It’s a weekend of well-reviewed indie openings with Bleecker Street’s Out Of Darkness, The Monk And The Gun (from the directors of Lunana: A Yak In The Classroom) and limited openings for The Taste Of Things, Perfect Days (Best International Feature nominated), Anthony Chen’s Drift, Bas Devos’ Here and Ennio by Giuseppe Tornatore, which premiered in Venice in 2021 and is finally getting a U.S. release.
Wim Wenders’ Perfect Days, Japan’s official Oscar submission that nabbed a nom, opened at six locations in New York and LA Wednesday, adding additional cities next week. The film written by Wenders and Takuma Takasaki stars Hirayama (Kôji Yakusho, Best Actor winner in Cannes where the film premeired), a public toilet cleaner in Tokyo who seems utterly content with his simple life until a series of unexpected encounters reveal more of his unearthed past. See Deadline review.
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Neon had a qualifying run in November.
IFC Films presents The Taste Of Things (The Pot-au-Feu), Tràn Anh Hùng’s ode to French cuisine and the art of cooking, in limited release in NY (IFC Center, Film At Lincoln Center) and LA (Laemmle Royal). Expands on Valentine’s Day (2/14). Tràn Anh Hùng (The Scent Of Green Papaya) won Best Director at its Cannes premiere, see Deadline review. Starts Benoît Magimel and Juliette Binoche as an illustrious gourmand in late nineteenth century France and his longtime partner and sublime cook. The film, which unseated Anatomy Of A Fall as France’s Oscar submission (stirring some controversy), made the International Feature short list but wasn’t nominated.
Roadside Attractions’ The Monk And The Gun, Bhutan’s shortlisted International Feature entry from Pawo Choyning Dorj, opens on about 100 screens. This is the writer/director of 2019’s Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, which was the remote nation’s first ever Oscar-nominated film. Roadside acquired it out of Telluride, see Deadline review. The comic political and spiritual fable about an American who travels to Bhutan in search of treasure, also played in Toronto.
Bleecker Street opens survival horror Out Of Darkness (formerly titled The Origin) on over 550 screens. The film by Andrew Cummings premiered at the London BFI Film Festival last year — see Deadline review, and scored five British Independent Film Awards with a breakthrough performance for Safia Oakley-Green. It follows a group of six who have struggled across the sea to find a new home, starving, desperate and living 45,000 years ago. Searching for shelter, they strike out across the tundra wastes toward distant mountains that promise the caves they need to survive. But when night falls, anticipation turns to fear and doubt as they realize they are not alone.
Cinema Guild presents Here by Belgian director Bas Devos (Ghost Tropic) at Film at Lincoln Center in NYC, and Vancouver, with screenings in several North American cities. Opens next week in Los Angeles, expanding thereafter to Chicago, Seattle and other markets. The distributor would typically hold on cities outside New York but said it “wanted to make this story of unexpected connection available for as many as wanted to play it around Valentine’s Day.”
Here premiered in the Encounters at Berlin, winning the section’s best film award as well as the Fipresci prize. It follows Stefan, a Romanian construction worker living in Brussels, but about to return home, whose life is upended when he meets an Belgian-Chinese woman preparing a doctorate on mosses.
Anthony Chen’s Drift from Utopia opens in NYC at the Quad, adds LA’s Laemmle Monica next week and starts rolling out nationally 2/23. Chen’s (The Breaking Ice) English-language debut, based on Alexander Maksik’s 2013 novel A Marker To Measure Drift, stars Cynthia Erivo as a Liberian refugee scraping out an existence on a Greek island. Premiered at Sundance last year, see Deadline review.
And, there’s a film getting a first release Stateside from Music Box Films after premiering in Venice in 2021. Ennio by Giuseppe Tornatore opens at the Film, heads to LA Feb. 23 and will be rolling out in markets nationally, often with theaters that do both first run and repertory linking it to a series scored by the prolific late Italian composer. Morricone wrote the music for over 400 films (including Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso) starting in the 1960 so it’s not hard to find favorites, says Music Box Films’ head of theatrical sales Kyle Westphal.
After its Venice debut – see Deadline review – Ennio opened in Europe then kind of disappeared before resurfacing at EFM last year. Westphal worked with Goodfellas (formerly Wild Bunch) on the deal. It’s long and niche, but not necessarily a tiny niche. People are interested in Morricone, who died in 2020 at age 91, said Westphal, but “it’s just one of those films that didn’t quite go the way it had been expected. We were happy to get it out in the U.S., the last market to open the film.”
The Music Box Theater in Chicago, which Westphal helps program, is doing a Morricone series in March in conjunction with the doc, as are other theaters from the 4 Star in San Francisco, the AFI in Washington D.C., Coolidge Corner in Boston and a handful of Alamo Drafthouse locations.
Morricone scored every genre of film from Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns to La Cage Aux Folles, Days Of Heaven, The Thing, In The Line Of Fire, and Conan The Barbarian spinoff Red Sonja. He won his first Oscar for his score for Quentin Tarantino’s 2015 American western The Hateful Eight. He received an Academy lifetime achievement award in 2007.
Ennio is drawn from a series of interviews with Morricone in 2015 and 2016 and features Bernardo Bertolucci, Marco Bellocchio, Giuliano Montaldo, Dario Argento, Clint Eastwood, Joan Baez, Quentin Tarantino and others.
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