Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by The Commercial Appeal movie writer John Beifuss.
The Class (PG-13, 128 min.)
Watchmen (R, 162 min.)
Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema 12, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Studio on the Square, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Ben X (Not rated, 93 min.) Dedicated to non-mainstream cinema, the library's "Wider Angle Film Series" returns with this Belgian film from writer-director Nic Balthazar about a bullied misfit teen who retreats (via onscreen digital effects) into a fantasy world of sword-and-sorcery videogames.
7 p.m. Wednesday, Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar. Admission is free; children under 17 admitted with parent or guardian.
Che: Part Two (Guerrilla) (R, 131 min.) Marxist revolutionary Ernesto 'Che' Guevara (Benicio Del Toro) tries to import the success of his Cuban campaign to the military dictatorship of Bolivia. Directed by Steven Soderbergh.
5 p.m. Sunday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Admission: $10, or $8 for members. Visit brooksmuseum.org or call 544-6208.
Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk: The latest IMAX documentary follows two environmentalists on a daring rafting ride down the Colorado river. Narrated by Robert Redford; music by the Dave Matthews Band. Opens Saturday, and runs through Nov. 13. Tickets $8, $7.25 senior citizens, $6.25 children ages 3-12; children under 3 are free. Call for show times.
IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 763-IMAX for general information or 320-6362 for reservations.
Metropolitan Opera: Madama Butterfly (Not rated, 201 min.) Patricia Racette takes the title role in this live-from-New York satellite transmission of the famous Puccini opera.
Noon Saturday, Paradiso. Tickets: $22. Visit malco.com.
Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs: Follow researchers and explorers as they piece together the archaeological and genetic clues of Egyptian mummies. The IMAX film plays through Nov. 13. Tickets: $8, $7.25 senior citizens, $6.25 children ages 3-12; children under 3 are free. Call for show times.
IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 763-IMAX for general information or 320-6362 for reservations.
Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure: Narrated by Liev Schreiber, National Geographic's film takes audiences on a journey into the relatively unexplored world of the "other dinosaurs," those reptiles that lived beneath the water. The film plays through March 6. Tickets: $8, $7.25 senior citizens, $6.25 children ages 3-12; children under 3 are free. Call for show times.
IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 763-IMAX for general information or 320-6362 for reservations.
Bedtime Stories (PG, 95 min.) Adam Sandler, babysitter.
Bolt (PG, 96 min.) "Lassie Come Home" for kids raised on superhero movies and "Hannah Montana," this charming and thoroughly family-friendly computer-animated tale of canine/human loyalty and companionship marks an auspicious first feature for new Walt Disney Animation Studios chief John Lasseter. Directed by Byron Howard and Chris Williams, the film cannily taps into several irresistible-to-kids fantasies. Bolt himself (voiced by John Travolta) is an American white shepherd puppy who stars as a superdog on a popular TV series; this double identity allows young viewers to imagine the fun of owning a cuter version of Krypto while it also affirms Charles M. Schulz's assertion that happiness is a warm puppy. Similarly, Bolt's "person," Penny (voiced by Miley Cyrus), is a TV star whose obligations are intended to reassure young moviegoers that "normal" life is preferable to celebrity. Bolt himself is lovable, but he essentially plays straight mutt to his beautifully voiced, scene-stealing animal companions: Mittens (Susie Essman), a sardonic alley cat, and Rhino (Mark Walton), a hamster who travels in a clear plastic exercise bubble.
Bride Wars (PG, 94 min.) Catfight in white, as Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson throw down over conflicting wedding dates.
Confessions of a Shopaholic (PG, 105 min.) Isla Fisher is a New York journalist with a yen for shopping in this adaptation of Sophie Kinsella's best-seller.
Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.
