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Magnolia Pictures/Paramount International
Rated PG-13
Now Showing at: None
Review by: Larry Thomas

You must wonder from time to time why Cincinnati doesn’t get all the smaller films that you read about in national publications, or hear about from your out-of-town friends. Good question, but unfortunately there’s not a one size fits all answer to that.

By now we are all aware that the summer of 2010 for wide-release movies has been less than spectacular, both critically and commercially. I saw an article the other day in the on-line edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer that caught my interest. It was in the Metro Mix section, titled “The Ten Best Movies in the First Half of 2010.” Obviously written by a national writer, as literally half of the films have not made it to the shores of the Ohio River, the article was quite an eye-opener. Of the ten films being commended, only two, Shutter Island and How to Train Your Dragon, played in plexes here. A Prophet was on screen for a couple of weeks at the Esquire Theatre, and Please Give opened there on Friday. Cincinnati World Cinema showed Vincere last month for a couple of days.

The titles on the unseen half of the list are Solitary Man, a new comedy-drama with Michael Douglas, Susan Sarandon and Danny DeVito, which should likely find a home in town eventually; Exit Through the Gift Shop, a performance art documentary; 7 Days, a French-Canadian venture into Tarantino territory that has been consigned to on-demand and DVD release in this country; Best Worst Movie, a documentary about the making of the awful genre film Troll II; and Hubble 3-D, an IMAX film actually shot in space. The most egregious omission in Cincinnati is that of Hubble 3-D. There are only two locations that can show IMAX 3-D: the Showcase Springdale, and AMC Newport on the Levee. And both locations are tied up with Sherk 4 on their IMAX 3-D screens. The nearest town to offer Hubble 3-D in full-fledged IMAX is Indianapolis.

Which brings me to an unheralded film that opened last week in New York and Los Angeles. It’s called Ondine, written and directed by Neil Jordan, the talent responsible for such box office hits as The Crying Game and Interview with the Vampire. Colin Farrell stars as an Irish fisherman with a young daughter suffering from kidney failure. One day in the ocean, he hauls in a young woman in his net. Is she, or is she not, a selkie… which is the Irish/Scottish equivalent of a mermaid. It’s a well-done tale that blends fantasy with reality. The performances are fine, particularly the young daughter. Locations, cinematography, and music all add to the story. It’s not a perfect film, by any means, but is heads above something like Prince of Persia or Marmaduke.

And Ondine is not likely to be seen theatrically in Cincinnati. Why? It’s because of how I was able to see it. Two days before its release, Ondine was available for one night on HDNet Movies on cable or satellite, and will then be offered as an on-demand selection on pay-per-view. Because of this perceived breach of theatrical etiquette, many theatres, both chains and independents, will not book it. If you are not a subscriber to HDNet Movies, then you’ll most likely have to wait until it hits NetFlix in a few months for your chance to see Ondine… as well as many other foreign and independent films that go the same distribution route. And that’s too bad, pointing up once again that Cincinnati is a second-class cinematic citizen. Being adventurous in your film watching, or having a festival dedicated to a favorite actor or director is a do-it-yourself event in our town. If you do indulge, perhaps you’ll share the experience with friends to help spread the word about films that don’t qualify as a current hit-du-jour. It’s not the same as watching them on a big screen in the dark, but for now, it’ll have to do.

The PG-13 rated Ondine, as well as many other films, are not showing anywhere near you.


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