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Elite Limited Releases

September 19th, 2008

Awards Season gets underway shortly, and when it does we will be flooded with elite limited releases. But this week we have none that are earning the reviews that suggest they will be able to thrive in limited release, never mind being major players during award season.

All of Us - Reviews
A documentary about AIDS/HIV and how it is spreading amongst black women at an alarming rate. Reviews are mixed, and by mixed I mean it has one positive review, and one negative review. Lack of reviews suggests it doesn't have the publicity to survive during its limited release. All of Us opens tonight at the Cinema Village in New York City.

Appaloosa - Reviews
This is a movie based on "Weird Al" Yankovic's eighth album, which came out in 1993 ... no wait, I'm being told that the movie is called Appaloosa and not Alapalooza. Disregard that first part. Appaloosa is a Western about two friends who are hired by a townsfolk to protect them from a powerful rancher, but the situation becomes complicated when a young widow enters their life. Reviews started off amazingly, but have since slumped to just 64% positive. That's better than most wide releases, but not up to the level needed to really thrive in limited release. Additionally, this is not a genre that is known to fill art house cinemas. Appaloosa opens tonight in more than a dozen theaters, mostly in the Los Angeles area.

Battle in Seattle - Official Site
A film about the WTO riots that took place in Seattle in 1999, it is the directorial debut of Stuart Townsend, who is an actor most people would not recognize. (His two biggest hits were both box office disappointments.) The film is opening in more than 20 theaters, but with no reviews over on Rotten Tomatoes. That's a bad sign, and despite the film's impressive cast, which contains a lot more name actors than most Indie films have, I don't think it will survive on limited release.

Duchess - Reviews
One could look at this movie as the unofficial start of Awards Season, or the first Busted Oscar Bait of the year. It is a period piece starring Keira Knightley as Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire, who was the fashion leader of her day. The film's reviews are not bad, but they are barely over the overall positive level. This is not enough to assume it will be able to grow in limited release, and it is certainly not enough to assume it will be a player during Awards Season. Perhaps Keira Knightley might get some notice, and it could earn nominations for make-up, costumes, production design, etc. Duchess opens tonight in seven theaters, roughly half in New York City and half in the Los Angeles area.

Elite Squad - Reviews
This film was a massive hit in its native Brazil when it opened there last year. However, the critics here have not been terribly kind to the movie, in fact, its Tomatometer score is currently below the 60% positive level needed to be considered overall fresh. Many critics are calling is a City of God clone that is not as well made, nor does it have a clear message. Elite Squad opens tonight in New York City at the Landmark Sunshine.

Hounddog - Reviews
The controversial film starring Dakota Fanning, who has been earning quite a bit of praise for her performance. However, the critics have not found a lot of other aspects of the movie that are praiseworthy and overall it is earning just 25% positive reviews. There might be a curiosity factor, especially given the controversial nature of the movie; or at least the controversial nature of one scene in the movie. More than once I have heard this movie referred to as, "The rape movie." They way some people talk about the movie, you would think Dakota Fanning was actually raped during the filming of the movie, when in fact the rape doesn't even take place on camera. Regardless of that detail, I think the movie has a limited window to draw people in on the controversy before the weak word-of-mouth sinks the movie. So it might be a smart plan to open Hounddog opens tonight in 11 theaters, which is more than most limited release open in.

The Pink Conspiracy - No Reviews
Bradley Snedeker stars as Dave, a man who discovers that all of his ex-girlfriends have conspired to drive him insane. The film also stars Mercedes McNab, who is not only Canadian, but also played Harmony in Buffy and Angel, as well being in movies like Addams Family Values and Hatchet. There are no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but I did find a couple online, and it is likely worth checking out. However, for most they will have to wait till November when it comes out on DVD. The Pink Conspiracy starts a one-week run at the Laemmle’s Grand 4-Plex in Los Angeles.

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers - Reviews
A Chinese man travels to the United States in order to convince his estranged daughter to remarry after her recent divorce. However, while here he meets an Iranian woman and they connect, despite the language barrier. This film is directed by Wayne Wang, who first came to prominence here thanks to his film The Joy Luck Club, but has since directed a wide range of films include Maid in Manhattan and Because of Winn-Dixie. This film is a return to his Indie roots, but the critics have not been overly kind. Granted, 67% positive is not a terrible score, but it doesn't signal a strong run on the art house scene. A Thousand Years of Good Prayers opens tonight in two theaters: Lincoln Plaza in New York City and Varsity Theater in Seattle, Washington.

Virtual JFK: Vietnam If Kennedy Had Lived - Reviews
A sci-fi documentary where we take a look at an alternate timeline where JFK lived, specifically, what would have happened during the Vietnam War. The film uses this scenario to make a political about the parallels between this movie, the current Iraq War and the upcoming election. It doesn't make this point as subtly as some would like, but it is effective. Virtual JFK opened on Wednesday at the Film Forum in New York City.


Filed under: Limited Releases, The Duchess, Battle in Seattle, Hounddog, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, Tropa de Elite, All of Us, Virtual JFK: Vietnam If Kennedy Had Lived, Appaloosa