Coraline (PG, 100 min.) If 3-D is going to survive in cinemas as more than a carnivalesque gimmick, filmmakers will have to deliver more movies like this macabre and wonderful "Pan's Labyrinth"-like fantasy, in which the stereoscopic "dimensionality" becomes part of the story when a feisty young girl (voiced by Dakota Fanning) crawls through an esophageal passage to reach a mirror world ruled by her spooky "other mother" (Teri Hatcher), whose eyes have been replaced by shiny buttons. The theme is suited to the method of production: "Coraline" was created by director Henry Selick (working from a slim novel by Neil Gaiman) through the painstaking process of three-dimensional stop-motion animation, in which doll-like models are posed, a frame at a time, on miniature sets. Even children who enjoy the supernatural and monster action of "Harry Potter" and "Jurassic Park" movies may be unsettled by this film's creepy premise.
Stage Cinema, Majestic, DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema, Paradiso (in 3-D), Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D).
The Day the Earth Stood Still (PG-13, 104 min.) Keanu barada nikto: As Klaatu, emissary from another planet, Keanu Reeves is typically and appropriately inhuman, but his emotionless posturing seems to have infected the entire production, transforming director Scott Derrickson's big-budget remake of a beloved 1951 classic into a dull eco-fable. (Predictably, Klaatu is no longer an antiwar apostle but an extraterrestrial Al Gore, promising the extinction of humanity if we don't accept his inconvenient truth.) Even Gort -- the coolest robot in science-fiction cinema -- has been re-imagined as a cartoonish CG colossus who ironically resembles the Oscar statuette that otherwise will remain a universe away from this hammy misfire. With Jennifer Connelly as the world's hottest microbiologist, Jaden Smith as her bratty stepson and a Hillary-presaging Kathy Bates as the secretary of State.
Fanboys (PG-13, 90 min.) If the thought of Princess Leia's hubcap hairdo puts a wiggle in your Wookiee, you're probably the ideal viewer of director Kyle Newman's long-gestating road comedy, set in 1998, about a quintet of Ohio "Star Wars" obsessives who decide to break into George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch to sneak an unauthorized advance peak at "Episode 1: The Phantom Menace." The generic teen-oriented comedy about hookers and homophobia is lame, and a motivating subplot involving one character's incurable cancer is in questionable taste; but the geek-specific humor is pretty funny (a comic-book store's door chime is a Chewbacca growl). With Jay Baruchel, Dan Fogler and Kristen Bell (who, inevitably, winds up in a "Return of the Jedi" slave bikini), and cameos by Carrie Fisher and William Shatner, among others.
Studio on the Square.
Fired Up! (PG-13, 90 min.) Two horndog high-school friends ditch football to be the only boys at a cheerleader camp.
Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.
Friday the 13th (R, 95 min.) In a blunt, direct way, the "Friday the 13th" movies are about the fear of death -- especially violent, untimely death, the type that is most scary to the teenagers who flock to the films. Thus, the "star" of the movies -- the hockey-masked, homicidal Jason Vorhees -- is basically a cross between the Grim Reaper and "Refrigerator" Perry; ready or not, he's coming for you. He's the car that runs a red light and kills a kid on the way to the prom -- or perhaps after the prom, after the kid's been drinking and fooling around, considering the context of many of Jason's showboating murders. This franchise reboot (produced by Michael Bay and directed by Marcus Nispel, who revived "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" in 2003) ups the ante in flesh as well as blood, with topless wakeboarding in addition to sadistic, brutal violence -- all photographed with a surfeit of care and art, as if Jason were Greta Garbo at MGM. The movie's a relentless scare machine, and like some machines, it makes a racket -- Nispel scares audiences more often with SUDDEN LOUD NOISES than with special makeup effects.
Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, DeSoto Cinema 16, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Gran Torino (R, 116 min.) With his voice the rasp of the handsaw that cut his cracked features from a stump of cedar and his pants as high as the front porch from which he surveys the supposed decline of "the old neighborhood," Clint Eastwood is a comic totem of American masculinity, stardom, intolerance and, ultimately, redemption in this old-fashioned piece of moviemaking about change we can believe in: the renewal of America's promise as a melting-pot land of opportunity. Eastwood (who also directed, with his customary no-nonsense artistry) plays Walt Kowalski, a racist Korean War veteran and retired Detroit auto worker who literally growls at the sight of the "swamp rat" Hmong immigrants who have moved in next door. But when his new neighbors are threatened by a Southeast Asian gang, he becomes not just a surrogate father to the teens but Dirty Harry with an AARP discount: "Get off my lawn," he snarls, pointing a rifle at a neighborhood gangbanger and transforming a cliched expression of codgerly irritation into a septuagenarian update of "Go ahead, make my day." The film is sometimes wincingly corny in its depiction of a "lovable" curmudgeon, but its bluntness and sincerity -- and the undistracted momentum of its storytelling -- are like splashes of cold water in a face gone slack from a surfeit of irony and sophistication.
