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Jam-Packed Movie Weekend Means Lots to See, But Should You Skip 'Divergent'?

Photo of Ryan Lattanzio By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! March 21, 2014 at 6:00AM

While astute cinephiles can revel this weekend in the theatrical release of Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac," two arthouse docs and a grab bag of terrific indies, those looking to keep brain function to a minimum can check out the latest YA franchise hopeful "Divergent." Trailers for all after the jump.

While astute cinephiles can revel this weekend in the theatrical release of Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac," two arthouse docs and a grab bag of terrific indies, those looking to keep brain function to a minimum can check out the latest YA franchise hopeful "Divergent." Trailers for all after the jump.

Reviews are all over the map but suffice it to say, the Shailene Woodley vehicle about a dystopian society stratified by personality types is no sure buck like "Hunger Games," which most critics enjoyed. It's up to audiences to decide the fate of "Divergent" and its young, attractive cast rounded out by Theo James, Zoe Kravitz and Miles Teller. Opening gross guesses are in the deluxe $50-60 million range.

Charlotte Gainsbourg in Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac."
Charlotte Gainsbourg in Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac."

The unrated "Volume I" of Lars von Trier's erotic opus "Nymphomaniac" arrives in select theaters today, but you may have already seen the hotly debated, artsy sex epic on VOD from Magnolia Pictures, reportedly doing "very well" with their platform release strategy. (Transparency please!) Enjoy a second helping of this latest collaboration between von Trier and his favorite damsel-in-distress, Charlotte Gainsbourg, with "Volume II" on VOD as well. Its theatrical rollout begins April 4.

We're crazy about E.L. Katz's viscera-splattered gorefest "Cheap Thrills," which is about as nihilistic as genre cinema gets. The midnight movie starring Pat Healy ("Compliance") struck a chord with audiences at SXSW 2013, where it won an Audience Award. Also hot off last year's festival circuit comes micro-budget teen romance "It Felt Like Love," a delicately subtle debut feature from writer/director Eliza Hittman. For those who seek a more muscular outing, mafia pic "Rob the Mob," starring "Boardwalk Empire" heartthrob Michael Pitt, hits select cities fresh off its Miami Film Festival premiere.

"The Missing Picture."
"The Missing Picture."

Meanwhile, two docs off the fest circuit arrive in NY and LA this weekend: Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh's Foreign Language Oscar nominee "The Missing Picture," a tour de force of stop-motion animation and verite truth-telling, and "Jodorowsky's Dune," about the titular Chilean director's thwarted Frank Herbert adaptation (ultimately mishandled by David Lynch in 1984).

Nymphomaniac: Volume I Dir. Lars von Trier, Denmark | Magnolia Pictures | Cast: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Stacy Martin, Uma Thurman | 76% Fresh | Variety: "A ferociously entertaining experience in which one finds von Trier at the peak of his craft, linking together ideas about female sexuality, fly-fishing and artistic creation with equal amounts of playfulness and intellectual rigor." | Our Volume I reviewreview of Volume II, now on VOD

Cheap Thrills Dir. E.L. Katz, USA | Drafthouse Films | Cast: Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, David Koechner, Sara Paxton | 96% Fresh | The Dissolve: "A darkly hilarious game of frat-guy oneupmanship. It's about the things bros are capable of." | Our TOH! review and director interview

The Missing Picture Dir. Rithy Panh, Cambodia | Strand Releasing | 98% Fresh | "As an examination of memory and experience and how they shape us, 'The Missing Picture' is meaningful beyond its specific subject matter." | Our interview with Panh

It Felt Like Love Dir. Eliza Hittman, USA | Varience Films | Cast: Gina Piersanti, Giovanna Salimeni, Ronen Rubinstein, Jesse Cordasco | 86% Fresh | NYT: "A mood poem to summer loving and sexual awakening, 'It Felt Like Love' powerfully evokes a time when flesh is paramount, and peer behavior is the standard by which we judge our own." | Our review and Sundance roundup

Jodorowsky's Dune Dir. Frank Pavich, USA | Sony Pictures Classics | Cast: Alejandro Jodorowsky, H.R. Giger, Drew McWeeny, Nicolas Winding Refn | 95% Fresh | TIME: "The message to take from 'Jodorowsky's Dune': movies once had brains and balls, and lost them."

Rob the Mob Dir. Raymond De Felitta, USA | Millennium Entertainment | Cast: Michael Pitt, Andry Garcia, Ray Romano, Michael Rispoli, Griffin Dunne, Nina Arianda | 81% Fresh | THR: "Raymond De Felitta's terrifically entertaining film benefits from a smart screenplay and superb performances." | Our review

Divergent Dir. Neil Burger, USA | Lionsgate/Summit | Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Kate Winslet, Zoe Kravitz | 36% Fresh | Boston Globe: "'Divergent' is almost good enough to make you forget what a cynical exercise it is on every possible level." | Our review

This article is related to: Reviews, Weekend Preview, Divergent, Nymphomaniac, Shailene Woodley, Lars von Trier, Lars von Trier, Rob The Mob, Alejandro Jodorowsky, The Missing Picture , Cheap Thrills

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.