It's the first full week of 2010, and that means it's the beginning of dumping ground season. New movies out of Hollywood will be looking less and less appealing over the next few months, but that shouldn't stop you from going to the movies, especially if you live in a major metropolitan area. Now is the time especially for foreign films hoping for Oscar contention to start rolling out in America, and of course tons and tons of documentaries will continue to see limited release. This week, there's even a hot new exploitation flick opening, for those of you who like that sort of thing. So if you're not too excited about daybreaking vampires, leap years or youths in revolt, read on to see what other options you might have this weekend.
What it is: A modern, stylish exploitation action movie in the vein of "Grindhouse" and somewhat like "Sin City," "Bitch Slap" follows three hot women in the desert attempting to extort money from a crime boss. It's described as both an homage to and parody of cult classics like "Dragstrip Girl," "Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" and "Kung Fu Nun" and stars Erin Cummings, Julia Voth, America Olivo and Zoe Bell of Quentin Tarantino's "Grindhouse" segment "Death Proof."
Why you should be interested: Fans of Quentin Tarantino's brand of grindhouse tributes will find some appeal here. Aside from obvious "Death Proof" connections, "Bitch Slap" also features a badass Asian schoolgirl that seems inspired by "Kill Bill." Also of note are appearances by fantasy TV stars Kevin Sorbo and Lucy Lawless (for whom Bell began as a stunt double back in her "Xena" days). Generally, though, between original exploitation flicks and these modern throwbacks, which in addition to the Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez entries include such films as "Zombie Strippers" and "Black Dynamite," there must be plenty of fans of this stuff, and you know who you are if you're one of them.
How you can see it: Freestyle Releasing opens "Bitch Slap" in NYC, LA and San Francisco this Friday (see the list of theaters here). Additionally, the movie will then be available on Video on Demand nationwide. Or, as composer John R. Graham suggests, you can "clamour for a screening at your local theatre."
What it is: "Sweetgrass" is a documentary about thousands of sheep and their profanity-spewing wranglers during a final summer trek through the Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains of Montana. Though technically shepherds, the men in the film are indicative of what's left of the iconic American cowboy and so the film is described as a modern, non-fiction western.
Why you should see it: The consensus on "Sweetgrass" seems to be that it's unlike any other film. The doc, which played such prestigious film festivals as Berlin and New York, has been getting glowing reviews across the board for its anthropological significance and, despite being made with relatively low-quality video cameras, its shots of the wilderness. Apparently the shepherd/cowboys are also quite amusing, and of course what's more adorable than a sheep?
How you can see it: Cinema Guild releases "Sweetgrass" in NYC tomorrow and will later open the film in other cities, including San Francisco, LA, Boston and Denver (see the list of booked theaters here).
What it is: "Mine" is a documentary about dog owners separated from their pets during Hurricane Katrina and some of the custody battles that ensued in the wake of the disaster. More generally, it is a film about the bond between pet and owner and how the relationship is more familial than sometimes given due.
Why you should be interested: Between this and "Sweetgrass," animal lovers have a good month for moviegoing. Of course, "Mine" will appeal to a more general audience that has dogs. The film will likely be a tearjerker for hardcore dog lovers, but it's also a far more necessary work for them than mainstream movies like "Marley & Me" and the upcoming "Marmaduke," which are marketed to pet owners.
How you can see it: Film Movement opens "Mine" in San Francisco on Friday, NYC next week and more cities through February. The film's website also mentions TBA bookings for other locations (find out more here). I would hope that some of these theaters will allow moviegoers to bring their dogs to the screenings, or that the film will play some outdoor screenings in pet-friendly parks when it gets warmer.