recommended August Rush
See review. Various Theaters.

The Ballad of Narayama
Shohei Imamura's 1983 "meditation on the nature of existence" won the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Mad props, Shohei! Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead has a lot going for it: a sinfully exciting story, an all-star cast, and veteran director Sidney Lumet (Network). A crime thriller, it centers on two brothers, Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Hank (Ethan Hawke). Andy, the older of the two, concocts a scheme in which the two knock over their own parents' suburban jewelry store; needless to say, things go wrong. Devil has an underlying pulse on what hurts about middle-class American life, and its action is like a clusterfuck symphony of family gone the worst kind of wrong. It's a wild, grimy ride, but you'll be able to get off without looking back. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.

Beowulf's basically the eighth century's equivalent of a superhero comic, and appropriately enough, Robert Zemeckis' CG film is at its best when it's at its pulpiest, thanks to some fun, outlandish action sequences. But when it comes to the poem's inherent drama—or the drama that's been liberally added by screenwriters Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary—things get goofy and dull. Sporadically, Beowulf is fun, and cool, and pretty; ultimately, it's an awkward marriage between your 10th grade CliffsNotes and your Xbox. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.

Beyond the Call
Adrian Belic directs this documentary about three self-styled "knights" who bring humanitarian aid to war-stricken parts of the globe. Following them to Afghanistan, Thailand, and the Philippines, Beyond the Call at times has a Kiplingesque white-man-heroically-saves-the-hapless-foreigners undertone, but it's compelling to get a closer look at these overweight, white-haired Americans and what drives them. There's genuine compassion, of course, and some ego gratification. But a lot seems motivated by the absurdity in the sheer comfort of their domestic worlds. We watch each man at home and discover they are completely at loose ends; their adventures bring dimension to their insular lives. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.

recommended Blade Runner: The Final Cut
Restored in fantastic detail, this theatrical re-release is amazing to see—never before have the film's dense, astounding visuals looked better, nor has Vangelis' score sounded more haunting. There are, supposedly, a few tightened-up effects shots, a few tweaked scenes—but if you've seen the '92 director's cut on DVD, nothing's going to be too new here. The real joy is seeing the film on the big screen, beautifully restored. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinema 21.

Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo
I think we can all agree that hippies can be pretty funny, especially when they're (A) dancing, or (B) talking about "consciousness." Yet in the 39 minutes of National Lampoon's inspid jam band mockumentary that I could bring myself to watch, I didn't laugh once. Why would you make a mockumentary about a subculture that is already a parody of itself? If there are "jokes" in director Les Claypool's (!) tedious, half-baked film, they are absolutely unrecognizable as such. ALISON HALLETT Clinton Street Theater.

See review. Various Theaters.

Garden of Earthly Delights
Polish filmmaker Lech Majewski's 2004 "tale of passion and mortality." Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

recommended Helvetica
See review. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

See review. Various Theaters.

I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With
See review. Hollywood Theatre.

recommended I'm Not There
See Feature. Fox Tower 10.

Insect Woman
Another film by Shohei Imamura? What a week for you Imamura fans! Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

Ira and Abby
A very silly movie about marriage and monogamy, Ira and Abby borrows a stale Woody Allen "neurotic New Yorker" backbone, populating itself almost entirely with characters who are either on the giving or receiving end of analysis and/or therapy—or both. Ira (Chris Messina) is hapless, self-indulgent, and moneyed, spending his days avoiding completion of his dissertation and waffling over basic decisions. Abby (Jennifer Westfeldt) is annoyingly flighty and flakey to the point of stupidity. These two lonely birds get married on a whim, then face an onslaught of jealousy, distrust, and doubt. Yawn. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.

recommended The Life of Reilly
Charles Nelson Reilly may not be a household name nowadays, but during his heyday in the '60s and '70s, he was second only to Paul Lynde as one of the most hilarious/gay character actors ever. Recognized primarily as a sardonic regular on TV's Match Game, until his death earlier this year, Reilly was also a remarkable Tony-award winning actor and teacher who never really got his due. The Life of Reilly captures Reilly's one-man stage show, where he recounts his completely insane childhood in a hilarious, yet sadly candid way that never dips into self-pity. Watch it, and not only will you say, "Ohhhh... I know that guy," but you'll also realize, "I really like that guy." WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Hollywood Theatre.

Magellan: Films by Hollis Frampton
Films from experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton. More info: Cinema Project at New American Art Union.

recommended Margot at the Wedding
See review. Fox Tower 10.

The Mist
See review. Various Theaters.

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
Everything is wrong with this film. In it, zero is new; dead tired are its plot, imagery, themes, and acting. The movie wants to look and feel fresh, but it instead presents us with a series of heavy corpses: the corpse of the music, the corpse of the set design, the corpse of the dialogue. The story is so bad I refuse to recount it. I will, however, say this: If Natalie Portman were not beautiful, there's no way I could have endured the screening of this film. CHARLES MUDEDE Various Theaters.

recommended No Country for Old Men
Joel and Ethan Coen's unforgettably stylish paean to risk, violence, and resourcefulness, based on the throbbing, violent thriller by Cormac McCarthy. No Country's conflict is as lean and primal as they come: one badass chasing another through the the unforgiving landscape of Southwest Texas. Few contemporary directors are as well suited to the task: Through meticulous editing, sound design, and cinematography, they pace and manipulate the narrative tension to masterly effect. When that tension's relieved, it's through the two channels that the Coens know best: violence and humor. They've teased out the wry, deadpan pathos from McCarthy's novel, and use it mostly to decompress the audience, only so they can begin the process again. CHAS BOWIE Various Theaters.

Southland Tales
A sprawling, ham-fisted mess from writer/director Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko), with atrociously bad acting, a nonsensical script, and annoyingly smug direction—which means it will probably become a camp classic. In ways, it reminds me of the films of Ed Wood... without an iota of the charm. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Broadway Metroplex.

This Christmas
A drama about a black family's "first holiday together in four years." Not screened for critics. Various Theaters.

Vengeance Is Mine
Okay, okay, we get it. Shohei Imamura was a great filmmaker. But is he "three films screening within a single week" good? Discuss. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

What Would Jesus Buy?
See review. Cinema 21.