After Earth


Jaden Smith tries to escape a herd of angry  film critics.

Jaden Smith tries to escape a herd of angry film critics.

(2013) Science Fiction (Columbia) Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Sophie Okonedo, Zoe Kravitz, Glenn Morshower, Kristofer Hivju, Sacha Dhawan, Chris Geere, Diego Klattenhoff, David Denman, Lincoln Lewis, Jaden Martin, Sincere L. Bobb, Monika Jolly, Demetrice Jackson, Joe Farina, Albert Valladares, Jim Gunter, Tiffany E. Green. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

A friend of mine – who happens to be a big movie buff – posted on his Facebook page that he overheard during a trailer for After Earth at a different movie some people re-christen the movie Afterbirth. I chastised him at the time, saying something about judging a movie before you’d seen it (which seems to be an Internet hobby for many these days). We went back and forth over all the red flags he’d seen in the trailer that were making him uneasy about the movie. We left it with that he has no plans to see it unless he hears from friends he trusts that the movie is worth checking out. I think it’s safe to say that he’ll probably not be coming to the multiplex for this one.

The movie takes place over 1,000 years in the future. The human race has abandoned Earth after polluting it into essentially an uninhabitable wasteland. We eventually made our way to a planet called Nova Prime which sadly already had their own inhabitants who didn’t take kindly to our incursion. They genetically engineered a creature called an Ursa which was all razor sharp pincers and teeth which hunted based on smell. It literally was attracted to its prey by fear.

General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) found a way to mask his fear, rendering him invisible to the Ursa, allowing him and other Rangers (the military force of the human race) to essentially end the threat of the creatures. However it came at a high cost – while Cypher was away on duty, an Ursa invaded his home killing his daughter Senshi (Kravitz) in front of his young son Kitai (Martin).

Five years after that tragedy, a 14-year-old Kitai (Jaden Smith) is trying out for the Rangers. While great in the classroom, he has a tendency to fall apart in the field, haunted by the death of his sister. Commander Velan (Morshower) tells him as gently as possible that he has failed his application into the Rangers. Kitai is mortified; his father is due home that evening and will not be pleased at all.

His mother Faia (Okonedo) urges Cypher to bond with his son who is desperate to please him. Cypher, knowing that he hasn’t been the presence in his son’s life that he needs to be, takes him along on an off-world mission transporting an Ursa to a research station on a distant moon. Instead, the ship runs into a freak meteor storm and is forced to crash land where it all started – on Earth. As the ship goes down it breaks in two.

Cypher breaks both his legs seriously in the crash and he and Kitai are the only survivors in the front section of the ship. The distress beacon is also damaged beyond repair but there is another one in the tail section. The trouble is it’s 100 km (about 62 miles) away through hostile territory. The planet you see isn’t so thrilled about what the humans did to it and all life has evolved to kill humans. We are no longer used to the atmosphere so a liquid must be consumed every 24 hours to help us breathe. The planet is prone to violent temperature swings. And the captive Ursa has gotten loose and is sure to be after the creature it was bred to kill – a fearful human an there’s nobody more fearful than Kitai. Still, Kitai must overcome his fear and reach the beacon or both he and his dad will be toast.

The studio was very cagey about marketing the film. Director Shyamalan, whose name has appeared in the title of his last few films, was absent from all marketing materials – even the trailers. I can kind of understand why. Shyamalan, who had become an acclaimed director based on The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable had fallen on a series of bombs that have turned his name into box office poison which is kind of a shame – he’s a very talented director with a great visual sense who had for whatever reason become something of an Internet Kryptonite when it came to movies. The fanboys loathe him  and so the studio felt that the movie would be unfairly judged if Shyamalan’s name was attached to it (a fear that I think was justified). By emphasizing the presence of the father and son duo of Will and Jaden Smith the studio thought they’d attract an audience.

