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What Are You Seeing This Weekend? ‘Gangster Squad’ & ‘A Haunted House’ Headline In Theaters

What Are You Seeing This Weekend? 'Gangster Squad' & 'A Haunted House' Headline In Theaters

There really is no rest for the wicked. Blood and brain matter, lechery, and crude allusion spew out of this weekend’s cinematic lineup by the gallon. There’s gangster genre violence, imitative violence, monster violence, violence against children, bullying violence, historical violence, and the violence with which (the always spectacular) Dame Maggie Smith attacks a role and stuns us all. As another screen giant once told her guests: “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” Oh, but before you do — let us know what violent film you’d like to see this weekend. Comment section below, please!

Gangster Squad.” Directed by Ruben Fleischer. Starring Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, and Emma Stone. Our review: “While the popular depiction in film recently has been to minimize, to negate glorification from entering the gangster life, in ‘Gangster Squad,’ Fleischer’s lustrous cacophony of violence and posturing makes that vacuous quality apparent enough already.” Metacritic: 40 Rotten Tomatoes: 33% The Playlist: D

A Haunted House.” Directed by Michael Tiddes. Starring Marlon Wayans, Essence Atkins, David Koechner, Nick Swarsdon, and Cedric the Entertainer. Our review: “The problem with ‘A Haunted House’ is that mocking the found footage genre doesn’t provide fruit.” Moreover, “you can’t parody something and also try to emulate it.” MC: no reviews yet RT: 0% PL: C

Quartet.” Directed by Dustin Hoffman. Starring Billy Connolly, Maggie Smith, and Michael Gambon. The performances in this simple, sweet story are lively and delightful, with Smith a particular standout (to no one’s surprise, anywhere). When Hoffman puts his leads front and center, he showcases them quite effectively, but neglects the other components of picture-making in the process. MC: 59 RT: 78%

Storage 24.” Directed by Johannes Roberts. Starring Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Colin O’Donoghue, Laura Haddock, and Noel Clarke. This steadfastly B-horror film doesn’t offer up much plot that sci-fan fans won’t have seen throughout the “Alien” franchise, but it is actually a little scary (once in a while). MC: 52 RT: 44%

Struck by Lightning.” Directed by Brian Dannelly. Starring Chris Colfer, Christina Hendricks, Dermot Mulroney, Rebel Wilson, and Allison Janney. Colfer’s screenwriting debut has its moments of strength – mostly in the lines he gives to himself – and the other performers are solid, but this exploration of the difficulties of being in high school doesn’t bring anything new to the table, particularly in light of Colfer’s day job. MC: 42 RT: 21%

The Baytown Outlaws.” Directed by Barry Battles. Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Clayne Crawford, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Eva Longoria. So, “Django Unchained” wasn’t violent enough for you? Here’s your fix: an over-energized, massively politically incorrect stew of clichéd film references and excessive violence featuring curiously untalented story development and dialogue. MC: 32 RT: 17%

Clandestine Childhood.” Directed by Benjamín Ávila. Starring Teo Gutierrez Romeo and Natalia Oreiro. There are too many instances of unrefined picture-making for this film to transcend the simplicity of its lost-innocence premise. However, cartoon sequences rendered with grace and pathos come quite unexpectedly, and suggest that the director might be storing a secret well of talent somewhere deep down. MC: 56 RT: 56%

Fairhaven.” Directed by and starring Tom O’Brien. Also starring Chris Messina, Rich Sommer, and Sarah Paulson. You’ve been here before: an unlikely reunion of friends is instanced by an unpleasant call of duty, often a funeral. The revelations, reactions, and reconciliations follow. And then everyone goes home again. On the other hand, the town of Fairhaven does come off like somewhere it might be interesting to visit sometime. MC: 54 RT: 45%

My Best Enemy.” Directed by Wolfgang Murnberger. Starring Mortiz Bleibtreu, Christoph Luser, and Ursula Strauss. The events are all here, connected with an entertaining swiftness, but the characters (weakly drawn) and tone (often imbalanced somewhere between absurdist and serious) are not. MC: 43 RT: 20%

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