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Limited Releases in Battle for Moviegoers - Updated

February 17th, 2006

This week's selection of limited releases is not as strong as other weeks, but there are a few films that should please moviegoers. The film with the most potential for popular appeal is Night Watch, but the Oscar nominated Sophie Scholl should also find an audience.

Battle in Heaven - Reviews
Writer / Director Carlos Reygadas' follow-up to Japon, which was the superior film. The movie is about a kidnapping that goes wrong but has been described by many critics as boring, pretentious, nearly pornographic. It tries far too hard to be artistic, and that's it's biggest downfall. Battle in Heaven opens tonight in New York City at the Angelika Film Center and in Los Angeles at the Laemmles Sunset 5.

Illusion - Reviews
A father and formerly power movie director tries to find the illegitimate son he is estranged from. After conventional methods fail, he turns to a mystic who offers to show him three movies featuring his son at different times during his life. Starring the legendary Kirk Douglas, the film is simply not as good as it should be. Illusion opens in five theatres, mostly in the Southern California area.

Night Watch - Reviews
For movie geeks like myself, this is the biggest opening of the week. This Russian film broke all records in its native markets when it first opened. (Those records have since been broke a couple of times, including by the film's sequel.) The film has a lot of style with great visuals and sets the mood nicely, but as a movie about the battle between Good and Evil, it is predictable at times. Night Watch opens tonight in three theatres, including the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles before expanding in the coming weeks.

The Second Chance - Reviews
Making a movie with a Religious theme can be a risky prospect as there are a lot of obstacles one needs to avoid. Being overly preachy is one, being too 'earnest', is another, not to mention being offensive. Offending people is a huge obstacle, and not always for the obvious reason. Take the recent movie End of the Spear, for example. The film is about Christian Missionaries and earned a much wider release than most independent films get, but shortly after its release it was learned that its star is openly gay. Talk of a grassroots movement turned to talk of a boycott and any chance the film had of long-term success was over. While this film is unlikely to offend, it does suffer from the first two problems leading to weak reviews and low crossover appeal. Also, it is opening in select cities, and long-time readers know how I feel about that release strategy. The Second Chance is opening in 87 theatres across the nation with plans to expand to a wide release.

Sophie Scholl - Reviews
Easily the best-reviewed movie coming out this week, it deals with the German resistance during World War II. Not only was the film a hit in its native market, it is also one of the Oscar Nominees for this year's Best Foreign Language award. Like last year's Downfall, this film has a reasonable shot as earning some mainstream success, but it probably won't match that latter film's total. Sophie Scholl opens tonight at the Film Forum in New York City.

Winter Passing - Reviews
Zooey Deschanel stars as Reese Holden, an actress who is offered a lot of money if she can find her father's love letters. Some good performances, especially from Zooey Deschanel, help this film, but it is far too predictable to be fully engaging. On a side note, while the cream-of-the-crop critics have been very harsh, the run-of-the-mill reviewers have been a lot more generous. Winter Passing opens in seven theatres tonight including the Laemmles Sunset 5 in Los Angeles.


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Filed under: Limited Releases, Nochnoy dozor, Winter Passing