Critic’s Notebook: Spring movies offer surprises

April 12, 2014 • Entertainment

This image released by Roadside Attractions shows Nicolas Cage, left, and Jonny Mars in a scene from “Joe.” (AP Photo/Roadside Attractions, Linda Kallerus)

NEW YORK (AP) — Sandwiched between the chest-thumping ambition of awards season and the swaggering spectacle of summer, spring movie-going is usually an afterthought, a limbo for films not bankable enough for July or highbrow enough for the Oscars. But it might actually be the best time of year for the movies. In springtime — particularly this year — the movies come alive.

It’s not that the movies of March and April have been so tremendous. Many of them are flawed. But imperfection isn’t something that should be papered over with big-budget engineering or test-screened away into sleeker products.

Instead, these leftovers and oddities offer something that can be harder to find later in the year when so many films come pre-packaged, whether as awards bait or box-office juggernauts: a sense of surprise.

Who would have thought a movie based on a toy line (“The Lego Movie”) would prove to be both inventive and slyly subversive? Who would have predicted a documentary made by a novice filmmaker about palling around with his brother’s rock band (“Mistaken for Strangers”) would turn out a comic but tender portrait of brotherhood? And how often do we see filmmakers with the Login to read more

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