Indie Weekend: ‘Ai Weiwei,’ ‘Killer Joe,’ ‘Farewell My Queen,’ ‘The Graduate’

'Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry'
‘Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry’

Have you checked out our Facebook page lately? I’ve begun updating there more frequently (almost daily now!), and will use that resource to highlight quick news items, links to interesting articles, trailers, and so forth.

This weekend features a very strong handful of intriguing/compelling new indie releases. I can say that with confidence, even though I’ve only seen two of them.

The two I’ve seen are Ruby Sparks and, of course, The Graduate! You can read my review of Ruby Sparks in its entirety right here at the site, but in brief: it’s not your ordinary romantic comedy, and digs rather deeply into its premise. It opens today at Angelika Dallas and Cinemark West Plano.

Made in 1967 outside the Hollywood studio system — producer/distributor Joseph E. Levine bankrolled the film himself — The Graduate stars the nearly-completely unknown Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock, the recently college graduate who falls into an affair with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), a bored neighbor and friend of his parents. To celebrate its 45th anniversary, it’s receiving a theatrical re-release this summer, but it looks like it has only booked a limited number of engagements nationwide. That may reflect its widespread availability in various home video formats, but there’s nothing like seeing it on the big screen. It’s playing exclusively at Angelika Dallas.

Friends who have seen the documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry tell me that it’s an absolute must. It details some of the recent tribulations and trials experienced by blind Chinese activist / architect / artist Ai Weiwei — who recently caused another stir with his criticism of the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in comparison with the Danny Boyle-staged London show. It opens at Angelika Dallas.

Killer Joe, William Friedkin’s new film, is another collaboration between the famed director and playwright Tracey Letts; you might remember the intensely claustrophobic Bug from a few years ago. Described as Southern-fried noir, Killer Joe has divided critics and outraged the MPAA, which gave it the dreaded (?!) NC-17 rating, but Matthew McConaughey is said to give an electrifying performance. Emile Hirsch, Gina Gershon, Thomas Haden Church, and Juno Temple also star. You can catch it at Angelika Dallas or Cinemark West Plano.

French period films usually play well in Dallas, and so I would expect no less for Farewell My Queen, which appears to feature costumes and beautiful ladies. Do you need to know more than that to get yourself to Landmark Magnolia this weekend? Buy a drink, slip into a theater, don’t talk, and enjoy the European experience.

Jack Black and Bernie, as well as Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love, are still packing ’em in at Magnolia.

At Angelika Dallas, the following five films have been held over for at least one more week: Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Safety Not Guaranteed, The Intouchables, and Magic Mike.

Down in Oak Cliff, the Texas Theatre continues to serve the neighborhood well by presenting The Dark Knight Rises in 35mm.

Meanwhile, popular indie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has moved over to Landmark Inwood for more intimate screenings; the theater will also welcome one of the worst movies of all time: Super Mario Bros. at midnight, tonight and tomorrow. I’m sure the crowd will receive it with the respect it so richly deserves.

I hoped that the Total Recall remake might be a decent popcorn flick, but it didn’t even live up to my lowered expectations. I’ve published my review at Twitch; it opens today. The youth-targeted Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days also opens wide across the Metroplex today.

Next week’s indie fare features a trio of indies I haven’t seen yet, though I’ve heard that the documentary The Queen of Versailles (about rich people) is very good. Elena and Nuit #1 are unknown quantities to me at this point. Hope Springs, with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, opens wide next Wednesday, but I won’t be able to see that in advance. Instead, I’m hoping to see The Campaign (Will Ferrell / Zack Galifianakis political comedy) and The Bourne Legacy (spy thrills with Jeremy Renner and a good cast). Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!

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