"The Fourth Dimension"
Produced by Vice magazine, this bizarre anthology project contains three short films exploring an otherworldly plane broadly defined as "the fourth dimension," a realm cryptically explained by opening quotes from both Albert Einstein and Sergei Eisenstein. The proceeding shorts, directed by Jan Kwiecnski, Alexey Fedorchenko and Harmony Korine, hover in a strange place between familiarity and dreams: A Russian man invents the ability to project the past on a small TV screen; young hooligans explore a post-apocalyptic landscape; Val Kilmer retires from acting and delivers motivational speeches at a community center. If that last one sounds comparatively normal, just wait -- the Korine-directed short features one of Kilmer's wildest performances ever, and highly imaginative take on the gulf between celebrity image and reality, a truly Korinian conceit. [Eric Kohn]
Aussie actress Abbie Cornish gave one of 2010's best turns as Fanny Brawne, doomed lover to poet John Keats in Jane Campion's criminally underrated "Bright Star." She didn't fare so well the following year, turning in decent turns in two huge critical misfires ("Sucker Punch" and "W.E."), but things are looking up with "The Girl," a thriller from Gotham award-winning director David Riker ("La Ciudad"). In the film, Cornish stars as a Texan single mother who becomes an immigrant smuggler in the hope of making enough money to regain custody of her son. We know Cornish has the chops to deliver, and with Riker at the helm, chances are she will. [Nigel M. Smith]
"Let Fury Have the Hour"
Antonino D'Ambrosio's documentary about the intersection between music and political activism reaches back to '80s counterculture and tracks its progress today. Sharing a title with the filmmaker's 2004 book about The Clash frontman Joe Strummer, "Let Fury Have the Hour" boasts an impressive array of subjects, including Chuck D., Tom Morello and Shepard Ferry. Less a history of art than a history of what art can do, the documentary has the potential to testify to the power of artistic expression -- and also become a version of it. [Eric Kohn]
Sure, its plot sounds like pretty standard indie rom-com fare: Woman on the edge of 30 gets dumped and thus needs to rebuild her life after assuming it was all good and settled. But "Lola Verus" has quite a few things going for to suggest it will rise above convention. First off, its star Greta Gerwig is almost always a joy to watch, and it looks like she's in every frame of this film. And then there's director Daryl Wein, whose previous film "Breaking Upwards" was suggestive of great things to come. Perhaps "Lola" is just that. [Peter Knegt]