BULLY PG-13 Brutal rights of passage? You don’t need to travel to the hills of New Guinea to find children savaged on their way to adulthood, when it happens in the halls of most American schools. Lee Hirsch’s Bully has become a rallying point in the clamor over bullying, which includes verbal taunts, punches and cruel jabs on the Internet. Somehow, Hirsch captured evidence of schoolyard vileness on his often-out-of-focus Canon 5D Mark II (an inconspicuous digital camera) as well as the ineffectual response of school administrators, even well-meaning ones whose naiveté on human nature garners no better results than the old “boys will be boys” dictum. Two of the victims profiled in Bully resorted to suicide as an escape. The documentary’s good news is that many parents are organizing to pressure schools to finally address an age-old problem that has only grown nastier. (David Luhrssen)
THE GOOD HERBS NOT RATED In essence, The Good Herbs is a story of heritage and love. Mexican director Maria Novaro tells the tale in poetically connected fragments where the dead appear to the living and memory seems inseparable from the present. At the heart of the story is Lala, an ethnobiologist steeped in the lore of Mexico’s native plants but sinking into fearful Alzheimer’s, and her daughter, single mom Dahlia, a bohemian who must gradually come to terms with Lala’s illness—and the legacy of her vast knowledge. The Good Herbs is acutely aware of nature, with its fluorescence that is more than simply a backdrop. (D.L.)
4:30 p.m. April 15 at UWM Union Theatre as part of the Latin American Film Series.
LOCKOUT PG-13 Lockout’s futuristic plot essentially remakes Escape From New York and proves to be a terrific star vehicle for Guy Pearce. The actor plays Snow, a government agent known as a loose cannon and framed for a national security crime he didn’t commit. Snow is offered a chance to avoid lifelong imprisonment if he rescues the president’s daughter Emilie (Maggie Grace), who was taken hostage during a riot on board an Earth-orbiting prison known as MS-1. Snow, a wisecracking cynic, allows Pearce to stretch his acting repertoire. Once Snow locates Emilie, the race is on to sneak her past the inmates and onto a life-pod to escape before the prison is blown up. Complications are everywhere, though few prove more daunting than Emilie herself, who is a stubborn do-gooder making Snow’s job even more difficult. (Lisa Miller)
THE RAID: REDEMPTION R Sparse, English subtitles rarely interfere with this film’s nonstop action, which features handto-hand combat with machetes, swords and various martial arts styles. When 20 cops raid a 15-story apartment fortress housing Indonesia’s most notorious crime lord, they find assorted criminals itching to stop them in bloody, surreal confrontations. Our hero is Rama (Iko Uwais), a rookie cop determined to fulfill his duties while simultaneously protecting his criminal brother, who is holed up somewhere in the building. There’s little plot to fill out the story, but the adrenaline-soaked fight scenes go where Hollywood dares not tread. (L.M.)