The Call

By all rights, The Call—starring Halle Berry as a frantically overpermed 911 operator trying to save the life of a kidnapped teen—shouldn’t have been this good.  Featuring a committed performance from its star and shrewdly effective direction from indie filmmaker Brad Anderson (The Machinist,…

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Oz: The Great and Powerful

The bombastic CGI spectacle Oz: The Great and Powerful, directed by Sam Raimi and starring James Franco as a two-bit Kansas magician circa 1905 who becomes an unlikely wizard, is a let-down, a movie so consumed by technology that its spirit gets crushed.  A…

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Stoker

The flower of evil grows within a teen girl in Stoker, a deliriously stylized psychological thriller from Korean director Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy), about some increasingly disturbing family dynamics that take root after the husband and father’s accidental death. But that’s not really what Stoker…

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Warm Bodies

The worn out zombie genre gets a welcome reboot in the winning Warm Bodies, about a zombie and human who fall in love and—what else?— change the world. Based on the popular novel by Isaac Marion and directed by Jonathan Levine (The Wackness, 50/50)…

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Mama

Jessica Chastain, the ubiquitous star of Zero Dark Thirty whose versatility apparently knows no bounds, stars in the new supernatural thriller Mama, an eerie ghost story that relies more on suggestion than visceral thrills.  If it doesn’t exactly scare us, it certainly raises a…

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Amour

Michael Haneke’s Amour, the winner of last year’s Palm d’Or at Cannes, is a likely candidate for the most painful movie you might ever see. It’s a movie that looks at aging and death with such open-eyed, clinical precision, completely lacking in sentiment, that…

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Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, about the decade-long hunt for and ultimate killing of Osama bin Laden, is an unmistakable masterpiece. It’s also a picture that does not reach out to us with character, sentiment or resolution – and is nonetheless an essential, thought-provoking,…

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Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained is an explosion of violence and humor and delicious performances, a visceral and upsetting portrait of slavery that borders on blaxploitation at times, all wrapped up in a spaghetti western. It’s a movie so entertaining for each of its 164…

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