Planning on seeing "Avatar" again this weekend? Why not, right? It's January, a month when few quality titles are released. And as a fan of the sci-fi behemoth, you're hoping to help push James Cameron's film ahead of "Titanic" as the top-grossing movie of all time.
But hey, there are actually a few great films coming out this weekend. They're just in limited release, so you'll have to live in "select cities" to see them. Just take the 3-D glasses off for a few hours, look around and you may be able to find one of these worthwhile titles, all of them featuring amazing British actors, in your home or neighborhood arthouse in the coming weeks.
What it is: The second feature from Oscar-winning director Andrea Arnold, "Fish Tank" is a British drama about an outcast 15-year-old girl (newcomer Katie Jarvis) with dreams of being a dancer, who develops a crush on her mother's new boyfriend (Michael Fassbender of "Inglourious Basterds"). For American audiences it may be slightly reminiscent of "Thirteen" (Jarvis even resembles Evan Rachel Wood), though it fits mostly with the social realist, "kitchen sink" tradition of British filmmakers Mike Leigh, Ken Loach and Shane Meadows.
Why you should be interested: Andrea Arnold won her second straight Jury Prize at Cannes with "Fish Tank," and the film picked up multiple other prestigious honors at film fests in Edinburgh, Chicago, Norway and Croatia. Arnold and Jarvis were also recently named Best Director and Most Promising Newcomer, respectively, at the British Independent Film Awards. Never mind the awards and critical acclaim though; take my word that this is the best-looking and best acted of these neo-kitchen-sink, council estate-set British films in years.
How you can see it: IFC Films opens "Fish Tank" in NYC this Friday and in other U.S. cities over the next two months (see the scheduled bookings here). You will also have the option of watching the film on IFC On Demand beginning January 27.
"The Last Station"
What it is: Based on Joe Parini's novel, "The Last Station" takes a dramatized look at the turbulent final year of Russian author Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) and his wife, Sofya (Helen Mirren). The film also stars James McAvoy as a man who works for the married couple, McAvoy's wife, Anne-Marie Duff as Sasha Tolstoya and Paul Giamatti as an adviser to Tolstoy.
Why you should be interested: Helen Mirren, mostly. The Oscar-winning actress gives another strong performance, which has already won her an award at the Rome Film Festival. She and Christopher Plummer are also each up for Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards and Independent Spirit Awards. Additionally, Michael Hoffman's screenplay and direction are both nominated for Independent Spirits Awards as well. At least Mirren is expected to continue her luck when the Oscar nominations are announced next month.
How you can see it: Sony Pictures Classics releases "The Last Station" in NYC and LA this Friday and will expand the film to other U.S. cities through March (see the scheduled bookings here).
"44 Inch Chest"
What it is: "44 Inch Chest" is the latest profane British crime film from the writers of "Sexy Beast." It stars that film's lead, Ray Winstone, as a man seeking revenge on his cheating wife (Joane Whalley) by kidnapping her French lover. He gets help from a stellar supporting cast of old macho men like John Hurt ("V for Vendetta"), Ian McShane (HBO's "Deadwood"), Stephen Dillane (HBO's "John Adams") and Tom Wilkinson ("Batman Begins").
Why you should be interested: If you love "Sexy Beast," you should be into this. Winstone has even joked that "44 Inch Chest" makes that earlier film look like "Mary Poppins." The cast is certainly impressive, too, particularly if you like tough Brits cursing a lot. And one more thing: the film has a chill, jazzy score by Massive Attack and Angelo Badalamenti, which you'll at least want to pick up when it's released later this month.
How you can see it: Image Entertainment will open "44 Inch Chest" in LA this weekend and in other major U.S. cities through March (see the list of scheduled bookings here).