At some point in any relatively successful indie band's career, someone inevitably says, "Let's make a movie to tie in with the album!" They might shoot some footage and maybe even draw up a script, but these vanity projects almost always fall by the wayside when everyone realizes just how much harder it is to make a film than record an album. So kudos to Chicago's Califone, an indie act that actually finished and released its own concept film, in which a psychic (Angela Bettis) lives in her rustic home with a collection of ghosts ranging from mildly interesting to wildly annoying (some played by members of Califone). One day, a light appears in the woods outside and it's exodus time for the ghosts, but the psychic doesn't want to be alone and chaos ensues. When director and Califone frontman Tim Rutili sticks to telling the story, Funeral Singers takes on the demeanor of an interesting homespun yarn, but his Lynchian affectations distract more often than not. Still, they got it done. (available now)
Special Features: "Ghost" interviews, Califone videos, featurettes
Please Give marks writer-director Nicole Holofcener's fourth feature centered on middle-aged, upper-middle-class women who contend with their insecurities. It's also her fourth consecutive collaboration with Catherine Keener, here playing a Manhattan antiques dealer trying not to shut down under the weight of her liberal guilt. Holofcener again relies on acute observation over sitcom-level tidiness or the manufactured about-face, but the results aren't quite as generous as they were in Lovely and Amazing and Friends with Money, giving the audience little more to grasp onto than the simple reassurance that their neuroses are not merely their own. (available Oct. 19)
Special Features: Q&A with Nicole Holofcener
A fun take on the classic '80s movies about high-tech killer monsters who throw a wrench in America's plans for South America, producer Robert Rodriguez (Machete) and director Nimród Antal recruit a new batch of Predator meat and drop them — literally, the first scene in the movie is a thrilling free-fall to Earth or something like it — into an extraterrestrial jungle where a whole damn population of the beasts practice their hunting skills. Starring Topher Grace and a buff Adrien Brody, Predators is all hand cannons and gore, which is all it really needs to be. The twists, however ridiculous, always seem to come from an honest fanboy place and the action is passably mid-budget fare. Look for a baffling cameo from Laurence Fishburne, whose shifty eyes and spastic demeanor make for a fascinating and hilarious wild card. It's as if Fishburne has just received some really, really bad news about his daughter's sex life or something! (Too soon?) (available Oct. 19)
Special Features: Audio commentary, featurettes, motion firstname.lastname@example.org
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