Going to the movies should never, ever be stressful (unless, of course, you’re planning on seeing the latest Lars von Trier flick). You want to see something new and relevant so that you can talk it up with your know-it-all friends. But you don’t want to sit through the one film that everyone thought would be great but… isn’t. So here is our formula, simplifying the should-you-see-it conundrum:
5 new releases x 2 critical samplings = what you should go see.
Simple enough, right? This week we have a misunderstood musical legend, some vulgar neighborhood watchmen, a well-mannered hit man, a devoted disabled couple and an artist/activist who’ll never apologize.


Synopsis: Another documentary, in summer?? Yes! This Sundance Film Festival fave follows the musical stylings of Rodriguez, “the greatest ’70s rock icon who never was,” and his eventual emergence from obscurity in Apartheid South Africa.

Most typical critique: William Goss,

A documentary about fandom and freedom, information and misinformation, fleeting fame and everlasting art, it tackles all of these qualities with remarkable ease and — of course — a great soundtrack.

The quote not to miss: Anna Smith, Empire:

Music fans will love this indie documentary. Try to avoid Googling him before you watch, though.

Should you go see it?

Absolutely. As this one unfolds, things go from interesting to downright astounding — plus, music!


Synopsis: Ben Stiller brought in the whole crew (Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill, as well as Seth Rogen on screenwriting duty) for this genre mashup of buddy comedy, toilet jokes and sci-fi invading aliens.

Most typical critique: Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times:

It’s so determined to be crude, vulgar and offensive that after a while I grew weary. Abbott and Costello used to knock out funnier movies on this exact intellectual plane without using a single F, S, C, P or A word.

The quote not to miss: Randy Myers, The San Jose Mercury News:

Fortunately, everyone in the cast steps up to the plate and tags the bases convincingly.

Should you go see it?

Well… Judging from the trailer, this one seems to be shoving GALAXY QUEST together with 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN along with a bit of THE OTHER GUYS, but not improving on any one of them. Of course, those are all pretty good comedies, so it’s your call.


Synopsis: Emile Hirsch hires a Southern charmer of a hit man named Killer Joe, played by Matthew McConaughey, in William Friedkin’s film adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts’ stage play.

Most typical critique: Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter:

A likeably unpleasant slice of adults-only Texas noir, which aims at the funnybone as much as the jugular.

The quote not to miss: Rex Roberts, Film Journal International:

A paean to pulp fiction, this gruesome but thoroughly entertaining Geek tragedy features a son plotting to kill his mother and prostitute his sister, with his father a willing accomplice.

Should you go see it?

Sure thang. This blend of black comedy, frightening suspense and noir crime thriller seems just about pitch perfect.


Synopsis: A rousing documentary on what it means to lack normal sensory perception, SNAIL follows a blind and deaf Asian man and his devoted wife through their days as they communicate using finger braille and work together to complete household chores that become “tender shared experiences.”

Most typical critique: Melissa Anderson, Village Voice:

An unadorned, unsentimental portrait of a marriage, Yi Seung-jun’s documentary… celebrates the daily life of an exceptionally collaborative couple.

The quote not to miss: Nigel Andrews, Financial Times:

The senses of taste, smell and touch aggregate to create a new perceptual cosmos.

Should you go see it?

A must. Take a break from the loud, glaring sensory overload of the summer movie season to explore this entirely different, and in many ways opposite, world.


Synopsis: The third(!) summer documentary on our list, this one details the life and work of China’s most famous and radical upstart artist as he prepares for museum exhibitions, deals with family members and confronts the Chinese government on his views.

Most typical critique: Jennifer Merin,

Alison Klayman has a fascinating subject for her first feature — the media-savvy Chinese activist artist who lays his career, family and life on the line for civil rights.

The quote not to miss: Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly:

He radiates a mischievous sense of the absurdity — and necessity — of one man tossing stones at a regime this gigantic.

Should you go see it?

Another yes. This will be like going to the movies, attending a political rally and seeing an art exhibit all rolled into one!