Canadian writer-director-actress Sarah Polley's brilliant documentary on her enigmatic family history, "Stories We Tell," leads the pack of a slew of top-reviewed limited releases this weekend. Ben Wheatley's "Sightseers," the follow-up to frightfest "Kill List," also hits theaters and VOD, along with Irish director Lenny Abrahamson's coming-of-age drama and fest favorite "What Richard Did," and Maiken Bird's fest-circuit sports biodoc "Venus and Serena."
In the tentpole arena, Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire, is floundering critically, impressing reviewers with its audacious visuals but failing to fill out an otherwise empty vessel of spectacle. But it just might open to $40 million or more, which means Luhrmann's spectacle is luring audiences--the question is whether they'll spread good or bad word after they sample it.
What Richard Did Dir. Lenny Abrahamson, Ireland | Tribeca Film | Cast: Jack Reynor, Roisin Murphy, Sam Keeley | 93% Fresh | New York Times: "This brilliantly acted movie, a loose adaptation of Kevin Power’s book 'Bad Day in Blackrock,' directed by Lenny Abrahamson from a screenplay by Malcolm Campbell, confronts the implications for both Richard and for the tightly knit community that reflexively protects one of its own."
Sightseers Dir. Ben Wheatley, UK | IFC Films | Cast: Alice Lowe, Eileen Davies, Jonathan Aris, Kenneth Hadley | 83% Fresh | Los Angeles Times: "It is the almost accidental way Tina and Chris go about going bad that provides Sightseers with its twisted humor and its unexpected charm." | Our TOH! interview with Ben Wheatley
Venus and Serena Dir. Maiken Bird, USA | Magnolia Pictures | 81% Fresh | Washington Post: "The documentary also reveals the sisters’ almost symbiotic
closeness. They live together most of the year, cook together, do karaoke
together and joke about how difficult it would be if one chose to get married." |Our TOH! Toronto coverage
The Great Gatsby Dir. Baz Luhrmann, USA | Warner Bros. | Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke | 46% Rotten | Wall Street Journal: "What's intractably wrong with the film is that there's no reality to heighten; it's a spectacle in search of a soul." | Our TOH! review | Our TOH! interview with designer Catherine Martin
Aftershock Dir. Nicolas Lopez, Chile/USA | Dimension Films | Cast: Eli Roth, Ariel Levy, Selena Gomez, Andrea Osv | 35% Rotten | A.V. Club: "Right up until the quake, Aftershock is a bland, sub-"Hangover" comedy about guys on the make in South America. Then finally, blessedly, the ground swallows up these shallow idiots." | Our TOH! review