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Limited Releases Try to Pick Up the Pieces (or Should that be Fragments?)

May 9th, 2008

Last week Iron Man scared away nearly all competition. This week is entirely different with more than a dozen films, including a few opening up here in Canada. However, while there's a wide selection, none seem destined to expand wide. In fact, there are more that feel like they should have gone direct-to-DVD than there are that feel like they have a 50% shot at significant expansion.

The Babysitters - Reviews
Katherine Waterston stars as Shirley, a typical high school girl who makes a little extra cash babysitting. However, when the father of one of her charges kisses her before taking her home, and then gives her a little extra cash, instead of freaking out, she gets a great idea for a new business venture. A daring premise than is not winning over many critics, many of whom are arguing that the filmmakers didn't know where they were going with this premise and without a strong goal, they got lost along the way. It might still find an audience, but it will probably have to wait until the home market to do so. The Babysitters opens tonight in 19 theaters in major cities nationwide.

Bloodline - Reviews
A documentary about Jesus's marriage to Mary Magdalene and the conspiracy to hide the truth from the public. At least that's what the filmmakers would have you believe. And how can the person who brought us Bigfootville be wrong? But seriously, this is not a film that inspires confidence in the rigorous scientific nature of the work and while likely appeal only to those who think The Da Vinci Code was based on a real story. Bloodline opens tonight at the Village East Cinema in New York City and has plans to expand over the coming weeks.

Edgar Allan Poe's House of Usher - No Reviews
Based on the short story by Edgar Allan Poe about the decline of a family and its dark secret. This story has been adapted for the screen a number of times, including the first of the Roger Corman's Edgar Allen Poe films starring Vincent Price. It is probably that film that is the most famous adaptation of the story, and this is not the type of movie that does well in limited release, so it will be tough for this release to thrive. Edgar Allan Poe's House of Usher opens tonight at the Regent Showcase in Los Angeles.

The Fall - Reviews
From the director of The Cell. In fact, this is Tarsem Singh's first directorial effort since that movie, and only his second in total. Like that movie, this one is being praised for its visuals, but critics are complaining about the story, or lack thereof. Even so, it should draw in more than a few moviegoers during its art house run, even if it has to wait for the home market to find a larger audience. The Fall opens tonight in nine theaters, mostly in the Los Angeles area.

Frontier(s) - Reviews
The latest horror film released under the After Dark label. This one is noteworthy as it is carrying an NC-17 label. The reviews are better than most After Dark films have earned, but it is a horror film, and not just a horror film, but Torture Porn, and that's a genre that's on its way out. I don't expect much out of its theatrical run, but it should do well on the home market. Frontier(s) opens tonight in 20 theaters nationwide.

Noise - Reviews
Tim Robbins stars as a lawyer who is sick and tired of all of the noise in New York City and so decides to take the law into his own hands. It's an interesting idea for a black comedy, but the execution is uneven. For writer / director Henry Bean, it is a step back from The Believer, but it is still worth checking out, even if a rental will be enough for most moviegoers. Noise opens tonight in two theaters, but will likely have to wait until the home market to find an audience.

OSS 117: Cairo - Nest of Spies - Reviews
A spy thriller / action comedy from France. The film is earning good reviews, but not great reviews, and to compound matters, it is a foreign language film, which is an added difficulty when it comes to its box office potential. That said, French films tend to do the best out of all foreign language films and it could find an appreciative audience over the weekend. OSS 117: Cairo - Nest of Spies opens tonight in 9 theaters, mostly in the Los Angeles Area.

A Previous Engagement - Reviews
A woman goes on vacation to Malta to meet an former lover, whom she promised to meet there 25 years ago, which sounds romantic, except she brings her husband with her. A mid-life crisis movie from the woman's point of view. It is also a romantic comedy, which means it is rather predictable at times and that explains why the reviews are only mixed. However, for fans of the genre, there's more than enough here to entice them. A Previous Engagement opens tonight in Canada in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Mississauga, Halifax, Vancouver, and in the United States in New York City and the Los Angeles area.

Prom Wars - Review
The members of the Miss Aversham and Miss Cronstall's School for Girls discover that they have... how should I put this? blossomed simultaneously. They newfound popularity to pit competing all-male schools to do battle for the right to take them to the prom. One of five Canadian films on this week's list, this one is the widest release opening in Montreal, West Montreal, Concord, Kamloops, Winnipeg, and Abbotsford. Abbotsford? Really? I live in Abbotsford and I might have to check out this movie over the weekend. The film stars Alia Shawkat from Arrested Development, as well as other actors that are probably best known to people up here. However, while the show likely has some popular appeal, there are no advanced buzz, no ad campaign, and almost no shot at box office glory before the home market. Such is the fate of most Canadian films.

The Stone Angel - Review
Ellen Burstyn stars in this Canadian movie, which is an adaptation of the Margaret Laurence novel of the same name. In the movie she plays a 90-year old woman who is in no mood to settle down and decides to go on the run while reminiscing about her past. It's a Canadian movie, so there's little advanced buzz and next to no reviews, but those reviews I could find were generally positive. The Stone Angel opens tonight in Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg, and Montreal, while it expands to Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, and Halifax in two weeks.

Surfwise - Reviews
A documentary about Dr. Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz, a successful doctor who gives up his practice, moves to Israel, and becomes a local surfing legend before returning to the States, getting married, and having nine kids. ... If you wrote a movie script with a lead character like that, everyone would say it was too unbelievable to work, but this documentary has been wowing the critics. How it will do with moviegoers is still unknown, but we will soon find out. Surfwise open tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

The Tracey Fragments - Reviews
A Canadian film starring homegrown talent, Ellen Page. This film is not likely to escape limited release like her previous limited release, especially since it is a slice of experimental filmmaking. The film extensively uses the split screen effect in its storytelling, and it doesn't just split the screen in two, but there are many different fragments. However, this format has been described as annoying or distracting as much as it has been called captivating. The film has already opened in its native Canada but it makes its debut south of the border tonight at the Village East Cinema in New York City.

Turn the River - Reviews
Famke Janssen stars as a woman who was forced to give up her son and is now trying to raise the money to get him back from her alcoholic ex-husband, and she's going to win the money the only way she knows how. So far the film has not earned a whole lot of buzz, but the reviews have been excellent. Turn the River opens tonight at the Village East Cinema in New York City and expands into Los Angeles next week.

Unsettled - Reviews
An Israeli film about the Jewish pullout of Gaza Strip that focuses on the reactions, both for and against, of several Israelis that will be affected. So far the film's reviews have been perfect, but politics, especially from that region, is not a subject that has done well at the box office for a while now, not even at art house theaters. That will change, eventually, but I doubt it will change this weekend. Unsettled opens tonight at the Pioneer Theater in New York City.

Vice - Reviews
A Canadian cop movie starring Michael Madsen and Daryl Hannah. The reviews are mixed, but better than expected and it should do relatively good business, at least when it hits DVD. As for its theatrical run, Vice is opening in nearly 20 theaters, including one up here in Vancouver, Canada, as well as in select cities in the United States.


Filed under: Limited Releases, The Fall, OSS 117, Surfwise, Bloodline, The Babysitters, The Tracey Fragments, Noise, Frontière(s), Turn the River, Edgar Allan Poe's House of Usher, Unsettled