Stage Cinema, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.
He's Just Not That Into You (PG-13, 129 min.) A romantic comedy with Memphis' own Ginnifer Goodwin in an ensemble cast that includes Jennifers Aniston and Connelly, as well as Ben Affleck and Justin Long.
Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.
Hotel for Dogs (PG, 100 min.) Director Thor Freudenthal's Nickelodeon adaptation of a 1971 novel by Lois Duncan offers an appealing wish-fulfillment fantasy for kids, with Emma Roberts and Jake T. Austin as resourceful foster siblings who secretly transform an abandoned inner-city hotel into a luxury home for stray pooches that -- like the orphaned kids -- are unwanted because "they're not puppies any more." Young viewers will enjoy the hotel's makeshift Rube Goldberg contraptions, which include a "fetching machine," automatic poop-disposal toilets and a vending machine that dispenses shoes for chewing; parents, meanwhile, will appreciate the kindness-promoting message.
Stage Cinema, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema.
Inkheart (PG, 106 min.) Based on a 2003 young-adult novel by German author Cornelia Funke, this tale of a magical ''Silvertongue'' (Brendan Fraser) who brings characters ''out of books and into our world'' when he reads aloud is hardly spellbinding; but better an adventure movie for families that (however paradoxically) extols the value and wonder of books than yet another film that celebrates violent revenge or asinine behavior. Directed with a rather glum Euro sensibility by Iain Softley (who, judging from his adaptation of "The Wings of the Dove," is more comfortable dealing with Henry James than with flying monkeys), the movie benefits from the performances of Helen Mirren as an eccentric, book-loving aunt and, especially, Paul Bettany as a magical fire-juggler named Dustfinger.
The International (R, 122 min.) Unfortunately for us, this unpersuasive globetrotting thriller couldn't be more timely: The empire of evil here isn't the Mafia or SPECTRE but the banking industry, which is trying to make the world "slaves to debt." Clive Owen is the humorless maverick Interpol agent on the hunt for financial conspirators; Naomi Watts is the Manhattan assistant district attorney who adds little but window-dressing to the proceedings. Director Tom Tykwer (who has stumbled since his breakout German hit "Run Lola Run") stages a nice shootout in a fake Guggenheim, but more intriguing is his use of actual architecture: His characters typically are dwarfed by or lost within looming towers of cold steel and glass, which says more about the apparent hopelessness of their quest for justice than any of the machinations of the plot.
Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema.
Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience (G, 76 min.) The Disney Channel pop-rock boy band bursts onto the big screen.
Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, CinePlanet 16.
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (PG, 89 min.) When the New York zoo refugees from the first film crash-land in the African veldt, new character Zuba the lion (voiced by Bernie Mac) is disappointed to discover that his long-lost son, Alex (Ben Stiller), has grown up to be a dancer, not a fighter. (In case you didn't understand this is a story about "coming out," Alex spends much of the film in a Carmen Miranda tutti-frutti hat.) Like its 2005 predecessor, also directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath, this is among the Looney Tuniest of recent computer-animated features; the anatomy-distorting slapstick, wacky wordplay and surreal throwaway gags are nonstop. The wonderfully stylized returning characters include Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) and a scene-stealing platoon of penguins.
Madea Goes to Jail (PG-13, 103 min.) This time Tyler Perry's pistol-packin' grandmomma is raising hell behind bars and lobbying for her freedom.
Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Marley & Me (PG, 115 min.) The dog best-seller.
