Here are our top picks for unusual and interesting independent film screenings this May.
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami
2, 4:30, 7, 9:30 p.m. May 1-3
Who is Grace Jones? For those who were confused by the “two Grace Jones-looking chicks” reference in Black Panther, documentarian Sophie Fiennes (yeah, Ralph’s sis) can give you a detailed and dazzling answer.
Model, actress, singer, and record producer Grace Jones is the type of artistic force who is so unique in her cut and aesthetic that she stands out as a perpetual point of reference -- particularly in black circles.
Bloodlight and Bami adds depth to her story, in part thanks to rare footage of music gigs, in the studio, and with her family in Jamaica. These clips allow the audience to just watch Jones talk and hang out like a regular person, which is quite fascinating.
Bye Bye Germany
Landmark Theaters for one week starting May 18
“Hitler is dead, but we’re still alive,” says Holocaust survivor David Bermann (Moritz Bleibtreu).
Bye Bye Germany is a dark comedy-caper set in a sunny American occupation zone in post-World War II Germany, where a group of concentration camp survivors assemble, Ocean’s 11-style, with a plan to flee to America.
Director Sam Garbarski finds humor in insane circumstances with sharpness and fun, providing a shocking amount of light in the darkness of the post-Nazi era. As the survivors set out to get out, there are scenes poking fun at preconceived Jewish and German stereotypes. No matter the stereotypes, or even harrowing circumstances, they live and find joy and humor.
The Racer and the Jailbird
Landmark Theaters for one week starting May 11
In Belgium director Michael R. Roskam’s The Racer and the Jailbird, the speed and rush of the racetrack adds drama to a whirlwind romance between a gangster and a driver, played by Matthias Schoenaerts and Adele Exarchopoulos.
Schoenaerts, whose sexy/creepy allure went worldwide in the big-budget Red Sparrow, kicks it into overdrive again, playing the guy you know you shouldn't trust but has the charisma to still make you want to kiss him.
A selection at the 74th Venice International Film Festival, this Belgian flick asks if risk is what keeps us alive, and if fear is a requisite for hope and sensation.
The House of Tomorrow
Landmark Theaters for one week, starting May 25
Sebastian (Asa Butterfield), a teenage boy, has been raised in isolation by a staunchly religious grandmother (Ellen Burstyn) in a geodesic biodome cabin. Then he meets another teenager, Jared (Alex Wolff), who plays punk music despite having a severe heart condition. Together, they hope become rock gods and get laid.
Director Peter Livolsi blends coming-of-age bits with the white-knuckled late adulthood reckoning that comes with holding onto any belief too tightly. The young overcome their fear of the unknown, while the grownups accept that there are things they do not know -- with plenty of comedy comeuppance and newfound glory along the way.
This film is an adaptation of Macalester College professor Peter Bognanni’s novel of the same name; he served as associate producer on the flick.
Best When Sung from the Gutter
7 p.m. May 3
A Google search on this 45-minute experimental film doesn’t reveal much, but we’re intrigued. Trylon, which is hosting the premiere screening, describes the movie is an inventive mix of documentary and narrative storytelling, following actor/musician/slam poet Toussaint Morrison as he returns from another creatively unfruitful day to find his roommates are having a party. There’s spoken word, performance, and hip-hop along the way.
We’ll be going just to see what the hell this is supposed to be.