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Limited Releases - This Is Award Season?

November 17th, 2006

Looking at this particular weekend weeks back, I noticed three films that seemed destined for mainstream success as well as critical glory: Bobby, Fast Food Nation, and For Your Consideration. However, not one managed to live up to expectations with the critics and that doesn't bode very well for the weekend as a whole.

8 Films to Die For - No Reviews
This isn't a film, but a horror film festival featuring 8 films that never made it to theaters domestically. Nearly 500 theaters are playing the program, but they are only playing this weekend (with the four most popular ones getting encores on Monday and Tuesday). I like the concept and I applaud the effort to get these films in front of an audience. However, they are a little uneven to recommend seeing all of them in a theater. They would make an excellent DVD box set, on the other hand.

The Aura - Reviews
The latest from writer / director Fabián Bielinsky, who previously brought us the con-man movie Nine Queens. Early reviews are not quite as strong, but even so it has a good shot at reaching $1 million and perhaps topping Nine Queens's box office. The Aura opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

Bobby - Reviews
An ensemble drama with too many characters involved in too many story lines to be a fully satisfying experience. With these reviews, the film has gone from Oscar contender to pretender in one week. Does it still have a shot at mainstream box office success? Sure, there are plenty of big names to get people into movie houses for a little while. However, the target audience here are also the people most likely to read reviews, and that's going to hurt. Bobby opened tonight in two theaters before expanding nationwide next week.

Candy - Reviews
This film from Australia stars local actress, Abbie Cornish in the title role. At the moment this actress is best known for her appearances in tabloids than in movies, however it is clear from this movie, she's got a great career ahead of her. While playing in its native market the film did well in semi-limited release, grabbing just over $1 million. Given the relative size of the two markets, that should equate to about $10 million, but I think the studio will be happy with $1 million theatrically. Candy opens tonight at the Angelika Film Center in New York City.

Encounter Point - Reviews
A documentary about the Israeli / Palestinian conflict, which is a topic that has been covered before, but this time, there's a decidedly more optimistic feel to the movie. The film follows a group of average people on both sides of the conflict as they try to work together for peace, which is probably the only way peace will come. Too many people in power have a vested interest in keeping the conflict going, and this includes people all sides. As long as there's a war, their power is safe. This makes Encounter Point, which opens tonight at the Quad Cinema in New York City, a very important movie to see.

Fast Food Nation - Reviews
One of the widest limited releases this weekend, the film is nonetheless only earning slightly positive reviews. It's an interesting movie. Based on a non-fiction book, instead of making a straight documenary, Richard Linklater and the rest of the filmmakers decided to instead create a fictionalized account based on the facts presented in the book. This should help the mainstream appeal, but it might have hurt the effectiveness of the story. Fast Food Nation opens tonight in more than 300 theaters and has an outside shot are reaching the top ten.

Flannel Pajamas - Reviews
The life cycle of an ultimately doomed relationship. Reviews from critics have been very good overall but it is not without its flaws. It's overly long, a little to dialog-heavy, and the lead characters are not sympathetic enough. Flannel Pajamas opened on Wednesday at the Angelika Film Center in New York City before expanding into Los Angeles next weekend.

For Your Consideration - Reviews
Christopher Guest as nearly become synonymous with mockumentaries and these films have developed quite a following, starting with Waiting for Guffman. (This is Spinal Tap is the first such example, but while he helped write that film, it was directed by Rob Reiner.) However, while the first three examples he directed earned an average reviews higher than 90% positive, For Your Consideration is struggling to get to the overall positive mark. This will likely hurt the film's box office chances, but it still have a good shot to top $10 million when all is said and done. For Your Consideration opens tonight in 23 theaters before expanding to over 600 theaters next weekend.

Piano Tuner of Earthquakes - Reviews
Dark and disturbing. That's the way most people will describe this movie. It is also a beautifully shot film with an incredible story to tell. Filmed by Stephen and Timothy Quay, who are probably best known here for their animation work (including the music video for Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer). They have enough of a following here for a successful limited release run, but the movie is too out there to escape the art house circuit. Piano Tuner of Earthquakes opened tonight at the Cinema Village in New York City.

Who the #$^% is Jackson Pollock? - Reviews
A documentary about an ex-trucker who buys a painting at a flea market for $5 only to find out it might be an authentic Jackson Pollock, which would make it worth millions. For the filmmakers, the quest to authenticate the painting is less important than how class affects those who judge these things. Who the #$^% is Jackson Pollock? is earning amazing reviews so far and that should help is as it opened Wednesday at the IFC Center and the Jacob Burns Film Center, both in New York.


Filed under: Limited Releases, Bobby, For Your Consideration, 8 Films to Die For, Fast Food Nation, Flannel Pajamas, El Aura, Candy, Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, Who the #$^% is Jackson Pollock?