Milk (R, 128 min.) "Politics is theater," says Sean Penn as Harvey Milk; it rarely makes for great movies, however. An exception is this work from director Gus Van Sant, which provides an object lesson for filmmakers who need proof that features with heavy themes about events of historic significance can be personal and accessible, intimate and entertaining. In 1977, Milk won the race for San Francisco supervisor, to become "the first openly gay man elected to major office in the U.S."; what makes this achievement tragically cinematic, however, is the fact that Milk was assassinated the next year by a fellow supervisor with a weirdly complementary name, Dan White (played here by Josh Brolin). A convincing period piece about a "culture war" that has lost little of its firepower, the movie -- beautifully scripted by Dustin Lance Black -- seems almost unthinkable without Penn, whose immersive mimicry combines Method commitment with Laurence Olivier-style disguise; the tension created when the actor's assertion of authenticity tugs against his embrace of performance is a key to Penn's fascination, as it apparently was to Milk's appeal.
Studio on the Square.
My Bloody Valentine (R, 101 min.) "Nothing says 'date movie' like a 3-D ride to hell," promises the trailer. Sold! Like its 1981 inspiration, this unpretentious, ultraviolent slasher-film remake focuses on the gruesome depredations of a pickax-wielding maniac in a miner's suit (complete with helmet, goggles and Darth Vaderesque breathing apparatus); the whodunnit mystery plot adds to the "fun." In a packed auditorium in 3D, director Patrick Lussier's film is a true thrill ride -- a communal experience of shared screams and relieved laughter.
New in Town (PG, 96 min.) Utterly predictable if occasionally inexplicable (why is T. Rex's "20th Century Boy" used to score an ice-fishing scene?), this so-called romantic so-called comedy casts Renée Zellweger as a Miami corporate ladder-climber sent to snowy rural Minnesota, where the folk wisdom, sense of community and funny Frances McDormand-in-"Fargo" accents of the lovable and eccentric townspeople shame her hard-boiled citified pragmatism; plus, she falls for a hunky union rep (Harry Connick Jr.) who actually listens to country music and drinks beer! The lesson here is: City, bad; small town, good. Sophisticates: bad; scrapbookers: good. Vegetarianism: bad; meatloaf: good. And judging by the evidence onscreen, we might even say: White Christians: good; others: wellllll, maybe not bad -- but who needs 'em?
Stage Cinema, Collierville Towne 16.
Not Easily Broken (PG-13, 100 min.) A bad car accident tests a husband and wife (Morris Chestnut and Taraji P. Henson) in this adaptation of a novel by Bishop T.D. Jakes.
Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (PG, 91 min.) Kevin James ("The King of Queens") is the title bumbler in this surprise box-office hit.
Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema.
The Pink Panther 2 (PG, 92 min.) A redundant followup to an unnecessary remake, director Harald Zwart's film is nothing more than another slapstick showcase for Steve Martin's impressive yet dead-end mimicry of the late Peter Sellers, who will forever own the role of the clumsy and ridiculous French police detective, Inspector Clouseau. No movie is produced to lose money, but the new "Pink Panther" films have no apparent reason to exist except to wring more dollars from an already throttled franchise. The impressive supporting cast includes Alfred Molina, Andy Garcia, Lily Tomlin, John Cleese and Emily Mortimer.
Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema.
Push (PG-13, 112 min.) Blam-o! -- Dakota Fanning and Chris Evans have telekinetic powers.
Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema.
The Reader (R, 123 min.) "Take off your cloze," says a beautiful, working-class older woman with a German accent (Kate Winslet) to a seemingly lucky 1950s teenage intellectual (David Kross) in this odd addition to the "Holocaust genre" that suggests -- what? That Nazis might have been nicer if they'd spent more time reading books instead of burning them? Adapted by scripter David Hare and director Stephen Daldry (the team responsible for "The Hours") from German author Bernard Schlink's well-regarded 1995 best-seller, the film examines the impact of the Nazi legacy on the postwar generation, as the teenage hero grows into a typically morose Ralph Fiennes, scarred by the revelation that the dream woman who taught him about sex while he taught her about Chekhov had been a death-camp guard. When Lena Olin tells Fiennes that "the camps weren't therapy" and he should "go to the theater if you want catharsis, go to literature," the scene seems a repudiation of the movie itself; however, the film does offer something the novel can't: Kate Winslet really does take off her cloze, a lot.
