H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
Fri Oct 7-Sun Oct 9
Like a regenerating tentacle from one of H.P. Lovecraft's creepy-ass stories, the annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival is back for yet another year—and this time, the fest boasts features, live events, guests, and short films in a program that's even more intriguing than usual.
Most interesting is Japan's Marebito, a take on Lovecraft's "The Outsider." Filmed in just over a week on digital video by Ju-On and The Grudge director Takashi Shimizu, Marebito infuses its low-key production values with enough creepy twists and unflinching images to warrant Shimizu's rep as one of horror's most interesting directors. Also showing is Dreams in the Witch House (created as an episode for the anthology TV series Masters of Horror), the HBO film noir Cast a Deadly Spell, starring Fred Ward and Julianne Moore, and the Netherlands' The Forbidden Quest, about an ill-fated Antarctic voyage. There'll also be more than 20 short films, vendors, and live events. More info can be found at www.hplfilmfestival.com. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Opens Fri Oct 7
Clinton St. Theater
In 2003, indie-film guru John Pierson—who gave Spike Lee, Michael Moore, and Kevin Smith their big breaks—was getting burned out on the US film industry. So he set out to open the most remote movie theater in the world.
Pierson moved his wife and two adolescent kids to Taveuni, a tiny, underdeveloped Fijian island, and opened the Meridian 180, which may have also been the dirtiest movie theater in the world. Pierson showed free movies to the islanders for a year, and despite his attempts to expose them to finer cinema, the Fijians went totally crazy for movies like Bringing Down the House and The Scorpion King.
During the last month of the Piersons' year-long crusade, filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Stevie) traveled to the island to document Pierson's bizarre quest. While James' Reel Paradise is an entertaining documentary that raises a lot of questions about the power of film and cultural exchanges, it's a bit lacking—since James has previously directed two of the best documentaries of our lifetimes, one can't help wishing that Reel Paradise was a little meatier. CHAS BOWIE
A League of Ordinary Gentlemen
Opens Mon Oct 10
If you ever meet anyone who does not like bowling, you can be assured of two things. First, that person is probably a classist asshole who considers bowling a lower sport than, say, baseball, or basketball, or badminton. Second, that person does not know how to have fun, and as a result is probably both a bad bowler and a bad lay, and therefore is not anyone you want to take with you to see A League of Ordinary Gentlemen.
Of course, you are neither a classist asshole nor a bad lay (or so I hear), so you're going to love League, a documentary that follows the Professional Bowlers Association attempt to get back on its feet. (The PBA was huge in the '70s, yet now elicits only "There's a Professional Bowlers Association? Seriously?") League has a cast of has-been bowlers: There's the beaten-down Wayne Webb, who's gone from being a rich world champion to moonlighting as a karaoke DJ; the stoic, nerdy Walter Ray Williams, who'll also kick your ass at horseshoes; and the desperately flamboyant Pete Weber, who embarrassingly tries to become "the bad boy of bowling." Throughout, director Christopher Browne keeps a sympathetic eye on this awkward cast; there's little that's more fascinating (or endearing) to watch than a few loyal individuals passionately clinging to ideals—bowling or otherwise—that are long gone. Also, you should just go anyway, because, as we have already established, bowling is awesome. ERIK HENRIKSEN