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Going to See Limited Releases is a Win Win Proposition

March 18th, 2011

It's another rather busy week for limited releases, plus there are a few that have might expand wide enough to earn some measure of mainstream success. There are a few very impressive documentaries on this week's list, while hopefully narrative films like Win Win or The Music Never Stopped can continue the mini-winning streak limited releases have had.

Amazon Falls - Reviews: Reel Film, TIFF, CBC
One of two Canadian films on this week's list. It stars April Telek as Jana, a B-movie actress who is about to turn 40 and is looking for one last shot at becoming a mainstream star. It's director, Katrin Bowen, is a former B-movie star, while April Telek was a former Miss Canada, so they bring a lot of personal experience to the movie. There are not many reviews, but the ones I've seen are mostly positive. Amazon Falls opens tonight at the Carleton Cinema in Toronto, Canada, before moving to Calgary in a couple weeks and Vancouver a couple weeks after that.

Bill Cunningham New York - Reviews
A documentary about Bill Cunningham, the photographer for the New York Times. So far the film's reviewes are (nearly) perfect. (The only negative review on Rotten Tomatoes is from Armond White, and he hardly counts as a real critic.) Documentaries have added difficulty breaking into the mainstream, plus this film might be too "New York" to play outside of the city. However, one can always hope. Bill Cunningham New York opened on Wednesday at the Film Forum in New York City.

The Butcher, The Chef, and the Swordsman - Reviews
The comedic / action / martial arts adventure that begins with the creation of a kitchen cleaver made by the five most powerful swords in the martial arts world. Critics are split, with some calling it mindless fun and others just calling it mindless. It's also not the usual genre to thrive in limited release, but could do well on the home market. The Butcher, The Chef, and the Swordsman open tonight in a couple dozen theaters nationwide.

Cracks - Reviews
One of the bigger limited releases on this week's list with a number of up-and-coming young actresses. It is also the feature-length debut of writer / director Jordan Scott, who is the daughter of Ridley Scott. This could prove to be enough to help it thrive in limited release, at least for a while. The reviews suggest its word-of-mouth won't help its legs. Cracks opens tonight in six theaters, mostly in the Los Angeles area, but also in New York City.

Desert Flower - Reviews
A biopic of fashion model Waris Dirie, who as a child was forced to endure female genital mutilation. It's important subject matter and many critics are complimenting the performances, but they are also saying the script is too uneven to really gel. Add in its difficult subject matter and its chances of expanding are next to zero. Desert Flower opens tonight in three theaters, two in New York City and the other in Los Angeles.

Lord of the Dance 3D - Reviews
I remember when the Lord of the Dance craze was at its peak. It seemed like the most popular thing on the planet, but I never really got the appeal. Looking at the reviews, a lot of critics now agree with me. Delving deeper than the Tomatometer Score, it appears that this concert film is aimed squarely at fans and there's no interest in explaining the appeal. So if you are a fan, and like 3-D, it's worth checking out. Lord of the Dance 3D opened yesterday, on Saint Patrick's Day, for a one-week only special engagement.

The Music Never Stopped - Reviews
A father and son try to reconnect after years of being estranged after the son is diagnosed with a brain tumor that prevents him from forming any new memories. The reviews are good, but perhaps not quite good enough for limited release, but fans of J.K. Simmons, or of The Grateful Dead, will want to check it out. The Music Never Stopped opens tonight in three dozen theaters nationwide.

Nostalgia for the Light - Reviews
Documentarian Patricio Guzmán travels to the Atacama Desert in Chile. Because it is so high above sea level and the air is so thin and so dry, it is the perfect place for astronomers to explore the cosmos. It was also the perfect place for Pinochet to bury political dissidents, and it is the dichotomy between the exploration of the heavens and the horrors on Earth that this film explores. And with perfect reviews, it does it very well. Nostalgia for the Light opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

Win Win - Reviews
One of the best-reviewed limited release of the week, this film stars Paul Giamatti as Mike Flaherty, a lawyer dealing with a mid-life crisis of sorts who moonlights as a high school wrestling coach. His law practice is failing, money's tight, and his wrestling team sucks. His life starts to turn around when he meets Alex, the grandson of one of his clients, Leo Poplar. Alex starts to bring purpose back to his life, but when Alex's mother, Cindy, shows up, it all threatens to collapse. Awesome reviews and an amazing cast could result in at least some measure of mainstream success. And after last week's bumper crop of $10,000 hits, it would be nice to get on a roll. The box office could use the good news, because the wide releases are just not pulling their weight. Win Win opens tonight in five theaters, two in New York City and three in the Los Angeles area.

Winter in Wartime - Reviews
Set during World War II, the film centers on a teenage boy, Martijn Lakemeier, who gets drawn into the resistance after helping a wounded British soldier. It was made in 2008 and earned numerous awards and was even short-listed for Best Foreign Language Oscar. Hopefully this will translate into box office success here, even if that's likely to be limited to the art house circuit. Winter in Wartime opens tonight in three theaters, two in New York City and one in Los Angeles.

The Year Dolly Parton was My Mom - Reviews
This Canadian film opened in Quebec at the beginning of the month, but is expanding to English-speaking Canada starting with Toronto this week and Vancouver next month.


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Filed under: Limited Releases, Cracks, Desert Flower, Win Win, Winter in Wartime, Dao Jian Xiao, The Music Never Stopped, Bill Cunningham New York, Lord of the Dance 3D, Nostalgia de la luz