A DANGEROUS METHOD (R) Young psychiatrists Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud (Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen, respectively) are working together to create a theory for what will become modern psychoanalysis. A young patient (Keira Knightly) with a crippling mental disorder pulls Jung further from the influence of his mentor in this true, romantic thriller.
A FALL FROM FREEDOM (NR) Part of the seventh annual Animal Voices Festival sponsored by Speak Out for Species, A Fall from Freedom looks at the captive whale and dolphin entertainment industry. The screening will include a discussion led by Lori Marino, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology at Emory University, where she is a leading researcher on intelligence and self-awareness in cetaceans such as dolphins, porpoises and whales. The work of this Research Associate with The Smithsonian Institution was featured in The Cove.
ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED (G) Come on, Fox! If youâ€™re going to keep releasing new Chipmunks entries each holiday season, the least you can do is make a Christmas-themed movie featuring the furry trioâ€™s classic holiday tunes. Instead, Alvin, Simon, Theodore, the Chipettes and Dave (poor, paycheck-cashing Jason Lee) start out on a cruise ship and wind up on a deserted island. Judging by the boffo box office of the previous two features plus the young audienceâ€™s reaction to the new picâ€™s trailer, Chipwrecked should provide its studio with some holiday cheer.
ANTWONE FISHER (PG-13) 2002. Denzel Washingtonâ€™s directorial debut tells the true story of a young African American navy man, Antwone Quenton â€œFishâ€ Fisher (Derek Luke), who must see a service psychiatrist, Dr. Jerome Davenport (Washington), after a violent outburst with a fellow crewman. During the sessions, Fisher reveals a troubled past and begins a quest to find the family he never knew. The script was written by the real Antwone Fisher. Part of the African Diaspora Film Festival.
THE ARTIST (PG-13) Films today do not come as precious or charming as Michel Hazanaviciusâ€™ silent, Golden Globe winning Oscar frontrunner. A silent film that is all about talking, The Artist of title refers to matinee idol George Valentin (Academy Award nominee Jean Dujardin, who absolutely must be a silent film star Hazanivicius recently thawed from ice), who finds it difficult to transition from silent films to talkies, unlike rising star Peppy Miller (Academy Award nominee BÃ©rÃ©nice Bejo). But Miller has a crush on Valentin that predates her stardom and will do everything she can to help the despondent, one-time star. Like an unearthed gem, a long-lost silent relic, The Artist is at once wholly familiar yet completely foreign. Who knew a trifling eccentricity would wind up 2011â€™s most daring film?
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (G) 1991. Disney rereleases the first animated feature to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar using the fancy new 3D technology that is all the rage right now. Based on the classic fairy tale, Belle falls in love with Beast (voiced by Ice Castlesâ€™ heartthrob Robby Benson), who just so happens to be a cursed prince. The terrific voice cast includes Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers and Angela Lansbury. Winner of two Academy Awards (Best Score and Best Original Song).
â€¢ BIG MIRACLE (PG-13) Do you like whales?Â What about Drew Barrymore? Are sitcoms right up your alley? If you answered yes to any one of these queries, Big Miracle is for you! Based on a true story, this lighthearted family film recounts the time humanity combined to free a family of three gray whales from their Arctic ice prison. Cute actors like Barrymore, â€œThe Officeâ€â€™s John Krasinski and Kristen Bell keep Big Miracle appealing, as it goes through the inspirational paint-by-numbers plot. Successful TV director Ken Kwapis feels right at home, needlessly staging small screen theatrics on a big screen palette. Only one sceneâ€”the stunning shot of Drew Barrymoreâ€™s Greenpeace volunteer swimming with the whalesâ€”deserves a screen larger than a 40-inch flatscreen.Â I donâ€™t mean this as an insult, but why isnâ€™t Big Miracle a Hallmark production? No reason exists for this minor charmer to be a theatrical release.
