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Giving Life to Limited Releases

May 27th, 2011

There are not a lot of limited releases this week, but there are a couple that could be worth checking out. The Tree of Life is the film with the best chance at finding mainstream success, while Small Town Murder Songs is the one I'm cheering for the most.

Puzzle - Reviews
A middle-aged housewife discovers a new passion for... jigsaw puzzles. She sees an advert posted by a rich man looking for a partner in an international tournament and decides to apply, despite the misgivings of her family. The film's reviews are good, but not great. It is earning an overall positive review, but I don't think it has what it takes to become a hit in limited release. Puzzle opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

Small Town Murder Songs - Reviews
A Canadian movie about a small town cop, Peter Stormare, whose own violent past comes back after a series of brutal murders occur in the peaceful Mennonite town. This is writer / director Ed Gass-Donnelly's second feature-length film, and it is earning quite a bit of praise. (It's better than it's Tomatometer Score would indicate, as it earned a lot of positive reviews from Canadian critics that aren't part of Rotten Tomatoes.) On the other hand, while it has an excellent central performance, plus terrific mood, it's potential to expand is limited by its deliberate pace. Small Town Murder Songs opens tonight in two theaters in Phoenix and Miami, which are not your typical cities for limited releases to make their debuts.

Tied to a Chair - Reviews
Bonnie Loren stars as Naomi Holbroke, who after 25 years of marriage decides she's just not very good at it. Instead she will try one last time to make it as an actress. However, her first foray into show business is not a grand success and the result of her first audition leaves her tied to a chair. But she's determined and that's not enough to stop her. There are only three reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and all of them a negative, which might be enough to stop this film. Tied to a Chair opens tonight at the Big Cinemas Manhattan in New York City.

The Tree of Life - Reviews
Terrence Malick is an acclaimed director who has been working for close to 40 years. However, you could watch his entire feature-length catalog in roughly one afternoon. Fortunately, The Tree of Life is one of those films that shows taking your time has benefits. In fact, it won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Will that translate into box office success? Well, if any film has a shot this week, it's this one. The Tree of Life opens tonight in four theaters split evenly between New York and Los Angeles.

Tuesday, After Chirstmas - Reviews
A ten-year marriage crumbles after the husband cheats with a younger woman. Few films come from Romania that make it to theaters here, which does give this film a sense of the unique. On the other hand, this also means there isn't a built-in audience that there would be for a French film, for example. Additionally, the reviews are below the overall positive level, which is usually fatal. (Although one of those negative reviews is from Armond White, and his reputation makes his reviews less than useless.) It's probably going to slip between the cracks. Tuesday, After Chirstmas opened on Wednesday at the Film Forum in New York City.

United Red Army - Reviews
A Japanese film about the political unrest in the 1960s and the rise of the United Red Army, and the hostage situation that developed when the group became radicalized. So far the reviews are good, but there aren't many of them. Additionally, most audience members here won't have much background knowledge, and that could hurt its box office chances. United Red Army opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

We Are the Night - Reviews
A German film about a trio of female Vampires who take advantage of the German nightlife, and their immortality, to get what they want. So far the reviews are split, and this is the wrong genre to thrive in limited release. It is also a foreign language film, which could hurt it with genre fans. We Are the Night opens tonight at the reRun Gastropub Theater in Brooklyn.


Filed under: Limited Releases, The Tree of Life, Tied to a Chair, Jitsuroku rengo sekigun: Asama sanso e no michi, Small Town Murder Songs, Marti, dupa craciun, Wir sind die Nacht , Rompecabezas