If you live in a "limited release" city, then you've got a fine array of moviegoing options for the weekend. Zal Batmanglij's "The East," starring co-writer Brit Marling, Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgard, is a smart anti-establishment thriller gaining good reviews from critics. Same goes for Sundance comedy "The Kings of Summer," a small-town coming-of-age tale in the vein of "Stand by Me."
The critical winner of the weekend can currently only be seen at New York's Film Forum, though it expands to Los Angeles on June 7: Margarethe von Trotta's smart, formally elegant biopic "Hannah Arendt," which focuses on the philosopher's controversial coverage of the Adolf Eichmann trial, and entertainingly broaches material that isn't necessarily cinematic (i.e. writing, thinking and smoking).
Another micro-release getting positive critical attention is "La Camioneta," a SXSW documentary on Guatemala's courageous bus drivers.
Wide releases offer up Louis Leterrier's intermittently entertaining "Now You See Me," starring Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson and a slew of others in a slick magicians-vs-FBI caper thriller, which offers too many cops, too few robbers and is receiving mediocre reviews; and the less-than-mediocre reviewed M. Night Shyamalan apocalyptic sci-fi tentpole "After Earth," starring Jaden and Will Smith. Critics have some venom for Shyamalan, whose career is seriously on the rocks after "The Last Airbender," and nothing particularly praise-worthy for the Smith duo.
Hannah Arendt Dir. Margarethe von Trotta, Germany | Zeitgeist Films | Cast: Barbara Sukowa, Janet McTeer, Axel Milberg | 100% Fresh | The New York Times: "Hannah Arendt conveys the glamour, charisma and difficulty
of a certain kind of German thought.... The movie turns ideas into the best
kind of entertainment." | Our TOH! review
The Kings of Summer Dir. Jordan Vogt-Roberts, USA | CBS Films | Cast: Nick Offerman, Mary Mullally, Alison Brie, Eugene Cordero, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Robinson | 77% Fresh | Variety: "[The Kings of Summer] is much more interested in the laughs
that can be mined from character rather than plot. Galletta’s script,
Vogt-Roberts’ direction and the distinctive play of the actors, notably
Offerman and Mullally, lets the viewer know who everyone is right away, and the
gag lines flow." | Our TOH! review
The East Dir. Zal Batmanglij, USA | Fox Searchlight Pictures | Cast: Brit Marling, Ellen Page, Alexander Skarsgard, Patricia Clarkson | 74% Fresh | Entertainment Weekly: "The East is still a compelling portrait of what gets lost
(and found) when a cause becomes an obsession." | Our TOH! interview with Brit Marling
La Camioneta: The Journey of One American School Bus Dir. Mark Kendall, USA | 70 Metascore | The Playlist: "'La Camioneta' is at once an insightful documentary and a poignant allegory." | Our TOH! review
Now You See Me Dir. Louis Leterrier, USA | Summit Entertainment | Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Isla Fisher, Mark Ruffalo, Melanie Laurent, Woody Harrelson | 44% Rotten | Film.com: "The film itself is sly and smug in kind, fleetingly
enjoyable for all of its old-school showmanship and high-tech hokiness."
After Earth Dir. M. Night Shyamalan, USA | Sony | Cast: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Zoe Kravitz | 13% Rotten | Village Voice: "Jaden is fine at running, jumping, fearful trembling, and affecting steely resolution. He doesn't yet have his father's charisma; perhaps to help him out, dad opted not to bring that charisma to the set." | Our TOH! review roundup