Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 7, 2013 Edition

Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 7, 2013 Edition
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Silver Screen: Confidence Man: The Hugh DeNeal Story Is Stranger than Fiction
Silver Screen: Hereafter *
Silver Screen: Machete **
Silver Screen: Saw VII 3D Zero Stars
Silver Screen: Takers *1/2
Silver Screen: 127 Hours ****
Silver Screen: 21 Jump Street ***
Silver Screen: A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas ***
Silver Screen: American Reunion **1/2
Silver Screen: Argo **1/2
Silver Screen: Bad Teacher ***
Silver Screen: Battle: Los Angeles **
Silver Screen: Battleship *
Silver Screen: Bernie ****
Big Muddy Film Festival 33
Silver Screen: Black Swan ****
Silver Screen: Blue Valentine ****
Silver Screen: Brave ***
Silver Screen: Breaking Dawn Part I *1/2
Silver Screen: Bridesmaids ****
Silver Screen: Broken City ***
Silver Screen: Bully **
Silver Screen: Captain America **
Silver Screen: Cars II *1/2
Silver Screen: Case Thirty-nine *
Silver Screen: Cedar Rapids ****
Silver Screen: Charlie Saint Cloud **
Silver Screen: Chernobyl Diaries *
Silver Screen: Chronicle ****
Silver Screen: Cloud Atlas ***
Silver Screen: Contagion ****1/2
Silver Screen: Contraband *
Silver Screen: Cowboys & Aliens ***
Silver Screen: Crazy, Stupid, Love **
Silver Screen: Dark Shadows *1/2
Silver Screen: David Wong’s John Dies at the End: A Local Author Sees His Novel Hit the Big Screen
Silver Screen: Despicable Me **1/2
Silver Screen: Devil ***
Silver Screen: Dinner for Schmucks *1/2
Silver Screen: Director Rusty Nails Presents... Dead On: The Life and Cinema of George A. Romero
Silver Screen: Django Unchained ****1/2
Silver Screen: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark **
Silver Screen: Dream House *1/2
Silver Screen: Dredd 3D *1/2
Silver Screen: Drive ****1/2
Silver Screen: Drive Angry 3D **1/2
Silver Screen: Due Date ***1/2
Silver Screen: Easy A ***1/2
Silver Screen: Eat Pray Love ***
Silver Screen: End of Watch ****
Silver Screen: Fast Five **1/2
Silver Screen: Faster **1/2
Silver Screen: Fifty/Fifty ****
Silver Screen: Final Destination V **
Silver Screen: Flight ****
Silver Screen: Friends with Benefits **
Silver Screen: Fright Night ***
Silver Screen: Gangster Squad *1/2
Silver Screen: Get Him to the Greek ***
Silver Screen: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 1/2*
Silver Screen: Going the Distance ***
Silver Screen: Gone **1/2
Silver Screen: Green Lantern *1/2
Silver Screen: Grown Ups *
Silver Screen: Hall Pass *1/2
Silver Screen: Hanna ****
Silver Screen: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II ****
Silver Screen: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I ***
Silver Screen: Haywire ***1/2
Silver Screen: Hit and Run ***
Silver Screen: Hope Springs ***1/2
Silver Screen: Horrible Bosses **1/2
Silver Screen: House at the End of the Street *
Silver Screen: How Do You Know ***
Silver Screen: I Am Number Four *
Silver Screen: In Time **1/2
Silver Screen: Inception ****1/2
Silver Screen: Insidious ***1/2
Silver Screen: J. Edgar **
Silver Screen: Jack and Jill 1/2*
Silver Screen: Jack Reacher ***
Silver Screen: Jackass 3D **1/2
Silver Screen: Jeff, Who Lives at Home ***1/2
Silver Screen: Jonah Hex *
Silver Screen: Josh Hyde’s Postcards and Love Letters
Silver Screen: Just Go with It *
Silver Screen: Killer Elite **
Silver Screen: Killer Elite **
Silver Screen: Killing Them Softly **1/2
Silver Screen: Knight and Day *1/2
Silver Screen: Kung Fu Panda II ***
Silver Screen: Larry Crowne *1/2
Silver Screen: Lawless ****
Silver Screen: Let Me In ***
Silver Screen: Life as We Know It *1/2
Silver Screen: Life of Pi **1/2
Silver Screen: Limitless ***
Silver Screen: Lincoln ****
Silver Screen: Lockout **
Silver Screen: Looper ****
Silver Screen: Megamind ***1/2
Silver Screen: Men in Black III *1/2
Silver Screen: Midnight in Paris ****
Silver Screen: Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol ****
Silver Screen: Moneyball ***1/2
Silver Screen: Moonrise Kingdom ****1/2
Silver Screen: Movie Forty-three zero stars
Silver Screen: My Soul to Take 3D 1/2*
Silver Screen: New Year’s Eve *
Silver Screen: No Strings Attached ***
Silver Screen: One Day **
Silver Screen: Our Idiot Brother ***
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity II ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity III ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity IV *
Silver Screen: ParaNorman ***1/2
Silver Screen: Parker ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paul ***1/2
Silver Screen: Piranha 3D ***1/2
Silver Screen: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides *1/2
Silver Screen: Playing for Keeps 1/2*
Silver Screen: Predators ***
Silver Screen: Premium Rush ***
Silver Screen: Priest 1/2*
Silver Screen: Project X 1/2*
Silver Screen: Prometheus ***1/2
Silver Screen: Real Steel *
Silver Screen: Red ***
Silver Screen: Red Dawn *
Silver Screen: Red Tails **
