By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist March 1, 2013 at 2:54PM
Synopsis: Hungry for adventure, four bored college girls land in jail after robbing a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation. They soon find themselves bailed out by a rapper/drug and arms dealer who will give them a spring break experience they will never forget.
What You Need To Know: In the hands of an average joe, “Spring Breakers” could just be a dramatic reading of "Girls Gone Wild." In the hands of gonzo auteur Harmony Korine, this bizarre and magical film becomes something entirely different. A pop-art fever dream, it's a far cry from Korine's last film, "Trash Humpers." It's a glossy, gorgeous, curiously dream-like cult-hit in the making, according to our Venice review. Led by a career-best performance from James Franco as the drug dealer Alien, he's backed up by the unlikely and usually wholesome quartet of Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Heather Morris. It might be a touch more conventional than Korine's usual fare, but it's no less impressive, and we've got our fingers crossed that its cannily-timed release sees it become a surprise spring break smash among the college crowd.
Release Date: Friday March 15th
Synopsis: The friendship between two teenage girls in 1960s Britain is put to the test when one begins an affair with the other's father.
What You Need To Know: Sally Potter's films have become more and more esoteric over the years (her last was shot entirely on a mobile phone, and was about as watchable as that sounds), but she took a step away from the brink with her excellent period coming-of-age drama "Ginger & Rosa," which premiered at Telluride last September, where our Rodrigo Perez gave it a rave review. While the "narrative tends to grow unwieldy and wanders non-linearly from a coming-of-age story to something much wider and more complex," "there's much to love" about the film. The scenes of adolescent joy are "wonderfully vibrant and charged with an electric youthful energy you simply cannot bottle," but it also knows when to become "sparse and minimal, but always with a thoughtful, examining gaze that illuminates the lives of these frustrated characters." The film "seals the deal for [Elle] Fanning as a serious performer who is going to have a long and valued career in cinema," it also provides a good showcase for the "oft-undervalued" Alessandro Nivola, as her father. It risks being overshadowed by heavier competition this month, but hopefully, audiences catch on to a film that's "beautiful, yet dark and moving, unsparing, but told with a sympathetic eye."
Release Date: Friday March 15th
Synopsis: Years after letting him slip through his fingers, a London cop has a second chance to bag his nemesis when he comes back into the country to find his comatose son.
What You Need To Know: Still somewhat under the radar a month before release, we suspect that "Welcome To The Punch" is about to put a lot of people on the map, not least director Eran Creevy, who made an impressive debut with "Shifty" a few years back, but steps up to the majors in a big way. A glossy London-set action-thriller influenced by, among others, Tony Scott, Michael Mann and Hong Kong action movies, it has a pretty great cast for a film like this, with James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough, "The Walking Dead" star David Morrissey, Johnny Harris, Peter Mullan and Daniel Mays among those making appearances. We've seen the film, but we're still under embargo. But we don't think we're giving the game away too much by saying that this is something you should be putting on your to-see list when it hits theaters at the end of the month.
Release Date: March 27th
Synopsis: A documentary tracking the secret theories and conspiracies behind Stanley Kubrick's classic horror film "The Shining."
What You Need To Know: Of all of Kubrick's films, the one that's inspired the most obsessive love is probably "The Shining," his once-derided, now-classic adaptation of Stephen King's novel. "Toy Story 3" director Lee Unkrich, of all people, even runs a blog dedicated to the film, something that's essentially found a feature film equivalent in Rodney Ascher's documentary "Room 237," which looks at almost every conceivable theory about the picture, from it being a metaphor for the Holocaust, to an allegory for sexual abuse. It could be fanboyish, but Kevin called it "one of the best movies about movies we've seen in quite some time" when he saw at Cannes last year. The film proves to be "a celebration of Kubrick's work and the obsession that great works of art can instill in those who come into contact with them," and left us with the conclusion that it was "unique and at times profound." A treat for fans of "The Shining," Kubrick, and movies in general.
Release Date: March 29th
Synopsis: A motorcycle rider commits a crime to support his child. A policeman targets him because of the incident and the two men become locked on a tense collision course which will have a devastating impact on both of their families in the years following.
What You Need To Know: Perhaps the big treat of the month for anyone who cares about film, Derek Cianfrance’s follow-up to “Blue Valentine” is equally searing and bruising, but an entirely different film experience to its predecessor, exploring the consequences of action, fate, and the legacies that our fathers pass down to us. Ryan Gosling stars as the criminal, Bradley Cooper as the cop, but the picture is also a triptych that spans time, and features commanding performances by Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen as well. Our review out of TIFF (where it was our correspondent's favorite film of the festival) said that all the movie's disparate elements "build tremendously into a film that feels like it has shades of classic Italian melodramas put through the lens of a distinctly American film," adding up to "a film of big ideas and vision," which sees Cianfrance "place himself in the canon of great, contemporary American filmmakers." So yeah, time to get excited.
Release Date: Friday March 29th
Also hitting this month and worth a look: Mark Webber's drama "The End Of Love," horror anthology "ABCs Of Death," Studio Ghibli's "From Up On Poppy Hill," Matteo Garrone's "Reality," DreamWorks Animations' "The Croods," indie "Gimme The Loot," Cannes crowd-pleaser "The Sapphires," Spanish Snow White tale "Blancanieves," and oddball Sundance flick "Wrong," from the director of "Rubber." More questionable, but maybe with the potential to be better than we think: Halle Berry in thriller "The Call," Steve Carell/Jim Carrey comedy "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," Jim Sturgess/Kirsten Dunst romance "Upside Down," Tina Fey comedy "Admission," Gerard Butler actioner "Olympus Has Fallen," franchise sequel "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," Stephenie Meyer's "The Host," and, uh, "Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions Of A Marriage Counselor."