â€¢ CHRONICLE (PG-13) An out of nowhere genre success, Chronicle should find easy entry into the cult classic pantheon. Three high schoolers (Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and â€œFriday Night Lightsâ€â€™ Michael B. Jordan) stumble upon a mysterious cave and wind up with telekinetic powers. But, as Spider-Man teaches, â€œwith great power comes great responsibility,â€ and not everyone can handle it. As the teenagersâ€™ powers grow, one becomes increasingly dangerous. What seems to be heading toward Carrie horror territory winds up being more of a supervillain origin story, and itâ€™s brilliant. Chronicle watches like a fantastic comic book miniseries (think something from the Millarverse), telling a fresh origin story via intelligent filmmaking tricks. First time feature director Josh Trank does some fun cinematic tricks with the overdone found footage gambit, and Max â€œSon of Johnâ€ Landis provides a crackerjack script that never gets too clever with its high concept. Genre surprises, especially ones released in the dead of winter, are getting rarer. I canâ€™t wait to see what Trank and Landis do for a follow-up.
CONTRABAND (R) How much cooler would this flick have been had it recounted the tale of Bill and Lance, two lonely, shirtless soldiers blasting their way to the Alienâ€™s lair to the sounds of Cinemechanica? Much, much cooler. Alas, Contraband is merely a standard, occasionally thrilling heist flick starring the “always reliable for this sort of action” Mark Wahlberg. As Chris Farraday, a former master smuggler gone legit, Wahlberg calmly muscles his way from New Orleans to Panama in order to get his brother-in-law (X-Men: First Classâ€™s Caleb Landry Jones) out of trouble with a small time crook (Giovanni Ribisi). If Chris fails, his pretty wife (Kate Beckinsale) and two little boys may pay the price. Director Baltasar Kormakur knows the territory; he should, seeing as he starred in the Icelandic original, Reykjavik-Rotterdam. The pace of this smuggling master class rarely flags, but the plotâ€™s machinations are fueled by too much stupidity for good escapist fun. Frankly, these people are too depressing to be much fun. I still like Ben Foster, who excels as Chrisâ€™ best bud; hereâ€™s hoping he doesnâ€™t get stuck as Jason Statham or Marky Markâ€™s action sidekick.
â€¢ THE DESCENDANTS (R) Is The Descendants the best film of last year? If not, the bittersweet dramedy starring Academy Award nominee George Clooney is among the top two or three. Filmmaker Alexander Payne sure took his time following up his 2004 Oscar winning smash, but the delay was worth it. After a tragic accident leaves his wife in a coma, lawyer and owner of the last parcel of virgin land in Hawaii Matt King (Clooney) struggles to raise his two daughters, come to peace with revelations about his dying wife and decide what to do with his important land. Clooney is this generationâ€™s Paul Newman, a cool cat who can pull off anything heâ€™s asked to do on screen. Here, in his tucked-in Hawaiian shirts, he epitomizes the suburban dad; still, he drops comic gems, often punctuated by his terrific reaction shots, and dramatic bombs with ease. Payne again proves himself a master of tone, perfectly balancing the humor of an incredibly bleak, emotionally complex situation.
EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE (PG-13)
This adaptation of the Jonathan Safran Foer novel could have devolved into Stage 4 Pay It Forward-level emotional manipulation. Instead, the 9/11 tearjerker, directed by three-time Academy Award nominee Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours and The Reader), only reaches Stage 2. Young Oskar Schell (â€œJeopardyâ€â€™s Kids Week Champion Thomas Horn, making a striking acting debut) tries to make sense of his fatherâ€™s death on 9/11. His dad, Thomas (Tom Hanks, in quite possibly his most saintly role to date), used to send Oskar on city-wide expeditions to help the boy conquer his social inhibitions. The final quest requires Oskar to traipse around NYC in search of a lock to fit a mysterious key. Of course, the journey to solving this mystery is more important than the solution itself. Impressive performances from the young Horn and the older Max von Sydow keep the film from drowning in its own sorrows. Appearances from Viola Davis, John Goodman and Jeffrey Wright are welcome, but Sandra Bullock merely gets her tears on as Oskarâ€™s grief-ridden mom. Everything should be fine so long as audiences simply expect the good movie Extremely Loud is, as opposed to the awards bait it fails to be.
THE GREY (R) January is ending; it must be time for another Liam Neeson actioner. The formerly acclaimed actor has almost completed his transformation into an English Denzel Washington, whose filmography is filling up with inconsequential paychecks jobs. At least Joe Carnahan (Narc, The A-Team) is writing and directing this tale of an Alaskan drilling team struggling to defeat a pack of wolves hunting them after their plane crashes in the wilderness. With Dermot Mulroney and James Badge Dale (â€œThe Pacificâ€).
