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Limited Releases are Pure Poetry

February 11th, 2011

For the past several weeks, the Oscars have scared off a lot of competition for art house crowds. However, this week not only do we have Oscar Shorts opening, there are several films earning award-worthy reviews. My only concern is that there are so many strong choices, some of them will fall between the cracks and won't find the audience they deserve.

2011 Oscar Nominated Shorts - Reviews: Animated, Live Action, and Non-Fiction
The latest round of Oscar nominated shorts hits theaters as part of a mini-film festival of shorts. These films are so hard to find that for fans of the format, this is a must see. It helps that the overall reviews are excellent. (The three combined scores are 17 positive and just 2 negative.) They are opening in 100 theaters, which is a lot for a limited release, but the franchise has built up an audience over the years, so that probably won't hurt it at the box office.

Carancho - Reviews
An Argentinian film about an ambulance chasing personal injury attorney, played by Ricardo Darín. It focuses on his relationship with a young doctor, Martina Gusman, who has dark secrets of her own. The reviews are excellent, but perhaps not quite at the level needed to find success in limited release. Carancho opens tonight in five theaters, split between New York City and the Los Angeles area.

Cedar Rapids - Reviews
Ed Helms plays a naive insurance salesman who has to go to the annual insurance convention, which means he has to leave his small town for the first time in his life and travel to the big city of... Cedar Rapids. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Cedar Rapids is actually smaller than the town I live in, which I didn't think was medically possible. Once there he falls under the influence of three convention veterans, which can only end poorly for him. This is an independent comedy, so expect more than its fair share of quirky characters, but the incredible amount of talent makes this film a must see for a lot of people, while its reviews suggest it could thrive in limited release. Granted, limited release is always tough, but let's hope this film can be an early winner. Cedar Rapids opens tonight in 15 theaters in major markets nationwide.

Certifiably Jonathan - Reviews
A mockumentary about Jonathan Winters' attempts to get his paintings into the Museum of Modern Art. Jonathan Winters is a legend, but the critics have not been kind to this movie. Perhaps that's why it has taken more than three years for the film to get to theaters after it was made. Certifiably Jonathan opens tonight Quad Cinema in New York City.

Dream Home - Reviews
Josie Ho stars as Cheng Lai-sheung, who has worked two jobs to save up enough money to buy an apartment with a view of Victoria Harbor, a view she had growing up as a child before monster apartment buildings blocked it. But when the owners jack up the price at the last minute, she decides to do what it takes to get in, by killing off her would-be neighbors. The reviews for this film are excellent, but it is still a horror film opening in limited release, and that's hard in the best of times. Additionally, its a busy week and there are a number of films opening with better reviews. Maybe it will find an audience, but it might have to wait for the home market to do so.

In Her Skin - Reviews
An Australian film about the disappearance of a 15-year old girl, played by Kate Bell, told from the perspective of her parents, Guy Pearce and Miranda Otto, and of the woman who murdered her, Ruth Bradley. It came out in its native market in 2009, but after a delay due to a legal issue, it is finally come out in theaters here. Unfortunately, it is coming out in theaters and on Video on Demand on the same day, which will likely result in a poor box office performance.

Modra - Reviews
A Canadian film about a 17-year old girl, played by Hallie Switzer, who travels to Modra, Slovinia to visit with her extended family. She was to go with her boyfriend, but he has just recently dumped her. So instead she travels with Leco, a cute boy from school. The reviews are good, but the fact that there are reviews is just as impressive, as most Canadian movies are a ignored by most critics. Modra opens tonight at The Royal in Toronto and the Vancity Theatre in Vancouver.

MOOZ-lum - Reviews
A look at Muslims in America and the conflict between the extremists and those that try to integrate into American society at large. The film's reviews are good enough to suggest it could thrive in limited release; however, there are so few of them that it could be a sign there's not enough buzz for it to find an audience. MOOZ-lum opens tonight in about a dozen AMC theatres nationwide.

Poetry - Reviews
Written and directed by Lee Chang-dong, who previously made Secret Sunshine, Oasis and other award-worthy movies. It stars Jeong-hie Yun, who came out of retirement to play the part of an elderly woman taking care of her grandson and dealing with a devastating medical diagnosis, but still looking at the bright side of every situation. Given its reviews, it should find an audience in limited release. However, even with perfect reviews, success in limited release is still not guaranteed. Poetry opens tonight in three theaters, all in New York City.

Orgasm Inc. - Reviews
A documentary about the search for a female Viagra that also touches on the dangers of medicating people for problems that are either created by, or at least hyped by the companies selling the cure. The reviews are amazing, not quite Oscar-worthy, but close. Meanwhile, with such a provacative subject, it could thrive in limited release. Or people might see the title and think to themselves, "I'll wait for the home market." Orgasm Inc. opens tonight in two theaters: the Quad Cinema in New York City and the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago.

The Scenesters - Reviews
A group of crime scene cleaners / videographers start to think there's a serial killer targeting hipsters. However, when the cops don't believe them, they have to investigate the crimes themselves. Not a bad setup and the review are good, but they are likely not good enough to thrive in limited release.

The Sky Turns - Reviews
A documentary about a small town in northern Spain. A very small town. The film is directed by Mercedes Alvarez, who was the last person born in the town, and that was about 50 years ago. Now there are barely a dozen people left. It's obviously very personal subject matter, which shines through in the end product. The Sky Turns opens tonight at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City.

Vidal Sassoon: The Movie - Reviews
A documentary about Vidal Sassoon, who revolutionized hairdressing in the 1960s and his influence is still felt today. On the other hand, a lot of critics are commenting that this is not enough to warrant being the subject of a documentary, certainly not one that's this heavy on the praise. Vidal Sassoon: The Movie opens tonight at the City Cinemas Village East in New York City.


Filed under: Limited Releases, Cedar Rapids, In Her Skin, Vidal Sassoon: The Movie, The Sky Turns, MOOZ-lum, Carancho, Orgasm Inc., Certifiably Jonathan, Shi, The Scenesters, 2011 Oscar Shorts, Wai dor lei ah yut ho