* Miles Top Pick
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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy * (R) The remake of John Le Carre's spy novel the author co-wrote the script is a wonderfully directed thriller during which the audience unravels the clues. Set at the height of the Cold War, Britain's secret intelligence unit has apparently been compromised by a double-agent. A disgraced former spy, played by Gary Oldman, is hired to find the mole. Tom Hardy, Colin Firth and John Hurt co-star. Oldman will surely get Oscar support for his remarkable performance, and the film, a legitimate cliffhanger, may earn a nomination as well.
We Need To Talk About Kevin (R) Tilda Swinton is at her best when she plays complex, flawed women, and so it is no secret she was cast in this cumbersome psychological thriller about a mother's relationship with her son (Ezra Miller) as he grows older and more evil. John C. Rielly, a bit miscast, co-stars. Lynne Ramsey directs with a deft hand.
New on DVD
Super Eight (PG-13) Destined to be this summer's big hit, this collaboration between JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg about aliens in a small Midwest town, quickly disappeared from theaters. Why? It's terrible, that's why. Nevertheless, it will probably play better at home.
Outrage * (R) No one does underworld gang violence like the Japanese, and Takeshi Kitano's latest is chock full of twists, turns, and bloodshed as rival yakuza clans vie for control of the underworld.
Sleeping Beauty (R) A New York City student, paying for an education through a series of menial jobs, becomes a prostitute by allowing herself to be sedated and then used sexually. Emily Browning is luminous, but struggles through a heavy-handed script.
The Artist (PG-13) A silent screen star circa 1927 realizes that the coming "talkies" will end his career; meanwhile, a young extra dreams of stardom. This Weinstein offering, certainly outside-the-box, is an example of a production company taking chances and succeeding the film is a wonderment, where-in actors shine, lighting and customers rule, and there isn't a special effect or 3-D frame in sight. A terrific, must-see film.
A Dangerous Method (R) Sony is hoping to generate some Oscar buzz for this film, a vehicle for Keira Knightley, playing a troubled women under the care of two of the world's greatest shrinks Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen).
The Descendants * (R) We have our early Best Actor favorite and he is ta da— George Clooney, who turns in a flawless performance as a father forced to consider selling his family land in Hawaii after his wife suffers an accident and lapses into a coma. Written and directed by Alexander Payne, whose Sideways also exhibited his ability to make profound films with a light touch. From the Kaui Hart Hemmings novel, this film is one of the year's best. Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard and Shailene Woodley are all brilliant in co-starring roles.
J. Edgar (R) This film officially marks the beginning of the year-end Oscar push. Clint Eastwood (perennial Oscar nominee) directs a Dustin Lance Black (an Oscar for Milk) screenplay starring Leo DiCaprio, a three-time nominee, in J. Edgar the longtime FBI director, of course. Advance word is it's a good one. Naomi Watts and Judi Dench also throw their hats in the Oscar ring.
Killing Bono (R) Nick Hamm's comedy about two Irish musicians who watch in horror as their neighborhood friends grow up and become U-2, the most famous rock band in the world. It was supposed to be funny.
Anonymous * (PG-13) A brilliantly conceived whodunit set in Elizabethan England who really wrote some of the works attributed to Shakespeare?
Scholars have speculated for ages that more than one writer created literature's most extraordinary body of work. Whether plausible or not, this film suggests an answer. Vanessa Redgraves plays Queen Elizabeth I.
Bridge School Benefit * (NR) Neil Young, Dave Mathews, Carlos Santana, Beck and many others rip it up in the 2011 edition of Young's annual benefit concert. Don't miss it.
Martha Marcy May Marlene (R) Four days after its "exclusive" premier at the Hampton International Film Festival, Martha is released worldwide by Searchlight Fox sans the $28 ticket price. John Hawkes is mesmerizing as a cult leader, and Elizabeth Olsen plays a troubled teen cult member trying to return to normal life. It's a chilling, provocative, and scary flick.
The Three Musketeers (PG-13) Another one? Yep. This time Orlando Bloom leads the three buds through perilous times. Milla Jovovich plays the evil Milady. As usual, it's a fun ride, just like the other 43 versions.