Ridgeway Four, Forest Hill 8, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Revolutionary Road (R, 119 min.) Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet (the muse of seething suburban self-loathing -- see also "Little Children") star as Frank and April Wheeler, a seemingly "perfect" husband and wife who tear into each other with a mean-spirited, theatrical gusto that is comic, harrowing, tiresome and true to the tone of Richard Yates' brilliant source novel, published in 1961, when the notion that a home in suburbia wasn't so much a symbol of success as a doorway to hell was more daring. If the film seems obvious compared to the book, it correctly captures the idea that the young, even naive, Frank and April are play actors in their own lives; this also validates the sometimes stagey nature of director Sam Mendes' film, which takes place mostly indoors, on impeccably art-directed period sets (the furniture and clothing would make the cast of "Mad Men" envious). The knockout supporting cast includes native Memphian Kathy Bates as a realtor who uses words like "toodle-oo" and Michael Shannon as a mentally disturbed man who is more honest than the "sane" people he encounters.
Forest Hill 8.
Slumdog Millionaire (R, 120 min.) This almost fairytale "rags to rajah" saga of an impoverished underdog "slumdog" (Dev Patel) who achieves overnight fame (and a fortune in rupees) on India's version of "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" is the rare crowd-pleaser that earns its feel-good denouement as well as our respect. Shot on location (the train station in the film was hit in the Nov. 26 terrorist attacks), the movie's brilliantly designed visual and sonic density seems as much a mandate of the chaos endemic to teeming Mumbai as of the nonlinear, flashback-filled storytelling strategy of British director Danny Boyle, aided by Bollywood veteran Loveleen Tandan, who is credited as "Co-Director (India)." The Dickensian early sequences focusing on the hero's childhood are especially vibrant and thrilling -- alternately comic (the boys scam tourists at the Taj Mahal) and harrowing (the children are recruited by an evil Fagin figure).
Ridgeway Four, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (PG-13, 96 min.) Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang of "Smallville") kicks mucho booty in this video-game adaptation.
Wolfchase Galleria Cinema, 8, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.
Taken (PG-13, 91 min.) Liam Neeson makes like Charles Bronson to rescue his kidnapped 17-year-old virgin daughter from the swarthy threat of white-slaver Albanians and their Arab patrons in this morally specious but undeniably efficient brainstem-tickler from director Pierre Morel (the superior futuristic actioner "District B13") and indefatigable producer-writer Luc Besson ("The Transporter," "Unleashed"). The combination of Neeson's gravitas and Morel's coherent staging of the violence makes this the most effective action/revenge film in years.
Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema.
The Tale of Despereaux (G, 94 min.) Matthew Broderick gives voice to an animated mouse.
Twilight (PG-13, 122 min.) A possible boon to proponents of high-school abstinence pledges as well as a canny expression of the sexual fears and yearnings of the post-Miley Cyrus, presorority rush demographic, this adaptation of the first of Stephenie Meyer's phenomenally popular novels documents the love of the new girl in school, pretty Bella Swan, played by Kristen Stewart, for the even more beautiful Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), a 17-going-on-forever "vegetarian" vampire (he drinks only animal blood) with pale skin, red lips, sculpted features and moussed hair. Because Edward cannot allow his lust to give way to bloodlust, he is the embodiment of heroic chastity, sweet anticipation and hopeless sexual tension; when he gets his first close look at Bella in biology class, he covers his mouth with his hand -- the vampire equivalent of an excited adolescent hiding his lap with a schoolbook in a "Porky's" film. The movie is not too exciting, but it's effective, thanks in part to its lush Oregon forest locations and the empathy of director Catherine Hardwicke, a specialist in conflicted rebel youth.
The Unborn (PG-13, 87 min.) Instead of the usual Catholicism, this horror movie taps into Jewish tradition, as a young woman (Odette Yustman) is haunted by a malevolent dybbuk; even the exorcist (Gary Oldman) is a rabbi rather than a priest, armed with a shofar instead of a crucifix. Laughable but interesting, the movie -- like some Stephen King rewrite of "The Reader" -- traces its characters' distress to the Holocaust. In other words, never forget: "Jumby wants to be born!"
