Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Opening This Week - January 8

The first week of January is a strange time. Most of the theatrical releases (even the ones in limited release) are still considered 2015 films even if they haven't made their true theatrical debut until 2016. Nevertheless we are getting the first of the official 2016 releases as well. Here they are:


The Revenant (Nationwide Expansion)

Finally getting its wide release is Alejandro González Iñárritu's much anticipated follow up to his Oscar winning film "Birdman." It's based on a true story about a fur trapper who seeks revenge after being left for dead by his traveling companions after being mauled by a bear. That bear attack and scenes of other violence are both brutal and tense. Everyone loves a good revenge film, especially when it's seen through the eyes of Emmanuel Lubezki beautiful, sweeping cinematography. And Hardy vs DiCaprio should be enough to stir excitement with any film goer particularly with Hardy playing the villain. This is another one that'll find itself on year end top ten lists and get its fair share of Oscar buzz.


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The Forest

Aokigahara forest in Japan is notoriously known as Suicide Forest or the Sea of Trees. It's one of the most commonly used locations for suicide in the world. It's so bad that a sign has been posted urging visitors to contact the suicide prevention association and to think of their families before entering. As such the location naturally makes a strong case for itself as a shooting location for a psychological thriller/horror film. It's also a potential star making vehicle for Natalie Dormer who would love to increase her star value outside of "Game of Thrones" and her small part in "The Hunger Games."

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The Masked Saint

This one might just be the most bizarre wide release of the week. This faith based film is based on a true story about a former wrestler turned pastor who becomes a masked vigilante crime fighter to help his community. Despite the nature of the story it's being told as a straight drama that doesn't appear (at least from the trailers) to have a sense of humor about itself. That could well be its undoing. Worse yet seems to be the decision to give this a wide release. It seems like a film that will be hard pressed to find an audience large enough to justify the wide release considering its subject matter (not referring to the religious aspect) and the fact that it has no marketable stars, nor recognizable director.

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Limited Releases:

Anesthesia


If you enjoyed Kristen Stewart's performance in a more dramatic role in last year's "Clouds of Sils Maria," this looks like a promising follow up. It certainly seems to have an excellent cast, but reviews so far are mixed. It is, after all, another film that tries to connect a handful of tales of love by a single event. It's well tread territory. We'll have to wait and see if there's anything fresh, new and compelling to be found here.

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The Treasure


Romanian writer/director Corneliu Porumboiu is an award winning filmmaker who has become one of the prominent Romanian New Wave filmmakers. If you're a cinephile who appreciates foreign cinema, keep an eye out for him. Chances are you'll be hearing about him more sooner or later.
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Wazir


"Wazir" is a violent Indian action/thriller that brings together two of India's biggest stars. If you're a fan of India's continuously growing film industry this one should be on your radar.

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