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Limited Releases take on the Oscars

February 28th, 2014

Ernest & Celestine poster

It is Oscar weekend, so it should come as no surprise there are not a lot of limited releases with the usual target audience. Art house aficionados will be paying more attention to the Awards than to new releases. Ernest & Celestine is the lone exception, which is the only Oscar-nominated film on this week's list and the best reviewed as well. Most of the rest of the movies are earning reviews that range from mixed to outright terrible. The Lunchbox could be the break-out hit of the weekend, if there is a break-out hit.

The Bag Man - Reviews
John Cusack plays a man who works for the mob who gets a job. Go somewhere. Pick up a bag. Wait for his boss to get the bag. Don't look in the bag. Since this is a movie, you know the end results are not as simple as that. Also, since the movie's Tomatometer Score is less than 10% positive, you know it is not worth checking out. The Bag Man opens tonight in two theaters, one in Los Angeles and the and the other in New York City, while it hits Video on Demand on Tuesday.

Bottled Up - Reviews
Melissa Leo plays a middle-aged woman whose daughter, Sylvie is addicted to painkillers. The film's reviews are weak with many critics complaining of "Indie Quirk", which results in an inauthentic experience. Bottled Up opens tonight at the Quad Cinema in New York City, among other theaters.

Chlorine - Reviews
When a film earns zero percent positive reviews, there's little that needs to be said about the film. It's about a husband and wife who are no longer in love but still together and looking to invest in a housing bubble. Chlorine opens tonight in eleven theaters in select cities nationwide, as well as one in Toronto, Canada.

Ernest & Celestine - Reviews
Celestine is a young mouse and Ernest is an older bear. The pair become friends, despite the fact that mice fear bears and bears tend to eat mice. This film was a surprise Oscar nomination, not because it is a bad film, far from it, but because it was clearly a lot lower profile than many of the competition. With the Oscars this weekend, the film could benefit from the free publicity. Of course, those most interested in the Oscar will likely be staying home on Sunday night, which would hurt the film's opening weekend box office. Ernest & Celestine opens tonight at the Landmark Theater in Los Angeles.

HairBrained - Reviews
Alex Wolff stars as a 14-year old child genius and Brendan Fraser stars as a 41-year old college freshman. It's an Indie Comedy in the most negative sense of the term. It relies on quirky characters for its comedy, rather than interesting characters and situations. Given the film's reviews and the fact that it is playing on Video on Demand, there's little hope for the film at the box office. HairBrained opens tonight, but I'm not sure where. The official site hasn't been updated since June of last year.

Jaatishwar - No Reviews
A romance between an Indian man and a Bengali woman. She doesn't think the relationship can work, because he can't speak Bengali. She offers him a challenge. Write a song in Bengali and sing it without mispronouncing a word and she will agree to marry him. In order to pass this challenge, he decides to research the life of Anthony Firengee, a Portuguese composer to lived in Bengal some 200 years before. It is an interesting premise, but without any reviews, it is hard to judge how well it will do. Jaatishwar opens tonight in seven theaters in select cities nationwide.

The Lunchbox - Reviews
A wife tries to spice up her marriage by sending a special lunch to her husband at work. However, it gets sent to the wrong man. When her husband doesn't react to her gesture, she writes a note in the next lunchbox. This begins a strange form of communication between two strangers that develops into friendship. The film is earning some of the best reviews of the week and normally I would suspect it would find an audience. I am a little worried that the Oscars will prove to be really tough competition. The Lunchbox opens tonight in three theaters, two in New York City and the other in Los Angeles.

Odd Thomas - Reviews
Anton Yelchin stars the titular Odd Thomas, a man who can see ghosts. One day, a stranger comes to town and this stranger is followed by many malevolent spirits. Odd Thomas opens tonight in theaters and on Video on Demand, while it his DVD and Blu-ray before the end of next month.

Repentance - Reviews
Anthony Mackie stars as a man who lived through an accident that should have killed him. As a result, he became a spiritualist author / motivational speaker. He meets Forest Whitaker, who asks him to help him get over the death of his mother. However, he has ulterior motives. There is only one review on Rotten Tomatoes, and it is negative. Repentance opens tonight in dozens and dozens of theaters. Check out the official site for more details.

Shaadi Ke Side Effects - No Reviews
After the romance of Pyar Ke Side Effects, we look in on the marriage between Sid and Trisha. Like most Bollywood films, this one has no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, so it is hard to tell how it will play with the target audience.

Solo - Reviews
A Canadian movie starring Annie Clark as a 17-year old girl trying to get over a family tragedy. She takes a job as a camp counselor but has to prove she's up to it by spending two nights solo on an island. The film was released on Video on Demand last October in the states, but it is coming out in Canada this Friday at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto.

Stalingrad - Reviews
Stalingrad has pulled in more than $50 million in Russia alone and this week it gets a short run on IMAX. It is the first Russian film shot in 3D and the first non-North American 3D IMAX film. However, its box office chances here are weak, partially because it is earning mixed reviews and partially because the historic battle obviously doesn't have a much as a pull here as it would in Russia. Stalingrad opens tonight in just over 300 IMAX screens.

Two Lives - Reviews
A German movie about a family living in Norway and deals with children born in Norway to German soldiers. It is one of the best-reviewed films on this week's list and was Germany's official selection for this year's Oscars. Two Lives opens tonight in IFC Center in New York City, while it also debuts in Video on Demand.


Filed under: Limited Releases, Chlorine, Ernest et Celestine, The Lunchbox, The Bag Man, Solo, Repentance, Stalingrad, Zwei Leben, Bottled Up, Hairbrained, Odd Thomas, Shaadi Ke Side Effects, Jaatishwar, Brendan Fraser, Forest Whitaker, Vidya Balan, John Cusack, Melissa Leo, Anthony Mackie, Anton Yelchin, Farhan Akhtar, Marin Ireland, Mackenzie Foy, Alex Wolff, Annie Clark