"The Internship," "The Purge" and "Frances Ha" are just half of the movies opening today. A look at the others:
'What Maisie Knew'
3 stars = Good
In Hollywood, especially, it seems a baby bump is the new black. The must-have accessory. But what happens to children from unions, famous or not, when their parents wage war?
"What Maisie Knew," inspired by the 1897 Henry James novel, transports the story to modern-day New York where 6-year-old Maisie (Onata Aprile) is often the mature one and her parents the childish, churlish ones. She is a weapon wielded in the split between rock star Susanna (Julianne Moore) and contemporary art dealer Beale (Steve Coogan).
Finding the apartment locks changed, Beale rings the bell and pounds on the door -- waking the little girl -- as Susanna screams, "Stop making that [expletive] noise. They hate me in this building." He orders her to open up, she refuses and he calls her a "head case" in just one of their incendiary exchanges.
Maisie's allies are drawn to the front battle lines when Beale marries his daughter's pretty young nanny (Joanna Vanderham) and Susanna counters with a handsome, youthful bartender (Alexander Skarsgard). The new companions, with natural parenting instincts, are also used and abused by their self-absorbed spouses.
"What Maisie Knew" is like watching hidden footage for Dr. Phil, where he will bring all of the parties together to make them fess up to their awful behavior. But there is no TV therapist, just the moviegoers, an exaggerated story people may relate to and an eclectic electric cast.
Best of all is Onata, who had appeared in a Web show, some indie movies and a "Law & Order" episode. She is natural, sympathetic, perceptive and yet childlike although learning to assert herself as she's tossed back and forth like an inanimate object.
Opens today at the Manor Theater in Squirrel Hill. Rated R for some language.
'Love Is All You Need'
3 stars = Good
This foreign-flavored rom-com opens with a woman in her doctor's office talking about how her husband doesn't care that she had a cancerous breast removed. "Inner values matter more to him," Ida (Trine Dyrholm) insists, before catching her husband with his mistress.
Elsewhere in Denmark, widowed businessman Philip (Pierce Brosnan) rejects the overture of an employee and her gift of tango shoes. "I'm a guy who's chosen to be by himself. Simple as that. ... I've danced all the tango I'm ever going to dance."
Turns out both are wrong in this rom-com -- leavened with more drama than your usual American froth -- from Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier (Oscar-winning "In a Better World").
Here, Ida and Philip have the opposite of a meet-cute with a car accident. He sputters in anger, she cries and they soon realize they're both headed to Sorrento, Italy, where her daughter is going to marry his son after a whirlwind courtship.
As in almost all wedding-themed movies, things don't go exactly as planned, thanks to lost luggage, meddlesome relatives, uninvited guests, embarrassing speeches, unexpected connections, angry accusations and second thoughts.
"Love Is All You Need," with Dean Martin and others crooning "That's Amore," maroons some characters in emotional distress but ultimately comes down on the sunny side of life. That's where lemons provide splashes of color and scent in a grove, where a yellow dress signals a change of heart and where cancer can yield to hope and rebirth.
Opens today at the Manor Theater in Squirrel Hill. In English and Danish with subtitles. Rated R for brief sexuality, nudity and some language.
'The Source Family'
2 1/2 stars = Average
It must have been quite a cult. How else could you explain 140 people content to live in a three-bedroom house with, yes, just three bathrooms?
That's only part of the crazy equation in this documentary about a man named Jim Baker who called himself Father Yod, opened a vegetarian restaurant on LA's Sunset Boulevard and attracted followers. They dressed in long white robes as if extras in a biblical epic, and Father Yod sported hair past his shoulders and a full white beard.
"The Source Family" provides testimony from onetime members as they reflect on those days. One recalls the birth of his son -- to a teen, after 22 hours of labor without medical attention -- lifeless and with the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby's neck. The leader blew into the newborn's mouth and he returned to life and said they should call the child Solomon.
Yes, there are lots of religious references here although you may conclude that Baker was a creepy and dangerous con artist with, eventually, 14 wives, a Rolls-Royce and musicians who cranked out 65 or more albums.
The documentary, by Jodi Wille and Maria Demopoulos, has remarkable source materials of still photos, film and music. Although it's not the fashion, it might have benefited from a narrator to put this "family" into sharper perspective with other California cults and from a smaller pool of interview subjects so they could expand more on their lives before and after and the transition in between.
But they certainly peel the lid off the time capsule to a period that seems far away, in every way possible.
Plays Friday through Sunday at the Hollywood Theater, Dormont. No MPAA rating but R in nature due to nudity, sexual situations and drug use.