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Limited Releases - History in the Making

November 23rd, 2006

Nearly a dozen limited releases make their debut this week, but while award season is right on top of us, none seem to have what it takes to earn some hardware.

Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story - Reviews
Megumi Yokota was just 13 when she disappeared on her way home from school. However, she wasn't the victim of a simply kidnapping was instead taken by North Korean spies to be used as a role model in training their agents to pose as Japanese citizens. This documentary won an audience award at this year's Slamdance film festival, however, there's simply too much competition this weekend to give this film much of a shot at finding an audience. Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story opens this weekend in Washington, D.C. at the Landmark E Street Cinema.

Backstage - Reviews
Isild Le Besco and Emmanuelle Seigner star as Lucie and Lauren Waks, a fan and a her idol. After a chance meeting, they start an emotionally co-dependent relationship. Not as strong as writer / director Emmanuelle Bercot's previous film, but it is earning critical praise nonetheless. Backstage opened on Wednesday at the Film Forum in New York City.

Dhoom 2 - Reviews
This film is the widest ever release in its native India at 1200 screens. Here it has to settle for a much more modest 63 theatres. However, it does have a lot going for it, including a growing popularity of the genre and it does star Aishwarya Rai, one of the few Bollywood stars that has any serious name recognition in the States. Even so, I don't expect it to set any record for a Bollywood film here, but still could earn $1 million or more by the time its theatrical run is over.

Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds - Reviews
A sequel to Eating Out, which is a movie that earned terrible reviews and barely made any noise at the box office. Not the kind of film that usually gets a sequel. However, this film is being greeted more warmly by critics and fans alike and should see some growth at the box office. Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds opens this weekend at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

Ever Since the World Ended - Reviews
A mockumentary dealing with a post apocalyptic world where the human race was nearly wiped out by a virus. The two documentaries in the film interview some of the few remaining inhabitants in the San Francisco’s Bay Area, which went from a population of about 7 million to less than 200. Like most science fiction films that deal with possible events in the future, this one is actually an allegory of the present and as such it an interesting film to watch. However, there are enough flaws that it is not a fully satisfying experience.

History Boys - Reviews
Not too long ago, I would have assumed this film would be this week's best bet to escape the art house circuit and maybe even score some award season buzz. But like so many other films, this one's reviews are merely adequate. (On a side note, the year's award season could be interesting with a lot of the early contenders missing the mark leaving the field wide open for a dark horse to come along.) There's still a lot here to recommend the film including several amazing performances, but it still doesn't live up to expectations. History Boys opened on Tuesday in 6 theatres, half in New York City the other half in the San Francisco area.

My Suicidal Sweetheart - Reviews
This film was shot three years ago and has been stuck on a studio shelf since then. Never a good sign. The dark comedy is a good showcase for David Krumholtz acting chops, but that's about it. Tim Blake Nelson showing up in multiple roles doesn't make sense, Natasha Lyonne's role doesn't offer enough, and the film too often just muddles along.

Opal Dreams - Reviews
Newcomer Sapphire Boyce stars as Kellyanne, a young girl who has two imaginary friends named Dingan and Pobby. But one day they disappear and Kellyanne is stricken by a mysterious illness, so her brother recruits the whole town to help find these missing persons. This is a sweet family film from Australia, perhaps a little too sweet, but it should please those who check it out. Opal Dreams opened on Wednesday in 4 theatres, mostly in the Los Angeles area.

Our Daily Bread - Reviews
A documentary about the food industry opening just a week after the similar themed Fast Food Nation. While that film flopped, this one is earning better reviews and has a much safer release strategy. Our Daily Bread opens this weekend in two theatres, one in New York City and the other in Chicago.

Valley of the Wolves: Iraq - Reviews
If anyone needs proof of how far America's standing on the world stage has fallen, this incredibly anti-American and anti-Semitic film was a huge hit in its native Turkey. And Turkey is an ally of the United States, so you can image America's image problems in countries that don't have as good diplomatic relations. The film is based, very loosely based on a real life event referred to the Hood Event, but nearly all of the film is inflammatory fantasy. (Although to be fair, taking your enemy and turning them into monsters is not a new phenomenon and Muslims could point to a number of Hollywood films that have done the same.) As an action movie, it is competently done, but there's not much here that fans of the genre won't have already seen. It will be interesting to see if the movie can make and noise here, but interest in the film will likely be more out of curiosity than a genuine demand. Valley of the Wolves: Iraq opens this weekend in three theatres.

The Work and the Glory III: A House Divided - Reviews
The final chapter in this trilogy, which dealt with the early history of the Mormom church. These films have cost a lot of money to produce considering their decidedly niche market appeal; $6.5 million is a lot to spend on a film that will make $3 million in theatres, at the most. In fact, should the trend of declining returns from the previous film continue, this one might not make half that. The Work and the Glory III: A House Divided opened on Wednesday in a few dozen theatres, but that is likely as wide as it will go.


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Filed under: Limited Releases, The History Boys, Dhoom 2, The Work and the Glory III: A House Divided, Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds, Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story, Opal Dreams, My Suicidal Sweetheart, Ever Since the World Ended, Unser täglich Brot