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (R, 93 min.) Those who know British actor Michael Sheen as David Frost (in "Frost/Nixon") and Prime Minister Tony Blair (in "The Queen") may not know he already had a movie career as hunky, hairy Lucian, the vampire-battling "lycan" (werewolf, to you) in two "Underworld" movies. Directed by promoted special effects/makeup artist Patrick Tatopoulos, this trilogy capper, a prequel set in some unspecified "dark age," borrows from "Romeo and Juliet," "The Passion of the Christ" (there are two, count 'em, two gory scourging scenes) and, especially, "Spartacus," as Lucian leads a lycan slave revolt against vampire aristocrat Viktor (a typically campy Bill Nighy), father of Lucian's secret love (Rhona Mitra, in the skintight warrior-woman leathers worn in the previous films by Kate Beckinsale).
Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
The Uninvited (PG-13, 87 min.) The 2003 Korean film "A Tale of Two Sisters" is a modern masterpiece of psychological horror, and perhaps the best of the many Asian "ghost girl" films. Directed by a British pair of feature newcomers who call themselves "the Guard Brothers," this less subtle DreamWorks remake is a horror update of an "evil stepmother" fairy tale, with a troubled teen (Emily Browning) returning home to her sarcastic older sister (Arielle Kebbel) and her recently widowed father (David Strathairn), who has taken up with her late mother's young nurse (Elizabeth Banks). Preteen girls looking for slumber-party DVD rentals probably represent the film's ideal audience.
Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, DeSoto Cinema 16, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema.
Valkyrie (PG-13, 120 min.) Tom Cruise is an Oberstleutnant in an eyepatch who wants to kill Hitler in this handsomely mounted if undistinguished suspense film about the real-life 1944 plot against the Führer by German officers hoping to wrest their nation from the Nazis. The film reunites director Bryan Singer ("X-Men") and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie, 13 years after they found success with "The Usual Suspects"; the Brit supporting cast includes Tom Wilkinson, Kenneth Branagh, Terence Stamp, Eddie Izzard and Bill Nighy.
Waltz with Bashir (R, 90 min.) Inspired by writer-director Ari Folman's inability to remember his experiences as a 19-year-old soldier during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, this powerful and original "animated documentary" uses the dreamlike qualities of a cartoon to suggest the way memory distorts and edits reality -- in this case, the reality of a horrific wartime massacre. Closer to "Full Metal Jacket" than to anything produced by Disney or Pixar, the movie -- with dark, thick-lined, "realistic" animation -- paints war in general as an absurd and primitive exercise that seems as inexplicable to its perpetrators as to its victims; in the process, it prompts us to question our own easy acceptance of the injustice and murder that occurs every day in the world around us.
The Wrestler (R, 115 min.) The story of a once celebrated, now down-and-out New Jersey professional wrestler (Mickey Rourke) eking out a living on the fringes of show business while dreaming of a return to greatness, director Darren Aronofsky's intimate, small-scale film (frequently shot with handheld cameras that trail the actor, so that the spectator becomes a tagalong participant in the protagonist's life) represents a perfect match of actor to character and back story to script: Audiences will see the film's alternately lovable and grotesque hero, Randy ''The Ram'' Robinson, as a stand-in for Rourke, the once beautiful, now battered fiftysomething comeback kid who earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for this role. An equally uninhibited Marisa Tomei co-stars as an aging stripper known as "Cassidy," whose humiliating "entertainment" career and use of an onstage alias make her a sympathetic match for "the Ram." Gritty on the outside and sentimental inside, the film is most convincing -- and entertaining -- as a behind-the-scenes look at the seedy world of professional wrestling, an increasingly violent and ''punk'' milieu where staple guns and broomsticks wrapped in barbed wire have been added to the arsenal of brass knuckles and folding chairs.
Forest Hill 8, Studio on the Square, Hollywood 20 Cinema.