New movies this week
The gist: Stephen Spielberg and J.J. Abrams dare to offer us a summer movie about a group of kids who are filming a zombie movie in 1979 when a derailed train unleashes some sort of plot twist-friendly force on a small town. Okay, it's Goonies + Alien, but hey, that sounds awesome. PG-13
The cast: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Amanda Michalka, Noah Emmerich, Gabriel Basso and Ron Eldard.
The buzz: Much better than expected, not as great as it could be. That's a summer movie for you. "It's not a perfect film — the ending couldn't possibly live up to the build-up, for instance — but it is just a tremendous amount of fun," the Arizona Republic says.
Midnight in Paris
The gist: A Woody Allen comedy about a writer transported back in time to the 1920s every night when the clock strikes 12. It's a cerebral comedy, which may make it a tough sell these days. PG-13
The cast: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates and Carla Bruni.
The buzz: Allen fans are liking it; the rest of you may, too. "Woody's in good form and Paris looks glorious in this droll time-traveling fantasy," the Hollywood Reporter says.
Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer
The gist: A basic-cable-quality movie based on a children's book series about a kid not in school anymore. They have to make these, folks, so don't blame the studios too much — although they do make it PG to force some parents to sit through them. PG
The cast: Jordana Beatty, Heather Graham, Preston Bailey, Parris Mosteller, Jaleel White and Jackson Odell.
The buzz: But surely they can make them better than this. "The lesson is that fun can't be planned, but the film is so airless (think iCarly as a videogame) that there isn't a truly playful moment in it," Entertainment Weekly opines.
The gist: An adaptation of Wajdi Mouawad's play about two siblings who find out after their mother is dead that their estranged father is actually alive, spurring a trip to an unnamed Middle Eastern country for some good, old-fashioned cultural awakening. R
The cast: Lubna Azabal, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxime Gaudette, Rémy Girard, Abdelghafour Elaaziz and Allen Altman.
The buzz: Sometimes it's hard to make a play work on the screen, but not this time. "A mystery, a melodrama, a prison film, and a love story, Incendies is foremost a scream of rage at a society destroyed by religion and by men," the Boston Globe lauds.
Forks Over Knives
The gist: A lecture on the benefits of a plant-based diet disguised as a documentary. PG
The cast: A bunch of people who don't eat meat or processed foods, including a couple local folks.
The buzz: Bland, but somewhat good for you, if you're willing to swallow it. "Forks Over Knives is a middling documentary but a magnificent indictment," Toronto's Globe and Mail reasons.
The Double Hour
The gist: A hotel maid is cleaning a room when someone commits suicide before she meets the male lead and things get really dark in a decent mystery by a rookie director. No MPAA rating
The cast: Ksenia Rappoport, Filippo Timi, Antonia Truppo, Gaetano Bruno, Fausto Russo Alesi and Michele Di Mauro.
The buzz: Pretty good for Giuseppe Capotondi's first movie. "A sly, triple twist of a film, this Italian intrigue is almost never what it seems, although everything ends up making perfect sense eventually," the Detroit News lauds.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org