Silver Screen: Resident Evil: Retribution *
Silver Screen: Rise of the Planet of the Apes ****
Silver Screen: Safe ***
Silver Screen: Safe House ***
Silver Screen: Salt ***
Silver Screen: Savages ***1/2
Silver Screen: Scott Pilgrim versus the World ***1/2
Silver Screen: Scream IV *
Silver Screen: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World **1/2
Silver Screen: Seven Psychopaths ***1/2
Silver Screen: Sex and the City II 1/2*
Silver Screen: Shaft and Coffy: Novotny Lawrence Discusses the Blaxploitation Movement
Silver Screen: Shark Night 3D 1/2* -- Apollo 18 **
Silver Screen: Silent House **1/2
Silver Screen: Silver Linings Playbook ***1/2
Silver Screen: Sinister ***1/2
Silver Screen: Skyfall ****
Silver Screen: Skyline *
Silver Screen: Snow White and the Huntsman **1/2
Silver Screen: Soldiers Speak Out: Carbondale Oscar Winner Barb Trent’s Latest Film
Silver Screen: Something Borrowed *
Silver Screen: Source Code ****1/2
Silver Screen: Splice ****
Silver Screen: Straw Dogs *1/2
Silver Screen: Straw Dogs *1/2
Silver Screen: Super Eight ****
Silver Screen: Taken II **
Silver Screen: Ted ***1/2
Silver Screen: That's My Boy *
Silver Screen: The A-Team **1/2
Silver Screen: The Academy Honors... The Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale
Silver Screen: The Adjustment Bureau *1/2
Silver Screen: The Amazing Spider-Man **1/2
Silver Screen: The American ****
Silver Screen: The Artist ****
Silver Screen: The Audubon Trilogy: Fugitive Narratives and the Drama of the Natural World
Silver Screen: The Avengers ****
Silver Screen: The Big Muddy Film Festival
Silver Screen: The Big Year *1/2
Silver Screen: The Bourne Legacy ***
Silver Screen: The Boys and Girls Club Night at the Oscars
Silver Screen: The Campaign ***
Silver Screen: The Dark Knight Rises ***
Silver Screen: The Debt ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Descendants ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Dictator ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Dilemma *1/2
Silver Screen: The Expendables **1/2
Silver Screen: The Expendables II *1/2
Silver Screen: The Fighter ****
Silver Screen: The Five-Year Engagement ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo *
Silver Screen: The Green Hornet **1/2
Silver Screen: The Guilt Trip ***
Silver Screen: The Hangover Part II **1/2
Silver Screen: The Hunger Games ***
Silver Screen: The Ides of March ****
Silver Screen: The Karate Kid ***
Silver Screen: The Karate Kid ***
Silver Screen: The King's Speech ****
Silver Screen: The Last Airbender *
Silver Screen: The Last Exorcism ***
Silver Screen: The Last Stand ***
Silver Screen: The Lincoln Lawyer ***
Silver Screen: The Lucky One *1/2
Silver Screen: The Man with the Iron Fists **1/2
Silver Screen: The Master ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Mechanic **1/2
Silver Screen: The Next Three Days ***
Silver Screen: The Other Guys ***
Silver Screen: The Perks of Being a Wallflower ****
Silver Screen: The Possession *
Silver Screen: The Raven *
Silver Screen: The Rite *
Silver Screen: The Roommate *1/2
Silver Screen: The Rum Diary ***
Silver Screen: The Score Card , February 24, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , February 3, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , March 31, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , September 16, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , September 23, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , September 30, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card August 19, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card August 26, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card August 5, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card July 8, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card September 2, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card September 9, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 12, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 14, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 19, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 21, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 26, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 28, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 5, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 7, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 16, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 19, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 2, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 23 , 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 25, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 30, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 4, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 1, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 13, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 15, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 16, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 2, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 6, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 8, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 9, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 10, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 16, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 17, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 2, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 23, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 9, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 11, 2013 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 12, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 13, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 17, 2013 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 19, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 20, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 24, 2013 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 26, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 27, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 31, 2013 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 12 , 2012 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 14, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 19, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 21, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 26 , 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 28, 2011 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 1, 2012 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 11, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 15, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 17, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 18, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 29, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 3, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 4, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 8, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 06, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 11, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 14, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 18, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 20, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 21, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 25, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 27, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 28, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 4 , 2012 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 01, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 13, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 15, 2011 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 22, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 27, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 29, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 6, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 8, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 01, 2020 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 15, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 22, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 29, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 10, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 17, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 24, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Sitter ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Social Network ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Sorcerer's Apprentice **
Silver Screen: The Thing **1/2
Silver Screen: The Three Stooges ***
Silver Screen: The Tourist **
Silver Screen: The Town ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Tree of Life *****
Silver Screen: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse *1/2
Silver Screen: The Vow **
Silver Screen: The Watch **
Silver Screen: The Woman in Black **
Silver Screen: The Words 1/2*
Silver Screen: Thirty Minutes or Less ***1/2
Silver Screen: This Is Forty ****
Silver Screen: Thor ***
Silver Screen: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ***1/2
Silver Screen: To Rome with Love ***1/2
Silver Screen: Total Recall **1/2
Silver Screen: Tower Heist ***
Silver Screen: Toy Story III ****
Silver Screen: Transformers: Dark of the Moon *1/2
Silver Screen: True Grit ****1/2
Silver Screen: Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II *
Silver Screen: Unknown ***
Silver Screen: Unstoppable **
Silver Screen: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps ****
Silver Screen: Wanderlust ***1/2
Silver Screen: War Horse **
Silver Screen: Water for Elephants ***
Silver Screen: We Bought a Zoo ****
Silver Screen: Wrath of the Titans 1/2*
Silver Screen: Wreck-it Ralph ***1/2
Silver Screen: X-Men: First Class ***
Silver Screen: Your Highness ***1/2
Silver Screen: Zero Dark Thirty ****1/2
Silver Screen: Zookeeper *


