There’s a strong premise without much of a payoff in this gritty low-budget Irish psychological thriller, which centers on a vulnerable young man (Aneurin Barnard) who becomes paranoid and agoraphobic after witnessing a brutal attack on his pregnant wife in a rundown Dublin apartment building. When the mysterious thugs come after his baby, he must summon the courage to fight back. Barnard and rookie director Ciaran Foy each mark themselves names to watch, as their atmospheric film has some tense moments along with a nice gender-reversing twist on its victim. However, the concept eventually turns into predictably contrived genre fodder with muddled sociopolitical undercurrents. (Rated R, 84 minutes).
The title is somewhat deceiving, since this oddity is more an exercise in provocation more than anything else. It follows a Brooklyn slacker (Tim Heidecker) who stumbles into wealth after his father’s death, allowing him to play irreverent games with his slacker friends that include irritating and grossing out as many people around him as he can. As an examination of smugness and entitlement, it’s sort of like Jackass for intellectuals. Pushing the boundaries of taste isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the film is so busy daring its audience to hurl insults that it forgets to simply be funny. It’s certainly not for all tastes. (Rated R, 93 minutes).
This is what happens when the type of low-brow slapstick that Hollywood turns out by the barrel somehow falls through the cracks. It’s a thoroughly uninspired comedy starring Patton Oswalt as a Boy Scout leader who pressures the adopted preteen son of his brother (Johnny Knoxville) and his friends to join him for a weekend campout in the wildnerness, ostensibly as a way of honoring his late father. Naturally, the ill-conceived trip goes awry, with the kids trying to disguise the mayhem before their parents figure out their whereabouts. It’s a thin Bad News Bears rip-off that squanders its cast amid a collection of lackluster gags. (Rated R, 79 minutes).
A pair of powerful lead performances by big-screen newcomers boost this unassuming low-budget character study about two women forming an unlikely bond in the San Fernando Valley. Jane (Dree Hemingway), is an young aspiring actress who has a confrontation with an irascible neighborhood loner (Besedka Johnson) at a yard sale, before finding out a secret about her that leads to a reluctant, and at times uneasy, friendship. Credit the film for allowing its characters to develop naturally, rather than relying on forced melodrama or eccentricities. While there’s a manipulative central gimmick and moral dilemma, the film seems to have a genuine fondness for its characters. (Not rated, 103 minutes).
28 Hotel Rooms
This intimate two-character romance tracks an affair involving two nameless characters, an author (Chris Messina) and an accountant (Marin Ireland), who meet for a one-night stand during a business trip, and wind up getting together a total of — you guessed it — 28 times in various locations. Each encounter varies in length, with activities ranging from small talk to sex. The film marks the feature directorial debut of veteran character actor Matt Ross, who doesn’t give moviegoers sufficient reason to sympathize with these unscrupulous characters, whose significant others are never introduced. It’s an intriguing and well-acted, if gimmicky and repetitive, cinematic experiment that nevertheless feels emotionally detached. (Not rated, 82 minutes).