Anna Karenina is a bold and ravishing adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic tale of doomed love from British director Joe Wright (Atonement). Much of the drama is recreated on the stage, in the wings and auditorium of a shabby theater. It sounds über-pretentious, but just about works. The carousel of rapidly assembled and disassembled sets is in tune with the themes of constructed reality and public perception, as well as providing a raison d’être for Wright’s ostentatious camerawork. If the emotional involvement isn’t always sustained, the performances — led by Keira Knightley as Anna, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass) as dashing Count Vronsky, and a low-key Jude Law as her cuckolded husband — are strong enough to keep things together.
Lee Daniels follows up the success of the grimmer-than-grim Precious with The Paperboy, a 1960s-set noir that has divided critics since its unveiling at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. Set in small-town Florida it features Matthew McConaughey and David Oyelowo as two journalists trying to clear the name of a death row prisoner (John Cusack) with the help of the former’s brother (Zac Efron) and Cusack’s prison pen pal, and would-be new wife, Nicole Kidman.
After Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and umpteen recent Snow White adaptations, Jack and the Beanstalk becomes the latest fairytale to get a movie revamp. Directed by Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects), Jack the Giant Slayer stars Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class) as a young farm boy trying to repel a horde of invading giants he’s accidentally let into Earth. Ewan McGregor, Ian McShane and Stanley Tucci also feature.
Writer-director-star Josh Radnor’s Liberal Arts is a college comedy about a 35-year-old college grad (Radnor) who heads back to his alma mater to give a retirement speech for his favorite professor and falls for sophomore student Elizabeth Olsen.
Another campus-set tale, Spring Breakers, the new one from director Harmine Korine tells the story of four college students — Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine — who with the help of gangster James Franco decide to rob a bank to pay for their spring break vacation.
From Argentinean auteur Carlos Sorín (Bombón: El perro), Días de pesca is the tale of a traveling salesman who takes up fishing to aid his recovery from alcoholism, traveling down to Patagonia for shark fishing season and to try to find his estranged daughter.