Today is not the best day for new releases. As of this writing, there are just 24 new ratings total in our Criticwire Network, so the jury is still out on each and every one of these films. In other words: proceed with caution. First up is “Rubberneck,” the psychosexual thriller from Alex Karpovsky, whom you may know as Ray from HBO’s “Girls:”
"'Rubberneck,' written by Karpovsky and Garth Donovan, impresses less with the explanations behind Paul's pathologies than it does with the use of its suburban settings and eerily stark interiors that surround the protagonist and immerse the viewers fully in his headspace. Also impressive is Karpovsky's performance.”
“On a formal level, Karpovsky proves capable of pulling off a high-toned thriller on a shoestring budget, and his performance adds a layer of menace to the neediness and insecurity of the characters he plays in 'Red Flag' and HBO’s 'Girls.' But in all other ways, he squeezes into the genre like an ill-fitting suit.”
Do you like Alex Karpovsky but prefer comedies to psychosexual thrillers? How about checking out Alex Karpovsky’s other new feature, the meta-comedy “Red Flag,” about an anxious filmmaker not-so-coincidentally named Alex Karpovsky taking one of his films (one that Karpovsky really did make!) on the road:
“When 'Red Flag' really hits its stride, which happens somewhat late in its second act, it becomes the film it should be through and through -- a funny, well-observed, keenly acted feature about drama, trauma, and second chances."
“As they each wallow in their individual existential crises, their goals are to determine what relationships and love mean to them while doing their best to avoid a life riddled with loneliness.”
The most dedicated Karpovskites may also want to check out Ian Buckwalter’s comparison of the two Karpovksy films over on NPR. And now for something completely different: The science-fiction/horror film “Dark Skies,” whose embargo just lifted, and which currently possesses a single, positive review:
“'Dark Skies' is an allegory first and a horror movie second, and the severe lack of emphasis on old-fashioned terror seems to supports that theory. It’s not terribly scary, aside from a jump here or there, but it raises genuine anxieties about life in general and has a moral that’s hard to argue with."
There’s another adrenaline-pumping film in ”Snitch,” this one an action thriller featuring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, drugs, and law enforcement:
“While the movie provides its central characters some unexpected depth, there is not much room for them to move outside of the plot. Even more frustrating is the resolution, which abandons all social and character concerns for an extended two-part climax full of flying bullets and careening cars.”
“This drama is earnest in its storytelling, but stumbles in its execution. Johnson is painfully miscast, playing a supposedly powerless everyman who must pose as a tough guy to win the trust of dangerous drug dealers.”
And last, in very limited release, we have the Middle-Eastern political drama “Inescapable” from Ruba Nadda (“Cairo Time”) and featuring Marisa Tomei:
“The look and vibe of the picture are right on target, but the tension is sometimes lacking.”
“The movie’s director, Ruba Nadda ('Cairo Time'), a specialist with intimate exchanges, isn’t quite up to the task of mounting a chase movie; her leading man, meanwhile, strains with the action heroics."
With so few reviews submitted this week, the verdict is still out for deliberation. Nothing is knocking the socks off of critics, but it’s not too late. It’s also not too late to catch up on “No” or “Lore” or “Like Someone In Love” if you are a bit behind; like every week, there are lots of choices.