Record-setting crowds are filling cinemas for director Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the DC Universe blockbuster from Warner Bros. and pivotal set up for superhero franchise Justice League, set to open Nov. 17, 2017.
For arty moviegoers less interested in the return of Henry Cavill as Superman, Ben Affleck’s first appearance as Batman or Gal Gadot’s debut as Wonder Woman, there are strong cinematic choices featuring plenty of cape-less characters.
Marc Abraham directs Tom Hiddleston in what may be the standout performance of his career, playing Country Western star Hank Williams in the bio-drama I Saw the Light. Elizabeth Olsen co-stars as Williams’ wife Audrey with Cherry Jones, Bradley Whitford, Maddie Hasson and Wrenn Schmidt providing additional support. Dante Spinotti (Heat, L.A. Confidential) is the cameraman with Abraham also adapting Hank Williams biographies by Colin Escott, George Merritt and William MacEwen for the script. Look for I Saw the Light to expand nationwide throughout April from Sony Pictures Classics.
Born to Be Blue, from IFC Films, is the second music drama opening in art houses and VOD this week. Fresh from strong screenings at SXSW, writer/director Robert Budreau calls his drama about troubled Jazz trumpeter Chet Baker (Ethan Hawke) an “anti-biopic” and focuses on a key moment late in Baker’s life instead of more mainstream birth, school, work, death storytelling.
Hawke captures Baker as he attempts to overcome years of heroin addiction and ignite a comeback in the 1960s. There’s a strong woman (Carmen Ejogo) to inspire Baker; although the addiction demons continue to stand in his way.
Budreau also co-produces his dramatic mix of showbiz fact and Jazz-like, improvisational fiction.
Filmmakers Micah Wright and Jay Lender source the DIY Network for the found footage horror comedy They’re Watching; about the crew of a HGTV-like home improvement show fighting crazed villagers in a rural Eastern European town. Newcomers David Alpay, Brigid Brannagh, Dimitri Diatchenko, Mia Faith, Carrie Genzel and Kris Lemche star in the GoDigital release; debuting in select cinemas as well as digital streams.
April and the Extraordinary World (Avril et le monde truqué) directors Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci as well as co-writer Benjamin Legrand adapt Jacques Tardi’s graphic novel about a young woman, April (voice of Marion Cotillard), who carries on the research of her scientist parents some ten years after they were abducted from their home.
Set in 1950s Paris, Tardi’s steampunk adventure features secret agents, bicycle-powered dirigibles and robot rat spies. The result is indie animation that offers a welcome alternative to sillier carton fare like Zootopia.
Fourteen years after My Big Fat Greek Wedding became an indie smash, writer and star Nia Vardalos reunites the Portokalos family for another light-hearted comedy and bigger Greek wedding. Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Devine) directs the Universal Pictures release My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 with fan favorites John Corbett, Andrea Martin, Lainie Kazan, Gia Carides and Joey Fatone reprising their fan-favorite characters.