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Race for Oscar Getting Underway

September 9th, 2005

While Award Season hasn't officially started yet, there's at least one film on this week's list that's obviously meant to win awards. There are also a dozen other films of widely varying themes and quality, but at least that means there's something for everyone.

Answering the Call: Ground Zero's Volunteers - Buy from Amazon
One of two films dealing with 9/11, although the second one, ScaredSacred, deals with many different locations that have been called "Ground Zero." It's a noble effort, but the documentary never reaches its potential. As for its release date, there seems to be some confusion whether the movie starts tonight, or on Sunday for the anniversary of 9/11. It appears to have a special fundraising premiere at the Warner Grand Theatre in San Diego on Sunday, but opens in other theatres tonight.

Campfire - Reviews
This film won several Ophirs in its native Israel (the equivalent to an Oscar here), including awards for Best Film, Directing, and Writing. It deals with the difficult subject of the hand-over of Sinai peninsula back to Egypt in 1981, which makes the film very relevant today. Obviously with a topic like that the film is going to be political but this aspect is secondary to the daily lives of the characters. The film opens in 5 theatres this week, all in New York City.

Clean - Reviews
The first of two Canadian movies on this week's list. Shot on a tiny budget (some estimates have the total under $10,000), and with an impressive cast, the film is earning excellent reviews among the run-of-the-mill reviewers, but not so much with the cream-of-the-crop critics. Clean opens in the Metro Cinema in Edmonton, Alberta tonight and should have a theatrical release in the U.S. sometime next year.

Cote d'Azur - Reviews
A French farce about a Dysfunctional Family Vacation that involves lots of sex, infidelity, gay relationships, etc. Oh, and it's a musical. It's one of the better reviewed releases of the week and opens tonight in 11 theatres including the Angelika Film Center in New York City and the Laemmles Sunset 5 in Los Angeles.

Curandero - Reviews
Written and produced by Robert Rodriguez, the film tells the story of a man who journeys to the bowels of black magic in Mexico City. And that's pretty much all you're going to hear about the film. It's a Mirimax film and since the company is pretty much dead they are just burning off their backlog of films. No reviews, no ads, no information on the official site except for the release date. If it wasn't for that release date on the official site, I'd assume it wasn't coming out this week.

Green Street Hooligans - Reviews
The film is struggling with the critics, which is a shame since it's an interesting look at the violent culture surrounding Football Hooligans and how even a seemingly non-violent 'nerd' can become addicted to the violence and camaraderie of the gang. Green Street Hooligans opens in seven theatres in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Kamikazi Girls - Reviews
One of the more visually absurd movies you're likely to see this week. Momoko is a Lolita Girl, someone who dresses up like a Victorian doll. Ichigo is a Redisu, a biker girl who belongs to a bosozoku, or speed tribe. These two complete opposites form an unlikely friendship while surrounding by crazed characters. The film opens tonight at the Village East Cinemas in New York City before touring the country.

Keane - Reviews
The film stars Damian Lewis as a father whose child was kidnapped several months ago but is driven by mental illness to return to the place it happened again, and again, and again. Artistically and thematically the film is excellent, but technically it leaves a lot to be desired, especially the handheld camera work that a lot of people have complained about. Keane opens tonight at the Sunshine Cinema before touring the country over the coming weeks.

Mobsters and Mormon - Reviews
This is the Mormon version of My Blue Heaven, which wasn't particularly good to begin with. The film is unoriginal, unsubtle and for the most part, unfunny. It is getting one of the widest releases on this week's list at 15 theatres, all of them in Utah.

Salaam Namaste - Reviews
The latest Bollywood film to get a theatrical release here and as such a film it goes without saying that it's a musical / romantic comedy. While it is getting one of the widest releases on this week's list at over 5 dozen theatres, these films still have mostly niche market appeal, but they are starting to earn some mainstream success.

ScaredSacred - Review
Documentary filmmaker, Velcrow Ripper, traveled across the world to sights of immense catastrophes starting with Bhopal, India; Hiroshima, Japan; New York City and more. A moving and powerful film that looks for hope in the most desperate situations. ScaredSacred opens tonight at the Cinemark Tinseltown in Vancouver before expanding and will play in the U.S. festival circuit starting next month.

Steal Me - Reviews
An indie film about sex and stealing, but there are too many cliches and not enough realistic characters to work. This might be more forgivable except there's an almost pompous air to the movie; it just takes itself way too seriously.

Touch the Sound - Reviews
The best reviewed new film of the week, Touch the Sound is a documentary about Grammy award winning percussionist Evelyn Glennie, who just happens to be deaf. The film is an excellent experience for both fans of her music and those who love a story about overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. Touch the Sound opened on Wednesday at the IFC Center in New York City and the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles.

An Unfinished Life - Reviews
One of the strangest release schedules I've seen in a while; this film had a sneak peak in 750 theatres last week, this week it opens in 139 theatres, but is also having a second round of sneak peaks in 285 additional theatres. This film was obviously made to be an award-season contender, but its reviews are just not up to the level needed for that. Also, its opening theatre count is at that awkward level; too wide to a local ad campaign, too narrow for a national one. I can't shake the feeling that this film will struggle in every respect.

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Filed under: An Unfinished Life, Green Street Hooligans, Clean, Keane