Writer-director Ramin Bahrani's "99 Homes" takes as its topic the 2008 home foreclosures. It begins boldly in the aftermath of a tragedy set in a middle-class Orlando home, an introduction that reveals the catastrophic stakes. Bahrani then particularizes the innumerable tragedies by focusing on Richard Carver who evicts one family after another, many played by non-actors who endured that fate.
Teeming with archetypes brought to vivid life, the film "Mud" particularizes a crisis in 14-year-old Ellis' progress toward maturity. Ellis sneaks away from his family's Arkansas houseboat to meet up with his pal Neckbone. Ellis wants to show him a boat stranded in a tree on a Mississippi River island where they also find the fugitive Mud hiding out.
Based on a true story, "The Iceman" plunges deep into the actions and reactions (or lack thereof) of psychopath Richard Kuklinski, a hitman and murderer for over three decades, killing well over 100 men. Co-writer/director Ariel Vromen wastes no time on unnecessary details of the crimes or reasons for most of the murders depicted.
Premium Rush takes the wild, intense world of New York bicycle messengers and makes it—dull. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Wilee, a fearless, fast rider. At Columbia University, he picks up a small envelope that must arrive in lower Manhattan in fewer than four hours—as the title telegraphs, what’s called a premium rush.
Beginning with the prospect of an eerie, menacing storm, Take Shelter finds Curtis LaForche in a quizzical state of apprehension facing the ominous clouds. His puzzled, uneasy wariness will increase as nightmares intrude into his sleep and hallucinations populate his waking hours. Is he exhibiting the early signs of paranoid schizophrenia, as his mother did in her mid-30s?