Capsule Movie Reviews (Mar. 19): 'Teenage' and four more
NOT RATED, 1 HR., 18 MINS.
Director Matt Wolf uses startling archival footage to capture the rise of pre-Elvis youth culture as the defining surge of the 20th century. He draws links between the flappers, the idle kids of the Depression, and even Hitler Youth to show us how teenagers first found a niche between alienation and ecstasy. B+ —Owen Gleiberman
R, 2 HRs., 8 MINS.
A 1974-set New York crime tHRiller that evokes the brilliantly ramshackle, down-and-dirty spirit of Sidney Lumet. Clive Owen is mesmerizing as a hard case who has just gotten out of prison (the violence comes off him like steam heat), and Billy Crudup is forceful as his cop brother. The plot ambles a bit, but director Guillaume Canet creates a panorama of broken lives trying to put themselves back together. (Also available on VOD) B+ —Owen Gleiberman
NOT RATED, 1 HR., 27 MINS.
What would you do for $2,000? What about $20,000? That’s the question a wealthy coke-fueled couple (Sara Paxton and David Koechner) put to two cash-strapped men (Pat Healy and Ethan Embry) in this shock-value thriller. As the dares escalate, so does the ick factor. So be warned: Cheap Thrills isn’t for the squeamish…or, for that matter, dog lovers. (Also available on VOD) B —Chris Nashawaty
NOT RATED, 1 HR., 37 MINS.
If a super-pretentious tree falls in the James Franco forest, does it make a sound? In a mess that will no doubt meet a merciful box office death, Franco plays a troubled 1960s soap star with a thing for sidewalk tantrums and the word betwixt. He’s a furrow-browed blank, and even game Catherine Keener and David Strathairn can’t save a narrative so tediously twee and disconnected that it feels less like a movie than a nightmare Wes Anderson would have after eating a really bad burrito. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) D —Leah Greenblatt
The Missing Picture
NOT RATED, 1 HR., 32 MINS.
Director Rithy Panh was 11 when Pol Pot seized power in Cambodia, and in this resonant doc he mixes rare footage of the Khmer Rouge with visions of life under the regime that he stages with carved clay figures. The film captures how Pol Pot took Mao’s Great Leap Forward to new levels of Marxist madness. At times, however, it’s like seeing the horrors of war acted out by LEGO Minifigures. B+ —Owen Gleiberman