Who:
What:
Where:
When:
Pictured: SIU alum Melissa McCarthy in Identity Thief.
Bryan Miller

> opening this week in Carbondale (Friday unless otherwise noted).

>> Opening Thursday, February 14.

< leaving Carbondale this Friday.

by Bryan Miller unless otherwise credited.

Argo (R, **1/2): Ben Affleck directs this well-crafted, intriguing thriller based on a fascinating true story that just happens to make for a pretty boring movie. Affleck stars as state department agent Tony Mendez, who concocts an elaborate scheme to rescue six Americans secretly living in Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis. His solution is to use Hollywood moviemakers (Alan Arkin and John Goodman) to pose as a Canadian film crew and extract the Americans before they’re taken hostage. The story is fascinating, and Affleck constructs the film more than competently, but the story is front-loaded and better suited to a documentary. The final hour is a slog, with the climax being a twenty-minute trek through airport security that makes you feel exactly like you just went through airport security.

< Broken City (R, ***): This thriller from director Allen Hughes (working without his brother Albert) is pitched as drama of power and influence, but it’s really a noir detective story dressed in a tux as a political potboiler. Mark Wahlberg stars as an ex-cop turned gumshoe called in for a favor by the mayor (Russell Crowe) and subsequently caught up in a scandal between the mayor, his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and the campaign manager (Kyle Chandler) for the mayor’s political rival (Barry Pepper). What Broken City lacks in big twists it makes up for in some punchy dialogue from screenwriter Brian Tucker, abetted by solid performances from supporting players Alona Tal, James Ransone, and Jeffrey Wright.

Django Unchained (R, ****1/2): Quentin Tarantino’s latest is a wonderfully overstuffed revenge fantasy that mashes up spaghetti westerns and various 1970s exploitation movies to great effect. Jamie Foxx stars as Django, a slave recruited by bounty hunter King Schlutz (Christoph Waltz) to track down a trio of targets. In exchange, Schultz vows to help Django find his lost wife, who’s being held at the estate of the nefarious Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). The film is ahistorical pop fantasy, which, depending on your perspective, does or does not justify some of its factual discrepancies or what might even be called stylized racism. But Tarantino also does a fine job of articulating the horrors of slavery often overlooked by more polite depictions, and Waltz’s wonderful character Schultz undergoes an interesting moral transformation that’s not about a realization that slavery is evil so much as coming to understand the immensity of its evil. And as pop fantasists go, there aren’t many better than Quentin Tarantino.

Gangster Squad (R, *1/2): Too many good actors are wasting their time in this dunderheaded period piece based ever-so-loosely on the L.A. police force's postwar struggle to keep East Coast mobster Mickey Cohen from seizing control of the town. Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling lead a team of cops turned sanctioned vigilantes that includes a dubiously modern multiethnic cast (Michael Pena and Anthony Mackie, as well as Giovanni Ribisi and a silly Robert Patrick). Director Reuben Fleischer fails to stylize the movie enough to make it distinctive or ground it in reality enough for it to be a plausible crime drama. Instead we get what appears to be the world's most expensive high-school production, which borrows heavily from L.A. Confidential and The Untouchables without ever taking anything worth stealing.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (PG-13): The children's fairytale gets the action-movie treatment as the titular brother and sister (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) have grown up into heavily armed witch slayers. In 2D and 3D.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (PG, ***): The Hobbit, originally written explicitly as a children’s story, better suits director Peter Jackson’s (often annoyingly) campy sensibilities than J.R.R.Tolkien's far darker Lord of the Rings. Thus with The Hobbit Jackson begins to atone for his desecration of Tolkien’s masterpiece by turning part one of this film adaptation into a mostly enjoyable adventure. Unfortunately, Jackson pads the film by creating a couple of irritating scenes from whole cloth; the tone and quality of Jackson’s writing suffer noticeably compared to Tolkien’s glorious source material. The Hobbit’s 3D effects and higher framerate form an almost entirely astonishing show in their own right (though in a few places they make green screens look obviously fake and cheap). For the best experience, show up a few minutes late, skip Jackson’s unnecessary prologue, and hit the bathroom whenever the camera comes across Radagast the Brown (who Jackson curdles into his own Jar Jar Binks)-- or wait for the DVD and program those scenes out of the presentation. In 2D only. (Wissmann)

Life of Pi (PG, **1/2): Ang Lee provides lush visual accompaniment to Yann Martel’s off-key ode to blind faith. Pi (played for the majority of the movie as a teenager by Suraj Sharma) is a religious seeker by nature who is forced to move to Canada when his father’s zoo fails back in India. Catastrophe strikes on the boat ride west, ultimately leaving only young Pi adrift in a lifeboat he shares with a menacing Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Pi must learn to communicate with his untamable shipmate to survive. Lee renders all this in vivid, striking imagery that inspires the very kind of awe the story strains (and fails) to evoke. Largely computer-generated and, surprisingly, even better in 3D, the movie looks great, but thematically it’s a watery mess that’s ultimately revealed as a lengthy allegory to deliver a simplistic, sophomoric message. In 2D only.

