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Saturday, August 30, 2014



Limited Releases: Will Bad Words bring Good News?

Bad Words poster

There could be as many as two-dozen limited releases opening this week, which is insane. That's so many that I'm going to have to limit the ones I talk about to those that I can easily find release dates and / or theater listings for on official sites. (I should really do this every week, because too many times I talk about a film opening in limited release, only to never hear about the movie again.) The competition is overwhelming, but there are a few that rise above the crowd. Veronica Mars is opening wider than any other film and its reviews are pretty good. On the other hand, it is also playing on Video on Demand, so its box office numbers might be really weak. Bad Words is only opening in six theaters tonight, but since it already has a wide expansion planned for the 28th, one could say it is the biggest release of the week. There are several other films on this week's list that could find an audience (Enemy, Exposed, On My Way, etc.) but the competition will likely prove to be too much.

The Art of the Steal - Reviews
I talked about this movie when it previously opened in Canada and there's not a lot that needs to be added. Unfortunately, the reviews have slipped further and while the film has a great cast, it just falls prey to too many heist movie clichés. The Art of the Steal opens tonight in select cities, while it is also playing on Video on Demand.

Bad Words - Reviews
The directorial debut for Jason Bateman, who also stars in the movie. He plays a elementary school drop-out who becomes a proofreader as an adult. Because he never passed the eighth grade, he is technically eligible for the National Spelling Bee (or Spelling Be if you work on Fox News). The film's reviews are very strong, but not as strong as I would normally want for a limited release. On the other hand, the buzz is loud and the film already has a wide release scheduled for the 28th, so this is more of a prestige opening than a true wide release. I'll talk about it more on the 28th.

Better Living Through Chemistry - Reviews
A Black Comedy about a pharmacist who begins an affair with a rich trophy wife who is addicted to prescription drugs. Dark comedies are a hard sell in the best of circumstances, but this film seems to have had a troubled production and the reviews are weak. Also, the official site may or may not be down. (It could be because I don't have a Facebook account, at least not one I know the password for).

Bewakoofiyaan - No Reviews
A Bollywood film about a couple who are madly in love, but her father thinks the man is not good enough for his daughter. Like many other similar films, there are no reviews. At least the official site has a detailed theater listing.

Big Men - Reviews
A documentary about a massive oil find in Ghana, which in the early 1990s had a poverty rate of over 50%. The documentary looks at the behind-the-scenes business dealings, as well as the political ramifications of the discovery. The film's reviews are excellent, but the competition is intense. Big Men opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

The Cold Lands - Reviews
A young boy has to deal with the death of his mother and instead of possibly being sent to a foster home or to live with unknown relatives, he runs away to the woods to live. The film's reviews are only mixed, and limited releases usually need excellent reviews to even have a chance in theaters. The Cold Lands opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

The Den - Reviews
Melanie Papalia plays a woman who is investigating a social media site for her graduate thesis. While on a video chat, she sees a woman get murdered. The cops don't believe it is real, but she continues to investigate. It has great reviews, but The Den is opening tonight in theaters and on Video on Demand, so it will likely do better on the latter than in the former.

Enemy - Reviews
A Canadian film about a man, Jaky Gyllenhall, whose life is not going forward. One day while at the movies he sees a bit actor who looks identical to him. He decides to track down the actor, but when the two meet, their lives will never be the same. The film is opening in Canada and in the United States, although the official site only mentions the American theater openings. This could partially explain why Canadian films struggle up here in Canada.

Exposed - Reviews
A documentary about Burlesque performers in New York City. This art form seems to be entering a resurgence and this isn't the first documentary to tackle the subject. This one is earning great reviews and could do well on the art house circuit. Exposed opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City and even includes some live performances after select screenings. Check out the official site for more details.

On My Way - Reviews
Catherine Deneuve stars as a former beauty queen who is now in her sixties. After her current relationship ends, she has to deal with her family's failing restaurant, but this gives her a chance to reconnect with her daughter and her grandson. The film's reviews are amazing and Catherine Deneuve can certainly draw an audience in art house theaters. On My Way opens in New York City tonight with a significant expansion planned next weekend. Check out the official site for more details.

Patrick: Evil Awakens - Reviews
A nurse begins her new job at an isolated psychiatric hospital, but things are not as they seem. It's a horror film that takes place in an isolated psychiatric hospital. There must be dozens of similar films. However, the reviews are great, so it could find an audience in limited release. Then again, Patrick: Evil Awakens is also debuting on video on demand, so its chances in theaters is very limited.

The Right Kind of Wrong - Reviews
Ryan Kwanten plays a man whose ex-wife became famous writing a blog and then a book about how awful a husband he was. However, he falls in love and tries to win over a woman, who is about to marry the seemingly perfect man. It's a romantic comedy earning terrible reviews and opening in Video on Demand. It will likely go nowhere at the box office. The Right Kind of Wrong opens tonight at the Monica 4 Plex in Santa Monica.

Shirin in Love - Reviews
A romantic comedy set within the Iranian-American community. Nazanin Boniadi stars as the titular Shirin, who has been engaged to a plastic surgeon for a long time but meets and becomes attracted to a mysterious man who lives in a lighthouse. It's a romantic comedy, which is the wrong genre for limited release. Additionally, its reviews are weaker than average for the genre, and that's really bad news. Shirin in Love opens tonight in a handful of theaters, mostly in the Los Angeles area. Check the official site for more details.

Teenage - Reviews
A documentary about teenagers, who didn't really exist a century ago. Obviously there were people aged 13 through 19 before that, but society treated them no differently than children, right up to the point they were expected to become adults. The transitional phase as part of culture is relatively new. It is an interesting subject for a documentary and given the reviews, it could find an audience. Teenage opens tonight in two theaters, one in New York City and the other in Los Angeles, while there is expansion planned for the coming weeks / months. Check out the official site for more details.

U Want Me 2 Kill Him? - Reviews
A boy meets a girl over the internet and is smitten. However, she has a jealous and abusive boyfriend. When the girl is murdered, the boy and the murdered girl's brother team up to get revenge. The film's reviews are a little below the overall positive level, so it likely won't find an audience in theaters. However, it is also playing on Video on Demand, so it should perform better there. U Want Me 2 Kill Him? opens tonight at the Laemmle's Noho 7 in Los Angeles.

Veronica Mars - Reviews
The return of Veronica Mars. It's been ten years since the TV show and she's become a lawyer. However, she returns to her private detective roots after her ex-boyfriend is accused of killing his current girlfriend. The early reviews were only mixed, but they've risen to 72% positive. This is enough to suggest fans of the show will enjoy it, but not enough to suggest it will thrive in limited release. Additionally, the film is also opening in Video on Demand, so its theatrical numbers will be further depressed. Veronica Mars opens tonight in nearly 300 theaters, so check your local listings.

Le Week-End - Reviews
Nick and Meg are a middle-aged couple who visit Paris for the first time since their honeymoon. This is one of the best-reviewed releases of the week and with its impressive cast, it could find an audience. Le Week-End opens tonight in three theaters, while it expands significantly over the coming weeks. Check out the official site for more details.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2014-03-14

Movies 
 The Art of the Steal
 Better Living Through Chemistry
 The Den
 Enemy
 Elle s'en va
 The Right Kind of Wrong
 Teenage
 uwantme2killhim?
 Veronica Mars
 Le Week-End
 Bad Words