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Critical Consensus: Canadian Oscar Nominee "Incendies" Is The Pick of the Week

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire April 20, 2011 at 11:07AM

Opening in limited release this week is an eclectic batch: Denis Villeneuve's Oscar nominated Quebec import "Incendies," Steven Silver's "The Bang Bang Club," which details the experiences of four combat photographers in apartheid South Africa, Jim Mickle's vampire thriller "Stake Land," Andrew Lau's 1920s Shanghai-set "The Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen," and Morgan Spurlock's aptly titled product placement doc "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold."
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Critical Consensus: Canadian Oscar Nominee "Incendies" Is The Pick of the Week
Denis Villeneuve's "Incendies." Sony Pictures Classics.

Opening in limited release this week is an eclectic batch: Denis Villeneuve's Oscar nominated Quebec import "Incendies," Steven Silver's "The Bang Bang Club," which details the experiences of four combat photographers in apartheid South Africa, Jim Mickle's vampire thriller "Stake Land," Andrew Lau's 1920s Shanghai-set "The Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen," and Morgan Spurlock's aptly titled product placement doc "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold."

The clear critics' pick of the lot, at least according to criticWIRE, is "Incendies," which Sony Pictures Classics is opening in New York and Los Angeles this Friday. The film follows a twin brother and sister who head to the Middle East to seek out information to unravel the mystery surrounding their recently deceased mother. It was Canada's entry into the Academy Awards, where it was nominated in the foreign language film category. It also has the honor of being this week's critical consensus pick of the week (the top scoring film with five or more grades), averaging a "B+ from 24 different critics. indieWIRE's Eric Kohn agreed, giving the film a "B+"

Kohn summarized his take on "Incendies" and other new releases below:

The world can be a troubled place, according to the movies opening in limited release this weekend. From Quebec, Denis Villeneuve's Oscar-nominated "Incendies" follows a pair of twins tracking down the existing members of their family in the wake of their mother's death. Jim Mickle's "Stake Land" portrays a post-apocalyptic world overrun by vampires. Both movies are tense experiences focused on lost souls in barren landscapes. They would make a helluva double bill, but only if it concluded with a cold shower. Bleak to the bone, they are also tense, beautiful works about the perseverance of humanity in exceedingly dark circumstances.

Morgan Spurlock's "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold" comes to a similar conclusion in cheerier terms. Actually titled "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold," Spurlock's ebullient study of American brand marketing has the most meta hook this side of "Scream 4," as it revolves around Spurlock finding a title sponsor for the very movie we watch him make. It goes without saying that the production came to fruition, but what does Spurlock have to say about it?

Filmmakers might learn a thing or two about good business strategies, but at its best "Greatest Movie" only works as a cheery acceptance of the fact that branding has overrun society, and the best thing we can do about it is take note. The big tease with Spurlock's last movie was that he found Osama bin Laden, which was obviously a fake-out; here, the promise of some legitimate brand deconstruction never comes to fruition. But the journey is more fun than the destination, just like a good commercial, so in that regard "Greatest Movie" delivers..

Check out the links below for more extensive takes on "Incendies," "The Bang Bang Club," "Stake Land," "The Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen," and "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.". Also offered is the top ten criticWIRE scores for films already in theaters, which is currently topped by Joao Pedro Rodrigues acclaimed Portuguese import, "To Die Like a Man" (read iW's review of the film).

iW Film Calendar & criticWIRE:
criticWIRE | Opening this week | Opening this month | All Films A - Z

criticWIRE: Films Opening This Week
NOTE: The averages listed here are current as of the publishing of this article. They are subject to change as new grades come in, and will be updated in next week's edition of this article.

Incendies (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

The Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

The Bang Bang Club (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

Stake Land (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

criticWIRE: 10 Best Bets Already In Theaters

1. To Die Like a Man (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

2. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

3. Le Quattro Volte (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

4. Armadillo (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

5. Meek's Cutoff (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

6. Certified Copy (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

7. Jane Eyre (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

8. Win Win (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

9. Hanna (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

10. A Screaming Man (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Previous Picks of the Week:
April 13: Janus Metz's "Armadillo"
April 6: Kelly Reichardt's "Meek's Cutoff"
March 30: Michaelangelo Frammartino's "Le Quattro Volte"

This article is related to: In Theaters






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