Lincoln (PG-13, ****): Steven Spielberg's portrait of the sixteenth president, from a script by Tony Kushner adapting Doris Kearns Goodwin's acclaimed book, avoids most of the traditional biopic failings by focusing on a single month of Abe's life, just after his reelection, as he enacts a series of political machinations to abolish slavery. Daniel Day-Lewis gives a stellar, impressively understated performance as the most mythologized American, but his turn and Spielberg's whole picture aim to rescue Lincoln from his status as a legend and show him as a conflicted man making great personal sacrifices for the betterment of society. Day-Lewis is aided by a terrific cast of supporting players, including Sally Field as Mary Todd, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as his eldest son, Tommy Lee Jones as feisty abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens, and a scene-stealing James Spader playing a political operative working alongside Tim Blake Nelson and John Hawkes to score votes by coercion and bribery. It's a surprisingly wonky film that in its best moments plays like a nineteenth-century episode of The West Wing, but it's also an incredibly moving take on Lincoln that not even Spielberg's bumbling, melodramatic, and sentimental coda can sully.

Movie Forty-three (R, zero stars): When drama is bad, it warps into unintentional comedy, but when comedy is bad, it does not curdle into drama, but instead becomes a uniquely hideous, unlovable thing. Movie Forty-three is perhaps the most blatant example of that since the string of notoriously awful Seltzer-Friedberg post-Scary Movie pop parodies. It's not just not funny, it's anti-funny, the kind of steamy flop that causes you to twitch and cringe involuntarily in your seat as it unfolds a seemingly endless series of balls-and-poop gags. A Scientology center's worth of stars show up for the movie's unrelated sketches, which are linked by a thin premise in which an unhinged screenwriter (Dennis Quaid) forcibly pitches a studio exec (Greg Kinnear) his deranged movie ideas. John Hodgman has a nice one-minute stint as the Penguin in an awful sketch about superhero speed-dating, and Terrance Howard is funny in a one-note but moderately amusing sendup of inspirational sports movies. Otherwise, real comic talents like Chris Pratt, Anna Faris, and Stephen Merchant flounder alongside A-list actors like Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, and Richard Gere, straining to have fun by slumming it and failing on every level. The worst.

Parker (R, ***1/2): Taylor Hackford is the third director to adapt Richard Stark’s gritty Parker series, and even if his version turns out to be the third-best one (behind John Boorman’s excellent 1967 version starring Lee Marvin and Brian Helgulund’s Payback, a nifty 1970s-retro riff from 1999 starring Mel Gibson), it’s still pretty good. Jason Statham stars as tough-guy Parker, who’s double-crossed following an excellent heist sequence at the movie’s opening. Parker goes down to West Palm Beach to track down the traitors (including Michael Chiklis, Clifton Collins Jr., and The Wire’s Wendell Pierce) with the help of a flighty realtor (Jennifer Lopez). The tone is less gritty and more Elmore Leonard-influenced, but outside of the slow and mostly unnecessary scenes involving Lopez it clips along at a fast pace and nicely blends dark humor and stark violence.

Silver Linings Playbook (R, ***1/2): The eccentric David O. Russell moves yet another step closer to convention with this adaptation of Matthew Quick's novel about a bipolar divorcé (Bradley Cooper) trying to reconnect with his ex-wife after a stint in a mental hospital. In addition to dealing with his compulsive gambler of a father (a very good Robert De Niro), he becomes entangled with a socially maladjusted widow (Jennifer Lawrence) who coerces him into partnering with her in a dance contest. It's a well-acted, frequently funny take on a pretty conventional romantic drama. The characters are uniquely depicted, and Russell does a particularly strong job of presenting the daily tribulations of dealing with mental illness, but the story follows an arc that should be familiar to anyone who's ever gotten a peek at Hollywood's playbook.

