Friday October 19, 2012

ALEX CROSS (PG-13). A homicide investigator (Tyler Perry) squares off against a serial killer (Matthew Fox).

ARGO (R). Ben Affleck directs and stars in a rescue thriller set against the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. A glorious surprise. Directing his third feature, Affleck has come up with a seamless blend of detailed international drama -- based on the true story about the rescue of six American embassy employees hiding out in the Canadian ambassador’s house in Tehran -- and breathtaking suspense, with just the right amount of dry humor to provide context and levity. With John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, Victor Garber. HHHH (Lemire, Associated Press -- 10/12). 2:00.

FAREWELL, MY QUEEN (R). The story of the last days of Marie Antoinette, which takes place over three days in 1789, seen through the eyes of a fictional commoner, Sidonie, the queen’s reader. In French, with English subtitles.

FRANKENWEENIE (PG). Tim Burton updates his early live-action short film with a stop-motion animated feature about a boy resurrecting his dead dog. Burton has taken the animated short that launched his career and expanded it into a vivid and moving essay on science and love -- the love a middle-school scientist has for his dog Sparky. A darned near instant classic. HHHH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 10/5). 1:27.

HELLO, I MUST BE GOING (R). Reeling from a divorce, a thirtysomething unwilling exile from adulthood takes refuge in a Connecticut suburb with her critical mom and indulgent dad and becomes involved with the 19-year-old stepson of a would-be client her father is eager to impress. With Melanie Lynskey, Christopher Abbott, Blythe Danner, John Rubinstein, Dan Futterman, Julie White. Review, D7

HERE COMES THE BOOM (PG). A teacher and ex-wrestler (Kevin James) moonlights as a mixed martial-arts fighter to save his school’s music program. The film begins not well, with overstated and very broadly played comedy. But once it gets going and commits to its time-worn inspirational formula, it’s not bad. HH (Phillips, Chicago Tribune -- 10/17). 1:45.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA (PG). Adam Sandler provides the voice of Dracula in an animated monster mash that finds the venerable count operating a luxurious resort for monsters on vacation. He also is eager to prevent his 118-year-old daughter from hooking up with a backpacking human cutie who accidentally stumbles into Dracula’s resort just in time for his daughter’s birthday party. Most of the laughs arise from director Genndy Tartakovsky’s cheeky take on famous monsters of filmland, funneled through the ordinariness of vacationing. Sandler’s voice-only turn outshines many of his front-of-camera appearances. HH (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 10/1). 1.31.

LOOPER (R). Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a hitman assigned to bump off his future self (Bruce Willis) in a time-travel thriller. The film raises some logical questions but what’s smart about it -- and what makes it more compelling than colder sci-fi -- is the way writer-director Rian Johnson establishes the machinery of the time-travel concept, then steadily pushes it into the background in favor of exploring his characters and the difficult questions they face. HHH1/2 (Lemire, Associated Press -- 9/28). 1:59.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (R). The supernatural franchise makes its annual return for Halloween.

PITCH PERFECT (PG-13). Anna Kendrick and her college chums compete in the warbling world of a cappella singing.

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN (PG-13). Documentary about the career and fate of 1970s Detroit singer-songwriter Rodriguez, who became the prophet and poet of young liberal Afrikaners opposing apartheid.

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (R). A hard-drinking screenwriter in Los Angeles with a severe bout of writer’s block falls into the messy hi-jinks of his friend -- a man who kidnaps dogs and then returns them for money. Irish playwright-director Martin McDonagh has mangled together a revenge flick that’s half Guy Ritchie, half Charlie Kaufman. With Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson. HH1/2 (Coyle, Assocuated Press -- 10/15). 1:49.

SIDE BY SIDE (NR). Documentary which explores the impact of digital technology on 21st-century moviemaking.

SINISTER (R). A collection of home movies unleashes horror on a crime novelist (Ethan Hawke) and his family who have moved into a house that’s possessed. Everything here is something we’ve seen before. (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 10/15). 1:40.

TAKEN 2 (PG-13). Liam Neeson reprises his role as retired CIA operative Bryan Mills faci8ng fuerce retirbution from the Albanian gang he all but decimatede in "Taken."A textbook on how to make beautful, successful and highly satIsfying junk-food cinema. With Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen. HHH (LaSalle, San Francisco ChrOnicle -- 10/5). 1:30.

THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES (PG). A startlingly candid look at the descent of one family -- 40-year-old Jackie Segal, her 70something real-estate tycoon husband, David, and their children -- from colossal wealth.