IndieStream: Catherine Keener's 'War Story' and Horror Film 'The Damned' Hit VOD

Courtesy of Reed Morano ASC

The "Please Give" star plays a broken journalist in this week's latest streaming indies.

Opening Wednesday in theaters and on VOD is Mark Jackson’s War Story, which premiered in the Next category at January's Sundance Film Festival. The film stars Catherine Keener as a hardened war photographer who thought she had seen it all, but her most recent traumatic experience in Libya has left her reeling. The film opens with an isolated and mourning Keener aimlessly wandering the streets of Sicily and works backwards as the audience pieces together what happened in a narrative that unfolds like a mystery.

As The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy’s positive review points out, Jackson parcels out information gradually, forcing the audience to infer rather than simply receive the story. It’s an approach that McCarthy says asks a great deal from its arthouse audience, but one he believes is ultimately rewarding, largely because it is anchored by an “outstanding” performance by Keener. Other critics, such as Indiewire’s Rodrigo Perez, found that Jackson’s film raises too many unanswered questions and leaves the viewer cold and often bored.

REVIEW: ‘War Story’

If IFC’s challenging story of a troubled war journalist isn’t your cup of tea, the studio is also releasing to VOD Victor Garcia’s horror film The Damned, a month prior to its theatrical run. The films tells the story of a widowed American (Peter Facinelli) on his way to Bogota to retrieve his rebellious daughter, but after a car accident he finds himself stranded in an isolated inn, where the creepy old innkeeper has a young girl locked in the basement.

Hitting theaters this week are two titles that have already been released on VOD.

Happy Christmas has been called Joe Swanberg's (Drinking Buddies) most accessible film as it tells the story of an irresponsible younger sister (Anna Kendrick) moving in with her older brother (Swanberg himself), his wife (Melanie Lynskey) and their two-year-old son (scene stealer Jude Swanberg). The film also features Lena Dunham as Kendrick’s hometown friend and Mark Webber as a babysitter-cum-pot dealer.

Like Christmas, Naomi Foner’s Very Good Girls is already available on VOD, but is getting its theatrical release today. Girls tells the story of best friends Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen's last summer before they go are off to college. The plot pivots on a vow to lose their virginity before college and how they both fall for the same handsome artist (Boyd Holbrook). The cast is rounded out by Demi Moore, Richard Dreyfus, Ellen Barkin, Clark Gregg, Kiernan Shipka and Peter Sarsgaard.

VIDEO: Elizabeth Olsen Covers Rilo Kily in ‘Very Good Girls’

LAST WEEK saw the Ultra VOD release of Ari Folman’s The Congress, which will be hitting theaters in late August. The Robin Wright starrer from the Waltz With Bashir director cracked the iTunes top 20 of best-selling indies. (We spoke to Folman recently about the strange film.) Number One on the chart, not surprisingly, remains Snowpiercer. Rising back up the charts this week is Mistaken For Strangers, a doc about indie rockers The National. The film likely got a bump from this Funny or Die video in which Zach Galifianakas and Ted Danson attempt to adapt the doc into a play, with Danson playing Matt Berninger (lead singer for The National) and and Galifianakas playing Todd Berninger (Matt’s younger brother, who joins the band as roadie, but instead makes the doc about the band).

STORY: Robin Wright Digitally Preserved in Trippy New Film 

NEXT WEEK sees the VOD release of James Franco’s Child Of God, the grieving parents-turned-philanthropists drama Louder Than Words (David Duchovny and Hope Davis) and an oddball film out of Berlin called The Strange Little Cat.