Better Living Through Chemistry (NR)
The first film by Geoff Moore and David Posamentier enlists a strong cast in the sad tale of Doug Varney (Sam Rockwell). He's a good neighborhood pharmacist whose suburban angst — brought about by his wife's discovery that she loves and excels at cycling, which is apparently grounds for separation — leads him to a steamy, potentially murderous affair with a wealthy patient (Olivia Wilde). Varney tries to escape his home life even further by skimming his own pills and playing makeshift chemist for his and his paramour's increasingly drug-fueled bedroom sessions. The tension heightens when a DEA agent starts sniffing around. It's not a bad setup, but Chemistry's momentum is thwarted by an inexplicable voiceover throughout by Jane Fonda, who appears in an equally inexplicable cameo, and barely-there motivations all around. This story gets high on its own supply, and it shows. — Justin Strout
MVD Entertainment Group
After the release of 1974's '50s-era gang drama The Lords of Flatbush, starring both a young Sylvester Stallone and Henry Winkler, director Stephen Verona was expected to be the next big thing. But with only a few other features under his belt, he just disappeared in the mid-'80s. It's a real shame, because as his recently rediscovered 1979 drama Boardwalk proves, he was a truly gifted storyteller who had an eye for gritty, New York realism. Lee Strasberg and Ruth Gordon give criminally under-appreciated performances as an elderly couple who watch their beloved Coney Island neighborhood become a cesspool of violent crime. They try to avoid trouble, but when gangs commit an act of terror that can't be ignored, they take a stand, with shocking results. It might sound like a typical Death Wish thriller, but with the gravitas behind and in front of the camera, it rises so far above those shallow ideals. — Louis Fowler
My Fair Lidy (NR)
Redneck macho-man Lidy (Christopher Backus) has fallen on some hard times and doesn't know what to do with himself. He meets a drag queen named Miss Sal who takes him in and offers him the chance to start a new career as a Marlene Dietrich impersonator. Hesitant at first, Lidy eventually lets his love of the character and the costume take over, and he becomes a sensation. His own masculine and oftentimes homophobic views are shattered by the world he's joined, but as for those around him — from his old life — they aren't doing such a great job of accepting him. My Fair Lidy is a great little indie gem that doesn't fall into the rut of so many other message movies by hammering home an idea to the point of annoyance. Instead, it relies on sweetly delivered comedic set pieces that allow the anti-bullying motif to slowly sink in. — Louis Fowler
So proud of you Catherine!!! I knew you could do it!!!
I read an early draft of Ghostland in 2014 that was written by Jon Orr…