In this low-budget 2002 feature by Jacques Thelemaque, a young woman (Diane Gaidry) flees the east coast to escape her boyfriend’s chronic abuse and lands in Los Angeles; given shelter by a sour but protective older woman (Pamela Gordon), she gains some equilibrium while helping out with the woman’s dog-walking business. The plot of this character-driven drama is slender and the digital images rather muddyapparently an impoverished indie feature can look bad and still not be very interestingbut to his credit, Thelemaque sticks to his minimalist turf. And the dogs are great. 99 min. (JR)
Nat King Cole stars in this 1958 biopic about the great southern composer W.C. Handy. A travesty in terms of biography, this is worth seeing only for the impressive lineup of musicians in the cast (Pearl Bailey, Eartha Kitt, Cab Calloway, Mahalia Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald). Alan Reisner directed. 93 min. (JR)
To quote the Argentinean film critic Quintin, the subject of South Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo (The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well, Turning Gate) is the microphysics of relations, the deconstruction of love and sex, and though Hong lacks the usual fashionable cynicism, his work is infused with a bittersweet melancholy. This calmly shaped 2004 feature begins with the reunion of two college chums, a film director just returned from the U.S. and a university art professor, which leads to their looking up an attractive painter (Sung Hyun-ah) with whom they were both involved. The regrets of both men slowly accumulate, and the lack of any melodramatic revelation is more than compensated for by the naturalness of the three leads. In Korean with subtitles. 88 min. (JR)
Just when I’m ready to write off the mockumentary as an exhausted form, along comes this delightful and hilarious improv comedy from the UK in which a bridal magazine sets up a promotional contest for the best offbeat wedding. The three finalist couples are thematically committed to tennis, musical comedy, and nudism, and a gay couple is assigned to guide them through their elaborate nuptials. Director Debbie Isitt falters when she tries to shoot an elaborate production number but triumphs in her cast’s quirky characterizations and the ensuing complications and contradictions (e.g., “Please get it into your thick head how much I respect you”). With Vincent Franklin, Jason Watkins, Stephen Mangan, Meredith MacNeill, Martin Freeman, Jessica Stevenson, Robert Webb, and Olivia Colman. R, 94 min. a Century 12 and CineArts 6, Landmark’s Century Centre, River East 21.