Footloose (PG-13) The remake of the 1984 classic has all the earmarks of a mega-hit. Newcomers Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough take on the Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer roles, and director Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow) delivers a fresh, new approach. The basic plot is the same, at least on paper: Ren comes to small southern town from Boston, only to learn teens are not allowed to party-hearty.
Pretty soon, Ren finds a pretty girl named Ariel who just happens to be the preacher's daughter. Pretty soon, loud music and wild dancing ensues. It's energetic, the music rocks, and the kids dance their arses off. Go see it.
The Woman (R) Sometimes ya need guts and gore when the winter looms and the nights turn cold and dreary. This should do ya a woman living in the woods, named Pollyanna, oddly enough, has a few surprises in store for a nearby family and they are not pleasant.
The Way (PG-13) Martin Sheen does his best to navigate this schmaltzy father/son flick directed by and starring Emilio Estevez, who happens to be -- ta da -- his real-life son. It seems dad decides to follow his son's footsteps after the younger man is killed hiking in France. It would have been more fun if Charlie Sheen had a part.
The Ides of March (R) It's October, so there must be an ominous sounding drama featuring George Clooney, out just in time to garner Oscar consideration. This year's effort is a political thriller involving a presidential candidate trying to cover up a scandal (as if that ever happens in real life). White-hot and Academy-friendly Ryan Gosling goes for the Best Supporting Actor nod. It's probably just a tad to precious to make the cut, though.
Tucker & Dale vs Evil * (R ) Eli Craig, who scored with Space Cowboys, delivers a horror film for the ages: gory, scary, and funny as hell. Ya got yez zombies, of course, and ya rednecks, and of course yer hillbillies, all created to dice up a bunch of nerdy college kids.
Straw Dogs (R) The remake of Sam Peckinpah's 1971 masterpiece has big shoes to fill. Dustin Hoffman, as the timid husband, was perfect for the role and Susan George, as a sultry wife returning to her small hometown, had the best part of her career and made the most of it.
James Marsden and Kate Bosworth star in the remake as a Hollywood screenwriter and his actress wife who return to her home in the Deep South after her father dies. The good ol' boys don't cotton to strangers, and when an old boyfriend shows up, tensions build. It was a great movie then and it's still a great movie, but the question is why not just stick with the original? Rod Lurie ably directs. Alexander Skarsgard co-stars.
Drive (R) Ryan Gosling gets a mainstream vehicle to show off his acting chops. He plays a professional driver who gets involved in a daring heist and (ta-da) falls in love with a beautiful young mother (Carey Mulligan) who just so happens to get involved with the wrong people at the wrong time. When the bad boys go after the mother's young son, the action shifts into overdrive.
Warrior (PG-13) Tom Hardy stars as a wrestler turned martial arts master in a bid to win a prestigious tournament. Nick Nolte (remember that crazy guy with the wacky hair when he got arrested?) is back, looking much better, thank you. He plays the father/trainer. Then there is the brother who has his sights set on the title. You can figure out the rest.
Detective Dee and The Mystery Of The Phantom Flame * (NR) Chinese director Tsui Hark turns in a masterful murder mystery that should garner a best Foreign Film Oscar nomination. Set in ancient China, it is a who-done-it with many layers, incredible intrigue, and chilling scenes. Don't miss it.
Apollo 18 (NR) "Officially, Apollo 17, launched December 17th, 1972 was the last manned mission to the moon. But a year later, in December of 1973, two American astronauts were sent on a secret mission to the moon . . ."
That's the storyline of this mock-doc, somewhere along the lines of the Blair Witch Project. "What you are about to see is the actual footage which the astronauts captured on that mission," the film promises. It works -- for about 20 minutes. Then, unless you are a gullible fool, it's off to the candy counter for a respite and something a little more believable.
Shark Night 3D (NR) After an earthquake and a hurricane, perhaps East Enders need to be reminded of danger that lurks every day in these parts. That's right, folks, man-eating sharks, brought to you in glorious 3D. This one is set in Louisiana though, on a lake (yes, a lake!). It's saltwater though, and it's been stocked with -- you guessed it -- flesh eaters. That means a group of ridiculously good looking college kids are in for all kinds of gruesome trouble. It's a teen date movie with a few laughs.
