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Entries in The Wolfpack (2)

Sunday
Sep 06 2015

Biggest Foreign and Documentary Hits of the Year (Thus Far)

Since Labor Day Weekend is historically a lame box office weekend,it affords us a fine opportunity to look back at the year thus far rather than wait for box office results.Especially in terms of films that aren't usually spoken of in terms of box office.So let's look at two sets of baker's dozens: 2015'S FOREIGN LANGUAGE and DOCUMENTARY HITS.

*second* biggest-hits in Foreign & Documentary: "Baahubali: The Beginning"and "Amy"

How many have you seen?

SUBTITLED FILMS
Top Dozen of 2015 thus far
01Bajrangi Bhaijaan(India)$8+
02Baahubali: The Beginning(India)$6+
03A La Mala(Mexico)$3+
04Wild Tales(Argentina)$3+Review
05Dil Dhadakne Do(India)$3+
06Tanu Weds Manu Returns(India)$3+
07Clouds of Sils Maria*(France)$1+Various Sils Maria Articles
08Piku(India)$1+
09Assassination(South Korea)$1+
10Phoenix(Germany)$1+Nina Hoss Interview
11i(India)$1+
12Timbuktu(Mauritania)$1+Review,César Winners
13Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem(Israel)$.9+Review,Second Opinion

As we always see in the foreign charts in the past decade or so,Bollywood films continue to be solid imported hits without the benefit of any media attention whatsoever.That's what comes when you have distribution companies that cater to niche audiences and understand/market directly to them.This is surely what China Lion is attempting of late though they have yet to find as much regular support for Chinese language films.Aside from the Hindi language films,the top of the charts also painfully remind us that subtitled films have far teensier grosses even when they get breakout media attention than they once had.Wild Talesfor example surely would have been at least a $13 million rather than a $3 million hit a decade ago.The chart also shows us that Oscar nominations help (see #4 and #12) but aren't necessary (see #10 and #13).2015 hasn't yet had a breakout Oscar-headed hitlikeIdafrom Poland last year(Phoenixwas passed over for Oscar submission last year by Germany so it's been on its own without awards-buzz to find its audience.Happily,it's done just that).Sadly Sweden's sublimeOscar entry for this yearA Pigeon Sat on a Branch...earned only $200,000 at the US box office.MaybeLabyrinth of Lies,Germany's submission,which opens September 25th can fill that semi-annual slot of foreign hit that doesn't wait for its Oscar fate to make a stir.

* I'm fudging to includeClouds of Sils MariaI know.It's surely ineligible for France's Oscar submission as its more than 50% English.If you remove it from the list,the film that enters at the lowest rung isThe 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappearedfrom Swedish director Felix Herngren.It earned nearly a million at the US box office but was ahugehit internationally with an additional $50 million!

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES
Top Ten of 2015 Thus Far
01Monkey Kingdom$16+
02Amy$8+Review
03The Salt of the Earth$1+Documentary Nominees Conversation
04Iris$1+
05The Wolfpack$1+Review
06Dior & I$1+
07Meru$.8+
08Red Army$.6+
09Best of Enemies$.6+Review
10Cartel Land$.6+
11Seymour: An Introduction$.6+Review
12Deli Man$.5+
13The Hunting Ground$.4+

The list includes only one of last year's Oscar nomineesThe Salt of the Earthsince most of them played in their correct calendar year.The big story beyond Disney's nature epic and the Amy Winehouse hit,is the success ofSundance Award WinnerssinceThe Wolfpack,Cartel LandandMeruwereallhits in release.The late Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens) final full documentary featureIrisabout eccentric fashion icon Iris Apfel was also well-received.

From this list we really expectedRed Armyto break out a little further as the Russian Olympic hockey documentary was quite entertaining and benefitted from a highly accessible international-interest storyline.If they hadn't waited for their Oscar nomination -- which they didn't get -- they might have fared better.

Here's a crazy colorful musical number from the year's #1 foreign language hitBajrangi Bhaijaanstarring Salman Khan called "Selfie Le Le Re"

When was the last time you saw a Bollywood film in theaters?Do you seek out the buzz titles from these categories?

Friday
Apr 17 2015

Tribeca: Relating to "The Wolfpack"

The Tribeca Film Festival 2015 kicked off this week and we'll be bringing you our screening adventures.Here's special guestJoe Reidon a buzzy documentary...

I thought a lot about Yorgos Lanthimos'Dogtoothduring Crystal Moselle's Sundance winning documentaryThe Wolfpack,now playing at the Tribeca Film Festival.How could I not?The Wolfpacktells the story of the Angulo family,including the seven siblings whose extreme home-schooling meant they were rarely permitted outside their modest Lower East Side apartment.That kind of forced isolation of children is always going to make me think of Lanthimos' dark comedy.

Knowing the premise,you might expect the Angulo kids to end up as warped as those kids inDogtooth,but they're decidedly not.They speak about their unusual childhood with uncanny emotional intelligence and articulation.And the more you watchThe Wolfpack,the more you might want to chalk it all up to the power of the movies.

The dynamite opening to the film sees the Angulo boys' filmed reenactment ofReservoir Dogs(1992),complete with costumes,props,and honestly?Some pretty decent line-readings.You immediately get a sense of how long the boys have had to perfect this production.It helps when you're never allowed to leave your home.These boys are no mere dabblers;they're movie fanatics,with hand-drawn movie art papering their walls;with lists at the ready ranking their personal favorites.They're shown transcribingPulp Fiction,studyingBlue Velvet,poring overScream.I found myself leaning forward,relating so hard.

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