Clint Eastwood turns his deliberate pacing and gorgeously spare cinematography on an extraordinary true story - the experience of a '20s-era mother (Angelina Jolie) whose son goes missing one day, and who's eventually given the wrong boy back - and Jolie turns in a fearless performance as a very fearful but resolute parent. Yet by sticking to the known facts of the case, a lot of questions are left unanswered, and you can't help wondering whether a bit of fiction would've been more satisfying. Grade: B+
British veteran Mike Leigh isn't really thought of as a feel-good-movie kind of guy, but he makes up for it with his character study of ebulliently positive 30-year-old schoolteacher Poppy (an extraordinary Sally Hawkins).
Her outfits may be loud and her first impression is ditzy, but Poppy's truly remarkable, as much for her willed optimism as the effect it has on others, like her sad, hateful driving instructor (Eddie Marsan). Though there's some strong apprehension created by their scenes together, in the end, you'll be sharing Poppy's infectious grin. Grade: A
"My Name is Bruce"
Bruce Campbell acolytes, the new feature directed by and starring the B-movie icon as himself is made for you. His ridiculous action epic about fighting an ancient Chinese killer spirit in an American backwater is full of Campbell in-jokes, including a living one - costar Ted Raimi. For everyone else, this is nonsensical, unfunny and totally phoned in.
Granted, no one should expect Lawrence of Arabia from the star of the Evil Dead franchise, but as the dropping of director Sam Raimi's name reminds us, it was ingenuity that separated Campbell from the pack of direct-to-video also-rans in the first place. Grade: D+
"Quantum of Solace"
In his second outing as James Bond, Daniel Craig's hard face and physique serve the spy's newly consuming anger well, with Judi Dench's M distilling a fear chaser after discovering that a shadowy global crime operation has gotten very close to her.
Based in such primal emotions and an in-your-face aesthetic from director Marc Forster, Quantum has the capacity to hit on a visceral level, especially in the opening and closing action scenes. But its immersion in darkness keeps the story from cohering, and sadly, French film star Mathieu Amalric is underutilized as Bond's new nemesis. Grade: B-
"Rachel Getting Married"
Ditching the standard ways of Hollywood mainstream, director Jonathan Demme adopts handheld camerawork and natural lighting while star Anne Hathaway takes on bad hair and a damaged, ragingly narcissistic character for this intense view of a deep family wound reopened by a weekend wedding.
Unwelcome distraction comes from the more exhausting parts of her performance and a forced feeling of multiculturalism throughout. But if you can tune out that loudness, you'll find a touching statement about punishing the ones you love, made in a style that's right for the material. Grade: B
If you're not a fan of live-action medieval role-playing, you might want to steer clear of David Wain's comedy about a couple of slackers (Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott) who end up as mentors in a Big Brothers-like program in a community service plea bargain. Most of the laughs come from the early, pre-mentoring scenes, but there's plenty that's not funny, including jokes about one boy's obsession with breasts and bad language and the other's all-consuming mock swordplay habit. Grade: C
"Zack and Miri Make a Porno"
Kevin Smith's latest is refreshingly simple, a story of two childhood friends (Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks) who decide to earn some quick cash by filming their own amateur skin flick. As usual for Smith, it's high on the immaturity, quick with the inappropriate and consistent with the hysterical, but Rogen and Banks really bring this film to life with their natural chemistry. Grade: A-