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"Movie 43" (Comedy, R, 97 minutes, not reviewed). An all -star cast stars in a series of interconnected short films follows three kids as they search the depths of the Internet to find the most banned movie in the world.
"Race 2" (Thriller, R, 150 minutes, not reviewed). In this Bollywood film, Ranvir treads through the world of the Indian mafia in Turkey as he looks to avenge the death of his lover and partner in crime, Sonia.
«««« "Flight" (Drama, R, 138 minutes). After opening with one of the most terrifying flying scenes I've witnessed, in which an airplane is saved by being flown upside-down, Robert Zemeckis' "Flight" segues into a brave and tortured performance by Denzel Washington -- one of his very best. Not often does a movie character make such a harrowing personal journey that keeps us in deep sympathy all of the way. Washington plays a veteran commercial pilot who has built up a tolerance for quantities of alcohol and cocaine that would be lethal for most people.
«««« "The Impossible" (Drama, PG-13, 114 minutes). The tsunami that devastated the Pacific Basin in the winter of 2004 remains one of the worst natural disasters in history. We were in Europe when it struck, and we sat mesmerized, watching the news on TV -- again and again, that towering wall of water looming from the sea, tossing trucks, buses and its helpless victims aside. Surely this was a blow from hell. In this terrifying triumph of special effects, Juan Antonio Bayona's film becomes a powerful story of a family's cohesive strength. With Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland. One of the best films of 2012.
«««« "Life of Pi" (Fantasy, PG, 125 minutes). A miraculous achievement of storytelling and a landmark of visual mastery. Inspired by a worldwide best-seller that seemed unfilmable, it is a triumph over its difficulties. It is also a moving spiritual achievement, a movie whose title could have been shortened to "Life." The story involves the 227 days that its teenage hero (Suraj Sharma) spends drifting across the Pacific in the same lifeboat as a Bengal tiger. The movie quietly combines various religious traditions to enfold its story in the wonder of life. How remarkable that these two mammals, and the fish beneath them and birds above them, are all here. One of the year's best.
«««« "Lincoln" (Drama, PG-13, 149 minutes). Steven Spielberg's new film focuses on only a few months of Lincoln's life, including the passage of the 13th Amendment ending slavery, the surrender of the Confederacy and his assassination. Rarely has a film attended more carefully to the details of politics. Daniel Day-Lewis creates a Lincoln who is calmly self-confident, patient and willing to play politics in a realistic way. Not about an icon of history, but about a president who was scorned by some of his opponents as a hayseed from the backwoods. He understood them better than they did him. Sure to win many Academy Award nominations.
«««« "Skyfall" (Action, PG-13, 143 minutes). "Skyfall" triumphantly reinvents 007 in one of the best Bonds ever made. This is a full-blooded, joyous, intelligent celebration of a beloved cultural icon, with Daniel Craig taking full possession of a role he earlier played unconvincingly. The film at last provides a role worthy of Judi Dench, returning as M, who is one of the best actors of her generation. She is all but the co-star, with a lot of screen time, poignant dialogue, and a character who is far more complex and sympathetic than we expect. In this 50th year of the James Bond series, with the dismal "Quantum of Solace" (2008) still in our minds, I don't know what I expected in Bond No. 23, but certainly not an experience this invigorating. If you haven't seen a 007 for years, this is the time to jump back in.
«««½ "Silver Linings Playbook" (Comedy drama, R, 122 minutes). Pat (Bradley Cooper) is confident and upbeat for a man just released from a mental hospital and under a restraining order from his wife. He's determined to surprise everyone by moving ever onward and upward. What stage of bipolar disorder would you guess he's in? His parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) are well-meaning but dubious. A prickly neighborhood widow (Jennifer Lawrence) wants to sleep with him and is offended that he's interested only because she's in touch with his ex-wife. This all somehow comes down to intersecting bets about a football game and a ballroom dance contest. Written and directed by David O. Russell.
««« "Broken City" (Crime drama, R, 109 minutes). From a lurid and predictable plot, "Broken City" is the sworn enemy of subtle. It's a big, juicy, sometimes clunky, political crime thriller that plays like a 21st-century B-movie. It's also pretty trashy and sometimes stupid. But there's never a moment when you won't be entertained on one level or another. Thanks to a great cast -- Oscar winners Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg and terrific supporting players Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler, Jeffrey Wright and Griffin Dunne -- you'll have a good time even when the script is breaking bad. (Richard Roeper)
««« "The Last Stand" (Action, R, 107 minutes). To call "The Last Stand" gratuitously violent is to pay the movie a compliment. It's sort of the whole point. In his first starring role since "Terminator 3" in 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger gets the job done as a sleepy border-town sheriff in hot pursuit of a notorious drug lord. Packed with high-speed chases and ear-shattering explosions, "The Last Stand" delivers a half-dozen quality kills that will leave audiences squirming and then laughing at the sheer audacity of it all. This is what Arnold does best: big-gun violence and one-liner laughs. He's still got it. (Richard Roeper)
««« "Mama" (Horror, PG-13, 100 minutes). To the credit of director Andy Muschietti, his co-writing team and a first-rate cast, "Mama" succeeds in scaring the wits out of us and leaving some lingering, deeply creepy images, despite indulging in many horror-film cliches. Movies like "Mama" are thrill rides. We go to be scared and then laugh, scared and then laugh, scared and then shocked. And of course, there's almost always a little plot left over for a sequel. It's a ride horror fans would take again. (Richard Roeper)
««« "Les Miserables" (Musical, PG-13, 158 minutes). "The King's Speech's" Tom Hooper martials a big cast and big digital effects to bring the big Broadway musical based on Victor Hugo's big book to the big screen. It's rousing, it's roiling, it's revolutionary (as in post-French Revolution), with Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway leading a pack of mighty-tonsiled stars. (Steven Rea)
««« "Parental Guidance" (Comedy, PG, 104 minutes). Billy Crystal and Bette Midler anchor this engaging comedy that bridges multiple generation gaps. Made with more heart than art by director Andy Fickman, the film also features Marisa Tomei. (Carrie Rickey)
««« "Rise of the Guardians" (Animated adventure, PG, 97 minutes). Hyperactive 3D animated fantasy regarding the plight of Jack Frost, who nobody seems able to see. Called upon in a crisis to help the Guardians (Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.), he saves the day. Younger children like the breakneck action, magical ability to fly, and the young hero who has tired of being overlooked. Their parents and older siblings may find the 97-minute running time quite long enough.
