This weekend's art house options include a double-feature from our "Girls" guy and a Syrian thriller.
Bless Me Ultima
This adaptation of the mainstay of high-school reading lists by Rudolfo Anaya is selling itself as based on "the controversial book that was banned, forbidden, and burned." Directed by Carl Franklin, the filmmaker who brought us One False Move and Devil in a Blue Dress, the film looks to be a coming-of-age story among Chicanos in the American southwest, laced with mysticism (that old lady is a WITCH!). The early reviews have been generally positive, calling the film an earnest, satisfying story.
Director Ruba Nadda made the quietly beautiful Cairo Time, and here she reunites with her male lead from that film, the wonderful Alexander Siddig. In what appears to be something like an Arab Taken, Siddig plays a Syrian exile whose daughter goes missing in Damascus, and he has to find her while dodging all sorts of Syrian authorities who view him as a spy. Marisa Tomei plays his Syrian ex, while Joshua Jackson plays the American tasked with helping him.
You may know him best from Girls, but Alex Karpovsky wrote and directed this thriller from Tribeca Films about a meek research scientist who gets caught up in sex and obsession with a co-worker (Jamie Ray Newman). Karpovsky is an emerging talent (read on for information on the other movie he's got opening this weekend), and the critics have been intrigued. [Available on Video On Demand]
This second Alex Karpovsky-directed film this weekend hews much closer to the Karpovsky we know from Girls and Tiny Furniture. So much so that the character he plays is ... Alex Karpovsky. He's on the road promoting a film and ends up in a weird/intense/complicated love triangle with his friend and the girl who can't keep away from him. This one's sitting at 81% at Rotten Tomatoes as I write this, the highest such score among all this week's limited releases. [Available on Video On Demand]