Good morning dear readers, and welcome to the first installment of “Weekend Openings,” where I give the run-down on the new releases of the week – both wide and limited – and give my thoughts on their possible box office and/or Oscar potential. Lo and behold, the weekend is finally upon us, and of course many film fans ask themselves at around this time, “What should I see tonight?”
Unfortunately, there’s not much this week. Only two new releases are hitting wide, starting with the sequel to the unlikely hit Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Titled Rodrick Rules and based on the second book in a five-part series, the new installment finds its young hero entering the seventh grade and continuing to deal with his older brother/tormentor. To be honest, I know absolutely nothing about this series other than what I just wrote. I might have really identified with these books ten or so years ago – as I was most certainly a wimpy kid back then – but it seems the generation of pre-teens behind mine has found much to admire about it, even if some critics are turned off by the apparent cruelty of this sequel. I’m pretty confident in pegging Rodrick Rules to win the weekend box office just like its predecessor did at around $25-30 million.
We also have “visionary” director Zack Snyder’s masturbation daydream action film Sucker Punch. The film stars Emily Browning as Baby Doll (ugh), a young girl placed in a mental institution who bands together with four other buxom inmates to lead an escape, blurring the lines between reality and (Snyder’s chauvinist, derivative) fantasy throughout their adventure. I guess I’ve made it no secret that I want this film to fail miserably. It just reeks of the kind of fanboy-pandering, empty spectacle that is praised on the internet for catering specifically to the basest pleasures of young men and has the audacity to call itself “daring” and “unique” while doing so. Reviews have been disastrous, and I’m hoping the film ends the weekend at $15-20 million at most and plummets from there.
In limited release is Julian Schnabel’s long awaited follow-up to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, starring Frieda Pinto among a multigenerational ensemble of four Arab women living under Israeli occupation in Miral. Surprisingly, this film has been getting terrible reviews from critics, who complain that its unfocused direction falls well short of what we’ve come to expect from the Oscar-nominated filmmaker.
Next is Belgium’s unsuccessful entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards, Illégal. The unflinching drama tells the story of a Belorussian mother and son living in Belgium illegally who are separated and placed in a brutal immigration detention center. Apparently a scathing commentary of Europe’s immigration practices à la Lorna’s Silence; critics have praised the film as bold and honest, if a bit melodramatic at times.
There’s also the indie comedy Peep World, about a wealthy but odd family whose world is rocked when one of their own (Ben Schwartz) writes a tell-all book about them. Oscar contender? Not if the critics have their way, accusing the film of being a flat and unpleasant rip-off of The Royal Tenenbaums. Disappointing, considering the talented cast.
Finally, the divine Catherine Deneuve stars in Potiche as the eponymous trophy wife who takes control of an umbrella company after her husband is overthrown by striking employees, and proves to be remarkably good at it. Critics describe it as a slight but frothy comedy that should at least please fans of Deneuve. I remember some talk on the AC message boards of her getting a possible Oscar nomination, but I doubt she’ll have much of a shot.
Like I said, it’s slim pickings this week. Hopefully the next is a little more inspiring, readers…