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Weekend Preview: Critics Rate Boyle, Carruth, and Redford Thrillers 'Trance,' 'Upstream Color,' and 'The Company You Keep'

Thompson on Hollywood By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood April 4, 2013 at 3:25PM

Ready for intrigue at the movies this weekend? A batch of enigmatic and mysterious thrillers are hitting theaters, with varying critical results. Danny Boyle's "Trance," starring James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel, is getting praise for its hypnotically high-watt aesthetic, but critics point out this may be a case of style over substance.
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Vincent Cassel in 'Trance'
Vincent Cassel in 'Trance'

Ready for intrigue at the movies this weekend? A batch of enigmatic and mysterious thrillers are hitting theaters, with varying critical results. Danny Boyle's "Trance," starring James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel, is getting praise for its hypnotically high-watt aesthetic, but critics point out this may be a case of style over substance. 

Meanwhile, Shane Carruth's "Upstream Color" rates the highest review-wise, though critics understandably admit that they have no idea what's going on in the visually strong but deflatingly impenetrable tale of brain-eating worms, pigs and love in the midst of greater conspiracy. 

Shola Lynch's TIFF documentary on incarcerated radical Angela Davis, "Free Angela & All Political Prisoners," is scoring top marks, while Antonio Campos' "Simon Killer," the creepy, austere follow-up to his debut "Afterschool," is also lauded in reviews.

Sony's "Evil Dead" revamp, going for straight gore, is liked by critics, despite being unfavorably compared to Sam Raimi's original.

Lastly, Robert Redford directs and stars in "The Company You Keep," centered on a Weather Underground activist on the run, but a panoply of Oscar nominees in the sprawling cast can't keep the film from receiving middling grades.

Upstream Color Dir. Shane Carruth, USA | erbp | Cast: Shane Carruth, Amy Seimetz | 88% Fresh | Vulture: "I’ve seen Upstream Color twice and liked it enormously while never being certain of anything."

Free Angela & All Political Prisoners Dir. Shola Lynch, USA | Codeblack Entertainment | 83% Fresh | A.V. Club: "In spite of its attention-grabbing opening and provocative title, Free Angela And All Political Prisoners is less a work of agitprop than straightforward history, intriguing but never unsettling."

Simon Killer Dir. Antonio Campos, USA | IFC Films | Cast: Brady Corbet, Constance Rousseau, Lila Salet, Solo, Mati Diop, Michael Abiteboul | 77% Fresh | Indiewire: "With a dense, often impermeable style and a mentally unstable protagonist, Simon Killer is like watching the disturbed anti-hero of 'Afterschool' all grown up." | Our TOH! review.

Evil Dead Dir. Fede Alvarez, USA | TriStar Pictures | Cast: Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore, Jane Levy | 76% Fresh | Village Voice: "The plotting as a whole feels fresh, as does the emphasis on women strong enough to defend themselves."

Trance Dir. Danny Boyle, UK | Fox Searchlight Pictures | Cast: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel | 69% Fresh | The Hollywood Reporter: "Danny Boyle has great and plainly evident fun adding twists and curves and tunnels and endless style to his modern London noir Trance, but he makes so many left turns that the film turns in on itself rather than going anywhere." | Our TOH! interview with Danny Boyle | Our TOH! interview with Vincent Cassel 

The Company You Keep Dir. Robert Redford, USA | Sony Pictures Classics | Cast: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, Anna Kendrick, Stanley Tucci, Terrence Howard, Brit Marling, Chris Cooper, Nick Nolte | 63% Fresh | Time Out New York: "Redford’s devotion to old-school liberalism and ’70s socially informed dramas has been a directorial-career constant, and at its best, The Company You Keep feels like a movie you’d have seen in 1975 — one informed by political righteousness and made for adults." | Immersed in Movies talks to cinematographer Adriano Goldman.

This article is related to: Reviews, Weekend Preview, The Company You Keep, Free Angela & All Political Prisoners, Trance, Upstream Color


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