I want to applaud Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing for all the things it does right, and I will. But Whedon's side project -- between his various TV and Marvel-related entertainments -- gets one thing unfortunately wrong: It's never very funny.
Shown at Sundance under the title Toy's House, Jordan Vogt-Roberts' The Kings of Summer is a coming-of-age tale that touches a lot of bases and explores a variety of tones in ways that most films are too timid to do.
I often note how difficult it is to create a comedy that's not only smart and funny but also charming and surprising. But first-time director Craig Zisk, a TV veteran, has done that with The English Teacher.
Never a filmmaker for whom story seemed particularly important, Baumbach collaborated here with his star, Greta Gerwig, for what feels like an amorphous and fragmentary story of a delusional young woman who doesn't seem to want to grow up.
Adapted and extrapolated from Henry James' novel of the same name, What Maisie Knew is a film that puts the audience right in the title character's world -- and forces it to experience it the way she does.
Though a bit literal for a film that traffics in magical realism, Deepa Mehta's Midnight's Children is both dreamy and dramatic, a fascinating view of Indian history seen through the prism of a personal -- and occasionally twinned -- story.
Initially seeming like a comedy about the vicarious voyeurism of a literature teacher at a Paris high school, it casually transforms itself into something else: a psychological thriller of sorts, in which what is real is never quite clear and never particularly important.
In telling Robinson's story, Helgeland doesn't dwell on the endless barrage of racist bile that Robinson (and his wife) endured, but he doesn't shy from it either. As a result, Robinson's achievement takes on more meaning and more power.
If Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life was too much the dialogue-driven, story-heavy film for your liking, you'll probably be more in the mood for his latest, To the Wonder, which features Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams and Olga Kurylenko in its cast.
This is a film that challenges the audience to plug into the story and stick with it. But if you do, it pays off with a portrait of a manipulative, dark character, one who continually surprises the viewer with his choices.