Paranormal Activity (pictured) is finally coming to theaters after premiering two years ago at Screamfest. It's a simple horror concept: married couple believes their house is haunted; sets up camera to film the things that go bump in the night; pants-wetting ensues. Cinematical's Kim Voynar was terrified by it when she caught it at Slamdance 2008, and our Eugene Novikov was similarly enthralled at Telluride this year. At Rotten Tomatoes, all but one of the reviews are similarly positive. Hooray for low-budget indie thrillers! Now playing in Seattle, Boulder, Tucson, Baton Rouge, Columbus, Orlando, Ann Arbor, Madison, Wis., and Santa Cruz, Calif.
The Boys Are Back stars Clive Owen as a newly widowed father of two boys. It's directed by Scott Hicks, who made Shine and Hearts in Atlantis. Cinematical's Monika Bartyzel had praise for the film when it premiered at Toronto, saying it's occasionally great and often very sweet. At Rotten Tomatoes, 64% of the reviews are positive -- not a smash, but very solid. Playing in New York and L.A.
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is based on douchebag-and-proud-of-it Tucker Max's memoirs detailing his escapades as a carousing womanizer and general tool. Matt Czuchry plays Max in the film, which takes the form of a road-trip buddy comedy. Now playing in about 120 theaters nationwide. Only 22% of the reviews so far are positive, with most critics calling it juvenile, derivative, and unfunny.
Blind Date was directed and co-written by Stanley Tucci, who stars with Patricia Clarkson as a married couple trying to resuscitate their relationship after their daughter's death. Cinematical's Scott Weinberg reviewed it at Sundance way back in January 2008 and was lukewarm about it. The other critics agree; only 31% of the reviews are positive. Playing in New York.
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men is John Krasinski's attempt to turn David Foster Wallace's book of monologues into a coherent story. Considering how much everyone hated it when it premiered at Sundance this year, I'm a little surprised it's even being released.But according to Rotten Tomatoes, the reviews are almost evenly split between positive and negative (though one of the "positive" ones calls it "a noble failure"). Cinematical's Scott Weinberg said it "feels like 25 very brief stage plays jammed together -- maybe five of which are worth sitting through." Playing in New York.
The Providence Effect is a documentary about a man who turned an inner-city Chicago school into a successful college-prep academy that now has a 30-year 100% success rate at sending its African American students to college. Most of the reviews are positive, though many of them note that the film seems more like an inspiring infomercial for the school than a documentary. Playing in Chicago, New York, Newark, and Washington D.C.
The Other Man stars Liam Neeson, Antonio Banderas, and Laura Linney as the three corners in an adulterous love triangle. The reviews aren't pretty: only 21% approve, the rest calling it "dreary" and "contrived" and faulting the story for using cheap narrative tricks. Playing in several random places in Southern California, Edina, Minn., Dallas, Houston, and White Plains, N.Y.
Coco Before Chanel stars Audrey Tautou as the famed fashion icon in her early years, before she became a legend. Cinematical's Eugene Novikov, reviewing the film at Telluride, points out that before Coco Chanel became a legend, she wasn't particularly interesting. The reviews at Rotten Tomatoes are mixed, with 64% coming down in favor of it.