HAYWIRE (R) The narrative goes a little haywire, leaving the impression that an expositional scene or two are missing, but the athletic, graceful action choreography skillfully executed by MMA fighter and former American Gladiator Gina Carano and captured on camera by the always surprising Steven Soderbergh knocks out all its current action competitors. Black ops agent Mallory Kane (Carano) is burned by the head of the private agency for which she works, a skeezy guy named Kenneth (well-played by Ewan McGregor). Mallory must clear her name, but who can she trust? Her dad (Bill Paxton)? One of several other government employees (Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas)? C-Tatez (Channing Tatum)? The actionâ€™s cool, the visuals even cooler (think the euro-class of The American but more muscle) and Caranoâ€™s hot (and surprisingly up to the dramatic task). That audiences are giving Haywire a rare D+ CinemaScore is baffling. These same audiences bestowed A-â€™s on both Contraband and the latest Underworld, two action movies that together do not equal the filmmaking or star power of Haywire. When Soderbergh doesnâ€™t connect with audiences (see the Clooney-led Solaris), he REALLY doesnâ€™t connect with audiences. (Note: I dug Solaris too.)
THE IRON LADY (PG-13) As a fan of all things British, The Iron Lady should have been more appealing to me, but the clumsy construction by director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!) and writer Abi Morgan sink it. Meryl Streep may not be a revelation (she cannot be; the highest level of acting is expected of her), but her Golden Globe winning and sure to be Oscar nominated portrayal of Margaret Thatcher goes beyond mere impression. Too bad the film wastes far too much of its sub-two-hour running time on the later years framework. Any time Streepâ€™s ancient Maggie (the makeup is good) appeared to harangue a hallucination of her late husband, Denis (Jim Broadbent, classy as ever), was a time to check out. And these flash-forwards happen a lot, sometimes for mere seconds, ripping us from the more interesting tale of Thatcher becoming the first female Prime Minister in the history of the United Kingdom. The Iron Ladyâ€™s BAFTA nomination for Best Original Screenplay is utterly baffling. As a BBC television production, The Iron Lady might satisfy, but as big screen, awards bait biopic, it falls woefully short. Maggie would certainly not have approved.
JACK AND JILL (PG) Adam Sandler must have thought the fake movies from Funny People had real potential to have signed on for this pitiful comedy where he plays both Jack Sadelstein and his twin sister, Jill. They key to the entire one-joke movie is that Sandler makes an ugly woman. Jillâ€™s homeliness and her lack of self-awareness propel one lame gag after another. Sandlerâ€™s usual pals (Allen Covert, Nick Swardson) and celebrity cameos pepper the cast. Al Pacinoâ€™s appearance is the least likely and most unfortunate as he plays himself as a desperate man smitten with Jill. Regrettably, the flick also features more than a handful of casually stereotypical racial humor, though everything, even the lazy plotting and joke writing, is executed with the amiability that typifies its star. However, geniality is no excuse for Sandler fans to continue his string of unsubtle, unoriginal comedy hits.
JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (PG) Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson, soon to be seen as Peeta in The Hunger Games franchise) teams up with his momâ€™s boyfriend (Dwayne â€œThe Rockâ€ Johnson, taking over for Brendan Fraser) to find Seanâ€™s grandfather (Michael Caine), who went missing searching for a mysterious island. Journey to the Center of the Earth, the first loose adaptation of a Jules Verne novel wasnâ€™t too painful, but director Brad Peyton was responsible for Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. With Vanessa Hudgens and Luis Guzman.
