“Now You See Me”: Jessie Eisenberg is the leader of a group of illusionists called the Four Horseman that use their magic shows as a pretext to commit brazen and seemingly impossible robberies and Mark Ruffalo is the FBI agent assigned to take them down. As with any movie with this kind of subject matter, nothing is what it seems. Nothing is particularly interesting either. It becomes clear after the third expository monologue that director Louis Leterrier is attempting to make a version of “Ocean’s Eleven” style franchise with the audience bating cinematic trickery that entails but Leterrier is no Steven Soderbergh. He doesn’t have a light enough touch to make all the nesting doll plotting and flimsy characterization work. Instead of being a fun genre exercise, “Now You See Me” is just an overly convoluted mess that doesn’t earn its ludicrous ending. Also starring Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson and Dave Fracno.
Special features: An extended edit of the film, a digital copy of the film, two featurettes, commentary with Leterreir and producer Bobby Cohen.
“The Iceman”: Michael Shannon stars in this bio-pic about the life of mass murder Richard Kuklinski, a mafia hitman who has confessed to killing more than 250 people. In addition to being a prolific monster, Kuklinski was also a clever one, keeping his lethal activities hidden from his family for decades while also evading prosecution by freezing his victims before disposing of their bodies. While the uneven film mostly ignores Kuklinski’s psychosis for a more palatable examination of the killer/family man dichotomy, Shannon is brings his usual combination of vulnerability and menace to his role and there are few things as satisfying is watching a professional go about their work. Winona Ryder, Chris Evans and Ray Liotta.
Special features: Two featurettes.
“Stories We Tell”: Sarah Polley’s haunting and daring autobiographical documentary film delves into the tumultuous circumstances of her own conception and the effect it had on her immediate family. The film is even more assured and carefully observed than her first two features, asking compelling questions about the nature of identity and the intangible bonds of family. Polley is one of the most exciting North American filmmakers working and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
Special features: None.
“The Lords of Salem”: Rob Zombie’s wildly ambitious and frequently stunning ‘70s horror tribute wherein a radio DJ (Shari Moon Zombie) is drawn into the clutches of a satanic coven after listening to the music of the mysterious titular band. The film isn’t quite a success, having a first hour that drags on a bit too long and an underdeveloped subplot featuring an inquisitive Salem witch trial expert (Bruce Davidson) but once “Lords” reaches its dazzling final half hour, the unevenness falls away and the sheer audacity of Zombie’s vision becomes overwhelming. It’s easily the best horror I’ve seen this year. Also starring Jeff Daniels Phillips, Ken Foree and Meg Foster.
Special features: A digital copy of the film and commentary with Zombie.
“Sharknado”: I went to see “Snakes on the Plane” on opening day so I can honestly say that I have a great love for trash cinema but wouldn’t it cool it SyFy gave their one million dollar original movie budgets to someone like David Cronenberg or Vincenzo Natali to make whatever they wanted instead giving The Asylum just enough money to keep their shady mockbuster business afloat for another year or so. For all the media attention “Sharknado” received, it wasn’t a ratings success and I’d bet that won’t be a big hit on home video because it’s just to lazily –as opposed to poorly – made to garner a substantial cult audience. Why not gamble a relatively small amount of money on a talented visual filmmaker and get something interesting in return instead of wasting it on diminishing returns garbage? Starring Tara Reid, Ian Ziering and John Heard.
Special features: Making of, cast and crew commentary and a gag reel.
Mario McKellop has written about film on Examiner for the last three years and can be reached directly at email@example.com.