Capsule descriptions by The Commercial Appeal movie writer John Beifuss.
Better Than Something: Jay Reatard (Not rated, 89 min.) See review.
Studio on the Square.
Deadline (PG-13, 95 min.) See review.
Hollywood 20 Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (PG, 94 min.) A furry orange grump (voiced by Danny DeVito) fights to protect his world's trees.
CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Project X (R, 88 min.) A teen party spirals wildly out of control.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
A Separation (PG-13, 123 min.) See review.
Studio on the Square.
Undefeated (PG-13, 115 min.) See review.
Amigo (Not rated, 60 min.) The latest film from independent cinema icon John Sayles is an ensemble drama of violence, politics and religion, set in 1900, during the American-Philippine War, which presaged many of America's problematic subsequent conflicts.
7 p.m. Thursday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $8, or $6 for museum or Indie Memphis members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.
Born To Be Wild: The latest IMAX film is "an inspiring story of love, dedication and the remarkable bond between humans and animals" that focuses on efforts to reintroduce rescued elephants and orangutans into the wild. Narrated by Morgan Freeman. Runs through Nov. 16.
IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call (901) 636-2362 for show times, tickets and reservations.
Food Stamped (Not rated, 60 min.) Shira and Yoav Potash directed and star in his humorous yet purposeful documentary, in which the couple tries to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet while living on a "food stamp budget."
3:30 p.m. Saturday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Admission: free. Visit brooksmuseum.org.
Live From Memphis Music Video Showcase: Among the many events are music video screening programs at 8 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 2, 4 and 5 p.m. Sunday at The Warehouse, 36 G.E. Patterson.
Paper Clips (G, 84 min.) This 2004 documentary follows the children of a Whitwell, Tenn., middle school as they come to realize the enormity of the Holocaust while trying to collect 6 million paper clips, to represent the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis.
12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art, 119 S. Main. Free with $6 museum admission. Visit belzmuseum.org.
The Real Dirt on Farmer John (Not rated, 82 min.) Winner of the Audience Award at the 2005 Slamdance Film Festival, this documentary focuses on an eccentric and maverick Midwest farmer whose successful organic agriculture innovations cause suspicion among his neighbors. Wrote Roger Ebert, in his three-and-a-half-star review: "If a man is going to wear a Dr. Seuss hat and have hippies living in his barn, he's got to expect that people will talk."
2 p.m. Saturday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Admission: free. Visit brooksmuseum.org.
Sankofa (Not rated, 124 min.) In this 1993 African film, a self-absorbed black American fashion model on assignment in Ghana is visited by spirits and transported back in time to a plantation in the West Indies, where she experiences first-hand the horrors of slavery.
6 p.m. Thursday, National Civil Rights Museum. Admission: free. Visit indiememphis.com.
Tornado Alley: Narrated by Bill Paxton, IMAX film follows a handful of storm-chasing scientists piloting rugged vehicles decked out in innovative instruments, as close to raging tornadoes as safety allows. Opening Saturday with a special guest appearance by Sean Casey and TIV 2-Tornado Intercept Vehicle 2 (an updated version of the original vehicle). Runs through Nov. 16. Tickets: $8.25 ($7.50 for senior citizens), $6.50 for children ages 3-12; combo/group tickets available.
IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call (901) 636-2362 for show times, tickets and reservations.
Act of Valor (R, 101 min.) Actual active-duty Navy SEALs star in this action film about a mission to rescue a kidnapped CIA agent.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
The Adventures of Tintin (PG, 107 min.) The action set pieces are spectacular, as Tintin (voiced/enacted by Jamie Bell), his fox terrier, Snowy, and new drunken ally, Captain Haddock (the performance-capture Man of a Thousand LED Faces, Andy Serkis), race against an evil adversary (Daniel Craig) to claim a sunken pirate treasure, but Tintin remains a dull if intrepid blank.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (G, 90 min.) If you can't get enough of aggressively cute digitally animated rodents shaking their fuzzy tails while singing helium-voiced covers of mostly recent funk-and-hip-hop dance hits and spouting clichéd "urban" catch-phrases ("Oh no she di'int!"), then this "squeakquel" -- the second follow-up to 2007's "Alvin and the Chipmunks" -- is for you. The essentially plotless film follows the Chipmunks and increasingly dominant Chipettes to a volcanic tropical island, after they're swept from a cruise ship and separated from their father figure, Dave (a sinewy Jason Lee). To amuse adults, series regular David Cross brings the snark as an obnoxious music promoter, while Jenny Slate brings the bare legs and the over-the-kids'-heads "Cast Away" jokes as a lost treasure-hunter. Directed by Mike Mitchell.
