The master of visual excess, Michael Bay, is back with the satirical action film "Pain & Gain," (C+, 9 grades) which is already dividing critics.
"'Pain & Gain' is an astounding accomplishment. A fiery, full-throated condemnation of a commercially-warped vision of the 'American Dream,' and a completely fearless dive into delusion and incompetence."
"'Pain & Gain' is much like one of the crimes that its story describes: poorly planned, poorly carried out, and wholly disturbing."
After receiving tepid reviews at Cannes last year, Jeff Nichols' "Mud" (B+, 42 grades) has found its defenders stateside.
"Nichols lovingly sketches his characters and their world; he takes his time doing so, but it's a pleasure to watch the small interactions and the humid reality of secret coves and Piggly Wiggly supermarkets and seedy hotels."
Amy Seimetz stays in the spotlight with "Sun Don't Shine" (A-, 22 grades).
"Building upon the already nightmarish elements of the narrative, 'Sun Don't Shine' unfolds with the oblique stream of consciousness of a dream."
Mira Nair brings the best-selling "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" (B-, 13 grades) to the screen at an especially timely moment.
"The frame narrative can be stilted, comparable to the one in Ang Lee's 'Life Of Pi', where rarefied wisdoms come served with your tea and soulful actors try to cajole you, while the flashback already successfully did the job of convincing you of the true nature of tigers or strip searches respectively."
Ulrich Seidl brings his spiritual trilogy to theaters with "Paradise: Love" (B, 6 grades); the opener focuses on a woman traveling to Kenya as a sex tourist.
"Co-written by Seidl and his regular collaborator Veronika Franz, 'Paradise: Love' is startlingly frank if narratively underdeveloped."
"Kon-Tiki" (B, 12 grades) is the final 2012 Foreign Language Oscar nominee to be released.
"For a film rooted in history such as this, the inclusion of such shamelessly crowdpleasing elements constantly threaten to take away from its authenticity...Yet this 'Kon-Tiki' appears to be hewing closer to the spirit of Heyerdahl rather than the reality he actually lived, yielding a heightened world full of eye-popping colors and grand locales."
The bizarre, genre-bending "An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty" (B, 17 grades) is yet another film to finally find a home with release this weekend.
"Original and so much more, Terence Nance's relentlessly naval-gazing feature debut abandons narrative for a restless, shape-shifting experiment in self-documentation."
Ramin Bahrani's takes a turn to the mainstream in the NASCAR centered "At Any Price" (B-, 32 critics).
"We can see why some might not roll with the melodramatic plotting and the less-than-opaque metaphors. But for all its flaws, we found the film powerful, engaging and, by the finale, moving."
Lastly, Filipino thriller "Graceland" (B+, 10 grades) is making a critical splash despite threatening to slip under the radar.
Once again, it's a great and diverse weekend, so happy pickings.
"'Graceland' is, no doubt about it, a film that'll tie you up in knots. As it makes its way down the dark river of child prostitution it can be quite difficult to watch. Despite some very frank moments, it doesn't feel exploitative."