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Expecting Big Things from Limited Releases

September 10th, 2010

It's a busy week with a dozen limited releases on the list, and this includes a few opening in more than a dozen theaters. Considering how weak the Tomatometer Scores are for a lot of these films, I'm not expecting great things. Hopefully one or two will score breakout success, but odds are it will be an off week.

Bran Nue Dae - Reviews
An Australian film about a young aboriginal boy who is sent to a Catholic school, but disliking it, travels back home with the Father tracking him the whole way. This musical earned great reviews back in its native home, but here the critical response has been more muted. Additionally, the movie is based on a musical that is popular in Australia, but really has no following here. Finally, Bran Nue Dae opens tonight in 16 theaters, which might be too much for it to thrive.

Expecting Mary - Reviews
Olesya Rulin from High School Musical stars as the titular Mary, who is expecting. She's not the only name in this movie, as it also stars Elliott Gould, Linda Gray, Cloris Leachman, Della Reese, Cybill Shepherd, Gene Simmons, and Fred Willard. On the other hand, it is opening in more than 50 theaters, which is way too much, while it has zero reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which is way too little. Maybe it will succeed, but I don't think it will find an audience till the home market.

Fool for Love (a.k.a., De Mai Tinh) - Reviews
A romantic comedy from Vietnam that was the biggest hit of the year in its native market. It focuses on the lives of four people. Dung is a poor man, who is in love with Mai, a singer who is working for Antoine, a rich business tycoon, who will only hire Mai if she agrees to date him. In order to get enough money to compete with Antoine, Dung agrees to live with Hoi, a very rich gay man looking for male companionship. While it was a big hit in its native country, there are no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which could mean it will slip below the radar of most people here. Fool for Love opens tonight in 8 theaters in major cities nationwide.

Heartbreakers (a.k.a., L'arnacouer) - Reviews
The first of two French films on this week's list. This one is earning weaker reviews, but still could find an audience, as it was a big hit back in its native market. Romain Duris stars as a professional heartbreaker. He is paid by women to break up relationships when the women want out. However, his latest job has him hired by a rich man to break up his daughter's upcoming wedding. Since the daughter, Vanessa Paradis, is marrying her true love, this goes against his ethics, but he needs the money. Heartbreakers opens tonight in three theaters, two in New York City and the other in Los Angeles.

Hideaway (a.k.a., Le Refuge) - Reviews
The latest from François Ozon, French director and force behind Swimming Pool, 8 Women, and others. Like most of his previous films, this one is earning excellent reviews and he has developed a fanbase here. However, as a foreign language film, its box office potential is probably limited. Hideaway opens tonight in a few theaters in New York, Washington, etc.

I'm Still Here - Reviews
I'm still not 100% convinced this movie is a real documentary. There's a chance that it is some weird performance art being perpetrated by Joaquin Phoenix, the subject, and Casey Affleck, the filmmaker. This could build curiosity and draw in moviegoers, but with very mixed reviews, I don't know if curiosity will be enough. I'm Still Here opens tonight in 20 theaters, which is probably too much to survive. Maybe it will last a little while thanks to the buzz, but I don't think it will have legs.

Legendary - Reviews
The widest release of the week opening in 178 theaters. Unfortunately, it is also earning some of the weakest reviews of the week with many critics calling it predictable and overdone. It does have some good cast members, including Patricia Clarkson and Danny Glover, but I don't think that will be enough. The negatives outweigh the positives by a serious margin.

Lovely, Still - Reviews
One of the few films on this week's list that is earning overwhelmingly positive reviews. Much of this praise is due to the performances by Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn. On the other hand, it is being compared to Away from Her and The Notebook, and comparisons like this can hurt a film, as it might come across as derivative. I think the reviews will help overcome that minor drag. Lovely, Still opens tonight at the Village East Cinema in New York City and the Bala Theatre just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

My Suicide - Reviews
I remember first hearing about this film back when it was filmed, in 2006. One of the actresses in the film is Vanessa Lengies, which is how it first came to my attention. However, four years between filming and its theatrical release is a long time for a movie. Add in the small number of reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and the fact that it is being self-distributed and this movie could struggle to find an audience.

The Romantics - Reviews
A group of seven college friends reunite when two of them marry. However, before the wedding is the reunion, and that could be awkward, as two of the women, Anna Paquin and Katie Holmes, had a rivalry over the groom, Josh Duhamel. There are a lot more big names in this cast than most limited releases have, but given its Tomatometer Score is under 20% positive at the moment, that won't be enough. The Romantics opens tonight in two theaters, one in New York City and the other in the Los Angeles area.

The Virginity Hit - Reviews
There was talk that this movie would open wide. That's not happening now, but it might have been a wise choice to make. First of all, it's Tomatometer Score is just 50% positive, which is excellent for a wide release this time of year, but really bad for a limited release. Secondly, it's a Teenage Sex Comedy, which is not a genre that thrives in limited release, but one that can score in megaplexes. Finally, while the writers, directors, and stars are mostly unknown, it does have Adam McKay and Will Ferrell as producers, and the pair have teamed up for some amazing comedies in the past. Their names could have been used to promote the movie. As it is now, it is opening in about a dozen theaters in select cities and will likely disappear quietly from theaters shortly. It could find a more receptive audience on the home market, especially if there is an Unrated DVD / Blu-ray release.

Who is Harry Nilsson (and Why is Everybody Talkin' About Him)? - Reviews
A documentary about muscian Harry Nilsson, who was influential to a lot of fellow musicians, but not exactly well known. I see this film as a metaphor for his career. Right now, every single review on Rotten Tomatoes is positive, which is amazing. However, right now there are only five reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which is close to disastrous. It seems not a lot of people will know about the movie, but those that experience it will love it, just like Harry Nilsson's music. Who is Harry Nilsson? opens tonight at the Cinema Village in New York City.


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Filed under: Limited Releases, Bran Nue Dae, L'arnacouer, Legendary, Expecting Mary, I'm Still Here, The Romantics, Who is Harry Nilsson (and Why is Everybody Talkin' About Him)?, Lovely, Still, Archie's Final Project, De Mai Tinh, Le Refuge