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Limited Releases are not Playing Around

March 14th, 2008

There are plenty of wide releases this week, but the two widest releases, Funny Games and Sleepwalking, are earning some of the weakest reviews. On the other hand, there are several documentaries opening this week, most of which are earning stellar reviews.

Funny Games - Reviews
The dreaded select cities. Funny Games is a shot for shot remake of an Austrian film of the same name. That movie was quite controversial, but earned some praise. This version is earning less praise, but still courting the same controversy. Torture Porn for the art house crowd, as it is being described. This is not a genre that has worked in limited release, and its theater count of 289 is not going to be an advantage when it opens tonight.

Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk - No Reviews
A documentary about a 15-day whitewater river rafting adventure down the Colorado river that is aimed at spreading awareness on water conservation issues. The IMAX film should wow audiences with its 3-D cinematography while its message should be especially powerful since the Colorado rive no longer reaches the sea. Grand Canyon Adventure opens tonight in 17 IMAX theaters nationwide.

The Hammer - Reviews
Adam Carolla stars as Jerry "The Hammer" Ferro, a 40-year old man who decides to get back into boxing after he lands a lucky punch during a sparing match and knocks out an up-and-coming young boxer. This romantic comedy works surprisingly well despite the number of genre clichés found within it. The Hammer opens tonight, or perhaps next weekend, or perhaps it opened last weekend. Reports vary on the subject and that's bad news for a limited release.

Heartbeat Detector - Reviews
A corporate thriller from France that looks at the link between multi-national corporations and fascism. This is an unsettling concept that will be a powerful hook for some, or strain credibility for others. Heartbeat Detector opens tonight in two theaters, both in New York City.

On Broadway - Reviews
Former New Kids on the Block member, Joey McIntyre, stars in this movie, but don't let that stop you from seeing the film. He stars as a man trying to put on a play in a pub that just happens to be on a street called Broadway. No, not that Broadway. The film has been earning good reviews so far (although none are on Rotten Tomatoes so far) and has had a successful film festival run. On Broadway opens tonight in Boston, which is not a town that gets a lot of movie premieres.

Sleepwalking - Reviews
One of the widest releases of the week, it is nonetheless earning poor reviews. Most critics agree that the acting is strong, especially Nick Stahl and AnnaSophia Robb, can't lift the material and an otherwise unremarkable script sinks the film. Sleepwalking opens tonight in 30 theaters in major cities nationwide.

Sputnik Mania - Reviews
A documentary about the launch of Sputnik, which happened 50 years ago and shook up the Cold War. Liev Schreiber narrates the film, which seems to be his forte recently. (In recent years, I've heard him narrate projects more often than I've seen his face on screen.) Sputnik Mania opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

Towards Darkness - Reviews
A bi-lingual thriller about kidnapping in Colombia. This is a great setup for a movie, but the final results are mixed, to be generous. Towards Darkness opens tonight at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death - Reviews
Punditry is the only job I know about where being wrong is considered a marketable skill. The same talking heads keep coming back week after week after week and they keep getting it wrong. I would love to see a political talk show say to one of these people, "You also said we would be greeted as liberators, so why should we listen to your predictions now?" For hardcore political junkies, there's not a whole lot here that is new, but most people will learn a lot about how this has been going on for decades and how it is being taken to a new extreme today. War Made Easy opens tonight in Quad Cinema in New York City.

Wetlands Preserved: The Story of an Activist Rock Club - Reviews
Another documentary, this time about the Earth-friendly nightclub, Wetlands Preserved, which ran for a few short years but played host to a number of big bands. The film is earning great reviews and should please fans of the music, and there's a lot of music to talk about. However, it also discusses the environmental activism that the nightclub was involved in, which gives another angle to explore. Wetlands Preserved opens tonight at the Cinema Village in New York City.


Filed under: Limited Releases, Funny Games, The Hammer, Sleepwalking, On Broadway, Sputnik Mania, La Question Humaine, Wetlands Preserved: The Story of an Activist Rock Club, War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, Hacia la Oscuridad