Viggo Mortensen Directs ‘The Dead Don’t Hurt’ With ‘Flipside’ & ‘Robot Dreams’ In Eclectic Indie Weekend – Specialty Preview

Few big new studio wide releases, yes, but Viggo Mortensen’s latest is on 700 screens, plus limited openings for Chris Wilcha’s Flipside, Judd Apatow EP, and Spanish animated, Oscar-nominated Robot Dreams from Neon. Bleecker Street’s family drama Ezra and IFC Films’ arthouse slasher In A Violent Nature are technically wide but both well under 1,500 screens.

Viggo Mortensen directed, wrote and stars in Western The Dead Don’t Hurt presented by Shout! Studios on 730 screens. The story of star-crossed lovers on the western U.S. frontier in the 1860s sees Vivienne Le Coudy (Vicky Krieps), a fiercely independent woman, settle in Nevada with Danish immigrant Holger Olsen (Mortensen). But the outbreak of the Civil War separates them as Olsen goes to fight with the Union army, leaving Vivienne alone in a town full of corrupt officials. Premiered in Toronto, see Deadline review. It’s Mortensen’s second outing behind the camera since 2020’s Falling.

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Oscilloscope opens existential Gen-X doc Flipside by Chris Wilcha (Emmy-winning for the TV adaptation of radio’s This American Life). The director revisits the New Jersey record store where he worked as a teenager, finding the once-thriving bastion of music and weirdness slowly falling apart. The film chronicles his tragicomic attempt to revive the business while revisiting other documentary projects he has abandoned over the years. In the process, Wilcha captures This American Life icon Ira Glass in the midst of a creative rebirth, discovers the origin story of David Bowie’s ode to a local New Jersey cable television hero, and uncovers the unlikely connection between jazz photographer Herman Leonard and TV writer David Milch. The disparate stories cohere into a meditation on music, work and the sacrifices and satisfaction of trying to live a creative life.

Wilcha’s credits also include concert film Another Day featuring music from the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, stand-up doc Knock Knock, It’s Tig Notaro, and The Targaret Shoots First, a comedic doc examining his job in the music business during the early 90s. Wilcha and Glass will be doing Q&As over the weekend. Adding LA next week.

Neon’s Robot Dreams by Pablo Berger (Blancanieves) starts its run in NYC at Film Forum and AMC Lincoln Square. The animated feature that premiered at Cannes, played TIFF and was Oscar-nominated for Best Animated Feature, follows Dog, who lives, lonely, in Manhattan and decides to build himself a robot companion. Their friendship blossoms, until they become inseparable, to the rhythm of 80’s NYC. But one summer night, Dog, with great sadness, is forced to abandon Robot at the beach. Will they ever meet again? This is 99% with critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

Of the wider releases, Bleecker Street’s Ezra, from director Tony Goldwyn and starring Bobby Cannavale, Rose Byrne, Robert De Niro, Whoopi Goldberg, Rainn Wilson, William Fitzgerald and Goldwyn, opens on 1,300+ screens. Premiered at TIFF, see Deadline review. Cannavale is Max, a stand-up comedian living with his father (De Niro) while struggling to co-parent his autistic son Ezra (Fitzgerald) with his soon-to-be ex-wife (Byrne). When forced to confront difficult decisions about the future, Max takes Ezra on an enlightening cross-country road trip.

From IFC Films, Sundance-premiering arthouse slasher In A Violent Nature on 1,400+ locations. The directorial debut of Chris Nash, who also penned the screenplay. The resurrection and murderous rampage of an undead monster in a remote wilderness populated only (of course) by a group of vacationing teens. It’s not the typical slasher, artsy, shown through the monster’s eyes as he walks and stalks.

IFC is also returning its spring hit Late Night With The Devil to 500+ theaters on June 6 for 6 pm showings (that’s ‘666’). The film by Colin and Cameron Cairnes starring David Dastmalchian has grossed close to $10 million since it opened March 22.

Other limited openings: Cheerleading drama Backspot from XYZ Films by first time feature filmmaker D.W. Waterson and starring Devery Jacobs (Reservation Dogs) and Evan Rachel Wood, opens day and date at Alamo Drafthouse theaters in 13 markets. Executive produced by Elliot Page. Written by Joanne Sarazen. Jacobs is an ambitious cheerleader, who, along with her girlfriend, are selected for an all-star cheer squad with an overbearing head coach (Wood). Premiered at TIFF.

Magnolia’s Magnet Releasing presents culinary horror-thriller What You Wish For day and date in 18 theaters. Written and directed by Nicholas Tomnay. Ryan, a chef with gambling problems (Nick Stahl) meets an old friend Jack (Brian Groh) in a Latin American villa where Jack has a lucrative gig, cooking elaborate private meals in exotic locales for incoming guests. Ryan assumes his friend’s identity and job but soon realizes he’s in over his head. With Tamsin Topolski, Randy Vasquez, Penelope Mitchell, Juan Carlos Messier.

Abramorama doc Invisible Nation, directed by Vanessa Hope, produced by Vanessa Hope, Ted Hope, Sylvia Feng, Cassandra Jabola and Ivan Orlic, and featuring Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s first female president, opens at The Quad in New York.

With unprecedented access to Taiwan’s sitting head of state, Hope investigates her election and tenure in a living account of Tsai’s tightrope walk as she balances the hopes and dreams of her nation between the colossal geopolitical forces of the U.S. and China. The film captures Tsai at work in her country’s vibrant democracy as she seeks full international recognition of Taiwan’s right to exist. At a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has demonstrated the ever-present threat of authoritarian aggression, Invisible Nation shows Taiwan fighting for autonomy and freedom from fear.

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