Zero Dark Thirty (R, ****1/2): The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal reteam for this fascinating, intense procedural depiction of the years-long hunt and eventual killing of Osama bin Laden. Jessica Chastain stars as a young CIA op who joins the hunt for bin Laden straight out of college in 2003 and works tirelessly to piece together clues and track him down during the next eight years. The film leads up to a staging of the famous raid on the compound in Pakistan where the al-Quaeda leader was shot and killed. It's a lengthy but totally captivating scene, stunning in its suspense considering we know exactly how it will end. Debates abound from both political wings about the movie's veracity and potential agenda. That said, the movie is far more ambiguous about torture and the CIA's methodology than its political detractors would have you believe. In the final moments, when Chastain sheds a tear, it's hard not to think she's crying for what she's had to do to get there.

Also in or Coming to Local Theaters

Anna Karenina (R): Joe Wright (Atonement) directs this adaptation of Tolstoy's classic novel about the famously unhappy member of an aristocratic family (Keira Knightley) who embarks on a disastrous affair. Featuring Jude Law and Kelly Macdonald and written by playwright Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love).

Beautiful Creatures (PG-13): Southern gothic teen romance in which boy (Alden Ehrenreich) meets girl (Alice Englert) and girl’s family turns out to have an evil supernatural history.

A Good Day to Die Hard (R): The fourth sequel to one of the greatest action movies of all time finds bedraggled cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) teaming up with his son (Jai Coutney) in Russia to foil a terrorist plot.

Bullet to the Head (R): Sylvester Stallone stars in this action flick from director Walter Hill (The Warriors, Forty-eight Hours) about a cop and a hitman who must team up when their respective partners are slain.

< A Haunted House (R): Scary Movie’s Marlon Wayans writes and stars in this sendup of Paranormal Activity, featuring Essence Atkins, Nick Swardson, Cedric the Entertainer, and J.B. Smoove.

Hyde Park on Hudson (R): Bill Murray stars as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in this good-humored historical drama about a weekend vacation with significant political implications as the American president hosts the British royalty at the dawn of World War II. Laura Linney costars as FDR’s secret love, his distant cousin Daisy.

Identity Thief (R): A businessman (Jason Bateman) who finds he’s been scammed tracks down the con artist (SIU alum Melissa McCarthy) who hijacked his life in this comedy.

The Impossible (PG-13): A family on vacation in Thailand is washed away by a tsunami and must struggle to reunite. Starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor.

Les Miserables (PG-13): The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper helms this big-screen adaptation of the stage musical, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Mama (PG-13): Jessica Chastain stars in this horror flick about a couple who take in two abandoned, feral children only to discover that their spectral caretaker, who they call Mama, is still around.

Parental Guidance (PG): Billy Crystal and Bette Midler costar as grandparents struggling, in the most broadly comic ways possible, with their roles in raising their grandchildren.

Safe Haven (PG-13): The latest adaptation from schlockmonger Nicholas Sparks, in which a woman with a dodgy past (Julianne Hough) finds solace with a handsome widower (Josh Duhamel). And beaches and tears and stuff. From the incomparably boring Lasse Hallstrom.

Side Effects (R): When a woman (Rooney Mara) is given drugs by her psychiatrist (Jude Law) for anxiety, she wakes to find a dead body in her room and no memory of how the man died. Directed by the often-excellent Steven Soderbergh (Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Erin Brockovich, and The Informant!, among many other fine movies).

Warm Bodies (PG-13): Romantic comedy in which girl (Teresa Palmer) meets boy (Nicholas Hoult), but dad (John Malkovich) doesn’t approve. Except here the boy is a sensitive zombie and the girl and her dad are fighting for survival against hordes of the undead.