JOYFUL NOISE (PG-13) You can almost hear the studio executive wheels turning for this godly â€œGleeâ€ knockoff. A church choir from Small Town, GA heads to a national competition with new director, Vi Rose Hill (Queen Latifah), squaring off against G.G. Sparrow (Dolly Parton), the widow of the recently deceased former director (briefly and poorly played by Kris Kristofferson). Plenty of other minor melodramasâ€”Viâ€™s 16-year-old daughter Olivia (Keke Palmer) falls for G.G.â€™s rebellious grandson, Randy (Jeremy Jordan); another choir member finds loveâ€¦twice; while others face financial hardships due to the current economic downturnâ€”engulf the group as they prepare some new numbers in order to win the national crown. The charismatic leads do their best to engage, Latifah with her genteel gruffness and Dolly wholly through nuggets of colloquial country â€œwisdom.â€ Her dialogue distinctly differs from everyone else; itâ€™s like a â€œHee Hawâ€ version of Shakespearean English (minus the timeless poeticism). Nothing in this movie is as strong as its rousing musical performances; too bad the entire, just shy of two-hour running time isnâ€™t set to music.
LE HAVRE (NR) Four-time Palme dâ€™Or nominee Aki Kaurismaki (Drifting Clouds, The Man Without a Past and Lights in the Dusk) wrote and directed this comedic drama of an African boy (Blondin Miguel) and the aging shoe shiner (Andre Wilms) who takes him into his home in the port city of Le Havre. Kaurismaki won Cannesâ€™ FIPRESCI Prize and was nominated for four European Film Awards (Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenwriter).
MAN ON A LEDGE (PG-13) Donâ€™t confuse this crime thriller with the tremendous documentary Man on Wire. Sam Worthington stars as Nick Cassidy, a suicidal ex-con needing to be talked down by police psychologist Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks). Oh, by the way, the biggest diamond heist, like, ever is going on at the same time. Coincidence? This flick, whose trailers are woefully underwhelming, is director Asger Lethâ€™s first fiction feature. The cast (Worthington, Banks, Jamie Bell, Edward Burns, Kyra Sedgwick, Anthony Mackie, William Sadler and Ed Harris) is good, though.
THE MUPPETS (PG) Cowriter-star Jason Segelâ€™s reboot of Jim Hensonâ€™s lovable puppets is built with his obvious love and understanding of what made their 1979 film debut so special. Gary (Segel), his puppet brother Walter, and Garyâ€™s longtime girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams), travel to L.A., where they discover a plot to destroy the Muppet Theater by oil tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper). Together, they help Kermit reunite the old gangâ€”Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, et al.â€”to put on a telethon in order to raise the money needed to buy back the property. Self-referential with a joke ratio that favors adults two-to-one (a Muppet staple), some terrific songs by one-half of Flight of the Conchords, and a bevy of celebrity cameos, this film revives the Muppets as you remember them.
NEW YEARâ€™S EVE (PG-13) Almost every actor you could possibly recognize appears in the second, two-hour holiday party thrown by director Garry Marshall. (Scratch that. No Julia.) At least Valentineâ€™s Day had a semblance to what normal people might expect on Feb. 14. The folks preparing to ring in 2012 (dating it could sorely limit this flickâ€™s already weak repeat watchability) arenâ€™t doing a single thing you or I do, unless you cater swank New York parties while arguing with your music superstar boyfriend (naturally played by Jon Bon Jovi). A movie that feels crafted by the celebrity worshipping cult of E! has a surprising late-game twist to appeal to the more mature segment of its decidedly female audience. Targeting women as it does, one would think theyâ€™d cast some more appealing dudes. A morose Ashton Kutcher and a way too hyper Zac Efron (who I typically like) are too much, even for Transformer-fighting Josh Duhamel, when heâ€™s clad in a too small bowtie. I did like imagining that the cancer doctor (Cary Elwes) treating Robert De Niroâ€™s character, Stan, was Elwesâ€™ Saw victim, Dr. Lawrence Gordon, before Jigsawâ€™s games began.
ONE FOR THE MONEY (PG-13) Janet Evanovichâ€™s popular Stephanie Plum comes to the big screen. Newly divorced and unemployed, Plum (Katherine Heigl) takes a gig at her cousinâ€™s bail bond business. Her first assignment just happens to be a local cop and former flame (Jason Oâ€™Mara of â€œTerra Novaâ€). Will it be the start of a franchise for star Heigl, or more proof the public is over â€œGreyâ€™s Anatomyâ€â€™s former It Girl? Director Julie Anne Robinson and most of the cast are prime-time players at best.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (R) Consider PA3 the seriesâ€™ origin story, revealing the footage, shot in 1988 by their motherâ€™s boyfriend, Dennis, that explains why sisters Katie and Kristy continue to be haunted. Catfish filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, working from a script by Paranormal Activity 2â€™s Christopher Landon, up the action ante. Paranormal Activity is horrorâ€™s reigning franchise; itâ€™s also the most consistent. If the first and second movies scared you, the third will do no different.
