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Limited Releases have Bite

January 18th, 2008

There is a bigger list of limited releases this week than there has been in the past couple of weeks, but most seem like afterthoughts. There are a few that are certainly worth checking out, like Taxi to the Dark Side or Teeth, but none seem likely to have success at the box office.

Beaufort - Reviews
An Israeli action film that has been earning great reviews and more than a few awards. The film depicts the final months of the Beaufort outpost in Lebanon and the soldiers who have to defend it before the army withdraws. While word-of-mouth should be positive, it just doesn't seem the right time to release a war movie, especially one dealing with politics. Beaufort opens tonight in 2 theaters, both in New York City.

Blonde and Blonder - Reviews
For those who thought Blonde Ambition was too intellectually stimulating. This movie just screams direct-to-DVD; in fact, it is coming out on DVD in early February. There's no need to pay money to see this movie, and there's certainly no reason to see it in theaters. Blonde and Blonder opens tonight in 16 theaters, but while it is one of the wider releases, it won't be one of the more successful releases.

Bombay to Bangkok - No Reviews
An Indian film, and while there is a significant market for these films on the limited release front, they never seem to put any effort into advertising outside that niche market. In fact, the total lack of reviews is hardly surprising. Bombay to Bangkok opens tonight in 5 theaters in select cities.

Cassandra's Dream - Reviews
The latest from Woody Allen is not among his best work, and it is certainly not one of his most hyped. The crime suspense film is the widest limited release of the week, opening in more than 100 theaters, but this is low-key compared to many of his recent releases. Also, its reviews that have dropped below 50%, which is the kiss of death for most limited releases. It should earn some measure of mainstream success, but nothing compared to Match Point or even Scoop.

Day Zero - Reviews
Yet another political movie that uses the current war on terror. Specifically, in the world of this movie, the draft was re-instituted and we see the lives of three people who are going to be part of the first batch of new draftees. No movie with a political angle like this has thrived at the box office, and with these reviews, this one is very, very unlike to break that trend. Day Zero opens tonight in two theaters before coming out on DVD next month.

Little Chenier - No Reviews
Beaux Dupuis and his mentally handicapped brother, Pemon, are two brothers living in the bayou trying to make it. But when Pemon is accused of a crime, their simple lives are potentially destroyed forever. One of the wider limited releases this week, it is not opening in either New York City or the Los Angeles area, and with no reviews it is unlikely to have enough publicity to score at the box office. Little Chenier opens tonight in 18 theaters, mostly in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Still Life - Reviews
The first of two Chinese films on this week's list, this is the better reviewed of the two. The film takes place at the site of Fengjie, a town flooded to create the Three Gorge dam, and deals with several characters who have come to recover what they can and say goodbye to what they can't. Still Life opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

Summer Place - Reviews
Director Ye Lou was banned from making movies in China for five years for making this movie because he filmed in Tiananmen Square and used actually footage of the demonstrations from 1989. This movie is not a high note for his career and it has fallen just below the overall positive level on Rotten Tomatoes. Granted, this is still a relatively good score, but not good enough to survive the tight limited release market. In the end, it could be more interesting for its behind-the-scenes intrigue than the movie itself. Summer Place opens tonight at the Cinema Village in New York City.

Taxi to the Dark Side - Reviews
A documentary about an Afghan taxi driver who was picked up by the Americans, tortured, and beaten to death as a suspected terrorist. Turns out he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. A very powerful film that should be seen by as many people as possible, although the people who should see it the most are the ones who will avoid it the most. Taxi to the Dark Side opens tonight in two theaters, Angelika Film Center in New York City and the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles

Teeth - Reviews
A horror comedy about a women who discovers her vagina has teeth. However, while this is a hook that should entice quite a few moviegoers and the reviews should certainly help word-of-mouth, horror comedies are notoriously difficult to market and most horror films flop in limited release. Teeth opens tonight in four theaters in New York City and the Los Angeles area and is worth checking out, even if you have to wait until the home market to see it.


Filed under: Limited Releases, Cassandra's Dream, Teeth, Taxi to the Dark Side, Beaufort, Little Chenier, Sanxia haoren, Yihe yuan, Blonde and Blonder, Day Zero, Bombay to Bangkok