Twelve-year old Owen is viciously bullied by his classmates and neglected by his divorcing parents. Achingly lonely, Owen spends his days plotting revenge on his middle school tormentors and his evenings spying on the other inhabitants of his apartment complex. His only friend is his new neighbor Abby, an eerily self-possessed young girl who lives next door with her silent father. A frail, troubled child about Owens's age, Abby emerges from her heavily curtained apartment only at night and always barefoot, seemingly immune to the bitter winter elements. Recognizing a fellow outcast, Owen opens up to her and before long, the two have formed a unique bond. When a string of grisly murders puts the town on high alert, Abby's father disappears, and the terrified girl is left to fend for herself. Still, she repeatedly rebuffs Owen's efforts to help her and her increasingly bizarre behavior leads the imaginative Owen to suspect she's hiding an unthinkable secret. American remake of the Swedish cult hit "Let the Right One In" (2008).
Vitals: Director: Matt Reeves. Stars: Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Sasha Barrese, Elias Koteas, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Cara Buono, Dylan Kenin, Chris Browning, Ritchie Coster, Dylan Minnette.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 116 min., Horror, Box office gross: $12.067 million, Overture Films.
Never Let Me Go
A powerful story revolving around Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield), three best friends who grow up together at a seemingly idyllic English boarding school with a chilling secret. As they grow into young adults, they find that they have to come to terms with the strength of the love they feel for each other, while preparing themselves for the haunting reality that awaits them. When they learn the shocking truth -- that they are genetically engineered clones destined to be organ donors -- they embrace their fleeting chance to live and love. Adapted from highly acclaimed novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, in which he posed the fundamental question: "What makes us human"?
Vitals: Director: Mark Romanek. Stars: Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield, Sally Hawkins, Charlotte Rampling.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 103 min., Romantic Drama, Box office gross: $2.284 million, Fox.
A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop
Wang (Ni Dahong) is a gloomy and cunning noodle shop owner in a desert town in China. Feeling neglected, Wang's wife (Yan Ni) secretly goes out with Li (Xiao Shenyang), one of his employees. A timid man, Li reluctantly keeps the gun the landlady bought for "killing her husband later." Every single move they make, however, does not escape the boss's notice. Wang decides to bribe patrol officer Zhang (Sun Honglei) to kill the illicit couple. It looks like a perfect plan: The affair will come to a cruel but satisfying end ... or so he thinks, but the equally wicked Zhang has an agenda of his own that will lead to even more violence. Director Zhang Yimou's remake of Joel and Ethan Coen's 1985 "Blood Simple." In Chinese with English subtitles.
Vitals: Director: Zhang Yimou. Stars: Ni Dahong, Xiao Shenyang, Yan Ni, Sun Honglei.
2009, CC, MPAA rating: R, 95 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $.185 million, Sony.
The inspirational true story of a sister's unwavering devotion to her brother. When Betty Anne Waters' (Hillary Swank) older brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is arrested for murder and sentenced to life in 1983, Betty Anne, a Massachusetts wife and mother of two, dedicates her life to overturning the murder conviction. Convinced that her brother is innocent, Betty Anne puts herself through high school, college and, finally, law school in an 18-year quest to free Kenny. With the help of best friend Abra Rice (Minnie Driver), Betty Anne pores through suspicious evidence mounted by small town cop Nancy Taylor (Melissa Leo), meticulously retracing the steps that led to Kenny's arrest. Belief in her brother -- and her quest for the truth -- pushes Betty Anne and her team to uncover the facts and utilize DNA evidence with the hope of exonerating Kenny.
Vitals: Director: Tony Goldwyn. Stars: Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver, Juliette Lewis, Peter Gallagher, Melissa Leo.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 107 min., Drama, Box office gross: $6.022 million, Fox.
Welcome to the Rileys
James Gandolfini is Doug Riley, a man at a crossroads. Ever since the tragic death of his teenage daughter, he's led a life of quiet desperation ... and now, something has to give. On a business trip to New Orleans, he encounters Mallory (Kristen Stewart) -- a raw, angry runaway living a dangerous life as a stripper. Moved by emotions he barely understands, Doug abandons his old life to save hers. The tenuous balance is threatened when his wife Lois (Melissa Leo) shakes off the fears that have kept her homebound for years. Now three lost souls seek hope and forgiveness in each other ... and together, they discover a rare gift of connection that feels like family.
Vitals: Director: Jake Scott. Stars: James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart, Melissa Leo.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 111 min., Drama, Box office gross: $.116 million, Sony.
