By Beth Hanna and Ryan Lattanzio | Thompson on Hollywood April 25, 2014 at 3:40PM
While you do have the option of seeing Nick Cassavates' (yup, that Cassavetes) "The Other Woman" in wide release this weekend, why bother when there are three excellent indies to choose from? (Trailers below.)
You don't even have to leave your house to see one of the best movies of the weekend, Jeremy Saulnier's bloody-good revenge thriller "Blue Ruin," which RADiUS-TWC is releasing in theaters and on VOD. It stars Macon Blair as a homeless vagabond on a walkabout for vengeance after his parents' killers are released from over a decade in prison.
Steven Knight's "Locke" wouldn't have worked too well as a pitch -- a guy drives to London one night while making various stressful calls, several of which are about concrete -- but it succeeds with flying colors as a taut existential thriller. Tom Hardy is in full command as the sole actor on screen for the film's 85-minute running time, giving a virtuoso performance as a man driven to tell the truth about a past digression, regardless of the consequences.
Lucia Puenzo's "The German Doctor" is a smart, many-layered period piece speculating on the murky six-month period the notorious Nazi Josef Mengele (here played by Alex Brendemuhl) spent in the alpine city of Bariloche, Argentina. As Adolf Eichmann's abduction to Israel burns up the news, a naive -- or willingly blind -- family unwittingly lets Mengele into their home, unaware the German doctor is in fact Auschwitz' "Angel of Death." The film was Argentina's official entry to the 2014 Oscars.
Blue Ruin Dir. Jeremy Saulnier, USA | RADiUS-TWC | Cast: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Eve Plumb | 92% Fresh | NPR: "'Blue Ruin' succeeds on the strength of Saulnier's skill at slowly escalating the tension, even with a would-be action protagonist who is almost comically inept."
Locke Dir. Steven Knight, UK | A24 | Cast: Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman (voice), Ruth Wilson (voice) | 90% Fresh | New York Times: "Moment by moment, with a twitch, a shudder, a look, it's Mr. Hardy who movingly draws you in, turning a stranger's face into a life." | Our review and interview with Hardy and Knight
The German Doctor Dir. Lucia Puenzo, Argentina | Samuel Goldwyn Films | Cast: Alex Brendemuhl, Florencia Bado, Diego Peretti, Natalia Oreiro | 70% Fresh | San Francisco Chronicle: "Puenzo paints an arresting picture of postwar Argentina as a strange, morally occluded place, with former Nazis hiding at the best watering holes and resorts and with Mossad agents working in the shadows." | Our review
The Other Woman Dir. Nick Cassavetes, USA | 20th Century Fox | Cast: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton, Don Johnson | 26% Fresh | RogerEbert.com: "While 'The Other Woman' raises some thoughtful questions about independence, identity and the importance of sisterhood, ultimately it would rather poop on them and then throw them through a window in hopes of getting the big laugh."