There's a certain sense of heightened and/or alternate reality pervading the theater releases this weekend. On the one hand, we have a film about magicians, professionals who create the illusion of having manipulated real world physics; plus, it takes place in Vegas, a city that, unto and of itself, is an entirely other universe. In the other corner is Harmony Korine's new picture, an exploitation flick where the Wizard of Oz leads the starlets of "High School Musical" in a coke-fueled game of Russian Roulette. And then, somewhere in the middle, "Little Miss Sunshine" gets kidnapped by a gasoline-hose-wielding sociopath.
"Spring Breakers." Directed by Harmony Korine. Starring James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine. Our review: "It’s ultimately a fairly thin, pulpy crime tale, given more substance than it should have on paper thanks to some excellent filmmaking. It’s unlikely to make Korine’s hardcore fans happy (it almost feels like a statement from the director, for better or worse, that he’s ready to stop dicking around and make 'proper' films), but midnight movie programmers of the future will undoubtedly give it a long life years after it’s gone from first-run theaters." MC: 64 RT: 72% PL: B
"Upside Down." Directed by Juan Solanas. Starring Jim Sturgess, Kirsten Dunst, and Timothy Spall. Our review: "'Upside Down' is a film built on binary elements -- lavishly and ambitiously executed -- yet with its laughably undercooked romantic core, it remains foolishly stubborn towards anything more nuanced." MC: 41 RT: 38% PL: C-
"From Up On Poppy Hill." Directed by Goro Miyazaki. Starring Masami Nagasawa, Junichi Okada, and Keiko Takeshita. A charming, poignant coming-of-age parable for a post-WWII Japan realized in beautifully realist animation. MC: 71 RT: 86%
"Mindless Behavior: All Around the World." Directed by Steven Goldfried. Reading closer to marketing campaign than music documentary, the series of upbeat performances, behind-the-scenes footage, and slick visuals here are enjoyable but relatively light. MC: no score yet RT: no score yet
"Reincarnated." Directed by Andy Capper. This "making of the album" doc -- featuring a side order of Snoop Lion's personal life -- is a little slow and a little expected, yet manages to be disarmingly honest and passionate. MC: 43 RT: 23%