Bartlett 10, CinePlanet 16, Majestic.
The Artist (PG-13, 100 min.) Celebrated and perhaps overhyped as the first wide-release black-and-white silent film of the modern era (its old-fashioned squarish screen ratio is an even more extreme retro formal choice), writer-director Michel Hazanavicius' salute to the romance of the movies is novel, funny and refreshing -- it's terrific entertainment. Dashing Jean Dujardin, a Gene Kelly/Douglas Fairbanks type, stars as George Valentin, a silent screen idol who feels threatened by the rise of the "talkies"; Bérénice Bejo is Peppy Miller, the chorus girl elevated to stardom by the coming of sound. The story is cribbed from "Singin' in the Rain" and "A Star Is Born," but the film's use of "silence" (in fact, Ludovic Bource's wonderful score is almost nonstop) is extremely clever; better still, the movie introduces the year's most undeniable star in Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier that is the hero's constant companion and eventual savior (as demonstrated in a thrilling sequence that harks -- or barks? -- back to the era of Rin Tin Tin). The movie earned five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Actor and Director.
CinePlanet 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Ridgeway Four.
Chronicle (PG-13, 84 min.) Three teenage buddies gain superpowers in the latest "found footage" thriller.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Stage Cinema.
Contraband (R, 110 min.) Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale in a race-against-the-clock crime thriller.
The Descendants (R, 115 min.) Winner of the Academy Award for Adapted Screenplay, the first film in seven years from director Alexander Payne ("Sideways") casts George Clooney as Matt King, a haole (white person in Hawaii) lawyer with royal Hawaiian blood who is facing two terrible deadlines: As trustee, he must determine what to do with his family's "huge parcel of virgin land," worth millions; and as husband, he has to decide when to pull the plug on his comatose wife. Payne -- whose other films include "Election" and "About Schmidt" -- specializes in depictions of aging white males in crisis; he's a humanist director who favors actors over visual flourishes and confrontations and conversations over set pieces, but he relies too much on storytelling crutches (Matt's voiceover narration is annoying and redundant). Beautifully shot on location, the film becomes more enjoyable and somehow even looser as its plot tightens (Matt learns his wife was having an affair), and the focus expands to Matt's relationship with his two daughters, a troubled teenager (Oscar-worthy Shailene Woodley) and an eccentric youngster (Amara Miller).
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (PG-13, 129 min.) From its wordy title to the impressive vocabulary and compulsive list-making of its possibly autistic young narrator hero, director Stephen Daldry's adaptation of the 2005 novel by Jonathon Safran Foer never liberates itself from the printed page. It's handsomely mounted and well-acted (Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks are the boys' parents, and Max von Sydow is a mute and mysterious neighbor), but it doesn't justify its existence, except as a way of presenting this implausible story to that admittedly large audience that doesn't read books.
Bartlett 10, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (PG-13, 96 min.) Thanks to the turbocharged bad-trip direction of "Crank" auteurs Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who use extreme angles, distorting lenses and disorienting digital effects to essentially place the moviegoer inside Johnny Blaze's devil-haunted, pill-addled, literally fiery skull, this Marvel Comics sequel is a huge if wack improvement over its forgettable 2007 predecessor. Bug-eyed and manic as ever, Nicolas Cage returns as Blaze, who this time hopes to free himself from his demonic curse by rescuing a young boy (Fergus Riordan) from his Satanic father (Ciarán Hinds); the supernatural-adventure aspect makes this as much a horror film as an action thriller, and the Ghost Rider -- his leather biker gear bubbling and smoking -- appears more nightmarish than "cool," as if this impossible and absurd scenario was inspired not by a comic book but by a drug fiend's delirium. Even the already infamous shot in which the Ghost Rider takes a flaming napalm wizz is justified as the product of a child's inherently surreal imagination.
CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Summer Quartet Drive-In.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (R, 158 min.) Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig. .
Gone (PG-13, 95 min.) Amanda Seyfried is a traumatized, perhaps mentally disturbed waitress who can't convince the police that the serial killer who kidnapped her years before has returned to snatch her sister (Emily Wickersham) in this somnambulant would-be-thriller refugee from the Lifetime Movie Network, directed by Brazil's Heitor Dhalia. Implausible and risible, the film asks us to believe that Portland detectives would mount a massive manhunt for a young woman whose only crime is unauthorized possession of a firearm; what's more, these fashion-conscious detectives would be an embarrassment to a Concorde-New Horizons production: "You wanna chase splittail, then go be a firefighter, ya feel me?" cool ethnic cop Daniel Sunjata warns creepy WASPy cop Wes Bentley, when the latter takes a suspicious shine to Seyfried. So lame the only scare during the first hour is the old cat-jumping-into-frame trick.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso, Stage Cinema.
Good Deeds (PG-13, 111 min.) Tyler Perry doffs the drag to portray Wesley Deeds, a complacent businessman jolted by his feelings for a working-class single mother (Thandie Newton).
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
The Grey (R, 117 min.) Rugged Liam Neeson leads a group of roughneck plane-crash survivors through the Alaskan wilderness while a complementary but more efficient pack of hungry wolves dogs their heels in this existentialist Man vs. Death/Man vs. Himself action drama. The final act is marred by too much unnecessary backstory and "characterization," not to mention a leap-from-a-cliff episode that shatters the integrity of the movie's relative realism; even so, this marks a solid comeback for director Joe Carnahan, who followed his excellent "Narc" (2002) with the idiocies of "Smokin' Aces" and "The A-Team." Stick around through the credits for a teasing final shot.
Hollywood 20 Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Happy Feet Two (PG, 103 min.) Memphis kid rapper Lil P-Nut supplies the voice of a scene-stealing fat-and-fluffy kid penguin named Atticus.
Hugo (PG, 127 min.) Winner of five Academy Awards.
Paradiso (in 3-D), Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8 (in 3-D).
The Iron Lady (PG-13, 105 min.) This isn't a great movie, but Best Actress Oscar-winner Meryl Streep is great in it: As Margaret Thatcher, the United Kingdom's first and only woman prime minister to date, Streep is convincing and astonishing and eminently watchable -- she's no parody or waxwork, not even when she's done up in convincing old-age makeup to portray the doddering Thatcher as a lonely and somewhat tragic figure, isolated by fame and dementia and carrying on conversations with her dead husband (Jim Broadbent), whose nickname for his wife -- "MT" -- may be a pun representing the filmmakers' opinion of their heroine's heart. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd ("Mamma Mia!") and scripted by Abi Morgan ("Shame"), the movie, which jumps back and forth in time, lacks structure and a coherent political point of view; it touches on the tragic human cost of Thatcher's conservative cost-cutting and "warmonger" policies, but more insistently presents "the Iron Lady" as a heroic sort of right-wing feminist whose rise to power within a condescending male-dominated government was inspired by the belief that a woman's life "must matter, beyond all the cooking and the cleaning and the children."
Jack and Jill (PG, 91 min.) Adam Sandler. Not since Max Baer donned ringlets and petticoats to portray Jethrine Bodine on "The Beverly Hillbillies" has a drag act been as ghastly as the one perpetrated by Adam Sandler in this alternately tasteless and schmaltzy comedy about a privileged Hollywood adman (Sandler) who learns to love his obnoxious, awkward sister (also Sandler, wearing a long black wig, so he resembles a Bronx Cher worthy of a Bronx cheer).
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (PG, 94 min.) Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson replaces Brendan Fraser in this silly, colorful, harmless and fun sequel to the similarly family-friendly surprise hit of 2008, "Journey to the Center of the Earth," which helped launch the current 3D revival. Returning from the earlier film, Josh Hutcherson plays a surly teenage "Vernean" who believes the science-fiction novels of Jules Verne were inspired by real-life adventure; joined by his stepfather (Johnson), a comic-relief helicopter pilot (Luis Guzmán) and the pilot's tight-clothed daughter (Disney graduate Vanessa Hudgens), the boy travels to the title land mass, which has it all: giant lizards and bees, miniature elephants, an active volcano, a treehouse the Swiss Family Robinson would envy, and the ruins of Atlantis -- plus, a lost grandfather explorer (Michael Caine). The 3D, for a change, is excellent, and worth the surcharge.
CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic (in 3-D), Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Joyful Noise (PG-13, 118 min.) Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton.
The Muppets (PG, 109 min.) Kermit, Miss Piggy.
Puss in Boots (PG, 90 min.)
Red Tails (PG-13, 125 min.) The pioneering fighter pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen deserve a more memorable and less cornball tribute than this George Lucas production, which seems inspired as much by old war movies as by the real-life heroism of the African-American flyers of World War II.
Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Safe House (R, 115 min.) As technically sophisticated as it is thematically tired and narratively challenged, the first English-language feature from Swedish director Daniel Espinosa is illogical and implausible, elevated only by the novelty of its South African setting and the lead performance of Denzel Washington as a fugitive CIA agent and "expert manipulator" on the run from mystery assassins while in the custody of an untested entry-level agent played by Ryan Reynolds. Like "Training Day," which earned its star a Best Actor Oscar, the film presents Washington as a sort of satanic tempter, complete with devilish goatee -- a sly, superior figure of dark aspect and apparently dark designs, attempting to corrupt a physically and morally lily-white young minion of the law (Reynolds, instead of Ethan Hawke). The cat-and-mouse challenge promised by this matchup is soon overwhelmed by shaky-camera, cookie-cutter action excess, interrupted only by opportunistic war-on-terror "relevance" (Washington's character is waterboarded in his first scene) and boilerplate spy jargon, delivered by a fine but unchallenged cast. (Vera Farmiga might as well be wearing a sign on her forehead that reads: "I'm doing this for the money.")
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square.
The Secret World of Arrietty (G, 95 min.) The latest exquisitely hand-drawn animated film from Japan's Studio Ghibli ("Spirited Away") is another wonder, as heartbreaking for its devotion to craft, artistry and intelligent storytelling (for viewers of all ages) as for its themes of inevitable exile and impossible love. Based on Mary Norton's classic 1952 children's novel, "The Borrowers," the film depicts the struggles of a family of miniature people who live under the floorboards of a "normal"-sized human house; when an adolescent girl Borrower, Arriety (voiced by Bridgit Mendler in this English-language version), strikes up a wary friendship with a human teenage boy (David Henrie), their relationship threatens the Borrowers' existence. As in many Studio Ghibli films, the message is essentially ecological: The Borrowers don't exploit their environment, but survive by taking only those items that won't be missed: a random sugar cube, a piece of tissue paper, and so on. Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, from a script by Ghibli mastermind Hayao Miyazaki.
Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (PG-13, 129 min.) Robert Downey Jr..
Star Wars: Episode 1 -- The Phantom Menace (PG, 133 min.) Jar Jar Binks: even more hilarious in three dimensions?
CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D).
This Means War (PG-13, 98 min.) Spies Chris Pine and Tom Hardy use CIA tactics to battle each other for Reese Witherspoon.
Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema.
Tower Heist (PG-13, 104 min.) Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy.
Underworld: Awakening (R, 89 min.) After skipping the third film, 2009's "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans," Kate Beckinsale returns.
Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8 (in 3-D).
The Vow (PG-13, 104 min.) Husband Channing Tatum must work to win the love of wife Rachel McAdams when she emerges from a coma.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square.
Wanderlust (R, 98 min.) Manhattanites Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston move to a rural commune known for organic food and "free love."
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
War Horse (PG-13, 146 min.) Directed by Steven Spielberg.
Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
The Woman in Black (PG-13, 97 min.) The fourth release from the revived Hammer Films is the first to return to the Gothic subject matter and Victorian decor that made the company famous in the 1950s and '60s, when it cranked out horror movies with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing by the blood-filled bucketload. In his first post-"Potter" starring role, Daniel Radcliffe is an intense young lawyer and widower who -- like Jonathan Harker in the many retellings of "Dracula" -- journeys to a scary old home near an unwelcoming village that is cowering in the shadow of the supernatural; Eel Marsh House, the lawyer soon learns, is haunted by a vengeful ghost thirsty for the blood of children.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Drive-In.