LD Entertainment

In Theaters: 05.17

What starts out as a brave comedy that isn’t afraid of offending anyone in the room quickly turns into a hackneyed horror film that follows a paint-by-numbers screenplay, which sadly offends everyone in the room … but for all of the wrong reasons. When three childhood friends (Katie Aselton, Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth), who’ve grown apart over the years, decide to spend a weekend together camping on a remote, wooded island, it would appear that their lives may have taken a turn for the better, but when an accident results in the death of a random acquaintance, the girls find themselves fighting for their lives far away from civilization.

With most horror films, the antagonist must instill fear into the audience, or the production is a failure. Aselton does achieve a distressing tone with seclusion and an inability to escape death, but her biggest blunder comes in the form of her killer, played by Jay Paulson, who only inspires laughs rather than terror with his unbelievably campy performance. To make matters more pretentious, Aselton attempts to justify a scenario in which her main stars must romp around the island in the nude in order to survive, but, in the end, it comes across as gratuitous nudity that hasn’t been encouraged since the last Friday the 13th film––at least they acknowledged their superficiality. –Jimmy Martin

Dirty Wars

IFC Films

In Theaters: 06.07

Director Richard Rowley shadows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill into the secretive world of covert military operations in the Middle East as the United States attempts to win the war on terror no matter the means or consequences. It is a documentary about “the seen and the unseen,” according to Scahill’s monotone and dreary narration. After examining an attack on a small village in Afghanistan involving an American-trained Afghani police officer and two pregnant women, Scahill unearths an incredibly dark side to the armed forces’ actions, which, in turn, spirals into an out-of-control tale of illegal killings of innocent civilians spanning outside the war zone and into countries where no documented wars have been declared.

Rowley and Scahill refuse to dilute the subject, and they shouldn’t, as they present images of the victims’ lifeless bodies sprawled across charred landscapes. These are certainly images that can’t be unseen or forgotten. With films like Zero Dark Thirty gaining critical acclaim as they concentrate on the more justified military actions, Rowley focuses on the darker side of combat as he chases a mysterious, elite group of soldiers known as the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) as they essentially take control of the entire war. With inside contacts revealing their horrifying encounters with the U.S. government’s past and current leaders, Rowley forces audiences to question whether, at times, they should be so proud to be an American. –Jimmy Martin

Last Shop Standing

Blue Hippo Media/Proper Music Distribution

Street: 04.23

Released to coincide with this year’s Record Store Day, this new documentary reflects the state of local record stores around the U.K. Despite the gloomy title, this film mostly takes a look at the history of record shops, both the good and bad times, and shines an optimistic light on the future for store owners. While it’s evident that there are far fewer independent record stores open today then there were in the ’70s and ’80s, the fact is that in 2013, the majority of store owners have seen an incredible boom in vinyl record sales over the last several years, and no longer have to worry day-to-day about closing up shop. It’s likely that digital music sales will always outnumber physical purchases, due to convenience, but with CDs becoming less and less attractive, vinyl is getting more popular.

With interviews from about a dozen shop owners, this film shows that it is not only the loyalty the public has to their local record stores, but also how the resurgence of vinyl records is largely due to teenagers who discover their parents’ old record collection and get hooked on it. Aside from the shop owners, musicians like Johnny Marr and Billy Bragg also offer their personal stories and insight about record stores. Although it’s very interesting and informative, the only downside of this doc is that it crams a shit-ton of interviews and names into about a 50-minute running time, which makes it a little bit hard to keep track of everyone you see in the film. But overall, this is a great film about record stores, and even though it’s told from a U.K. perspective, the same thing is taking place here in America. –Jory Carroll

Star Trek Into Darkness

Paramount Pictures

In Theaters: 05.15

The obsessed-with-secrecy director J.J. Abrams and his crew of the USS Enterprise return to the glossy sci-fi world of warp speed and phasers when Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) must learn the true meaning of leadership after a lone assassin (Benedict Cumberbatch) declares war on Starfleet. Along with his Science Officer/First Officer, Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) Kirk must chase this superhuman murderer into enemy territory, but what he discovers may unravel the foundation of his morality. For the sake of fun, I’ll try to remain as spoiler-free as possible. That said, in 2009, Abrams flipped the Star Trek universe on its head by remolding the established facts of the franchise.

It was a gutsy move, but it worked. This time around, former plot points and scenes are rehashed with little creativity. Rather than a reboot, it’s a remake in some instances. As in 2009, the imagery is stunning, the action is top-notch, the acting terrific and the comedic beats are timed precisely, but the loss of that edginess to follow one’s own path somewhat hinders the final product. When you know a director like Abrams is capable surviving off the beaten path, even when the hordes on fans are screaming for blood, it’s a letdown to see him apply the brakes for familiarity. –Jimmy Martin

Stories We Tell

Roadside Attractions

In Theaters: 05.17

In this unique and introspective documentary, Canadian actress/director Sarah Polley (Away From Her, Take This Waltz) compiles a narrative around the life of her mother, actress Diane Polley, who died when Sarah was 11 years old, and the mystery surrounding a specific time period, which leads to a surprising discovery. The film features lengthy, heartfelt interviews with all of her siblings and some of her mother’s friends and colleagues, along with home video footage and shots of her father, Michael, narrating his side of the story in a sound studio. Polley’s focus is incredibly intimate, which comes off a little masturbatory at times, but feels sincere, and her family is warm, open and amiable.

It could definitely use some additional cuts, though, as it comes in at nearly two hours. At the halfway point, it started to feel like I was looking through a friend’s entire collection of family video while their grandpa droned on and on—we’ve all been subjected to or been the subjectors of a “baby book” moment, and two hours is too much if there’s no blood and guts involved. However, I did leave the theater with a renewed desire to revisit my family history. Overall, it was a well-done documentary that was both interesting and inspiring, but probably not a film you’d want to spend too much time waiting in line for. –Esther Meroño