Welcome back to Alt Weekly, a column in which we shine a spotlight on the independent films brave enough to open opposite Hollywood’s behemoth blockbusters.
This week, it's alien invasions, love triangles, and torture porn up against the '80s nostalgia of both "Rock of Ages" and "That's My Boy."
Filmmaker Cred: Nacho Vigalondo made his feature debut with the acclaimed "Timecrimes" back in 2008.
Star Power: Nada to American audiences.
Festival/Awards Buzz: Since last fall's Toronto premiere, it's seen a generally warm reception.
Release Details: In addition to week-long runs in NYC and Seattle, the theatrical-on-demand service Tugg lists a number of one-off screenings driven by local interest. (If you don't see your town listed, you could always request your own.) The film will also be available starting Friday through the usual video-on-demand channels -- iTunes, Amazon, cable and the like.
See This If … A screwball romantic comedy with sci-fi elements lurking on the periphery sounds more appealing than Adam Sandler guzzling beer and ruining his son's wedding.
Filmmaker Cred: Director Robert Lieberman directed 1993's sci-fi mystery "Fire in the Sky" before his career turned to TV work and direct-to-video fare, while the producers of "Saw" clearly exert their influence here.
Star Power: Erika Christensen ("Parenthood") and Jesse Metcalfe ("Desperate Housewives").
Festival/Awards Buzz: When a movie spends nearly five years on a shelf, it doesn't exactly bode well ...
Release Details: The film has been available on VOD for the past month, but it sees a requisite theatrical run in NY this week.
See This If … You're in the mood for angst-ridden parents torturing their son's killer for revenge and an especially groan-inducing twist.
‘THE WOMAN IN THE FIFTH’
Filmmaker Cred: Pawel Pawlikowski's last film, "My Summer of Love," saw its fair share of, well, critical love in 2004.
Star Power: Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott Thomas run this show.
Festival/Awards Buzz: Like "Extraterrestrial," this low-key thriller has been making the fest rounds ever since its bow at the Toronto International Film Festival last September. Having seen it at the 2011 Austin Film Festival, I liked the taut performances of the two leads, but wasn't particularly enthused by the film's dawdling narrative.
Release Details: NY, DC, SF, San Diego, and Seattle this weekend, with more cities lined up. For those overlooked, the film will also be made available on VOD.
See This If … The seedier side of modern-day Paris seems more intriguing than a sweaty recreation of the Sunset Strip circa 1987.
‘YOUR SISTER'S SISTER’
Filmmaker Cred: This is critics' darling Lynn Shelton's follow-up to 2009's "Humpday."
Star Power: Mark Duplass (dominating June between this, "Safety Not Guaranteed" and "People Like Us"), Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt.
Festival/Awards Buzz: TIFF again! Our reviewer at Sundance was more taken with it there than I was.
Release Details: At least NY/LA this weekend, with further expansion in the coming weeks.
See This If … You prefer your island-confined romantic shenanigans covered in awkward pauses rather than countless fluids.