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Ten to watch 

Docs and features not to miss.

click to enlarge '(500) DAYS OF SUMMER': Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel.
  • '(500) DAYS OF SUMMER': Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel.

“(500) Days of Summer” Just as it did two years ago with “Knocked Up,” the LRFF scores an early preview of a buzz-y romantic comedy months before its theatrical release with this Sundance hit. Starring two of indiedom's favorites, Zooey Deschanel (“Almost Famous,” “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Mysterious Skin,” “Brick”), the film takes a traditional formula and tweaks it. Not just in plot — “Boy meets Girl — Boy falls in love — Girl doesn't” is the film's tagline — but in form. The 500 days of the title unfold, from Gordon-Levitt's character's perspective, jumbled up. As memories do. One day reminds him of another. From walking to work the day after he's had sex for the first time with Deschanel's character and breaking out in song to the day they break up and he sees her face in every girl he passes. Better show up early for this one screening. It's bound to be a hot ticket. Market Street Cinema, 7 p.m. Sat., May 16.

 

“Crude” Another Sundance favorite, this documentary from Joe Berlinger (“Paradise Lost,” “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster”) follows the protracted legal battle between some 30,000 Ecuadorians and Chevron. Some 40 years after the oil giant (then Texaco) began drilling in the Ecuadorian Amazon, the soil and waters of the area still run black, while area tribesmen die of cancer at alarming rates. It's a story of not only one of the biggest legal battles in the world — a $27 billion class action suit — but also one that touches on celebrity activism, global politics, fading indigenous cultures and the environmental movement. Berlinger will be on hand for each screening. Riverdale 10, 2 p.m. Fri., May 15; 9:30 p.m. Sat., May 16.

 

?“Died Young, Stayed Pretty” It's a grim pop culture joke applied to those who die early but leave behind some rich catalog of work. The Jimi Hendrixes and James Deans of the world. But it works as a title for Canadian filmmaker Eileen Yaghoobian not because she's documenting those flameouts or even because her subjects are fascinated by the detritus of pop culture. Rather she's focused on the bizarre world of gig posters, those utilitarian works of art plastered to telephone poles and bathroom stalls to promote concerts. These one-time use posters die young, post-show usually, but within the subculture and on popular websites like Gigposters.com, always stay pretty. The film's trailer promises a rich juxtaposition between arresting art and the personalities of the weirdos behind it. Yaghoobian will answer questions after each screening. Riverdale 10, 4:30 p.m. Fri., May 15; 5 p.m., Sat. May 16.

 

“Downloading Nancy” Yet another buzz-y film that screened at Sundance, but one with a different sort of buzz. It's the timeless story of a self-mutilating woman (Maria Bello), who hires a man she meets on the Internet (Jason Patric) to torture her emotionally, physically and sexually and kill her when she's least suspecting. The critical response has been, to say the least, colorful. Entertainment Weekly called it a “highbrow-pervo conversation piece,” while a Cinemablend.com reviewer said, “It was like the film was raping my face.” Those make the marketing decisions for the film have embraced that sort of critique. “The most controversial film you will see this year” is its tagline. An arguable position in New York maybe, but here, at least in theaters, you can take it for a guarantee.  Riverdale 10, 9:30 p.m. Thu., May 14; 9:30 p.m. Fri., May 15.

 

“Field of Dreams” So what if you've seen it a dozen times. And so what if it's more than a little hokey (sacrilege!). How often do you get a chance to spread out under the stars on a ball field (or in the stands) and take in a flick? Sponsored by the outdoor summer movie series Movies in the Park, the film, for those who've been living in a cave the last 20 years, stars Kevin Costner as an Iowa farmer who hears voices and determines that they're commanding him to build a baseball diamond in his cornfield. The Made in Arkansas Grand Prize winner and Audience Award will be announced before the film. Dickey-Stephens Park, 8:30 p.m. Sun., May 17.

 

“Goodbye Solo” From highly touted Iranian-American director Ramin Bahrani (“Man Push Cart,” “Chop Shop”), this narrative feature tells the story of an unlikely friendship between Solo, a Senegalese cab driver (Souleymane Sy Savane), and William, an elderly Southern man (Red West, who was part of Elvis' Memphis Mafia). Set in Winston-Salem and with mostly non-professional actors, it won the Venice Film Festival's FIPRESCI International Critics Prizes and has attracted a surfeit of critical love, most gushingly from the New York Times' A.O. Scott, who called it a “near perfect film.” Riverdale 10, 2:30 p.m. Fri., May 15; 1:30 p.m. Sat., May 16.

 

“Made in China” Fresh off a Grand Jury Award at SXSW, this feature, from first time director Judi Krant, tells the story of a self-styled inventor of novelties (think slinky, pet rock, fake vomit) from East Texas, who travels to China — the Mecca of novelties — to bring his idea, “a humorous domestic hygiene product,” to the world. Hijinks ensue. Krant will be on-hand after each screening. Riverdale 10, 6:45 p.m. Thu. May 14; 4:45 p.m. Sat., May 16.

 

“Kassim the Dream” It's a story you may remember from the sports page. Boxer Kassim “The Dream” Ouma, born in Uganda, spent much of his young life — from 6 to 18 — serving as a child soldier in the rebel army. Through the army's boxing team, he discovers a passion and knack for the sport and manages to defect to the United States. This documentary relates his story as prepares, at 29, to fight Jermain Taylor. We know how that turned out (he lost), but the film, and post-screening Q&As with Ouma, promise to give us a window into the boxer's dreams of reconciling with his family in Uganda. Clinton School for Public Service, 6 p.m. Sat., May 16.

 

“The Room” You need to know the cues. When a framed photo of a spoon appears onscreen, which, apparently, it frequently does, you're to hurl plastic cutlery at the screen. That's just one of the interactive joys of this cult favorite, supposedly the best terrible movie ever. Last year, Entertainment Weekly found an expert, Ross Morin, assistant professor of film studies at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, to say just that. “It is one of the most important films of the past decade … the Citizen Kane of bad movies.'' Not that it matters much, but the plot follows a love-triangle involving Johnny, his friend Mark and Johny's fiancee Lisa, who is sleeping with both men. Un-erotic sex scenes figure prominently, too. Market Street Cinema, 10 p.m. Fri., May 15.

 

“That Evening Sun” Adopted Arkie Ray McKinnon (“The Accountant,” “Randy and the Mob”) co-produced and stars in this adaptation of a William Gay short story about an aging Tennessee farmer (Hal Holbrook) who's discarded to a nursing home by his lawyer son (co-producer and regular McKinnon collaborator Walton Goggins), but flees to his rural farm, where he finds that his son has leased his house and land to a white trash family and an old enemy (McKinnon). Tension builds and ultimately erupts. In its short festival run so far, the drama has picked up sizeable buzz. It won both a Special Jury Award for Best Ensemble Cast and an Audience Award at SXSW and Best Narrative Feature at the Atlanta Film Festival. Cast and crew, including McKinnon, will be on hand after the screening. Riverdale 10, 6 p.m. Sat., May 16.

 

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