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Palmer's Pix: under-appreciated indie films


 

Jim Palmer presents a series of five films with lectures and discussions.

 

Limbo

Feb 6
The great writer/director John Sayles (The Secret of Roan Inish, Lone Star) sets this brilliant film in small town Alaska and the Alaskan wilderness. Country singer (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) and an ex-fisherman (David Strathairn) hook up against the wishes of the singer’s rebellious teenage daughter (Vanessa Martinez). What starts as a romance and a coming-of-age tale becomes a riveting survival story with surprising twists and an unforgettable ending. (John Sayles, 1999, USA, 2:02, R)
 

Off the Map

Feb 13
The title describes both the characters and their desert house north of Taos. Unfortunately, the title can also refer to the commercial failure of this masterful film. The family—husband, wife, and 11 year-old daughter (a depressed Sam Elliott, a gutsy Joan Allen and a mature-beyond-her-years Valentina De Angelis)—live an austere life on under $5,000 a year. Enter an IRS agent come to audit their taxes—simply magical. (Campbell Scott, 2003, USA, 1:45, PG-13)
 

Lars and the Real Girl

Feb 20
A painfully (pathologically?) shy Lars (Ryan Gosling) lives in a garage next to where his brother and pregnant wife reside. To combat his loneliness Lars orders an inflatable sex doll, and Bianca becomes a “real” central character in the film. The brother wants crazy Lars cured and fast. Patricia Clarkson plays the sympathetic doctor and the story is beyond charming, filled with complex family dynamics and communal healing. (Craig Gillespie, 2007, USA/Canada, 1:46, PG-13)
 

The Visitor

Feb 27
Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent) directs this timely 2008 film about a lonely widowed professor, Walter Vale (Oscar nominated Richard Jenkins), whose drab Connecticut life comes alive when he finds two “illegals” (one Syrian, one Senegalese) staying in his NYC apartment. The Syrian is a musician (drummer) with a beautiful mother who enters Walter’s life and apartment once her son is threatened with deportation. The setting is Trump’s America, and the characters will break your heart. (Tom McCarthy, 2007, USA, 1:44, PG-13)
 

King of the Hill

March 6
Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich, Traffic) wrote and directed this truly undiscovered gem based on A. E. Hotchner’s memoir. A commercial failure despite FOUR stars from Roger Ebert, and a then (1993) no-star cast that includes Spalding Gray, Elizabeth McGovern, and Adrien Brody. The setting is 1930s St. Louis and 12 year-old Aaron (Jesse Bradford) is left alone—absent parents and a younger brother sent to relatives—in a hotel to survive the Depression. (Steven Soderbergh, 1993, USA, 1:43, PG-13)
 




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