««« "Sinister" (Thriller, R, 109 minutes). A story made of darkness, mysterious loud bangs in the attic, distant moans from the dead, vulnerable children, an egomaniacal crime writer and his long-suffering wife, who is plenty fed up -- even before she discovers he has moved his family into the same house where horrifying murders took place. Ethan Hawke stars as the best-selling true crime writer, Juliet Rylance is his increasingly alarmed wife and their children experience night terrors and sleepwalking. Few films have ever been bathed in so much darkness.
««« "Taken 2" (Action, PG-13, 91 minutes). They say that the family that's kidnapped together, stays together, and Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen are back in a pumped-up sequel to "Taken" (2008). This time the whole family is kidnapped by the vengeance-minded Krasniqi (Rade Sherbedgia), whose son was killed by Neeson in the earlier film (after the son attempted to turn the girl into a sex slave, to be sure). First-rate chases tear through (and up) Istanbul, and Neeson does some amazing, lifesaving mental calculations.
««« "Wreck-It Ralph" (Animated comedy, PG, 101 minutes). The new Disney animated feature for families takes place inside several arcade-style video games, providing an excuse for the backgrounds, ground rules and characters to constantly reinvent themselves. Its hero is one of those clumsy, misunderstood big guys who dream only of being loved. Ralph (voice by John C. Reilly) spends every day knocking down an apartment building, which is constantly repaired by Fix-It Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer). Lively, endlessly colorful nonstop action, also with Jane Lynch and Sarah Silverman.
««« "Zero Dark Thirty" (Thriller, R, 157 minutes). Two hours of watching a loner female CIA strategist who knows she is right -- and the payoff that she is. Jessica Chastain stars as Maya, who was right all along, providing the film with a timely heroine. Lots of murky action in the big capture and death, but lacking the split-second timing and relentless action of director Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker." These characters are less compelling, and the outcome less meaningful.
««½ "Django Unchained" (Action, R, 165 minutes). Quentin Tarantino homages "Mandingo," spaghetti westerns, blaxploitation, Sam Peckinpah and the Three Stooges, in this all-over-the-place antebellum western. Jamie Foxx gets the title role, a slave promised freedom if he helps a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) track down some mugs. With Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson and Leonard DiCaprio as a plantation owner, twirling his mustache with sinister glee. (Steven Rea)
««½ "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2" (Fantasy, PG-13, 115 minutes). Fifth and final installment of the "Twilight" series, beginning where the previous one ended, as Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) gives birth to little Renesmee, and is introduced by her husband, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), to her new life with vampire powers. In the process Bella has also been miraculously transformed into a much more interesting character, physically superb and emotionally uninhibited. The birth of the infant leads to a sensational climax involving the Washington state vampires and the Volturi of Italy, self-appointed rulers of vampiredom. I suspect "Twilght's" audience, which takes these films very seriously indeed, will drink deeply of its blood.
«« "The Hobbit: The Journey Begins" (Action adventure , PG-13, 186 minutes). Bloated and blustery, the first installment of the promised film trilogy based on Tolkien's slim fairy tale finds furry-footed Bilbo Baggins reluctantly trekking across Middle-earth in the company of thirteen grumpy dwarves and a worried wizard. Orcs and wargs, elves and goblins, Great Eagles and Great Spiders, furry little ponies and giants made of stone get in their way -- but not nearly as much as director Peter Jackson's obsession with new-fangled movie technology. The 3-D, 48 frames-per-second business makes the whole thing look like hi-def "Dr. Who." (Steven Rea)
«« "Pitch Perfect" (Musical, PG-13, 112 minutes). A 20-something song-and-dance movie built around rival a cappella groups. Anna Kendrick stars as Beca, who dreams of trying her luck in LA, but makes a deal with her dad to try one year of college. She's recruited by an a cappella group also including Brittany Snow, Anna Camp and the scene-stealer Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy. Lots of music, a little routine young romance and, of course, the national finals at the end.
"Gangster Squad" (Crime drama, R, 110 minutes). A secret crew of police officers led by two determined sergeants work together in Los Angles in 1949 in an effort to take down the ruthless mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) who runs the city.
"A Haunted House" (Comedy, R, 110 minutes, not reviewed). Malcolm and Keisha (Marlon Wayans and Essence Atkins) move into their dream home, but soon learn a demon also resides there. When Kisha becomes possessed, Malcolm - determined to keep his sex life on track - turns to a priest, a psychic, and a team of ghost-busters for help.
"Here Comes the Boom" (Comedy, PG, 105 minutes). Kevin James plays a high school biology teacher who tires to become a successful mixed-martial arts fighter in an effort to raise money to prevent extra-curricular activities from being axed at his cash-strapped school.
"Hotel Transylvania" (Animated comedy, PG, 91 minutes). Count Dracula runs a high end resort for monsters of all sorts and is not thrilled when a human boy takes an interest in his daughter.
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