Unfortunately, the movie really isn’t very good. The story is interesting, and there’s a compelling message of mastering your fear and learning to balance your emotions. There are also some pretty amazing visuals that will keep your eyes happy.

There are also some questionable decisions, like the odd accent that the people of the future affect (was that really necessary to anything?) to some of the lapses in logic that dot the film (why would a planet evolve to kill a species that has been gone for a millennium, and why would a race that could develop a hand-held beacon not make it go off automatically in a crash, or at least allow the crew to deploy it manually before the crash). Those are kind of bothersome.

Will Smith, the loving dad, really sets this movie up to be Jaden’s film. I can’t really blame the proud papa; his son has shown some promise in his brief acting career but I think he expected a little too much from him here. Quite frankly, his son’s performance is disappointing. Part of it is that odd accent that makes him sound a bit goofy, and the script also calls upon Kitai to freak out with great regularity which makes the character generally unlikable, which doesn’t do Jaden any favors. The fact is however that the emotional outbursts that Kitai has are never very believable; Jaden just ratchets up the volume and that’s supposed to convince us of his rage and frustration. His brow is crinkled up through much of the film, making him look like he’s about to cry which also sends a subliminal message to the audience that this boy isn’t ready for this.

I feel bad having to say these things because as a critic, you really don’t want to rank on a young actor who may not have the coping skills necessary to deal with criticism but I think that at the end of the day my readers deserve to know what to expect when they see the film. Frankly, had Cypher been alone and had to make the journey himself it might have been a more riveting film but of course that would have upended much of the film’s message – but it would have made for a better movie

REASONS TO GO: Some amazing visuals.

REASONS TO STAY: A bit muddled. Logical lapses. Jayden Smith’s performance is excruciating.

FAMILY VALUES:  There is some violence of the sci-fi variety as well as a few disturbing images.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: This is the first time in 20 years that Shyamalan has accepted a project based on a screenplay that was written by someone else.

CRITICAL MASS: As of 6/9/13: Rotten Tomatoes: 11% positive reviews. Metacritic: 33/100; the reviews have been for the most part scathing.

COMPARISON SHOPPING: Oblivion

FINAL RATING: 4/10

NEXT: The Spy Next Door

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New Releases for the Week of May 31, 2013


After Earth

AFTER EARTH

(Columbia) Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Sophie Okonedo, Zoe Kravitz, Glenn Morshower, Kristofer Hivju, Sacha Dhawan, Chris Geere, Diego Klattenhoff. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

A father and son who have had a distant relationship – in the distant future no less – are forced together when the space ship crashes on a deadly planet where all life has evolved with one goal in mind – kill humans. Of course, that’s the planet we originated from – Earth. Of course, after all the abuse and pollution and general bad karma we’ve heaped on the planet, who could blame it?

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: PG-13 (for sci-fi action violence and some disturbing images)

Frances Ha

(IFC) Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Michael Esper, Adam Driver. An unconventional young woman dreams of being a dancer in New York but her dreams seem to escape just beyond her reach. Undaunted, she lives life on her own terms and if her dreams are big, well then so too is her imagination on how to get them.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Comedy

Rating: R (for some sexual content and brief drug use) 

Now You See Me

(Summit) Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson. They are the finest magicians in the world, the Four Horseman but their latest illusions seem to be the robbing of banks – halfway around the world from where they are at the time. The FBI is on them like a determined terrier but how do you decipher the clues when the accused is an accomplished illusionist…or is it magician?

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Thriller

Rating: PG-13 (for language, some action and sexual content)

What Maisie Knew

(Millennium) Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgard, Steve Coogan, Onata Aprile. When a couple divorces, children are often the casualty. When that couple is egotistical and  vindictive, the child can be used as a pawn. When that is taken to extreme, well, it can get pretty ugly. This is a modernization of a classic Henry James novel.

See the trailer and a clip here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Drama

Rating: R (for some language) 

Yeh Jewaani Hai Deewani

(UTV) Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Evelyn Sharma. A young couple and their best friends endure all the little things of life – love, betrayal, friendship, parties, heartbreak – okay, the big things of life.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Bollywood

Rating: NR

Four-Warned: May 2013


Iron Man 3

Every month I’m going to look at every movie on the release schedule and try to assign them a numerical value corresponding to how anxious I am to see it. The lower the number, the more I want to see it. A one means I would walk through hell and high water to see it; a four means there’s no interest whatsoever. The numbers are not arrived at scientifically but they aren’t arbitrary either.

The numbers aren’t a reflection of the artistic merit of any of these films, but merely a reflection of my willingness to go to a movie theater and see it. The top four scores will be gathered as a means of reflecting the movies I’m anticipating the most; you may use that as a guide or not.

Each entry is broken down as follows:

NAME OF FILM (Studio) Genre A brief description of the plot. Release plans: Wide = Everywhere, Limited = In selected markets. RATING A brief comment

Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.

FOUR TO SEE
1. IRON MAN 3 (1.0)
TIE. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (1.0)
3. NOW YOU SEE ME (1.3)
4. AFTER EARTH (1.5)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. STORIES WE TELL (1.0)
2. STATE 194 (1.2)
3. THE ATTACK (1.3)
4. SIGHTSEERS (1.4)

RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see

MAY 1, 2013

POST TENEBRAS LUX (Strand) Genre: Documentary. An upper class family moves to the Mexican countryside resulting in friction and domestic crisis. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.0 All I’ve seen are a couple of clips which don’t give a sense of what to expect from the film.

MAY 2, 2013

IRON MAN 3 (Disney/Marvel) Genre: Superhero. The armored superhero faces post-Avengers depression and the appearance of a nemesis who is out to destroy him and everything he stands for. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 1.0 As the first film in the Marvel Filmed Universe’s Phase 2 this is one of the most anticipated movie events of the year.

MAY 3, 2013

1ST NIGHT (Gravitas) Genre: Dramedy. A variety of relationships reach turning points during rehearsals for an opera. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Looks like a jolly sex romp with an operatic background – color me intrigued.
AROUSED (Ketchup) Genre: Documentary. 16 of the most successful women in the adult film industry open up in interviews about their profession, their feelings about it and their private lives. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Could be really good or really bad; the interviewer sounds uncannily like the voice-over artist on the Victoria’s Secret commercials.
THE ATTACK (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Drama. A doctor of Arabic descent living and working in Tel Aviv discovers a disturbing secret about his wife following a suicide bombing that kills 17 people. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.3 This looks incredibly powerful from the trailer.
CAROLINE AND JACKIE (Phase 4) Genre: Drama. On a birthday visit, a celebratory occasion turns into an intervention as two sisters and a boyfriend realize that below the surface is an incredible amount of sibling tension. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Kinda disturbing, kinda intriguing.
CINCO DE MAYO, LA BATALLA (Pantelion) Genre: True Life War Drama. The story of the Battle of Puebla which resulted in Mexican independence. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.6 The story of the battle itself would have been far better without the romantic subtext that distracts from the power of the story.
DEAD MAN’S BURDEN (Cinedigm) Genre: Western. Siblings, separated by the Civil War and by family secrets, struggle to reconnect in the chaos following the war. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.1 Beautifully shot, looks like Shakespearean tragedy in a desolate setting.
DESPERATE ACTS OF MAGIC (Self-Released) Genre: Comedy. A computer programmer, bored with his life, decides to become a magician and befriends a woman who, disillusioned by that world, has turned to a life of crime. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles May 10). RATING: 3.3 The trailer looks like a cheesy 80s comedy right down to the soundtrack.
GENERATION UM… (Phase 4) Genre: Drama. The appearance of a stolen camcorder slowly unravels the lives of two escorts and their driver. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Keanu Reeves stars? Really?
GREETINGS FROM TIM BUCKLEY (Tribeca) Genre: Musical Biography. Jeff Buckley, son of a revered singer/songwriter with a tragic fate, follows his own path to stardom despite a rocky relationship with his dad. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Star Penn Badgely is a dead ringer for the late Jeff Buckley.
THE ICEMAN (Millennium) Genre: Biographical Drama. The story of Richard Kuklinski, mob assassin who reputedly killed more than 100 men. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Michael Shannon, Ray Liotta, Winona Ryder, James Franco and a stellar supporting cast…wow.
KISS OF THE DAMNED (Magnet) Genre: Gothic Horror. A vampire’s love affair with a human is complicated when her sister visits unexpectedly. Release Strategy: Los Angeles (opening in other cities May 15). RATING: 1.7 I was surprised at how good the trailer looks; a bit retro Euro-vamp with a modern twist.
LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED (Sony Classics) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A group of people seek out love in Sorrento, Italy and discover that second chances can come even when you think it’s too late. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.0 The latest from Oscar-winning director Susanne Bier looks magical – and yes this played at the Florida Film Festival last month, thank you very much.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN BROOKLYN (Lionsgate) Genre: Action. The black sheep of an Italian family gets out of prison and is given a job in the family business but his partners in crime prove to be an irresistible siren song. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Looks like it’s getting a brief theatrical run before heading to home video.
SCATTER MY ASHES AT BERGDORF’S (eOne) Genre: Documentary. Bergdorf-Goodman has become a fashion barometer but was once a modest ladies boutique; this film explores how the store rose to its current height and how it stays there. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.6 While I’m not interested in Couture whatsoever, there’s no denying the importance of Bergdorf’s in American style.
SOMETHING IN THE AIR (IFC) Genre: Drama. A group of French students in 1971 must flee to Italy after a vandalism attack goes terribly wrong. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Not only captures the look of the era but the attitude – could be a must-see this month.
WHAT MAISIE KNEW (Millennium) Genre: Drama. The six-year-old daughter of a divorcing couple becomes the pawn in their bitter custody dispute. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles May 17). RATING: 1.8 A top-notch cast and a very emotionally wrenching story.

MAY 10, 2013

AFTERSHOCK (Radius) Genre: Horror. An American tourist in Chile gets trapped in an underground nightclub after an earthquake but the horror only begins once he escapes to the surface. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Looks a bit like Chernobyl Diaries without the mutants.
AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR (Paladin/108) Genre: Dramedy. A CEO from an ad agency wakes up from a coma unable to communicate except in ad slogans. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Clever idea in a Being There kinda way.
THE GREAT GATSBY (Warner Brothers) Genre: Drama. A wealthy American war hero in the roaring 20s befriends a down on his luck neighbor who discovers the good life isn’t all that good. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.8 Baz Luhrmann isn’t one of my favorite directors.
HE’S WAY MORE FAMOUS THAN YOU (Gravitas) Genre: Comedy. A struggling indie actress decides that the secret to success is to become famous – and she’ll do anything to do it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Yes, Ralph Macchio is way more famous than you.
JAVA HEAT (IFC) Genre: Action. After the Indonesian Sultana is murdered and her daughter kidnapped by terrorists, it falls to a Muslim policeman and an American wild card to set things to rights. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles May 17). RATING: 3.2 The trailer looks a bit like a typical made-for-cable action thriller.
NO ONE LIVES (Anchor Bay) Genre: Thriller. After a criminal gang take a young couple hostage, they realize they are being stalked by someone determined to kill everyone off in the house. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Looks a little better for this genre than most.
PEEPLES (Lionsgate) Genre: Urban Comedy. Craig Robinson stars as a working man who crashes an upscale family reunion to ask for their daughter’s hand in marriage – but of course things don’t go as planned. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.5 Sounds suspiciously like Meet the Parents to me.
SIGHTSEERS (IFC) Genre: Horror Spoof. A couple on a motor home tour of England descend into the kind of madness that leads to carnage. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 Saw this at the Florida Film Festival and it was as good as any film there this year.
STORIES WE TELL (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Documentary. Actress/Filmmaker Sarah Polley interviews a family of storytellers to discover the effect of memory on family legends. Release Strategy: New York City (expanding into other markets May 17). RATING: 1.0 A really fascinating idea for a film as we get to see different versions of the same stories interpreted by different family members.
VENUS AND SERENA (Magnolia) Genre: Sports Documentary. The story of the Williams sisters, the most dominant siblings in tennis in the 21st century. Release Strategy: Los Angeles (expanding into other markets May 17). RATING: 2.8 I’m not a particular fan of tennis but this documentary looks fascinating.

MAY 15, 2013

BECOMING TRAVIATA (Distrib) Genre: Documentary. We are taken through the reinvention of the iconic opera La Traviata by French soprano Natalie Dessay and director Jean-Francois Sivadier. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles May 24). RATING: 3.7 It looks good, but I’m not sure I can get over my personal dislike of opera to go see it.
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (Paramount) Genre: Science Fiction. Captain Kirk becomes obsessed with apprehending a terrorist who has developed a devastating new weapon. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 1.0 Looks like JJ Abrams has the series well in hand.

MAY 17, 2013

33 POSTCARDS (Gravitas) Genre: Drama. A Chinese orphan discovers that her Australian sponsor who has only communicated with her through postcards isn’t what he said he was. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 Looks a bit melodramatic to me.
AUGUSTINE (Music Box) Genre: Biographical Drama. The true story of a French neurologist whose female patient’s “hysteria” led to spectacular seizures and a relationship the two that blurred the line between doctor and patient. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Looks rather lurid but the I’m fascinated by Victorian sexual politics.
AURANGZEB (Yash Raj) Genre: Bollywood. A family of policemen are at odds with a family of criminals in modern India. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Not 100% certain but it looks like a variation on Infernal Affairs.
BLACK ROCK (LD Entertainment) Genre: Thriller. Three women visiting the remote island off the Maine coast that was their hangout find three ex-servicemen hunting there. It doesn’t take long to figure out that the women are the new prey. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 I just kept getting the feeling that I’d seen this movie before from watching the trailer.
THE ENGLISH TEACHER (Cinedigm) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A high school English teacher falls for an ex-student and decides to mount his angst-ridden play as the student theatrical production. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Awesome cast with Julianne Moore, Michael Angarano, Greg Kinnear and Nathan Lane.
ERASED (Radius) Genre: Thriller. A former CIA operative and his daughter are targeted for termination; he must determine by whom and why. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Has some very Bourne-like qualities from the trailer, but I always am up to see Aaron Eckhart.
FRANCES HA (IFC) Genre: Comedy. A young woman throws herself headlong into her dreams, even if they don’t really match up with reality. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 I like Greta Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach; the trailer didn’t particularly move me though.
HATING BREITBART PG-13 (Freestyle) Genre: Documentary. The story of the late conservative gadfly and blogger who changed the political landscape forever. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 Don’t really care much for the subject.
PIETA (Drafthouse) Genre: Thriller. A collector for a loan shark renounces his former life when he meets a mysterious woman claiming to be his mother but his past soon catches up with him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Visceral and controversial, this played the recent Florida Film Festival and evoked strong reactions.
STATE 194 (Participant) Genre: Documentary. A bold new plan to get Palestinian statehood recognized is threatened by a political quagmire. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.2 Looks kind of objective for this kind of documentary.

MAY 22, 2013

DOIN’ IT IN THE PARK: PICK-UP BASKETBALL, NYC (360 Filmworks) Genre: Documentary. The culture of pick-up basketball and free recreation in general is explored. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.6 Actually looks kind of interesting, even if you’re not into basketball.

MAY 24, 2013

A GREEN STORY (Indican) Genre: Drama. A Greek immigrant who created a successful environmentally friendly business goes for one last deal at the end of his life as he reminisces about his past. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 I’m really not quite sure what to make of this but looks like it might be interesting so I’ll give it a shot.
BEFORE MIDNIGHT (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. The third installment in the “Before” trilogy finds Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in their 40s and now living in Greece. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 3.9 I simply just never got into this series m’fraid.
EPIC (20th Century Fox) Genre: Animated Feature. A young girl enters a mysterious world of miniature forest soldiers who need her help to protect not only her world but ours. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 1.6 Trailer looks pretty amazing; hope the film measures up.
FAST AND FURIOUS 6 (Universal) Genre: Action. Hobbs recruits Dom and his crew to take down a group of mercenary drivers whose second in command is a blast from Dom’s past. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.1 The last one was the best in the series thus far; this one looks like it might top it.
FILL THE VOID (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. An Orthodox Hassidic Israeli girl is forced to choose between her familial obligations and her heart’s desire. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 I’m not so sure about this one; on the one hand the subject of arranged marriages is compelling but I couldn’t help feeling as I watched the trailer that there were some Harlequin Romance elements to the story.
THE HANGOVER PART III (Warner Brothers) Genre: Comedy. The Wolf Pack return to where it all started – Sin City – and Las Vegas will never be the same again. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 I’m hoping they get away from the same storyline as the first two movies, I’m kinda over it.
PENGUINS 3D (nWave) Genre: Nature Documentary. Veteran naturalist and documentarian David Attenborough narrates this story about a King Penguin making his way in the Antarctic. Release Strategy: IMAX. RATING: 2.9 Reminds me of March of the Penguins a little too much.
WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS (Focus) Genre: Documentary. The story of the polarizing website whom some see as a champion of freedom, others as it’s destroyer. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 Julian Assange has already condemned the documentary.

MAY 29, 2013

HANNAH ARENDT (Zeitgeist) Genre: Biographical Drama. The world famous Jewish-German philosopher, who coined the term “The Banality of Evil” in regards to Adolph Eichmann, is shown covering his trial. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 This looks like it could be something worth checking out.

MAY 31, 2013

AFTER EARTH (Columbia) Genre: Science Fiction. A father and son are stranded on a dangerous planet. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 I think it looks pretty good, but some hear that M. Night Shyamalan is the director and immediately shuts the door.
AMERICAN MARY (XLRator) Genre: Horror. A disillusioned medical student gets embroiled in the freakish world of underground surgeries. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Looks genuinely creepy – I like it.
THE EAST (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Thriller. A former FBI agent working for a private security group infiltrates an anarchist group and finds her loyalties wavering. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Good cast, fascinating story.
FREE SAMPLES (Anchor Bay) Genre: Dramedy. The day of a young girl handing out free samples in an ice cream truck turns out to be more significant than she planned on. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Screened at the recent Florida Film Festival; read my review here.
THE HISTORY OF FUTURE FOLK (Variance) Genre: Musical. Aliens who come down to Earth for the purpose of invasion decide instead to become an indie folk band. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Another Florida Film Festival entry, this one is as hip as it gets.
THE KINGS OF SUMMER (CBS) Genre: Comedy. Some spoiled teens in an act of rebellion against their parents decide to live on their own in the woods. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 This looks like a movie that was deliberately not made for my generation to enjoy. Good cast, though.
NOW YOU SEE ME (Summit) Genre: Action. A group of stage magicians – the best in the world – pull off daring heists against corporate criminals during their shows, garnering the attention of the authorities who can’t figure out how they do it. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.3 Looks like the kind of movie that could be a surprise summer hit.
SHADOW DANCER (Magnolia) Genre: Thriller. An Irish single mom in Belfast is forced to spy on her own family. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Looks like the kind of political thriller that I really go for.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Iron Man 3, The Great Gatsby, Star Trek Into Darkness, Sightseers, Frances Ha, Pieta, Epic, Fast and Furious 6, The Hangover Part III, After Earth, Now You See Me