During this transitional August week, blockbusters make room for smaller films and usher in the September start of the fall awards season. There’s not a single sequel hitting theaters this weekend, although Guillermo del Toro and Troy Nixey’s horrific Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, which Roger Ebert writes “milks our frustration deliciously,” is a remake of a TV movie. Nixey’s is one of four films from first-time feature directors, including Vera Farmiga’s impressive Higher Ground, which Variety calls “satirical yet sensitive”; Maryam Keshavarz’s surprising underground portrait of Iran, Circumstance, which is “stirringly sensual”. AP calls Rowan Joffe’s Brighton Rock, based on Grahame Greene’s 1939 novel, “an exercise in style over substance.”
Weinstein Co’s pricey Sundance pick-up My Idiot Brother stars Paul Rudd, Zoe Deschanel, Rashida Jones and Emily Mortimer in a raucous family laugher that Ebert calls “refreshing, this late in the summer, to find a hot weather comedy that doesn’t hate its characters and embed them in scatology and sexual impossibilities.” There’s also the yet-to-be-reviewed Colombiana, which hopes to turn Avatar‘s Zoe Saldana into an action star, as well as French import Special Treatment and Wall Street doc Chasing Madoff.
Higher Ground, SPC, USA | Director: Vera Farmiga; Cast: Vera Farmiga, Joshua Leonard, John Hawkes, Dagmara Dominczyk, Norbert Leo Butz, Donna Murphy | B criticWIRE | TOH! Interviews Vera & Taissa Farmiga | iW Interviews Farmiga | 82% Tomatometer, 68% Metacritic.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, FilmDistrict, USA/AUS/MEX | Dir: Troy Nixey; Cast: Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes, Bailee Madison, Alan Dale | C+ criticWIRE | iW Talks to Producer Guillermo del Toro | 56% Tomatometer, 55% Metacritc.
Circumstance, Participant, USA/FR/IRAN | Dir: Maryam Keshavarz; Cast: Nikohl Boosheri, Sarah Kazemy, Reza Sixo Safai, Soheil Parsa, Nasrin Pakkho, Sina Amedson, Keon Mohajeri | B+ criticWIRE | Gender Watch: Love Under Assault | 64% Tomatometer, 60% Metacritic.
Our Idiot Brother, TWC, USA | Dir: Jesse Peretz; Cast: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer | B+ criticWIRE | iW Review: Paul Rudd Outshines Mediocrity‘ iW Interviews Rudd | 70% Tomatometer, 59% Metacritic.