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Movies

January 17, 2010

Capsule reviews are by Kenneth Turan (K.Tu.), Betsy Sharkey (B.S.) and other reviewers. Compiled by Anthony Miller.

Openings

FRIDAY

Drool A desperate housewife is on the run with her kids after her friend accidentally kills her no-good husband. With Laura Harring and Jill Marie Jones. Written and directed by Nancy Kissam. (1:25) NR.

Extraordinary Measures Based on the true story of John Crowley, a man who risked his family's future to pursue a cure for his children's life-threatening disease. With Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser, Keri Russell and Courtney B. Vance. Written by Robert Nelson Jacobs. Directed by Tom Vaughan. (1:46) PG.

Legion When God loses faith in Mankind, he sends his legion of angels to bring on the Apocalypse, and an out-of-the-way diner becomes the unlikely battleground for survival of the human race. With Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Adrianne Palicki, Jon Tenney and Charles S. Dutton. Written by Peter Schink and Scott Stewart. Directed by Stewart. (1:40) R.

To Save a Life After a childhood friend's death, an all-star athlete realizes he must change his life to make a difference. With Randy Wayne, Deja Kreutzberg, Josh Weigel, Steven Crowder and D. David Morin. Written by Jim Butts. Directed by Brian Baugh. PG-13.

The Tooth Fairy When a hard-charging hockey player, nicknamed "the tooth fairy" for separating opposing players from their bicuspids, discourages a youngster's dreams, he's sentenced to one week's hard labor as a real tooth fairy. With Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, Julie Andrews. Stephen Merchant and Ryan Sheckler. Directed by Michael Lembeck. (1:42) PG.

Critics' Choices

An Education Invariably funny and inexpressibly moving in the way it looks at a young girl's journey from innocence to experience, this film does so many things so well, it's difficult to know where to begin cataloging its virtues. What's easy is knowing where you'll end up, which is marveling like everyone else at the performance by Carey Mulligan that is the film's irreplaceable centerpiece. (K.Tu., Oct. 16) (1:35) NR.

Avatar Think of "Avatar" as "The Jazz Singer" of 3-D filmmaking. Think of it as the most expensive and accomplished Saturday matinee movie ever made. Think of it as the ultimate James Cameron production. Whatever way you choose to look at it, "Avatar"'s shock and awe demand to be seen. You've never experienced anything like it, and neither has anyone else. (K.Tu., Dec. 17) Also in IMAX 3D. (2:30) PG-13.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans Cold-blooded reptiles are lurking everywhere in this slick new noir, with snakes, iguanas, gators and especially Nicolas Cage at their slithering and cynical best. Cage is the bad cop who director Werner Herzog pushes into the deep bayou muck, human and otherwise, that Hurricane Katrina has left behind. The filmmaker has done well by noir too, giving us exactly what he should -- crime, corruption, sarcasm, sex, sleaze and shadows all through the glass darkly. (B.S., Nov. 20) (2:01) R.

Broken Embraces Something almost magical happens whenever actress Penélope Cruz and filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar work together, and so it is with "Broken Embraces," a twisted tale of love, death and a badly edited film. The writer/director is up to his old tricks, creating an onion of an experience -- a movie within a movie within a movie. Cruz's performance is just as complex. And the moral of this story? Whatever else you do, never mess with the director's cut. (B.S., Dec. 11) In Spanish with English Subtitles. (2:09) R.

Crazy Heart There's a powerful symmetry at work here, a parallel between protagonist Bad Blake, a country singer whose entire life has led him to a nadir of disintegration, and star Jeff Bridges, whose exceptional film choices have put him at the height of his powers just in time to make Mr. Blake the capstone role of his career. (K.Tu., Dec. 16) (1:52) R.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Heath Ledger's last project is a film as unusual and idiosyncratic as its one-of-a-kind title. You'd expect no less from Terry Gilliam, and admirers of this singular filmmaker will be happy to know that "Imaginarium" is his most original and accessible work in years. (K.Tu. Dec. 25) (2:02) PG-13.

Invictus Blending entertainment, social message and history lesson, director Clint Eastwood's latest film focuses on one particular moment in history, when South Africa's newly elected leader Nelson Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, tried something so brazen, so risky, that his closest advisors were not only against it, but they also thought it was political suicide. (K.Tu., Dec. 11) (2:12) PG-13.

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