The Attack, Animals, The Mortal Instruments 


click to enlarge Animals

Animals (NR)

Artsploitation Films

Seth MacFarlane's theatrical hit Ted, about a man in a state of arrested development and his perverted talking teddy bear, was a repugnant, imbecilic excuse for more of the patented racist and homophobic jokes that he perfected on Family Guy. Watching it, I figured there was a good story there, but in no way could MacFarlane ever tell it. And then the Spanish film Animals falls into my lap, validating the hunch: Director Marçal Forés delivers everything that is rich and poignant while still being biting and absurd in a very moving coming-of-age story. Young Pol is a depressed teenager whose only friend is his talking teddy bear. But as Pol starts to discover his sexuality, and his struggles with it become unbearable (no pun intended), his world begins to collapse and he decides to throw the bear to the bottom of a lake. Animals perfectly captures teen angst with dignity and honesty, no racism or homophobia needed. — Louis Fowler

click to enlarge The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (PG-13)

Screen Gems

There's something admirably unaware, even stubborn, about director Harald Zwart's big-screen adaptation of author Cassandra Clare's young-adult fantasy series. Borrowing much more heavily from dense genre world-builders like Anne McCaffrey than "chosen girl" melodrama-peddlers like Stephenie Meyer, Instruments is a collage piece that just doesn't translate well to the screen, something apparent in the first act starring Lily Collins (who does seem to be getting better with every movie, despite her dreadful choices of material). But Zwart, last seen helming a fantastic reboot of The Karate Kid, doesn't waver from the misguided path, managing some bravura action sequences and squeezing in some elements of fantasy sure to scare away more conservative studio guns. Though the franchise clearly isn't working yet, judging from this tough 130-minute slog, I still say give it time. — Justin Strout

click to enlarge The Attack

The Attack (R)

Cohen Media Group

Imagine waking up one morning to find out that your loved one was a suicide bomber. This is the conundrum of deceit that Dr. Amin Jaafari (Ali Suliman) faces when his beloved wife is accused — rightfully — of this heinous act of murder. Living in Tel Aviv, Amin and his wife had what looked like the perfect life, so this realization leaves him completely in tatters. He's left to not only pick up the pieces of his life, but to explore every possible reason why his wife would do something like this — and why she would keep it from him for their entire relationship together. With its mixture of soul-searching and personal investigations, The Attack offers no easy answers — or, really, any answers at all — about the heart-wrenching struggle for control of the Middle East, and the even more destructive struggle for right and wrong, holy and profane, that rages on inside each of us. — Louis Fowler


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