An art house success is a different animal from your mainstream blockbuster.
A mainstream blockbuster can be measured in millions — hundreds of millions — of dollars.
An art house blockbuster proves itself through longevity. If it sticks around long enough to find its audience, it’s a hit.
“I’ll See You in My Dreams,” now in its second month at the Rio and Tivoli theaters (it also has been picked up by the Cinetopia), now can be considered a modest art house blockbuster.
Never heard of it? That’s not surprising. It’s a little indie movie with a negligible marketing budget. Unless you pay regular attention to what’s happening on the art house scene, you’ve probably missed it.
Happily, quite a few people have discovered it.
Brett Haley’s drama stars Blythe Danner — radiant at age 72 — as a California widow who gets a brief second chance at romance with a gruffly charming older gent (Sam Elliott).
It’s a small film, but one that resonates strongly with the aging demographic that frequents the art house scene.
You could even call it a perfect fit.
▪ This weekend saw the opening at the Tivoli and Glenwood Arts of “Infinitely Polar Bear,” Maya Forbes’ semi-autobiographical Sundance sensation about growing up with a manic-depressive dad (Mark Ruffalo).
Also new: the documentary “Lego: A Brickumentary” at the Screenland Crossroads.
▪ The highest profile of the coming artsy offerings belongs to “Irrational Man,” Woody Allen’s 46th feature film as writer/director, which opens Aug. 7.
The Woodman stays behind the camera for this one. Out front is Joaquin Phoenix as a boozy philosophy professor who dallies with a colleague (Parker Posey) and a student (Emma Stone) but finds a reason for living only when he commits murder.
Yeah, this is one of Allen’s serious movies, inspired by and containing numerous references to Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” (not to mention Allen’s own “Crimes and Misdemeanors”).
▪ Strictly speaking they’re not art or independent efforts, but mention should be made of “Shaun the Sheep,” opening Wednesday, and “Ricki and the Flash,” opening Friday.
“Shaun the Sheep” is the new animated effort from Aardman, the esoteric Brit outfit that gave us the “Wallace & Gromit” series.
“Ricki and the Flash” offers Meryl Streep as (I’m not kidding) an aging rock singer who comes home just in time for the wedding of her daughter (Mamie Gummer, Streep’s real-life offspring). Behind the camera is Jonathan Demme. From the trailers I can’t tell if we’ll be getting the sublime or the sucky … still, it’s Meryl Streep.
▪ But the true sleeper could be “Boulevard,” opening Friday, featuring Robin Williams in his final role. He plays a closeted bank teller whose life takes an unexpected turn when he befriends a troubled young man.
It was directed by Dito Montiel, who nearly a decade ago gave us the notable art house entry “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.” The supporting cast is solid, too: Kathy Baker and Bob Odenkirk.
The Hollywood Reporter calls the film “tender but unsentimental” and reports that Williams gave “one of the least showy performances of his career.”
▪ For those of you into true esoterica there’s “Van Gogh: A New Way of Seeing,” offering a big-screen, high-definition look at the artist’s work in the collection of Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum. It screens Tuesday at the Tivoli.