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First Grade Limited Releases

May 13th, 2011

The list of limited releases on this week's chart is not nearly as long as last weekend, but there are several that having been earning strong advanced buzz. But how many will be able to live up to this buzz?

L'Amour Fou - Reviews
A documentary about the fashion icon, Yves Saint Laurent, as told by his husband, Pierre Berge. It was made very shortly after Yves Saint Laurent's death, so it does have a lot of emotional impact, but it is not as in-depth as some fans might like. L'Amour Fou opens tonight at the Paris Theatre and the IFC Center, both in New York City.

The Big Bang - Reviews
At one time it seemed like Antonio Banderas was going to be a major A-list star. However, outside of his voicework on Shrek films and his work with Robert Rodriguez, he's never found the success many were predicting. At this point, his films as almost as likely to being released Direct-to-DVD than hit theaters. And given this film's Tomatometer Score, it probably should have taken the former route. The Big Bang opens tonight in City Cinemas Village East in New York City and the Laemmles Sunset 5 in Los Angeles.

City of Life and Death - Reviews
The best-reviewed film of the week, maybe. (It's in a virtual tie with Bridesmaids.) This film looks at the second Sino-Japanese war, which lead into World War II. It specifically looks at the taking of Nanjing, which was then the capital of China, and the massacre that took place after. It's a very powerful movie and hopefully it will find an audience. City of Life and Death opened on Wednesday at the Film Forum in New York City.

Everything Must Go - Reviews
Will Ferrell stars as Nick Halsey, who loses his job, his wife, and falls off the wagon. In order to get his life back in order, he decides to sell of all his possession in a yard sale. Early reviews were amazing, but they've softened a bit to just under 80% positive. Also, the film is opening in more than 200 theaters, which is just too much. Hopefully it will find an audience, but I'm not bullish on the film's chances.

The First Grader - Reviews
In Kenya, the government passed a law making basic education free for everyone. One of the people who wanted to take advantage of that was an 84-year old veteran of Kenya's war of independence. While he has some supporters, including his new teacher, many attack him for taking up a space that would have otherwise gone to a child, who would have a longer life to put this knowledge to use. It's an inspirational story, but the reviews are just under the overall positive mark, which is bad news for a limited release. The First Grader opens tonight in three theaters, two in New York City and the other in the Los Angeles area.

Go For It - Reviews
The craze of dancing movies continues with Go For It. This film has an Hispanic flavor to it, but with almost no reviews, it's hard to say if that will be enough to stand out in a rather crowded field. The biggest name in the movie is Aimee Garcia, but she's not exactly a proven box office draw. A targeted marketing campaign might help, but opening in more than 200 theaters could prove to be its undoing.

Hesher - Reviews
This film has an amazing cast and plenty of advance buzz. However, its reviews are barely over 50% positive, which is nowhere near strong enough for a limited release. Some critics have praised Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance, but many of these same critics still say his character is too unlikable to be the center of a movie. Finally, Hesher is opening in 40 theaters nationwide, which is just too many to expect it to survive.

HEY, BOO: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird - Reviews
One of the most beloved novels of the 20th century gets a love-letter of a documentary. Reviews are mostly positive, but several critics are complaining that it's padded and superficial at times. Worth checking out, but not necessarily worth seeing in theaters. HEY, BOO opens tonight at the Quad Cinema in New York City and the Laemmles Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills.

How to Live Forever - Reviews
Director Mark Wexler travels the world looking for answers on aging and how to grow old. The reviews are mixed and depending on what critic you trust, certain parts work better than others. Some prefer the more philosophical parts, others prefer the vast number of interviews, etc. Fans of documentaries will probably want to watch it, but they will also likely want to wait until the home market. How to Live Forever opens tonight at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

Skateland - Reviews
A story of teenage angst set in east Texas of the 1980s. This film had been earning some strong advance buzz, but so far the reviews are just a hair under 50% positive. Too many critics are complaining that he borrowed ideas from too many sources and that the soundtrack takes precedence over the story. Since it is writer / director Anthony Burns' first film, he doesn't have a following to draw in on and it will likely struggle at the box office. Skateland opens tonight at the City Cinemas Village East in New York City and the Landmark in Los Angeles.

Whirligig - Review
Just a quick note that this film's run has been extended for an additional week in Halifax. Keep checking its official site for more release dates.


Filed under: Limited Releases, Skateland, Whirligig, Everything Must Go, Hesher, The First Grader, L'Amour Fou, Nanjing! Nanjing!, Go For It!, The Big Bang, How to Live Forever, HEY, BOO: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird