The Company Men

One of the first casualties of a corporate downsize is Bobby Walker, a hot-shot sales executive who is living the idyllic life—complete with two kids and a mortgaged picket fence. His boss, and founder of the company, doesn’t take Bobby’s severance well, and he storms into the boardroom to demand a reprieve of the severe measures. He learns quickly that some choices are out of his hands, and this is only the beginning. We embark on a journey that is all too familiar in today’s recessionary economy: one that will test friendships, loyalties, and family bonds. [Synopsis courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival]

The Yellow Handkerchief

One lazy afternoon in a backwater Louisiana town, Martine takes a leap into an unfamiliar convertible. The driver, Gordy, an awkward young itinerant who eyed her in the diner earlier, isn’t displeased to find this pretty sylph in his front seat. Soon they meet Brett, a laconic, humble man just released from prison. Martine isn’t keen on going solo with Gordy, and now it’s raining cats and dogs, so she invites Brett along, and the unlikely trio sets out, each person unsure of the destination. What ensues is a journey through the lush green byways of rural Louisiana and into the depths of these characters’ souls. [Synopsis courtesy of IMDB]

Beautiful Boy

Filmmakers have explored the subject of school shootings in the past, but first-time feature director Shawn Ku finds a unique perspective on this delicate issue. Rather than focusing on the tragic incident and the events leading up to it, “Beautiful Boy” confronts its devastating aftermath. Moreover, the killer is almost entirely absent throughout the film. In his place, we look through the eyes of his parents, who struggle to find refuge from the public and from media backlash, while overcoming their own sudden loss.

In two of the most heartrending performances in recent memory, Maria Bello and Michael Sheen play parents in a rocky marriage who are hit with the shocking news that their 18-year-old son has committed a mass shooting at his college before taking his own life.

With a maturity and comprehension beyond his years, Ku (who co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Armbruster) shows remarkable insight into two middle-aged parents faced with unspeakable anguish. Separated from the rest of the world by this incomprehensible act, they find their marital troubles gradually taking a back seat to the traumatic situation thrust upon them.

Credit must also go to the film’s stellar supporting cast, who add further weight to this difficult story. Moon Bloodgood, Alan Tudyk and Meat Loaf Aday are perfectly cast as bystanders to the slow-burning wreckage at hand.

“Beautiful Boy” is fearless. It defies convention to shed light on something that many similarly topical films have shied away from. The result is a bleak yet rewarding experience that dares to challenge not only its audience, but also previous investigations of this dark subject. [Synopsis by Jane Schoettle/Toronto International Film Festival]

Downloading Nancy

When Albert Stockwell (Rufus Sewell, Dark City, Illuminata) comes home from work one day, he finds a note from his wife of 15 years, Nancy (Maria Bello, A History of Violence, Thank You for Smoking), saying she has gone to see friends. After waiting several days, Albert realizes that his wife is missing. Nancy has met her salvation on the Internet in the form of Louis Farley (Jason Patric, The Lost Boys, Rush). Nancy and Louis, both wounded souls, take comfort in one another through e-mail, pictures, and promises of perverse sexual encounters. Nancy has finally found the one and only thing that can liberate her from the pain in her life. While she pursues the freedom that she feels will only come with ultimate liberation, Albert is left to put the pieces together and try to salvage what is left.

The 5th Wave

Four waves of increasingly deadly alien attacks have left most of Earth decimated. Cassie is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother.

The Confirmation

Eight year old Anthony is somewhat uneasy about spending the weekend with his alcoholic, down-on-his-luck carpenter dad Walt while his mom Bonnie and her new husband Kyle go to a Catholic retreat together. Walt is just as uneasy about spending time with Anthony, especially since their first day together is a series of characteristically unfortunate events, including his truck breaking down, his landlord locking him out of the house, and the theft of his toolbox, which he needs for an upcoming job. As Walt and Anthony set about finding the guy who stole the tools and improvise around their other misfortunes, they begin to discover a true connection with each other, causing Walt to become a better father and Anthony to reveal the promise and potential of the good man he will become.

Bravetown

Josh Harvest, a hardened New York City teen from a broken home – and quietly one of the country’s top dance club DJs and remixers – is sentenced to counseling for a minor drug infraction, along with an extended stay with his estranged father, who lives in a small town in North Dakota. He is slow to warm to his new environment, a town best-known for sending its young off to war, many of whom never return. But when Josh is asked to help out the last-place dance team as they vie for the state competition title, his rough exterior begins to soften. As his relationships emerge with both the team’s captain, Mary, and his therapist, each of whom have lost someone special to war, it forces all three to begin to face and heal their pasts.

McFarland USA

A track coach in a small California town transforms a team of athletes into championship contenders.

Big Driver

Based on a novella from Stephen King, A famous mystery writer sets out for revenge after a brutal attack.

Third Person

Liam Neeson, Adrien Brody and James Franco star in the new film from Academy Award-winning writer-director Paul Haggis (“Crash”), which jumps from Paris to Rome to New York as it traces the hidden connections between three very different men.

Grown Ups 2

The all-star comedy cast from Grown Ups returns (with some exciting new additions) for more summertime laughs. Lenny (Adam Sandler) has relocated his family back to the small town where he and his friends grew up. This time around, the grown ups are the ones learning lessons from their kids on a day notoriously full of surprises: the last day of school.