Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
Indictingly titled "Ass Backwards" proves that no amount of comic talent can shine -- or raise a chuckle -- in the absence of even halfway decent material. This painfully unfunny vehicle for writer-stars June Diane Raphael and Casey Wilson is, depressingly, a comedy built on the amusement value of stupid people that is itself too stupid to be funny. Slick packaging and some cast names will make it viable for undiscriminating home-format buyers, but viewer beware.
-- Dennis Harvey
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Approved for Adoption
Distributor:
GKIDS
It's impossible not to be charmed on some level by Jung Henin and Laurent Boileau's "Approved for Adoption," though it's best not to ask for too much. An autobiographical tale based on Henin's graphic novel (the co-helmer usually goes just by "Jung"), the docu traces his path from Korean orphan to Belgian adoptee via a satisfying mix of animation and live-action. While his Belgian family's motivations largely remain unclear, this voyage of discovery will provide throat lumps galore. Rainbow World recently bought North American rights, and is planning a theatrical run.
-- Jay Weissberg
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Paris Countdown
Distributor:
Screen Media
Thousands of crime movies have made it clear: When things go bad, self-respecting criminals keep their mouths shut. Elegant yet empty, "Paris Countdown" illustrates the consequences of violating that rule when two French guys roped into a major Mexican drug deal give up their boss under extreme interrogation. (And who can blame them, when heavy beatings and a power drill are involved?) Six years later, their life becomes an imitation Nicolas Winding Refn thriller, all steaming streets and neon-lit atmosphere, as the two rats scurry around Paris to avoid a reckoning too unexceptional to draw many to a Nov. 8 Stateside release.

Peter Debruge
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The Stone Roses: Made of Stone
Distributor:
Syndctd Entertainment
Brit helmer Shane Meadows turns his hand to documaking for the first time (if you don't count mock doc "Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee") with "The Stone Roses: Made of Stone," a surprisingly conventional portrait of the titular Mancunian beat combo. Hugely admired rock stars back in the early 1990s, the now middle-aged and somewhat quarrelsome quartet is observed attempting a bumpy reformation and comeback in 2011-12. An ardent fanbase has made this a niche hit in Blighty with a near-$750,000 cume on fewer than 50 screens since its June 5 preem, but theatrical roads look rockier offshore.

-- Leslie Felperin
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