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Limited Releases are Bright and Shiny

March 13th, 2009

The first limited release with a real shot at expanding wide opens this week. However, Sunshine Cleaning isn't the only movie on this week's list worth checking out. If you live in Toronto or Vancouver, go and see Pontypool, while those in New York City can also catch Tokyo Sonata.

Brothers at War - Reviews
A documentary about the director's two brothers who are serving in Iraq, and the difficulties the families deal with while separated from those serving. The widest release of the week, it is only earned reviews that are mixed. That's bad news for any limited release, and since most movies about the Iraq War have struggled, the news just gets worse. Brothers at War opens seven cities nationwide, including Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Carman and Geoffrey - Reviews
A documentary about Carmen de Lavallade and her husband Geoffrey Holder. The former is a dancer and a choreographer, while the latter was also a choreographer and a costume designer. Both are legends in the African-American dance and this could draw in more than a few moviegoers into theaters where the movie is playing. Carman and Geoffrey opens in tonight at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

Pontypool - Reviews
A Canadian horror film set in the small town of Pontypool. In the movie, a virus strikes the residents of a small town causing them to become violent zombies, for lack of a better term. So far it doesn't sound like a very original movie, but here the virus appears to be spread by the English-language. The film is directed by Bruce McDonald, who previously directed The Tracey Fragments, Hard Core Logo, Dance Me Outside, and others. With reviews that are better than most in its genre, it is worth checking out. However, as a small Canadian movie, most will not get a chance to see it till it reaches the home market. Pontypool opened last week in Toronto, expands to Vancouver this week, and to the rest of Canada next week.

RiP!: A Remix Manifesto - No Reviews
A Canadian documentary about the pressing issue of copyright. This is an advocacy documentary, which means it has a point of view it is trying to get across; that the balance between the rights of the copyright holders and the user is in danger of being tilted too far toward corporations. Of most interest, the footage shot was uploaded to Open Source Cinema where users could download it and remix it to create their own versions of the film. RiP!: A Remix Manifesto opens tonight in two theaters, both in Toronto, Canada.

Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America - Reviews
An adventure film about the Vikings' discovery of North America, which should be a great story to tell, and very cinematic one as well. However, one look at the reviews, and you can tell that is not the case here. Bad reviews are nearly always fatal for a limited released, and this is not a genre that excels in limited release, I have a hard time imagining this movie will do well at the box office. Severed Ways opens tonight at the Angelika Film Center in New York City.

Sunshine Cleaning - Reviews
One of the most high profile limited releases of the month, for that matter, of the year so far. Amy Adams and Emily Blunt star as two sisters who start the Sunshine Cleaning Agency, who go into crime scenes and clean up. It's a quirky subject, which is clearly what the movie is going for it, as is the trailer makes clear. This is not a bad thing; however, the reviews are only good, and not great. 75% positive is enough to sell the film to wide audiences, if it can survive the first couple of weeks of limited release. Sunshine Cleaning opens tonight in four theaters, half in New York City and the other half in the Los Angeles area.

Tokyo Sonata - Reviews
From the writer / director of Kairo, a.k.a. the original Pulse, along with plenty of other Japanese horror films. However, this time around he is making a family drama, and according to the reviews, it looks like he is just as good in this genre as he is in horror. Tokyo Sonata opens tonight in two theaters, the Lincoln Plaza and IFC Center, both in New York City.


Filed under: Limited Releases, Sunshine Cleaning, Tokyo Sonata, Brothers at War