By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire September 30, 2011 at 1:43AM
Everything from a cancer comedy starring Seth Rogen to an ambitious indie starring Michael Shannon hits theaters today. Get an idea of what's worth catching by reading the reviews published this week on indieWIRE and our blog network.
"50/50" had me crying by the finale, and gave me more satisfaction than many more ambitious films I’ve seen lately.
The Playlist: C+
Seth Rogen plays against his usual man-child type, but the flatness of the musical and emotional moments prevents the film from eliciting any substantial response from viewers.
The Playlist: C
The world of “Bunraku” has wispy logic, the character of Ron Perlman has regrettable wardrobe choices and the face of Josh Hartnett has a mustache. This film treads the unfortunate, muddled middle ground between sensationalism and hyperrealism.
The Playlist: B+
With so much going on, the movie really hums, especially in the first hour and a half. It’s so refreshing, in an era of quick cuts and jumbled cinematography, to just linger on the inner lives of these characters.
The Playlist (a second opinion): C+
While the picture is without a doubt provocative and discussion/argue-inducing, it’s also no controversial Lars von Trier chef d’oeuvre that will make your blood boil yet still inspire within you pangs of empathy for its victims, pawns and players.
The Playlist: B
Sergei Loznitsa brings his documentarian sensibilities to his first narrative feature, employing a blurred, disjointed storytelling style. While the actual execution doesn’t quite match the ambition of the ideas, the luscious visuals do more than enough to compensate.
"Sarah Palin - You Betcha!"
Nick Broomfield comes across as likable enough, but his methodology for “exposing” the dark underbelly of Palin’s methods and inner circle is suspect and not engaging. By simply rehashing commonly known facts while throwing around hearsay, the only entertainment value that Bloomfield strangles out of “You Betcha!” comes from him and him alone.
The Playlist: C-
Bloomfield is never as incisive as he’d presumably like to be, wasting his best material by not following up on the most pertinent nuggets of information. Even the information that could be considered exclusive
Without lingering too long on the hero’s mental illness, Jeff Nichols manages to create a gripping, thoughtful examination of how we cope with impending danger. The special effects exist in service of enhancing the story, rather than taking the film on a detour into sci-fi unbelievability.
It’s a film I respect, even though I found it very tough to sit through.
The Playlist: A-
Yet another solid effort by the Shannon-Nichols actor-director pairing, which embrace subtle, lingering anxieties rather than overplaying the hysteria that exists within Shannon’s character.
"Tucker and Dale vs. Evil"
It’s a melding of genres, to be sure, but the key refreshing moments get overplayed so much that the film never gets completely elevated. Still, there’s a boatload of entertainment value in watching the two characters negotiate the spooftacular elements of a buddy comedy-slasher film hybrid.
This pitch-perfect exercise in tone is one that many audiences deserve to see. It’s a shame that typical distribution hang-ups have stunted the rollout of this film, which contains surprisingly solid performances and production value, considering the amount of unknown actors and the fact that the director is a first-time filmmaker.
The Playlist: B
At the film’s outset, it’s a joy to watch the characters realize that they are stuck in the same circumstances as the horror films they’ve grown up watching. However, once those get discovered and displayed, “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” loses steam, submitting to the familiarity it’s trying to transcend.
"What's Your Number?"
As someone who—swimming against the tide—didn’t care for "Bridesmaids," imagine my surprise to find another female-driven, female-written R-rated comedy so entertaining.
The Playlist: D
Fleeting moments between Evans and Faris show that the pair has some chemistry, but Evans seems to have reverted back to being a blandly good-looking, sub-par actor contrary to the leading-man promise he showed in “Captain America.”