* Indicates a Miles Top choice.
Arthur (PG-13) The problem with remaking this comedic classic is that the original was so damn good. Russell Brand is a funny guy, but Dudley Moore was the most adorable drunk to grace the silver screen since Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou. Helen Mirren is beguiling, but as formidable as she is, she can't compare with John Gielgud, whose one-liners and facial takes were nothing short of hilarious. Greata Gerwig is sweet in the Liza Minnelli role, but she ain't Liza. Still, a new generation will laugh it up and learn a valuable lesson – it's not so cool to always be f***ed-up.
Hanna (PG-13) First time director Joe Wright, who wrote Atonement, reunites with the gifted young actress Saoise Ronan in this intriguing tale of a teenaged girl who ventures out into a cruel world – after all, she is going to become an assassin. Really. Wright, though, has the smarts to pull it off, and Ronan is a revelation.
New On DVD
Black Swan Natalie Portman won the Best Actress for her portrayal of an up-and-coming ballerina faced with a daunting rival and yes, she's THAT good. One of the best films of the year.
Source Code (PG-13) Pay attention. A soldier is given the identity of another man to probe a terrorist group planning to bomb downtown Chicago. The soldier, expertly played by Jake Gyllenhaal, realizes he is in the body of a victim from a previous bombing, reliving the final minutes of his life in an attempt to find clues that might yield the identity of the terrorists. Director Duncan Jones does a wonderful job of focusing on what could have been a muddled plot, and an excellent cast provides clarity to an ambitious script. Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright co-star. Stick with it.
The Music Never Stopped (PG-13) The film is based on the book, The Last Hippie, by Dr. Oliver Sacks (Awakenings). It's the story about a father and son, the generation gap, and a debilitating brain tumor.
The son, Gabriel, played by Lou Taylor Pucci, leaves home after his father Henry (J.K. Simmons) forbids him from seeing a Grateful Dead concert. Twenty years pass, and Gabriel re-enters his parents' life after he learns a brain tumor requires immediate surgery. Afterwards, the family tries to reconnect, though Gabriel -- who sounds suspiciously like Editor Murphy -- is brain-damaged, his mind stuck in the turbulent sixties. A therapist (Julia Ormond) tries to reconnect the threads. The movie may literally be about a brain-damaged son but figuratively it addresses the deep chasm caused by the Vietnam/LSD/Tune in, turn on, drop out era. At times it is a bit overwrought, but often the film delivers remarkable insight into the healing power of music.