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by Peter Knegt
May 4, 2011 4:04 AM
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Critical Consensus: "Caterpillar" Tops "Beaver" In Weak Week For criticWIRE

Opening in limited release this week is yet another an eclectic batch, with Jodie Foster's "The Beaver" clearly the most high-profile with PR nightmare Mel Gibson making an attempt at career damage control in Foster's long-awaited third directorial effort. The film features Gibson as a clinically depressed toy company CEO who finds solace through a beaver hand puppet that he begins to use to communicate to his estranged wife (played by Foster).

It joins the likes of Jason Eisener's amazingly titled Rutger Hauer genre flick "Hobo With a Shotgun," Massy Tadjedin's Keira Knightley-Sam Worthington relationship drama "Last Night," Koji Wakamatsu's Berlinale alum "Caterpillar," Diego Vega and Daniel Vega's Peruvian import "Octubre," Mike Goldbach's coming-of-age story "Daydream Nation" and Mitch Glazer's "Passion Play," which star Mickey Rourke publicly slammed a month or so back.

None of the films received overwhelmingly positive notices from criticWIRE, though only one has the distinction of being one of the worst received films its three year history. Receiving a "D+" average from 12 different critics, Mickey Rourke seems to have been right about "Passion Play." But the rest of the films all found "B"-level averages, with Wakamatsu's "Caterpiller" narrowly topping "The Beaver" and "Hobo With a Shotgun" to become this week's critical consensus pick of the week (note: a film must have 5 or more grades to be considered the "critical consensus"). indieWIRE's Eric Kohn will review "Caterpillar" later this week, but in the meantime here's his take on some of the other films opening Friday:

This weekend's new releases predominantly focus on angry, frustrated men learning to deal with impossibly dour situations. The hilarious serendipity of Mel Gibson appearing in "The Beaver" the same weekend as the wild Rutger Hauer vehicle "Hobo with a Shotgun" begs for audiences to program their own double bill. (A triple bill would include Koji Wakamatsu's "Caterpillar," where a Japanese war veteran comes to grips with losing his arms and legs in battle. Mel and co. have nothing on that.)

Gibson's first released movie since his last public snafu speaks directly to the damaged Gibson psyche the world has been trying to comprehend for months. Unlike the real Gibson, however, his onscreen persona in Jodie Foster's otherwise tame family drama finds an extraordinary catharsis--namely, the furry hand puppet of the title, and the unvarnished truth he speaks. Strange as the premise sounds, Gibson's tired eyes grow believably energized when he happens upon this unconventional therapy tool, which has the same impact on his life that the shotgun has on the hobo's. Both the bullets and the beaver solve problems for their respective anti-heroes, but only in one case does art imitate life. Guess which one.

Check out the links below for more extensive takes on "The Beaver," "Hobo With a Shotgun," "Caterpillar" and more. Also offered is the top ten criticWIRE scores for films already in theaters, which is currently topped by Clio Barnard's "The Arbor" (last week's pick of the week).

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.

Caterpillar (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

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

Hobo With a Shotgun (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

Octubre (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

Last Night (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

Daydream Nation (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

Passion Play (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: D+

criticWIRE: 10 Best Bets Already In Theaters

1. The Arbor (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

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

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

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

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

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

7. The Robber (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

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

9. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

10. 13 Assassins (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Previous Picks of the Week:
April 27: Clio Barnard's "The Arbor"
April 20: Denis Villeneuve's "Incendies"
April 13: Janus Metz's "Armadillo"
April 6: Kelly Reichardt's "Meek's Cutoff"
March 30: Michaelangelo Frammartino's "Le Quattro Volte"


  • Peter Knegt | May 4, 2011 7:42 AMReply

    @Jonathan Howell... Apologies, that was an editorial oversight OCTUBRE has now been included.

  • Jonathan Howell | May 4, 2011 4:35 AMReply

    Remarkably, you've entirely omitted from this discussion one of the best films opening this weekend: OCTUBRE, the winner of the Jury Prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard) and winner of more than a dozen films at festivals around the world.

    It's current indiewire rating of "B" is tied with CATERPILLAR, placing it at the top of new films this week.

    Theatrical placement at Angelika and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas makes it far from invisible. How did this fall below your radar?