This week brings an interesting clash between wide and limited releases. For example, Paul Bettany stars in both a studio and an independent release. And the former involves a religious figure, the archangel Michael, and the Biblical Apocalypse, while the latter involves a scientist whose work has long been in conflict with religious teachings. Surely the two films would make for a great double feature.
Or, maybe you'd like to pair up another one of this week's wide releases with another one of its limited releases. A studio film starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser attempting to save kids' lives through medicine with a low-budget film about saving kids' lives through friendship. A lowbrow studio film starring Dwayne Johnson as an imaginary creature with a highbrow foreign film about an imagined crime?
If only these three films were opening everywhere this weekend so everyone could enjoy such wacky match-ups.
What it is: A biographical film about Charles Darwin, "Creation" stars real-life husband and wife Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly as the famous naturalist and his wife Emma. Specifically, the film focuses on Darwin's efforts to finish writing his evolution theory tome "On the Origin of Species" while dealing with his daughter Annie's death, his wife's religious convictions and his own chronic illness. Based on Randal Keynes' book "Annie's Box," "Creation" was directed by Jon Amiel ("The Core").
Why you should be interested: I believe one should always be interested in that which is controversial, and "Creation" is certainly contentious for being a part of the creation-evolution debate. But regardless of the issues at hand, Bettany is one of the most underrated actors of his generation and his portrayal of Darwin has been garnering some accolades. Also, it's always great to see him and his off-screen wife onscreen together.
How you can see it: Newmarket will open "Creation" this Friday in LA, NYC, DC, Boston (Cambridge) and a few other locations (check this Facebook page for locations). If you want to try and get the film to play in your city, your best bet is probably to become a follower on Facebook or Twitter and request it.
"To Save a Life"
What it is: "To Save a Life" is a faith-based high school film about a popular boy (Randy Wayne) who decides to change his life after a childhood friend he's ignored for years commits suicide. Suddenly, in the hopes of saving another life, he gives up his social status and possibly his relationship with his cheerleader girlfriend (Deja Kreutzberg) by seeking out and befriending other outcast teens. The film was written and produced by Jim Britts, a Christian youth pastor.
Why you should be interested: For any religious underpinnings, "To Save a Life" doesn't appear that different from many mainstream teen movies and TV shows. Maybe the reverse social climb contrasts with the norm of the genre (see "Can't Buy Me Love," etc.), but it's a far more positive message for kids than even those teen comedies that end with a moral. And sadly, it might be a very relatable film for millions of moviegoers who have known or have been a hurting teenager.
How you can see it: Samuel Goldwyn Films opens "To Save a Life" this Friday in a larger number of theaters than most limited releases (Check here for the theater nearest you). If none of the booked locations are close enough, check back as the site claims more theaters continue to be added.
"The Girl on the Train"
What it is: The latest from acclaimed French filmmaker Andre Techine ("My Favorite Season"), "The Girl on the Train" is a drama based on a true story about a young woman (Emile Dequenne) who lies about being a victim of an anti-semitic attack. The film also stars French screen legend Catherine Deneuve, as the girl's mother, Nicolas Duvauchelle, as her lover, and Michel Blanc.
Why you should be interested: Andre Techine is one of the great modern French auteurs and "The Girl on the Train" is being touted as his best film in years. Of course, no fan of cinema should be concerned with reviews when Catherine Deneuve is involved. Even in a bad film (and she's in very few) she's a treat to watch. Fortunately, though, "The Girl on the Train" is reportedly a very great film.
How you can see it: Strand Releasing opens "The Girl on the Train" this Friday in a few cities, including NYC and Wilmington, Delaware.