We all like a good underdog story. And so does the Cleveland Museum of Art. Its February Film Series rings the bell for eight small-budget, big-heart movies that deserve a little Rocky billing. “There are these very low-budget labors of love which true independent filmmakers make by maxing out their credit cards, mortgaging their house,” says CMA associate director of film John Ewing. He recommends four must-sees, but admits, “It’s like picking between children.”
Check it out> Feb. 10
The buzz > Director Harrod Blank uses his obsession with car art to capture people bringing new meaning to pimping one’s ride. It’s a topic we all can relate to, Ewing says. “We all drive cars,” he says. “People will see what their other options are with their automobiles rather than just a new paint job.”
Don’t miss > Watch for a car that looks like a cross between the art of Piet Mondrian and Roy Lichtenstein. Blank’s own van, covered in lenses and cameras, is another to see. Picture cars that would be more at home in an art museum than the next The Fast and the Furious sequel.
Check it out > Feb. 12 and 14
The buzz > The film about pets lost during Hurricane Katrina played at Sundance and won the Audience Award for documentary feature at the 2009 South by Southwest Film Festival.
Don’t miss > This documentary stands out among other post-Katrina films. “This is the only film I know of that deals with one facet of that tragedy, which is the loss of pets during the storm and the effort to reunite owners and pets,” Ewing says. “The movie is going to be full of both wrenching and joyful human/animal stories.”
Check it out > Feb. 19
The buzz > The film, a collection of 44 home-movie-like vignettes captured over 10 years during director Michael Almereyda’s career, was lauded by film critics at The New York Times, The Village Voice and Time Out New York in September.
Don’t miss > Almereyda, whom Ewing describes as “one of the most interesting independent filmmakers,” will be in Cleveland to introduce his film and stay after for a question-and-answer session. “He’s not political where he’s got an ax to grind,” Ewing says. “He’s really a film poet more than anything.”
Harmony and Me
Check it out > Feb. 24
The buzz > Ewing says it’s hard to pull off a good comedy, but on the movie rating Web site Rotten Tomatoes, the low-budget indie comedy (and the only nondocumentary showing this month) scores 91 percent on the Tomatometer. Let Ewing explain: “You rarely see anything in the 90s.”
Don’t miss > Co-stars Justin Rice and Kevin Corrigan might be short on mainstream fame, but Ewing praises their talent. You might recognize Corrigan from small parts in big films such as , but Ewing says seeing this actor in a main role will be a treat. “You can really see what this guy can do.”