PUSS IN BOOTS (PG) Shrekâ€™s fairy tale may have moved on to happily ever after, but Puss in Boots (v. Antonio Banderas) is still itching for a fight. His spinoff reveals the swordfighting antics that led up to Puss meeting up with Shrek and company. Naturally, this flick was once slated for a direct-to-DVD release; will the cat be able to match the ogreâ€™s blockbuster results? Director Chris Miller previously helmed Shrek the Third. Featuring the voices of Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis and more.
RAMPART (R) Oren Moverman (he scripted Todd Hayneâ€™s Dylan biopic, Iâ€™m Not There) reteams with Woody Harrelson, who earned an Oscar nod for Movermanâ€™s directorial debut, The Messenger, for a crime drama. Harrelson plays Dave Brown, the last of the renegade cops, working to survive in 1999 Los Angeles. Harrelson not only reunites with his Messenger director, but also his costar, Ben Foster. With Robin Wright, Steve Buscemi, Sigourney Weaver, Ice Cube, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon and Ned Beatty.
RED TAILS (PG-13) Red Tails, a pet project of Star Wars creator George Lucas, succeeds everywhere it should and fails nowhere that should surprise anyone. The valor of the Tuskegee Airmen is every bit as worthy of patriotic, big screen fanfare as the flyers of Pearl Harbor and the WWI-era Lafayette Escadrille in Flyboys, and their movie is every bit the equal of dramatic lightweight and action heavyweight. These three aviation-centered war movies are near interchangeable, besides their single major hooks (Pearl Harbor, World War I and African-American pilots). A crew of attractive young black men (including Nate Parker, David Oleyowo, Tristan Wilds and Ne-Yo) are led into combat by stalwart veterans Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard and must battle racism on the ground and in the air. (The Luftwaffe knew they were dogfighting with black men.) The dialogue is tin-eared as previous Lucas films (the prequels come to mind) and does not benefit the actors at all. Still, exciting, jingoistic fervor can sometimes wear down any foe, even an enemy script. By Red Tails end, itâ€™s near impossible to root against these great American underdogs.
SAFE HOUSE (R) I am so over Denzel Washingtonâ€™s disappointing career choices. In his latest action flick, the most ill-used talent in Hollywood stars as CIAâ€™s most wanted fugitive Tobin Frost, who goes on the run with a young CIA agent played by Ryan Reynolds, after their South African safe house is hit by mercenaries. Hope for this generic actioner again rest on the charisma of its stars and a sharp supporting cast (Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Robert Patrick and Sam Shepard).
SHAME (NC-17) 2011. Michael Fassbenderâ€™s career ignited with Inglorious Basterds and X-Men: First Class. Now he shows some love for filmmaker Steve McQueen, who gave Fassbender a leading role in his award winning 2008 film, Hunger. In Shame, Fassbender plays a sex addict, whose carefully planned life is disrupted by a visit from his sister (Carey Mulligan). The filmâ€™s already won several awards (though Fassbender was snubbed by the Oscars), but most of the buzz is about how much screen time is given to Fassbenderâ€™s manhood.
STAR WARS: EPISODE Iâ€”THE PHANTOM MENACE (PG) 1999. George Lucas brings the new trilogy back to the big screen in 3D. While resolving a trade dispute, Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), meet future Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), and future mother of Luke and Leia, Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman). Unfortunately, they also run into Jar Jar Binks. Iâ€™m a lifelong Star Wars fan, but is the draw of 3D enough to get me to pay to see what is arguably its weakest chapter again? Sadly, the answer is likely yes.
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (R) The machinations Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the new film from Let the Right One Inâ€™s Tomas Alfredson, may be a little too murky for its own good. The filmmakers leave the viewer to believe thereâ€™s more to be worked out as a result of retired British spy George Smileyâ€™s (an excellently restrained first-time Academy Award nominee Gary Oldman) return to semi-active duty to uncover the identity of a mole amongst the highest echelons of MI6. The performances from an absolutely dynamite cast of Britons (Oldman, reigning Best Actor Colin Firth, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, â€œSherlockâ€â€™s Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Stephen Graham and upcoming Batman villain Tom Hardy) keep one engaged even as the pregnant pauses and furtive glances overly cloud the already opaque espionage waters of literary spymaster John Le CarrÃ©.
