By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire September 2, 2011 at 7:20AM
This week, if 3D sharks don't happen to be your thing, don't fret. There are plenty of indie releases opening in limited release that are worth your top dollar. Figure out what to see by checking out all the reviews published this week on indieWIRE and our Blog Network.
Sometimes a film seems to have everything going for it and still comes up short; such is the case with "The Debt."
The Playlist: C+
With the release of “The Debt,” her third film in almost as many months, Jessica Chastain continues to prove that she is very much the real deal – even if her versatility and substance as a performer sometimes reflects the comparative phoniness of costars that aren’t equal to her talent.
"Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame"
With a thundering soundtrack, soaring cameras and more than a few special effects, Hark immediately announces a lively world on the brink of mayhem, if not great consequence.
The Playlist: B-
The action choreography by the legendary Sammo Hung is typically excellent but not outstanding, centering on high flying action between combatants that seemingly travel on air. The settings actually stand out more so than the fight scenes, including a cavernous lair and the aforementioned Buddha statue.
"Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life"
The Playlist: C
If “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life” says anything, its that a life as grand as Serge Gainsbourg’s is perhaps best left to a cable mini-series, not stuffed into the constraints of a feature film. But as it stands, “Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque)” isn’t the dazzling overview we hoped for nor is it even the standard run through we would’ve grudgingly accepted. Instead, Sfar’s film is ill-conceived from the first reel setting up a disappointing ride that never shakes that feeling.
"A Good Old Fashioned Orgy"
The Playlist: B
As the sole married couple in their small group, Will Forte and Lucy Punch are consistently funny, both of them completely aware that they are being marginalized by their judgmental friends.
The film becomes less and less plausible as it becomes more plot-driven, with interlocking threads that involve financial fraud as well as romantic and professional betrayal. But while it is never as fresh or as jolting as you might hope, "Love Crime" is a delectable little trifle.
The Playlist - D
Ultimately, the biggest problem with “Apollo 18” is that the threat, both implied throughout the film and more or less fully revealed at the end, never seems scary, and yet the build to it is far too theatrical. There’s certainly something to be said for an understated climax – Ti West’s “House of the Devil,” for example, doesn’t quite reach operatic heights of terror, but it’s haunting in a very intimate and believable way. But here, the editing of the rediscovered or recovered footage is actually too smooth to believe, because it fails to have an appropriately cobbled-together feel, while the eventual payoff is completely underwhelming.
"Shark Night 3D"
The Playlist - F
Burdened by the obligation to deliver a teen-friendly crowd-pleaser, the film could neither go balls to the wall with its bloody payoffs nor truly goof on the genre it theoretically would be satirizing. Instead, it’s forced to find a middle ground between being scary or silly, and ends up being just plain stupid.
Thompson on Hollywood
I guess Littlerock had me feeling a little limerent myself: I wanted so much for it to be as good as it promised, but in the end I was left holding the bag.