Lee Daniels’s follow-up to his Oscar-nominated Precious is based on a 1995 Florida-set novel by Pete Dexter (Deadwood). In Daniels’s hands, the tale of a backwoods murder and journalistic deceit has been transformed into a Tobacco Road-style potboiler. Zac Efron stars as a frequently shirtless, young, would-be writer, Matthew McConaughey as his older brother, a closeted gay journalist into rough trade with African-American men. Nicole Kidman steps out of her ice-queen zone to play a middle-aged hot tamale who’s obsessed with inmates, and John Cusack is a backwoods gator skinner on death row for gutting the local sheriff. Shot and edited in a way that resembles a late sixties exploitation film, The Paperboy is ludicrous and foolishly serious enough to be a potential camp classic.
Sept. 14, 6 p.m., Elgin; Sept. 15, 6 p.m., Ryerson.