TROLL 2 (PG-13) 1990. I wish I had watched the â€œworst movie of all timeâ€ when I had the chance all those years ago on pay cable, but the awful synopsis and PG-13 rating kept me away like cinematic scarecrows. A family (led by Alabama dentist George Hardy) travel to the nearly empty town of NILBOG where the young boy (Best Worst Movie director Michael Paul Stephenson) runs afoul of the local goblin population. See with Best Worst Movie for the complete Troll 2 experience.
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN â€“ PART 1 (PG-13) Stephenie Meyerâ€™s extremely popular teen-vamp-romance took a surreal turn in the fourth book. Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) finally marry. On the honeymoon, Bella becomes pregnant with a thing that should not be. Now the Cullens are caught between the Quileute wolves and the ancient Volturi, both of whom are threatened by this unknown new adversary. Iâ€™ll be interested to see how director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Dreamgirls) handles the bookâ€™s R-rated events (specifically, the babyâ€™s bloody birth) in a PG-13 manner.
UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING (R) Iâ€™ve never understood why the Underworld movies are so underwhelming. Vampires versus werewolves, Kate Beckinsale in skin-tight black leather, Bill Nighy and Michael Sheen all should add up to a crazy awesome movie. Instead, the three previous Underworlds make great cures for insomnia. Theyâ€™re some of the most soporific action movies Iâ€™ve ever seen. Underworld: Awakening boasts a new directing team, a third dimension and the return of Beckinsale. Itâ€™s also the most fun Iâ€™ve had watching one of these flicks, though nothing about Awakening elevates it much past the Resident Evil/Paul W.S. Anderson plane. Still, fans of the franchise should enjoy another round of blue-lit ultraviolence. Nighy and Sheen are duly missed as well; Stephen Rea alone is not just compensation for their absence. The best critique I can level at Underworld: Awakening: at least I didnâ€™t fall asleep this time. Thatâ€™s a step forward, right?
THE VOW (PG-13) Nicholas Sparks didnâ€™t write this romantic drama, but Iâ€™m sure he wishes he had. A young wife, Paige (Rachel McAdams of the best Sparks adaptation, The Notebook), suffers severe memory loss after a car accident. Her husband, Leo (Channing Tatum, of another Sparks adaptation, Dear John), must help her remember why they fell in love the first time. Director Michael Sucsy won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for Grey Gardens. With Sam Neill, Jessica Lange and Scott Speedman.
WE BOUGHT A ZOO (PG) This movie just generates some odd feelings. A movie directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson and Thomas Haden Church sounds like a serious winner, but then thereâ€™s the title. A dad (Damon) moves his family to Southern California to renovate a struggling zoo. The Devil Wears Prada scripter Aline Brosh McKenna and Crowe relocate Benjamin Meeâ€™s memoir from England to SoCal. Some say a similar move didnâ€™t affect High Fidelity; Iâ€™m not one of those folks.
â€¢ THE WOMAN IN BLACK (PG-13) Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, returns to the big screen for his first role since the epic story of the famed Boy Who Lived ended. Sporting tremendously manicured sideburns (the tiny fellow resembles a young Wolverine), Radcliffe stars as lawyer Arthur Kipps, a widower struggling to raise his young son. To save his job, Kipps must travel to a small, isolated village and tidy up the affairs at an abandoned old house. Like something out of Lovecraft, the locals arenâ€™t very welcoming to this strange newcomer. Director James Watkins chills his old-fashioned â€˜aunted â€˜ouse with creepy dolls, dead children and the titular black-clad woman. February horror films typically donâ€™t have as many successful scares as this film contains in its nearly dialogue-free middle act. Due to smart hiring (Watkins, whose Eden Lake deserves a wider audience) and casting (Radcliffe works hard to prove he can be more than just Harry; Ciaran Hinds is always welcome), Englandâ€™s hallowed Hammer Films proves theyâ€™ve still got it after all these years.
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.