reviews are scarce so far, but it's opening on about a dozen screens nationwide, so maybe you can see it and find out for yourself whether it's any good.
- Explicit Ills, written and directed by actor Mark Webber (you'd recognize him if you saw him), is an Altman-esque ensemble drama set among the poorer classes in Philadelphia. Cinematical's Scott Weinberg gave it a subdued but overall positive review at SXSW last year, saying it "wants to speak out about some of our nation's most obvious maladies, and it does so in an impressively honest, angry, and semi-hopeful fashion." About 80% of the reviews so far agree with him in praising it. It opens in New York today, Philadelphia next week, and L.A. after that.
- Fados is primarily a documentary and concert film about the Portuguese brand of music called fado. Every review at Rotten Tomatoes so far is positive, citing the fantastic vocal and dance performances. New York only.