Indie Stream: 'How I Live Now' is the Latest From the Man Who Brought You 'Last King of Scotland'

Also available, Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff play brothers dealing with tragedy in "The Motel Life."

How I Live Now has a great deal going for it -- it is director Kevin Macdonald's follow-up to his acclaimed The Last King of Scotland, it has another startling performance from the up-and-coming Saoirse Ronan, and it's based on Meg Rosoff's book, which has gotten favorable comparisons to The Hunger Games trilogy. Yet the reviews are mixed, with the critical dividing line centering on how well Macdonald is able to unify the story's teenage angst and sense of romantic longing with his dystopian vision of World War III.

How I Live Now: Toronto Review

Some reviewers find the film's third act gripping, while there are definitely those who agree with The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy, who felt it fell apart:

"From this low-key and moderately promising set-up, How I Live Now descends into by-the-book romantic longing as well as inane survival melodrama flecked by some arresting doomsdayish imagery."

One thing continues to be constant though: Ronan manages to captivate her audience with each new film she puts out. McCarthy writes:

"As she pushes through adolescence toward 20, Ronan, despite her gothy get-up, is acquiring an increasingly chameleonesque beauty; she resembles Lindsay Lohan one moment, a young Elizabeth Taylor the next. This is far from her finest hour, but she continues to impress."

The Motel Life: Rome Review

Also premiering online this week is The Motel Life, which will simultaneously hit theaters in 16 cities tonight. Made by real life brothers, Alan and Gabe Polsky, Motel tells the story of what happens to two brothers, played by Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff, when Dorff's character runs over and kills a biker one night in Reno.

Deborah Young, writing for THR, called the film "an evanescent piece of Americana" and says the adults-only film "gives a human side to the underdog world of bars and strip clubs, gun shops and car lots in the tale of two brothers bound in misfortune."

Indie Stream: Catch The Last Days on Mars before it hits theaters

LAST WEEK saw the online, pretheatrical release of Ruairi Robinson's The Last Days on Mars. Not surprisingly, Mars finishes the week at number 5 on iTunes indie film chart, falling behind the star-studded Parkland, the summer hit The Way Way Back, and 99 cent discount rental Free Samples.