Life As We Know It
Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl) is an up-and-coming caterer and Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel) is a promising network sports director. After a disastrous first date, the only thing they have in common is their dislike for each other and their love for their 1-year-old goddaughter, Sophie, the daughter of their best friends. But when the best friends die, they leave Sophie in their joint guardianship, and Holly and Messer are forced to put their differences aside. Juggling career ambitions and competing social calendars, they'll have to find some common ground while living under one roof.
Vitals: Director: Life As We Know It. Stars: Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Josh Lucas, Hayes MacArthur, Christina Hendricks, Sarah Burns.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 112 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $50.754 million, Warner.
No matter how old you are, you never get over high school. Successful PR pro Marni (Kristin Bell) heads home for her older brother's (Jimmy Wolk) wedding and discovers that he's marrying her high school arch nemesis (Odette Yustman), who has conveniently forgotten all the rotten things she did so many years ago. Then the bride's jet-setting aunt (Sigourney Weaver) bursts in and Marni's not-so jet-setting mom (Jamie Lee Curtis) comes face to face with her own high school rival. The claws come out and old wounds are opened in this comedy about what happens when you're reunited with the one person you'd like to forget.
Vitals: Director: Andy Fickman. Stars: Kristen Bell, Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis, Odette Yustman, Kristin Chenoweth, Victor Garber, Betty White, Patrick Duffy, Christine Lakin, Jenna Leigh Green, Kyle Bornheimer.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 105 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $25.258 million, Disney.
My Soul to Take
Wes Craven is back at again and he wants to scare the heck out of you -- as always. In the sleepy town of Riverton, legend tells of a serial killer who swore he would return to murder the seven children born the night he died. Now, 16 years later, people are disappearing again. Has the psychopath been reincarnated as one of the seven teens, or did he survive the night he was left for dead? Only one of the kids knows the answer. Adam "Bug" Heller (Max Thieriot) was supposed to die on the bloody night his father went insane. Unaware of his dad's terrifying crimes, he has been plagued by nightmares since he was a baby. But if Bug hopes to save his friends from the monster that's returned, he must face an evil that won't rest ... until it finishes the job it began the day he was born. The legendary Craven ("A Nightmare on Elm Street," "Scream") keeps your heart racing with a suspense-thriller filled with twists, turns and a dark secret that will send your soul searching for cover.
Vitals: Director: Wes Craven. Stars: Max Thieriot, John Magaro, Denzel Whitaker, Zena Grey, Nick Lashaway, Paulina Olszynski.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 107 min., Horror, Box office gross: $14.637 million, (Universal).
It's Kind of a Funny Story
Sometimes what's in your head isn't as crazy as you think ... that's certainly true for Craig (Keir Gilchrist). Sixteen-year-old Craig , stressed out from the demands of being a teenager, checks himself into a mental health clinic. But the youth ward is temporarily closed, so he finds himself stuck in the adult ward. One of the patients, Bobby (Zach Galifianakis), soon becomes both Craig's mentor and protege. Craig is also quickly drawn to another 16-year-old displaced to the adult ward, the sensitive Noelle (Emma Roberts), who just might make him forget his longtime unrequited crush Nia (Zoe Kravitz). With a minimum five days' stay imposed on him by the adult ward's staff psychiatrist, Craig is sustained by friendships on both the inside and the outside as he learns more about life, love, and the pressures of growing up.
Vitals: Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck. Stars: Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts, Zoe Kravitz, Viola Davis, Lauren Graham, Jim Gaffigan, Dana DeVestern.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 102 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $6.350 million, Universal.
Paranormal Activity 2
Prequel to 2009's horror phenomenon. After experiencing what they think are a series of "break-ins", a family sets up security cameras around their home, only to realize that the events unfolding before them are more sinister than they seem.
Vitals: Director: Tod Williams. Stars: Katie Featherston, Brian Boland, Molly Ephraim, Seth Ginsberg, Sprague Grayden.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 91 min., Horror, Box office gross: $84.723 million, Paramount.
A runaway train, transporting deadly toxic chemicals, is barreling down on Scranton, Pennsylvania, and only two men can stop it: a veteran engineer (Denzel Washington) and a young conductor (Chris Pine). Thousands of lives hang in the balance as these ordinary heroes attempt to chase down one million tons of hurtling steel and prevent an epic disaster.
Vitals: Director: Tony Scott. Stars: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Jessy Schram, Jeff Wincott, Kevin Dunn, Kevin Chapman, Ethan Suplee, T.J. Miller.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 98 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $80.020 million, Fox.
