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by Peter Knegt
July 13, 2011 5:21 AM
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Critical Consensus: "Tabloid" Is Tops As Your Art House "Harry Potter" Alternative

For the fourth time in the past five weeks, a documentary has topped criticWIRE as the "pick of the week." Following "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop," "Page One," and "Project Nim," Errol Morris' "Tabloid" is the best bet in the specialty market this weekend (aka the best alternative to "Harry Potter"). The doc follows Joyce McKinney, a colorful Midwestern woman convicted of kidnapping her Mormon husband in the U.K. in the late 1970s. McKinney became a tabloid fixture during the height of that scandal and Morris’ movie puts nearly as much focus on the media obsession with his subject as he does on McKinney herself.

"Tabloid" averaged a B+ based on 31 reviews, including A-level scores care of folks at Variety, The Playlist, Hitfix and Thompson on Hollywood. It topped Olivier Schmitz's South African import "Life, Above All," which came in a close second via a B average.

indieWIRE's own critic Eric Kohn takes on this week's releases below (you can also check out his interview with "Tabloid" director Morris here:

"There’s nothing wrong with tabloid stories, period." Errol Morris told me that earlier this week, as you can see for yourself in the first part of the interview that ran today. His new movie may not break new ground, but it's vintage Morris, and much of that has to do with his keen ability to give sensationalism a cosmic spin. That makes it unique among this week's releases, which include the admirable but supremely-earnest South African drama "Life, Above All," and Wayne Wang's ultra-sentimental "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan," which tells the story of two Chinese women whose friendship is compromised by a horrible accident. Those movies command great importance whether or not they deserve them, while Morris takes a relatively trivial human interest story and probes it for deeper meaning. The jury's still out on whether he finds any, but it's a fun ride either way.

Check out the links below for more extensive takes on "Tabloid," "Life, Above All," "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan," and others. Also offered is the top 10 criticWIRE scores for films already in theaters, which is currently topped by James Marsh's "Project Nim."

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.

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

Life, Above All (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Salvation Boulevard (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

Daylight (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: TBD

Lucky (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: TBD

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: TBD


criticWIRE: 10 Best Bets Already In Theaters

1. Project Nim (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

2. Conan O'Brien Can't Stop (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

3. Tuesday After Christmas (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

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

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

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

7. Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

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

9. The Trip (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

10. Passione (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+


Previous Picks of the Week:
July 6: James Marsh's "Project Nim"
June 29: Azazel Jacobs' "Terri"
June 22: Rodman Fletcher's "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop"
June 15: Andrew Rossi's "Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times"
June 8: Michael Winterbottom's "The Trip"
June 1: Richard Ayoade's "Submarine"
May 25: Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life"
May 18: Woody Allen's "Midnight In Paris"
May 11: Lu Chaun's "City of Life and Death"
May 4: Koji Wakamatsu's "Caterpillar"
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"

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