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Limited Releases: Hunting for the Best

April 27th, 2012

It's a very busy week for limited releases with a dozen films on this week's list. This includes a number of films earning overwhelmingly positive reviews or earning some pre-release buzz. Jesus Henry Christ, Headhunters, Booker's Place, and Sound of My Voice all have a shot at earning some measure of mainstream success. I doubt all four will, because there's just too much competition for limited dollars, but hopefully at least a couple will do so.

96 Minutes - Reviews
Two college girls, Brittany Snow and Christian Serratos, are carjacked by two boys, Evan Ross and J. Michael Trautmann. The film's reviews are only mixed with some critics praising first time writer / director Aimee Lagos for putting together a thrilling ride, while others think it relies too heavily on the timeline jumping setup. 96 Minutes opens tonight at the AMC Empire 25 in New York City.

Bernie - Reviews
Jack Black stars as the titular Bernie, a man who was beloved by his town, due to his generosity and kindness. He became the constant companion of Mrs. Nugent, a widow who was aggressively unkind. After years of putting up with her increasingly harsh demands, he finally snapped and shot her in the back four times. This is not a spoiler. The film deals with the court case and the reaction of the townsfolk, many of whom are interviewed for this film. The film's reviews are good, but not great. However, it does have a lot more buzz than most limited releases have and it could do well enough to earn some measure of mainstream success. Bernie opens tonight in three theaters, one in New York City, one in Los Angeles, and one in Austin.

Booker's Place - Reviews
In 1965, Frank De Felitta made a documentary about the treatment of African-Americans in Mississippi. It included an interview with Booker Wright, an African-American waiter who worked in a White Only establishment. Now, nearly 50 years later, Frank De Felitta's son, Raymond, returns to that Mississippi town to examine the effect his father's documentary had on the people there and on the Civil Rights movement. So far, this film is earning perfect reviews, and while it is generally too early in the year for Oscar talk, a strong start at the box office could encourage Oscar buzz for this film. Booker's Place opened on Wednesday in two theaters and launched on Video on Demand the next day.

Citizen Gangster - Reviews
A Canadian film about Edwin Boyd , played by Scott Speedman, a famous gangster from Toronto. After returning from World War II, Edwyn found he couldn't support his wife the way he wanted to, so he decided rob banks. The film's reviews are weak and I don't think many people outside of Toronto know who Edwin Boyd is, so I don't have a lot of faith in this film's box office chances. Citizen Gangster opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

Elles - Reviews
Juliette Binoche stars as a journalist who investigates two women who use prostitution to get through college. At first she disapproves of the lifestyle of her two interviewees, but soon starts to long for their freedoms. The film's reviews are really bad, but Juliette Binoche might draw in more than a few moviegoers. I don't have faith in the film's long term chances, on the other hand. Elles opens tonight in six theaters in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, and other cities.

The Giant Mechanical Man - Reviews
Jenna Fischer stars as, Janice, a woman who hasn't quite got her life together yet and is living with her sister, Jill, who does her best to help her sister, but is a little controlling in the process. Janice meets a man, Tim, who performs as a human robot in the park. There's a bit of romance in the air, but Janice has to learn to live without Jill first. The film is a romantic comedy, which is the wrong genre for a limited release. Also, while its reviews are very good for that genre, they are weak for a limited release. The Giant Mechanical Man opens tonight at the City Cinemas Village East in New York City.

Headhunters - Reviews
A Norwegian film starring Aksel Hennie as a headhunter. That's corporate headhunter, someone who steals important employees from one business to another. However, he uses this job to find potential targets for his side job as an art thief. When he robs from the wrong man, he becomes the target of a much more dangerous kind of headhunter. The film's reviews are currently above 90% positive, which is outstanding. It is a foreign language film and an action movie, which does complicate things, but I still have high hopes for the film. Headhunters opens tonight in four theaters, mostly in New York City, while it has plans to expand over the coming weeks.

Inventing Our Life: The Kibbutz Experiment - Reviews
A documentary looking at the the Kibbutz culture in Israel and how its traditions are coming into conflict with modern life. The film's reviews are very good, but some critics suggest it might not be engaging for those who are not already familiar with the Kibbutz movement. Inventing Our Life: The Kibbutz Experiment opened on Wednesday at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

Jesus Henry Christ - Reviews
A child prodigy conceived in a petri-dish goes looking for his biological father. The cast is earning some praise, but most critics would argue that the original short film was better. Jesus Henry Christ opens tonight in New York City and on Video on Demand.

Mamitas - Reviews
E.J. Bonilla and Veronica Diaz-Carranza star as high school students who meet on the day the former is suspended from school. So far there is only one review on Rotten Tomatoes. It is positive, but the lack of buzz is more important. Mamitas opens tonight in a trio of theaters in the Los Angeles area.

Restless City - Reviews
An African immigrant living in New York City tries to survive with just his passion for music to get him by. That is until he meets a woman. Only three reviews on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment, and two of them are negative. This suggests a lack of buzz going into the opening, and poor word-of-mouth coming out of the weekend. Restless City opens tonight in three theaters, including the AMC Empire 25 in New York City.

Sound of My Voice - Reviews
A girlfriend and boyfriend and documentary filmmakers travel to a cult to make a film about their leader, who claims to be from the future. They go in expecting to debunk her claims and free her deluded followers, but it appears they underestimated their new leader. The film's reviews are excellent, and Brit Marling recently earned several nominations for writing / starring in Another Earth, which could also help the film's box office chances. Sound of My Voice opens tonight in five theaters.


Filed under: Limited Releases, Bernie, Jesus Henry Christ, Hodejegerne, Restless City, The Giant Mechanical Man, Elles, 96 Minutes, Sound of My Voice, Inventing Our Life: The Kibbutz Experiment, Citizen Gangster, Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story, Mamitas