After posting giant per screen numbers at four theaters last weekend, A24’s Beau Is Afraid jumps to 926 for the distributor’s third outing with Ari Aster. It’s a very different film from his horror favorites Hereditary and Midsommar but one the distributor hopes will cement the director’s place as a modern auteur.
According to one influential fan, it has. Martin Scorsese, at a Q&A after an Imax screening in New York this week, called Aster a “unique and powerful” risk taker and “one of the most extraordinary new voices in World Cinema.”
Beau is scary in parts, like an opening Scorsese described as “the best scene I’ve seen of its kind. Absolutely terrifying.” There’s comedy, animation, a conflation of past, present and future, of reality and fantasy, of guilt, innocence, fear and self-loathing and an ongoing play within the movie. Scorsese said the surreal journey of a child-man played by Joaquin Phoenix to reach his mother’s funeral recalled early picaresque novels, Don Quixote and Tristram Shandy.
“Tristram Shandy says he’s going to tell you about the night he was born,” but it’s chapters later and “he hasn’t been born yet. This was the 18th century!” Scorsese said. “Being locked down to first act, second act, third act…Not everything has to be that way.”
Aster was elated. “Absolutely. It is a picaresque. And that was the thing that excited me the most here. What I could do with structure…a stream of consciousness, non-sequitur style of storytelling.”
Also stars Patti LuPone, Nathan Lane, Amy Adams and Parker Posey. Deadline review.
Other wide specialty openings in an increasingly lively market include Searchlight Pictures presentation of Stephen Williams’ Chevalier on 1,275+ screens — a mix of of arthouses and multiplexes and with an eye to African American audiences for the film about Joseph Bologne, the Chevalier de Saint-George (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). The Guadeloupe-born son of an enslaved woman and French plantation owner, and a musical prodigy, rose to fame in the court of Marie Antoinette (Lucy Boynton). Premiered at TIFF, Deadline review here. Also stars Minnie Driver, Samara Weaving and Ronke Adekoluejo. Written by Stefani Robinson.
Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate present Ray Romano’s Somewhere In Queens on 620 screens. Stars Romano and Laurie Metcalf as Leo and Angela Russo, living a blue-collar life, surrounded by the big personalities of their overbearing Italian-American family. When their son’s chance at a life-changing basketball scholarship is jeopardized, Leo risks everything to help him, but may tear the family apart trying. Premiered at the Tribeca Festival. See Deadline review.
Vertical Entertainment presents Damián Szifron’s To Catch A Killer on circa 200 screens. Eleanor (Shailene Woodley) is a young police investigator wrestling with the demons of her past when she is recruited by the FBI’s chief investigator (Ben Mendelsohn) to help profile and track the work of a disturbed individual.
Limited openings: Music Box Films presents Rebecca Zlotowski’s Other People’s Children in New York at IFC Center and Film at Lincoln Center. Stars Virginie Efira as Rachel, a 40-year-old teacher who falls in love with Ali (Roschdy Zem) and becomes close to his 4-year-old daughter. The desire for a family of her own grows stronger, and the clock is ticking. With Chiara Mastroainni. Premiered in Venice. Deadline review here.
Music Box acquired the film out of Toronto. “It feels like a romcom, but it’s also a very serious, very French, very grown up film that frankly relates to a lot of people,” said Kyle Westphal, Music Box head of theatrical distribution. It’s about a “a woman of a certain age, who never thought she’d be in a situation where having a child was uncertain.”
Women, he said said, are underserved at the box office, where the specialty market has shown a marked improvement in recent weeks. Rachel is Jewish, which also figures in the film.
Sony Pictures Classics opens Carmen in New York (Angelika, New Plaza Cinema) and LA (Royal). The reimagining by Benjamin Millepied with composer Nicholas Britell of the 1875 George Bizet opera set at the contemporary U.S./Mexican border premiered in Toronto. Deadline review here. Carmen (Melissa Barrera) makes her way from Mexico into the U.S., but two other immigrants in the group are killed by a volunteer border guard. Carmen and another guard, Aidan (Paul Mescal), a marine with PTSD, escape.
Magnolia Pictures opens Lisa Cortes’ Sundance-premiering documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything, the story of the Black queer origins of rock n’ roll with innovator and originator Richard Penniman, on 18 screens/12 markets and VOD. Archival and performance footage, interviews with family, musicians, and cutting-edge Black and queer scholars brings us into the artist’s complicated inner world and life story. It showed on 400 screens earlier this month as an event screening.
Gravitas Pictures opens comedy drama Gringa by E.J Foerster, Marny Eng on seven screens and VOD. High schooler Marge (Jess Gabor) reconnects with her estranged father (Steve Zahn), a faded ex-soccer star living in rural Mexico, after her mother passes away.