Capsule reviews for Sept. 27

Inequality for All

The latest documentary about the hopeless state of the American economy is also a profile of Robert Reich, a college professor and former U.S. Secretary of Labor, who details his theory (through plentiful statistics) about how modern income disparity mirrors trends from the Great Depression, how the shrinking middle class has indirectly led to volatility in the housing and employment markets, and also to a greater need for campaign finance reform. The film makes no secret of its liberal political leanings and activist goals, which means it likely will only preach to the converted. But at least Reich is an engaging personality and his ideas are persuasive. (Rated PG, 86 minutes).

 

Muscle Shoals

There’s plenty of rich musical history in this straightforward documentary about the titular town in northwestern Alabama and its influence on musicians ranging from Aretha Franklin to the Rolling Stones, and various iconic songs such as “Land of 1,000 Dances” and “When a Man Loves a Woman.” The film mixes an impressive array of interviews with plentiful archival footage — not to mention some classic hits — while tracing some of the town’s unique geographic traits and its role in shaping music during the height of the civil rights movement. Technically the film mostly stays out of the way, letting the music and the artists do the talking. (Rated PG, 111 minutes).

 

We Are What We Are

Sadistic family secrets and religious zealotry lie at the heart of this low-key horror film about a cult-like family trying to cope with the death of its matriarch from mysterious causes. As the abusive father (Bill Sage) tries to maintain control over his three children, a local doctor (Michael Parks) and a neighbor (Kelly McGillis) each suspect something more sinister in the family’s history. This deliberately paced remake of the superior 2010 Mexican film of the same name has some stylish atmospheric touches, although it could use more of the twisted sense of humor it only flashes in spurts. The result is not for the squeamish. (Rated R, 105 minutes).

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