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Friday, April 25, 2014



Limited Releases: Smashing Success

It's a very busy week for limited releases with a dozen films on this week's list. There are few that are earning good buzz or strong reviews, and even a couple earning both. Smashed is probably the film with the best chance at earning mainstream success. The Big Picture, Middle of Nowhere, and Gaybe are also earning overwhelmingly positive reviews.

3, 2, 1... Frankie Go Boom - Reviews
Two brothers have to get a starlet's sex tape off the internet before her father seeks revenge. It's a gross-out comedy that is only earning mixed reviews. That would have been fine if it was opening in 2500 theaters, but for a limited release, it will likely prove fatal. 3, 2, 1... Frankie Go Boom opens tonight in eleven theaters, but that might be as far as it will go.

Antiviral - Reviews
Written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, son of David Cronenberg. It should come as no surprise that this is a very strange movie, given the writer / director's lineage. It's about a world in which people, in an effort to feel closer to their favorite celebrities, pay corporations to become infected with the same diseases that their favorite celebrities had contracted. Syd works for one of these companies, but also smuggles out diseases to pirate groups, using his own body. However, when one of the diseases proves fatal to one such celebrity, he has to figure out how she died before he succumbs. Meanwhile, celebrity collectors want that virus, which he carries. The film's reviews are good and it did win the Best Canadian First Feature at the TIFF this year, so hopefully it will thrive. Antiviral opens tonight in theaters across Canada.

The Big Picture - Reviews
Paul Exben is a successful lawyer with a beautiful wife and two sons. He has the perfect life. However, when he learns his wife is cheating on him, he kills her lover in a fit of rage. Knowing he's destroyed his old life, he takes the identity of the man he just killed and tries to start over in the former Yugoslavia. The film's reviews are excellent. It is a foreign language film, which will hurt its chances of expanding, but it is a French film, which could help its chances in limited release. The Big Picture opens tonight in IFC Center in New York City.

Excuse Me For Living - Reviews
A suicidal med school drop-off / drug addict falls in love with the daughter of the doctor trying to treat him. The film is earning terrible reviews, plus as a romantic comedy, it is the wrong genre for limited release. Excuse Me For Living opens tonight in a dozen theaters in select cities nationwide.

Gaybe - Reviews
Two friends who met in college have remained single by choice, but they now want a kid, so they decide to have one together. It's like Friends with Kids, except the man is gay. The film's reviews are outstanding, among the best on this week's list, but I'm not sure that will translate into box office success. The cast does not have a lot of name recognition, while the writer / director, Jonathan Lisecki, is making his feature-length debut with this film. Gaybe opens tonight at the Cinema Village in New York City.

Grave Encounters 2 - Reviews
A found footage horror film opening in limited release. Granted, it is close to Halloween, but there's not enough buzz and not a lot of reviews online. The original film was about a Reality TV show about paranormal investigators who film an episode in an abandoned mental hospital but get over their heads. In this installment, a film student is obsessed with the first film and thinks it is real. So he travels to the same abandoned mental hospital to prove it. This film will likely struggle in theaters, but might find a more receptive audience on the home market. Grave Encounters 2 opens tonight in select theaters, while it is also available on video on demand.

Middle of Nowhere - Reviews
A marriage is tested when the husband is sentenced to an eight-year prison term and the wife drops out of medical school to help him while he is incarcerated. But when his chances of an early release are destroyed by him getting into a fight in prison, she is tempted to walk away from her marriage and start fresh. The film's reviews are excellent, but there's not a lot of buzz or star power here, so it might have trouble at the box office. Middle of Nowhere opens tonight in six theaters in five cities: New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Washington.

Photographic Memory - Reviews
A father is worried that his son is addicted to the internet. To understand why his son seems detached from the real world, the father travels back to where he grew up and tries to learn how he came of age. The film is earning perfect reviews so far and that should help it at the box office; however, it's a documentary, which will limit its chances to expand. Photographic Memory opens tonight in two theaters, the IFC Center in New York City and the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago.

Simon and the Oaks - Reviews
Two families living in World War II era Sweden, one a working class family, the other an academic. Simon, the son of the working class family, is fascinated by the books in the academic's household. Meanwhile, Isak, the son of the academic, loves working with his hands helping out the father of the working class family. When the two families become closer, a family secret is revealed sending Simon to search for his roots. The film is only earning mixed reviews, so it likely won't be a big hit in limited release. Simon and the Oaks opens tonight at the Paris Theatre in New York City before expanding next week to Chicago and Los Angeles.

Smashed - Reviews
A married couple's relationship is based a lot on alcohol consumption. However, she decides that her drinking is interfering with her job as a teacher, so decides to get sober. But can a marriage so tied to drinking survive when one partner tries to quit? The film has an impressive cast and its reviews are overwhelmingly positive. I don't think it will be a player during Awards Season, but it should do well during its limited release run. Smashed opens tonight in four theaters, split between New York City and Los Angeles.

Smiley - Reviews
A teenage slasher about a killer who is summoned through the internet. The film earned better than expected buzz and it is opening near Halloween, which could help its box office chances. However, it's a horror movie opening in limited release with no positive reviews. Most critics are complaining that the film is just your standard teenage slasher. Smiley opens tonight in select theaters in the AMC chain.

The War of the Buttons - Reviews
During World War II in France, two groups of kids get into fights where they try and steal the buttons off the other kids' shirts. But when the leader of one of the gangs, Lebrac, falls for a new girl, Violette, who happens to be Jewish, the two sides must come together to protect her. The film is earning really bad reviews, as most critics are complaining that the cute nature of the kids clashes with the dark nature of the real history. The War of the Buttons opens tonight at the Angelika Film Center in New York City and the Landmark Regent in Los Angeles.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2012-10-12

Movies 
 3, 2, 1... Frankie Go Boom
 Middle of Nowhere
 Simon och ekarna
 Smashed
 Smiley
 La nouvelle guerre des boutons