Waiting for 'Superman'
Every morning, in big cities, suburbs and small towns across America, parents send their children off to school with the highest of hopes. But a shocking number of students in the United States attend schools where they have virtually no chance of learning -- failure factories likelier to produce drop-outs than college graduates. And despite decades of well-intended reforms and huge sums of money spent on the problem, our public schools haven't improved markedly since the 1970s. Why? There is an answer. And it's not what you think. From "An Inconvenient Truth" director Davis Guggenheim comes "Waiting for 'Superman'," a provocative and cogent examination of the crisis of public education in the U.S. told through multiple interlocking stories -- from a handful of students and their families whose futures hang in the balance, to the educators and reformers trying to find real and lasting solutions within a dysfunctional system. Tackling such politically radioactive topics as the power of teachers' unions and the entrenchment of school bureaucracies, Guggenheim reveals the invisible forces that have held true education reform back for decades.
Vitals: Director: Davis Guggenheim. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 102 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $5.891 million, Paramount.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
Follows a pair of married couples, Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) and Helena (Gemma Jones), and their daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) and her husband Roy (Josh Brolin), as their passions, ambitions, and anxieties lead them into trouble and out of their minds. After Alfie leaves Helena to pursue his lost youth and a free-spirited call girl named Charmaine (Lucy Punch), Helena abandons rationality and surrenders her life to the loopy advice of a charlatan fortuneteller. Unhappy in her marriage, Sally develops a crush on her handsome art gallery boss, Greg (Antonio Banderas), while Roy, a novelist nervously awaiting the response to his latest manuscript, becomes moonstruck over Dia (Freida Pinto), a mystery woman who catches his gaze through a nearby window.
Despite these characters' attempts to dodge their problems with pipe dreams and impracticable plans, their efforts lead only to heartache, irrationality and perilous hot water.
Vitals: Director: Woody Allen. Stars: Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Freida Pinto, Lucy Punch, Naomi Watts.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 98 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $3.186 million, Sony.
Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) is an expectant first-time father whose wife's due date is a mere five days away. As Peter hurries to catch a flight home from Atlanta to be at her side for the birth, his best intentions go completely awry when a chance encounter with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) forces Peter to hitch a ride with Ethan -- on what turns out to be a cross-country road trip that will ultimately destroy several cars, numerous friendships and Peter's last nerve. A kind of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" for the 21st century, from "The Hangover" director Todd Phillips.
Vitals: Director: Todd Phillips. Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Juliette Lewis, Jamie Foxx.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 95 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $99.231 million, Warner.
For years, townsfolk have been terrified of the backwoods recluse known as Felix Bush (Robert Duvall). People say he's done all sorts of unspeakable things -- that he's killed in cold blood; that he's in league with the devil; that he has strange powers -- and they avoid him like the plague. Then one day, Felix rides to town with a shotgun and a wad of cash, saying he wants to buy a funeral. It's not your usual funeral for the dead that Felix wants. On the contrary, he wants a living funeral, in which anyone who ever has had a story about him will come to tell it, while he takes it all in. Sensing an opportunity for a big payday, fast-talking funeral home owner Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) enlists his gentlemanly young apprentice, Buddy Robinson (Lucas Black), to win Felix's business. Buddy is no stranger to Felix's dark reputation, but what he discovers is that behind Felix's surreal plan lies a very real and long-held secret. As the funeral approaches, the mystery -- involving the widow Mattie Darrow (Sissy Spacek), the only person in town who ever got close to Felix, and an Illinois preacher Charlie Jackson (Bill Cobbs), who refuses to speak at his former friend's funeral -- only deepens. But when the big day comes, Felix is in no mood to listen to other people spinning made-up anecdotes about him. This time, he's the one who is going to do the telling about why he has been hiding out in the woods.
Vitals: Director: Aaron Schneider. Stars: Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, Lucas Black, Gerald McRaney, Bill Cobbs, Scott Cooper.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 103 min., Drama, Box office gross: $9.097 million, Sony.
Megamind is the most brilliant supervillain the world has ever known. And the least successful. Over the years, he has tried to conquer Metro City in every imaginable way. Each attempt, a colossal failure thanks to the caped superhero known as Metro Man, an invincible hero until the day Megamind actually kills him in the throes of one of his botched evil plans. Suddenly, Megamind has no purpose. A supervillain without a superhero. He realizes that achieving his life's ambition is the worst thing that ever happened to him. Megamind decides that the only way out of his rut is to create a new hero opponent called Titan, who promises to be bigger, better and stronger than Metro Man ever was.
Pretty quickly Titan starts to think it's much more fun to be a villain than a good guy. Except Titan doesn't just want to rule the world, he wants to destroy it. Now, Megamind must decide: Can he defeat his own diabolical creation? Can the world's smartest man make the smart decision for once? Can the evil genius become the unlikely hero of his own story?
Vitals: Director: Tom McGrath. Stars: Voices of Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross, Justin Theroux, Ben Stiller, J.K. Simmons.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 96 min., Animated, Box office gross: $144.658 million, DreamWorks.
All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a
Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a
Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center),
and 50 (rear) speakers and Power 10 subwoofer.