The obvious must-see this weekend, as anyone knows who's been following the fall festival circuits and doesn't live under a rock, is Alfonso Cuaron's space survival epic "Gravity," starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.
But other strong titles are hitting theaters, too. Jia Zhangke's graphically violent "A Touch of Sin," which wowed at Cannes, is sitting with healthy reviews. It follows four different dramatic threads across modern-day China, supposedly based on real-life horrific events.
Nick Ryan's Sundance thriller doc "The Summit" uses actual footage, interviews and impressive reenactments to solve the mystery of K2's deadliest day, which left 11 climbers dead due to overcrowded slopes, ice avalanches and breakdowns in communication. As they did out of Park City, critics are praising the film.
The little indie that could this weekend is Matt Johnson's brilliant, hilarious and terrifying "The Dirties," which won awards out of both Slamdance and the recently wrapped Fantastic Fest. The film, which debuted only a month after the Newtown shootings, deals with school violence as seen through the lens of a couple of high school film nerds -- quoting Tarantino and Scorsese galore -- who plot revenge against the bullies who make their lives hell.
JFK assassination drama "Parkland" is falling with flat with critics, as it did on the fest circuit.
Gravity Dir. Alfonso Cuaron, USA | Warner Bros. | Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney | 98% Fresh | TIME: "Gravity isn’t as ambitious as “2001,” but then, what is? It is, however, absolutely a worthy successor, a masterpiece of hard science fiction, and the movie to beat at this point for next year’s cinematography and visual effects Oscars." | Our TOH! review
The Summit Dir. Nick Ryan, USA | Sundance Selects | 80% Fresh | The Dissolve: "Though Ryan and Monroe prove adept at the film’s most elemental factors, they don’t offer enough backstory or characterization." | Our TOH! review
A Touch of Sin Dir. Jia Zhangke, China | Koch Lorber Films | Cast: Jiang Wu, Li Vivien, Luo Lanshan | 79% Fresh | Village Voice: "In A Touch of Sin, Jia is attuned to, and saddened by, the
violence he sees creeping through his country, caused at least partly by the
ever-widening disparity between rich and poor. He ends on a note that's more
haunting than hopeful." | Our TOH! review
The Dirties Dir. Matthew Johnson, Canada | Phase 4 Films | Cast; Matthew Johnson, Owen Williams | 75% Fresh | Indiewire: "Matthew Johnson directs, co-writes and stars in this queasy yet dead-on depiction of two high-school film nerds (Johnson and Owen Williams), who slowly hatch a plan to exact brutal -- and videotaped -- revenge on their tormenters, a vicious group of popular jocks they call 'The Dirties.'"
Parkland Dir. Peter Landesman, USA | Open Road Films | Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Giamatti, Tom Welling, Zach Efron, Marcia Gay Harden | 55% Rotten | Time Out New York: "The tone never stops waffling, and nothing truly revelatory ever emerges about those terrible few days in Texas. What we’re left with is the Disney theme-park version of history — all waxworks and weepiness."