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Limited and VOD Releases: It's All Greek to Me

December 4th, 2015


It's a very busy weekend with way too many limited releases. Because of this, we had to be a little more selective with what films made the cut to appear in our column. Chi-raq is opening the widest and should earn the most over the weekend. However, there are more than half-a-dozen films on this week's list earning overwhelmingly positive reviews. Some of these might pick up some major Awards Season nominations.

Chi-raq - Reviews
A Spike Lee movie. It is actually a modern adaptation of an ancient Greek play Lysistrata, set in in Chicago and starring Jennifer Hudson, among others. This film is earning the best buzz for a Spike Lee film since Inside Man and that movie came out nearly a decade ago. Even so, it is playing in just over 300 theaters and that might prove to be too many. I choose to remain cautiously optimistic.

Hitchcock/Truffaut - Reviews
A documentary about the 1962 gathering between Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut. This gathering lasted a week and resulted in the book Hitchcock/Truffaut, a book some call the Bible of filmmaking. The documentary uses the original audio recordings and features interviews with tons of heavy-weights of filmmaking today. It is not a shock that the reviews are nearly 100% positive.

The Lady in the Van - Reviews
This is one of the best-reviewed releases of the week. It stars Alex Jennings as writer Alan Bennett. One day, he allows a homeless woman, Mary Sheppard, played by Maggie Smith, to park her van in his driveway, just for a little while. She stays there for 15 years. Maggie Smith is earning incredible praise for her performance and she overcomes any weakness in the script. The Lady in the Van has an Oscar-qualifying run starting tonight.

Life - Reviews
Robert Pattinson plays a photographer assigned to shoot James Dean, played by Dane DeHaan, right before the actor's big break. The two become friends and embark on a road trip. The reviews are good, but not great, while the competition is really tough this week.

Macbeth - Reviews
The latest movie adaptation of the William Shakespeare play stars Michael Fassbender. The film's reviews are 82% positive, which is good enough for limited release, but not good enough to be a major player during Awards Season. Macbeth opens tonight in five theaters.

MI-5 - Reviews
The MI-5 lose a terrorist during a handoff and the agent in charge kills himself as a result. A short time later, it is learned he faked his death and went rogue. The reviews are mixed and action films like this rarely have breakout success in limited release. Maybe it will find an audience in the home market.

Night Owls - Reviews
A one-night stand between Kevin and Madeline becomes really complicated when Kevin learns Madeline is his boss's ex-mistress. So far, all 12 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are positive, but romantic comedies rarely find success in limited release.

A Royal Night Out - Reviews
Sarah Gadon plays Princess Elizabeth and Bel Powley plays Princess Margaret and the film focuses on the pair's night out to celebrate the end of World War II. The film's reviews are very good, but not good enough to suggest it will thrive in limited release. This is especially true with the level of competition. A Royal Night Out opens tonight in select theaters nationwide. Check out the official site for more details.

The World of Kanako - Reviews
A former police detective, Koji Yakusho, is asked by his ex-wife to find his missing daughter, Nana Komatsu. However, the more he learns, the more he realized he doesn't know his own family. The reviews are good, good enough to thrive in limited release under normal circumstances. However, it is a foreign-language film and the competition this week is fierce.

Youth - Reviews
The movie stars Michael Caine as a retired composer and Harvey Keitel as a filmmaker, while they are on vacation in the Swiss alps. The film's reviews are great, but not Awards Season great. Meanwhile, there's plenty of films out in theaters that do have Award-worthy reviews. Youth opens tonight in four theaters, split evenly between New York City and the Los Angeles area, with planned expansions over the coming weeks. Check out the official site for more details.

Filed under: Limited Releases, Spooks: The Greater Good, The Lady in the Van, Macbeth, Life, Kawaki, Chi-raq, Youth, A Royal Night Out, Hitchcock/Truffaut, Night Owls, Maggie Smith, Harvey Keitel, Michael Caine, Michael Fassbender, Alfred Hitchcock, Jennifer Hudson, Alex Jennings, Spike Lee, Robert Pattinson, François Truffaut, Koji Yakusho, William Shakespeare, Adam Pally, Dane DeHaan, Sarah Gadon, Rosa Salazar, Bel Powley, Nana Komatsu