Welcome once more to Alt Weekly, a new column in which we shine a spotlight on the independent films brave enough to open opposite Hollywood’s behemoth blockbusters before rolling out in wider release.
This week, love attempts to conquer both Ridley Scott's ambitious return to sci-fi, "Prometheus," and the less thought-provoking "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted."
Filmmaker Cred: Not much -- directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod only appear to have a 1992 short to their credit.
Star Power: More than enough -- Robert Pattinson, Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Natalie Tena ("Tonks" from the "Harry Potter" films).
Festival/Awards Buzz: Its bow at the Berlin International Film Festival garnered a distinctly lukewarm reception.
Release Details: 15 or so screens this weekend, with more to come. The film is also already available through video-on-demand/VOD channels (cable, Amazon, iTunes, etc.).
See This If… The thought of R.Pattz in period garb is enough to hold you over until "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" hits.
Filmmaker Cred: Director Daryl Wein's last film, "Breaking Upwards," earned a little love back in 2010.
Star Power: That's the big question -- will star Greta Gerwig pass muster as a romantic lead after this? There to support her are Joel Kinnaman, Bill Pullman and Debra Winger.
Festival/Awards Buzz: Its Tribeca premiere last April wasn't exactly rapturous...
Release Details: Three theaters this weekend, with the traditional Fox Searchlight nationwide roll-out likely to follow. Keep tabs here.
See This If… The new Rome-set Woody Allen film won't quite satisfy your craving for New York-based neurotic romance.
‘PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE’
Filmmaker Cred: Director Stephen Kessler previously directed 1997's "Vegas Vacation" and 2000's "The Independent."
Star Power: Singer-songwriter Paul Williams is the Oscar-winning, Grammy-nominated man behind such hits as "Rainy Days and Mondays," "An Old Fashioned Love Song" and "Rainbow Connection."
Festival/Awards Buzz: An enjoyable documentary (mostly thanks to its effortlessly charming and humble subject), it's been rightfully well-received from Toronto last fall through SXSW this spring, where I was fortunate enough to catch it.
Release Details: One screen in NY this weekend, with L.A. to follow on the 22nd.
See This If… An intimate look at the circus of stardom sounds more appealing than a circus populated by wisecracking animal leads (not to mention the better soundtrack).
‘PEACE, LOVE & MISUNDERSTANDING’
Filmmaker Cred: Bruce Beresford's directorial efforts range from "Driving Miss Daisy" to "Double Jeopardy."
Star Power: Hippie mama Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chace Crawford, Kyle MacLachlan, Katharine McPhee ... just tell me when to stop.
Festival/Awards Buzz: Reactions out of Toronto last year align with "Bel Ami" and "Lola Versus" in their mutual lack of enthusiasm.
Release Details: 28 screens this Friday, with a VOD release next Friday.
See This If… Spaced-out Jane Fonda sounds more enjoyable than deep-space horror.
‘SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED’
Filmmaker Cred: This marks Colin Trevorrow's directorial debut, and it's a strong one.
Star Power: Mark Duplass, Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson and brief appearances from Jeff Garlin and Kristen Bell.
Festival/Awards Buzz: From last January's Sundance Film Festival onward, this film has seen no shortage of love.
Release Details: Eight theaters between New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland, with further expansion in the coming weeks.
See This If… You're in the mood for a time-travel romance that's easily a notch above "The Time Traveler's Wife."