Our Idiot Brother (R) That would be the always likeable Paul Rudd, an idealistic hippie who relies on his two sisters (played by Emily Mortimer and Zooey Deschanel) to keep his life together. Coming this late in the summer, it would be reasonable to assume this movie carried also-ran status. In fact, though, this vehicle from Weinstein is hands down the best family comedy of the summer if not the year.
Glee The 3-D Concert Movie (R) Go, ahead, Gleek out. You know you love it, so go and enjoy.
30 minutes Or Less (R) Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg has chosen a perfect vehicle for his follow-up to Social Network playing a pizza delivery guy who is forced to rob a bank. He's a natural comedian, and his deadpans and body language milk every scene for laughs. Aziz Ansari co-stars as his sidekick. A fun flick.
Final Destination 5 (R) Starring Death. In this installment, a collapsed suspension bridge is just the beginning of the bad luck for the doomed victims.
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (PG-13) The prequel to the popular Planet movies in the late sixties and seventies (and the remake as well), this film uses actual apes instead of Charlton Heston et all. The technology is awesome, though, and the human actors ain't bad, either. Starring James Franco, John Lithgow, Brian Cox. Look for Andy Serkis as Caesar he played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The Change-Up (R) Two best friends, one a hard working father and the other a party animal, wake up in each other's bodies after a night of drinking. It's the classic switcheroo, this one starring Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman. There's some funny bits, and some dopey ones as well.
The Smurfs (PG-13) if you think the little buggers are annoying to begin with, wait until you see them in 3-D in Manhattan no less. When an evil wizard chases them out of their village, the Smurfs take up residence in Central Park, and the fun begins. The kids will dig it. Check out the voice of the incomparable Jonathan Winters as Papa Smurf he's worth the price of admission.
Captain America: The First Avenger (PG-13) OK. Enough with the stupid comic book heroes. It was cool with Superman and Batman, but now every weirdo who ever wore a cape and garish boots has his own movie. This one, out of the Marvel camp, features your usual meek and mild everyman who turns into a superhero and battles some demonic force that threatens the universe. Please stop.
Cowboys & Aliens (NR) A project connected to the likes of Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Steven Spielberg usually means good box office. It's said director Jon Favreau walked away from Iron Man to take on this project.
It's a vehicle for Harrison Ford, and that usually means big box office, too and possible Oscar recognition. It's about we kid you not cowboys who run into aliens in 1875 (before the word hallucinate even existed).
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2* (PG-13) The most anticipated film of the year, and it is a blockbuster in every sense of the word, certain to smash box office records all over the world. The finale of the series is the best yet, an epic that tantalizes, amazes, and ultimately satisfies. It is a strong contender for the Best Movie Oscar and the film event of the year, if not the decade. Don't miss it.
Midnight In Paris* (PG-13) This is Woody Allen's best film in decades, a charming and delightful story of a group of people who interact in Paris. Allen has crafted an absorbing script, and as usual his deft camera work allows the actors to mine their considerable talents. Owen Wilson turns in an Oscar worthy performance -- Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, and Carla Bruni co-star. Go and enjoy this master filmmaker at his best.
Transformers: Dark Of The Moon (Pg-13) Shia LaBeouf and Josh Duhamel return in Transformers and probably wish they hadn't. Even with a cast of thousands that includes John Torturro, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich and even (gasp!) Bill O'Reilly this film is flat and uninspiring, though audiences seem to like a little more than the critics who savaged it. Trekkies may note the voice of Leonard Nimoy as robot Sentinel Prime.
Terri (R) John O'Reilly may get some Oscar consideration for his role as a school administrator who befriends an oversized student. The film can be funny or serious, and it is at times entertaining and poignant. Give it a try.
Buck (PG-13) Buck Brannaman is a real life horse whisperer, and this documentary follows him around the country as he "listens" to horses complain man, do they have issues. So would you if you had humans trying to ride you all day. It's interesting if not absorbing.
R (NR) Michael Noer wrote and directs this art house effort about a prisoner ("R") trapped in a violent Danish prison. You can imagine the rest.