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Film: Missing in Action

Submitted by admin on August 31, 2010 – 1:49 pmNo Comment
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Here are some films we may not be seeing in September much less the rest of the year. When the Angelika closed all of a sudden this weekend it was almost like a death in the family. Many films handled by small distributors are now orphans with no theater to call their own. At least not in Houston.

There’s always the possibility that some of these films will find a berth at existing theaters, but like anything else these other existing cinemas already have schedules and contracts that have been hammered out months ago.

Animal Kingdom – highly lauded Australian film that examines the psychological ties that bind a crime family.

Lebanon – engrossing drama from Israel entirely set within a tank.

Life During Wartime – latest from Todd Solondz could be a masterpiece of dysfunctional family cinema or Solondz spinning his wheels.

Centurion – action soaked tale of ancient Romans fighting Picts in Brittany.

I’m Still Here – documentary on Joaquin Phoenix directed by Casey Affleck.

Cairo Time – fascinating travelogue mixed with Patricia Clarkson’s moving portrayal of loneliness in a foreign land.

Farewell – intriguing true account of actual 80s Soviet spy case with great international cast.

The Extra Man – Hilarious tale with Kevin Kline and Paul Dano as eccentric roommates in Gotham; each may well be among the weirdest people in that city, until you meet their friends.

Countdown to Zero – superb documentary that traces the rise of nuclear weapons from the 1940s to the present. There are 23,335 nukes currently wielded by nine countries.

The Tillman Story – another excellent documentary covers the story behind Patrick Tillman’s death from friendly fire.

Mesrine: Killer Instinct – the first part of a two-part film that bios one of France’s most notorious criminals, with a larger than life performance from Vincent Cassel.

Most people don’t go to a theater to see a film by a particular studio or distributor. Well maybe there was a soccer mom who took her kids to a Disney film but by and large the average bear doesn’t know the difference from Warner Brother and Paramount to the boutique distribs who handle the majority of indie-esque and foreign films. Companies like Magnolia, Overture, Rogue and Focus (both owned by Universal), IFC, Music Box, Anchor Bay, Strand Releasing, Fox Searchlight (operated by 20th Century Fox), Screen Gems (a subsidiary of Sony), Sony Pictures Classics and others all make it possible to see movies that would otherwise be regulated to DVD and cable/internet viewing.

Even the big studios dump their product without much thought. Warner Brothers decided not to open Flipped in Houston after (for WB) a small rollout of the Rob Reiner film in a couple of cities (Austin included). Here is a movie with cute kid protagonists that’s based on a book taught in school. Really it’s a no-brainer, the film reunites Reiner with his Stand By Me director of photography Thomas Del Ruth; you open it wide a couple of weeks before school begins and let the kids do the rest. It seems the movie making business is still a hit and miss affair.

Updated at 7:30 pm. … Animal Kingdom will open at the Edwards Grand Palace this Friday.

Updated at 1 pm. on Friday 9/3 … Flipped will now open in Houston on September 10.

- Michael Bergeron

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