By Steve Greene | Criticwire March 28, 2012 at 1:08PM
From emerging sexuality to climate change, this weekend's new releases deal with unexpected challenges.
With an aggregate score of A- from members of Indiewire's Criticwire Network, "The Island President" is the Criticwire Pick of the Week. Chronicling the exploits of the titular official of the water-bound nation of Maldives, the film is also a measured look at their government's response to climate change. In order to save the island chain that he governs from being overcome by rising ocean levels, President Nasheed fights for a shift in worldwide environmental policy.
But the tale of an activist president isn't the only documentary faring well on Criticwire this week. "Bully" (originally titled "The Bully Project") follows the lives of children, parents, administrators and other school officials who are left to deal with both the aftermath and continuing difficulties of bullying. Much has been written about the rating debate surrounding its release. But the film is drawing support not just from social change advocates, but critics as well, garnering a B+ average from Criticwire members. Christopher Campbell writes that "Bully" is not only "filled with characters both lovable and infuriating, it's also exquisitely shot, incredibly intimate and beautiful, and will surely choke up anyone in the audience who has dealt with being teased, on any level." MovieBuzzers’ Melissa Hanson echoes the sentiment, adding, "Whether or not you have kids is immaterial, you were a kid once. We all were...this is a great portrait of the victimized."
Criticwire members also recommend "Turn me on, dammit!," which received a B+ average. This comedy from Norway is drawing notice for its intimate portrait of adolescent female sexuality. In a capsule review at The Atlantic, Jon Frosch writes that "If the deadpan tone, framing, and voiceover feel overly familiar, the movie bounces along pleasingly, demonstrating sly charm as it contrasts the protagonist's fantasies with her much less stimulating reality." Indiewire's Eric Kohn calls the film a "gentle, emotionally honest narrative feature debut of writer-director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen," while describing the work of Helene Bergsholm as "a believably understated breakout performance."
It’s been five years since Juan Carlos Fresnadillo helmed and co-wrote "28 Weeks Later." The director’s latest effort, "Intruders," tackles haunting creatures of a different kind. The film stars...well, let’s let John Lichman from The Playlist describe it: "Mia (Ella Purnell) is playing at her grandparents' farm when she is drawn to a tree and finds a wooden box with a one-page story about a creature called Hollowface. She copies the story for her class, but can't read the ending covered in mud. Her father John (Clive Owen) works on top of a skyscraper and seems to be the least interesting man in construction, along with his co-worker, who may be named Plot D. Vice for all he contributes."
What follows is a familiar horror tale that provoked enough frustration to earn it a "C-" average from Criticwire members.
Another film also receiving responses from our Criticwire members is "Goon," a comedy about a hockey enforcer navigating his way through the minor leagues (B). It opens in theaters this weekend after previously being available on VOD.