Beyond the Black Rainbow
Flashbacks might result from this bizarre science-fiction saga, resulting either from the old-fashioned visual approach of rookie director Panos Cosmatos or the controlled substances that might best provide enjoyment of the film. It takes place in 1983, essentially tracking a heavily sedated young woman (Eva Allan) trying to escape from some sort of futuristic commune being controlled by a would-be doctor (Michael Rogers). The movie deserves credit for its audacious, somewhat provocative vision — including a deliberate pace and persistent synthesized score — even if it doesn’t have enough narrative momentum to remain compelling at feature length. Either way, it’s pretentious and definitely not for all tastes. (Rated R, 110 minutes).
Good intentions are spoiled in this woefully predictable crowd-pleaser about a ragtag Native American high school lacrosse team that struggles to compete against its elite prep-school rivals. Enter a new coach (Brandon Routh), a former standout in the sport who manages to turn around the team’s fortunes. But he harbors a secret involving a greedy casino developer. The film is an adequate showcase for the fast-paced sport of lacrosse, something its aficionados will probably appreciate. The connection between the sport and tribal traditions is compelling as well, but eventually the film drowns amid a slew of underdog cliches, right down to the obligatory big-game finale. (Rated PG-13, 105 minutes).
Audience manipulation and narrative teasing drag down this atmospheric low-budget thriller about a café worker (Suziey Block) who seems to believe a stranger is stalking her, then becomes despondent after losing her beloved dog before realizing whether her nightmares are justified. The film keeps plenty of details hidden during the first half, focusing on the mundane everyday life of its protagonist while banking on a payoff that winds up disappointing. The effort by directors Dallas Hallam and Patrick Horvath is more admirable than the execution in this no-frills attempt to examine blue-collar fear and paranoia. However, their trickery renders the emotional impact minimal. (Not rated, 83 minutes).
This offbeat French crime drama from the actor-director known as Maiwenn follows a group of officers through the daily grind in the Parisian Child Protection Unit, focusing on incidents both comic and tragic, occasionally at the same time. The structure might remind American viewers of the television drama “The Wire,” except within the confines of a single film, it comes off as more episodic and unfocused. Still, the filmmaker garners solid performances from her ensemble cast, and infuses the material with a gritty, socially consicous authenticity. It perhaps doesn’t provide the level of insight to which it aspires, but its gritty ambition makes it hard to dismiss. (Not rated, 127 minutes).
Samuel L. Jackson offers a solid performance in this otherwise contrived noir thriller, playing a grifter who is paroled after more than two decades in prison. He wants to start a new life but finds himself drawn back into his old world through a series of double-crosses after meeting a troubled young woman (Ruth Negga) and a con man (Luke Kirby) with a connection to his past. What could have been an intriguing character study about redemption turns into an absurd series of eye-rolling plot twists that makes it impossible to take this mess seriously – something only Tom Wilkinson as the chief villain seems to understand. (Not rated, 89 minutes).