A HAUNTED HOUSE (R). Marlon Wayans and crew run riot in a "Paranormal Activity" parody that is, in its own way, more horrifying than the real thing. Thompson (Philadelphia Daily News -- 1/16). 1:20.
A LATE QUARTET (R). Director Yaron Zilberman, a chamber music fan, uses the intimate collaboration required of a string quartet to examine the way in which lives become dangerously entangled over time. The nature of a quartet creates a closed and at times claustophoic universe that often works in the filmmaker's favor. But at times, it seems to constrain the exceptional acting ensemble -- Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken and Mark Ivanir -- asked to play such a diverse and dissonant range of emotional values. (Sharkey, Los Angeles Times -- 11/26). 1:45.
BROKEN CITY (R). Seven years after leaving the NYPD and setting up shop as a private detective, the ex-cop is hired by the man who pressured him to quit -- the mayor of New York -- to find out if his wife is cheating. With Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones.
GANGSTER SQUAD (R). True-life crime drama based on the battle between Los Angeles mobster Mickey Cohen and the highly unorthodox team of lawmen determined to bring him down. A big lug of a movie, a hard-boiled actioner as guiltily pleasurable for its macho strengths as its cops-and-robbers cliches. With Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone. HH1/2 (Daly, Tampa Bay Times -- 1/14). 1:53.
HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (PG-13). Bill Murray stars as the 32nd president as he prepares to host the King and Queen of England on a state visit to his Hyde Park retreat. With Laura Linney, Elizabeth Wilson, Olivia Williams.
LES MISERABLES (PG-13). Director Tom Hooper's lavish yet gritty big-screen adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical based on Victor Hugo's novel about an escaped felon's determined effort to rebuild his life and a police inspector's unrelenting effort to put him back in prison. With Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried. HHH (Kennedy, Denver Post --12/26). 2:38.
LIFE OF PI (PG). Ang Lee combines a lifetime of storytelling finesse with arguably the most artful use of 3-D technology yet seen to bring to life novelist Yann Martel's saga of an Indian youth lost at sea with a ravenous Bengal tiger aboard his small lifeboat. A gorgeous, ruminative film that is soulfully, provocatively entertaining. HHH1/2 (Germain, Associated Press -- 11/21). 2:06.
LINCOLN (PG-13). Steven Spielberg directs, Daniel Day-Lewis stars as the 16th president in this epic drama about Lincoln's determined effort to pass the 13th Amendment, ending slavery, while also trying to bring the Civil War to a close. An exceptionally good film, elevated by Day-Lewis' super-human star turn, and by the energy and invention its director displays in telling a story that doesn't rely on action and special effects. HHH (Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer -- 11/17). 2:29.
MAMA (PG-13). Five years after their parents' murder, two girls who had been living alone in the woods are rescued and brought to live with their uncle and his girlfriend -- but an evil presence may have accompanied them. With Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier.
PARENTAL GUIDANCE (PG). Grandparents (Billy Crystal and Bette Midler) clash with their daughter (Marisa Tomei) over child-rearing philosophies when they babysit the grandkids while daughter and son-in-law (Tom Everett Scott) get a last-minute opportunity to have some out-of-town alone time. The schmaltz is piled on thick and if the comedy were any broader it would require an Imax screen but there's something touching about how hard Billy Crystal and Bette Midler hustle to peddle the threadbare material that makes "Parental Guidance" a perfectly tolerable, if uninspired, moviegoing experience. (Rechtshaffen, Hollywood Reporter -- 12/29). 1:48.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (R). Just out from eight months in a Baltimore psych ward, a high school teacher who has lost his job and his wife to another man recuperates in his parents' Philadelphia home and meets, at a dinner, a young widow suffering from bouts of depression and low self-esteem. A head-spinning wonder of a movie about love, pain, reinvention, rehabilitation and the totemic power of a National Football League franchise. With Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro. HHHH (Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer -- 12/29). 2:00.
TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (R). Set decades after the murders in 1974's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," this new sequel finds a young woman traveling to Texas to claim an inheritance -- and meeting up with a chain-saw-wielding lunatic instead. There are plenty shove-the-saw-at-the-camera moments. Otherwise, director John Luessenhop botches even the basics of making these many murders frightening. H (Moore, McClatchy Tribune News Service -- 1/8). 1:32.
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (PG-13). "The Lord of the Rings" mastermind Peter Jackson returns to Middle-earth for chapter one of his three-part prelude. Not the worst film of the year, but it may be the most disappointing. It's a husk with the superficial features of a "Ring" movie but none of the energy and heart and wit -- an unexpected journey indeed. With Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen. H (Covert, Minneapolis Star-Tribune -- 12/15). 2:50.
THE LAST STAND (R). After leaving his LAPD narcotics post in the wake of a bungled operation and settling down in a sleepy border town, a small-time sheriff finds himself the last line of defense to intercept a notorious escaped drug kingpin. With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker.
ZERO DARK THIRTY (R). The story of the planning and execution of the mission to take out Osama bin Laden in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, is told through two ferocious CIA officers (Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke), modeled on the real if anonymous people who led the hunt in this true-life drama from Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow. A thrilling, cathartic movie experience. HHH1/2 (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 1/15). 2:36.
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