The Adventures of Tintin
If you're familiar with Hergé's Tintin books, you already know they're filled with adventure, crazy syntax, and hilarious broad comedy. And while Steven Spielberg unsurprisingly packs The Adventures of Tintin with adventure, the film's humor falls surprisingly flat—most likely because of Spielberg's quest for visual perfection. While the computer animation is leaps and bounds better than Robert Zemeckis' über-creepy stuff like The Polar Express, Spielberg lovingly focuses nearly every frame on the extreme realism of the characters and surroundings—so much so that I missed hefty chunks of exposition while studying Tintin's pores. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Michel Hazanavicius likes trying on different eras for size. Known primarily for OSS 117, his cheeky parody of 1960s spy movies, the French director's gotten more serious, and consequently more charming, with his latest. The Artist is the story of a silent film actor in decline, told as an actual silent film. It sounds gimmicky, and sort of is, but the sincerity of the delivery and the attention to detail make for a winning re-creation of a bygone age. JAMIE S. RICH Various Theaters.
Blood and Sex XXX Double Feature
Film archivist Ian Sundahl presents Sexorcist Devil and The Turk, two "vintage adult XXX films from the golden age that both deliver strong, horrific doses of sex and blood." Merry Christmas! Clinton Street Theater.
A Dangerous Method
After decades of making not-so-thinly veiled films about psychosexual horrors, David Cronenberg's ditched the allegory and gone right to the source: A Dangerous Method is about bickering buddies Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), as well as the notably less notorious Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), who starts off as one of Jung's yelping, yowling, perved-out patients before ending up, if not a peer, someone who certainly has her shit together a lot more than either of these weird old dudes. Everything plays out more or less as you'd expect; thank god that every once in a while, one of these three says something that still cuts to the core of why we broken, fucked-up humans act and feel the way we do. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Darkest Hour
A not-screened-for-critics alien-invasion flick. Various Theaters.
Day of the Dead
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theater.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Like most mysteries, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is less about story and more about the grinding mechanics of plot: exposition, process, exposition, process. Dragon Tattoo isn't just any mystery, though: Based on the first book in Stieg Larsson's wildly popular trilogy, this Dragon Tattoo is the latest from David Fincher, and arrives on the heels of his last awards-season effort, The Social Network. Those expecting anything on par with Fincher's best work—The Social Network, Zodiac, Fight Club—should probably lower their expectations closer to Benjamin Button levels. Fincher can be one of our best directors, but he's also one of the least reliable. With Dragon Tattoo, he's made a film that befits its airport paperback origins—if, you know, they showed movies with brutal rape scenes on airplanes. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Mysteries of Lisbon
Director Raul Ruiz's "sprawling tale of interlinked adventures, coincidences, revelations, vengeance, betrayals, and love affairs." Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
"I didn't ask for a shrink. That must've been somebody else. Also, that pudding isn't mine. Also, I'm wearing this suit today because I had a very important meeting this morning. And I don't have a crying problem." Pix Patisserie.
Silver State Sinners
See My, What a Busy Week! Clinton Street Theater.
Lucy (Emily Browning) is a young Australian college student who's short on cash and open to anything. She waits tables, she takes part in scientific studies, and, when she still can't make rent, she gets involved with a lurid, scandalous underworld. Sounds juicy, right? But it's all rather lackluster: While it's wholly possible that my lowbrow American tastes just can't hang with Australian art, I think I'm correct when I say that this movie is just kinda boring. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Steven Spielberg's Battle Pony
For two and a half hours, Steven Spielberg follows a smart, talented pony named Joey through World War I. Joey starts off on the British side, then gets captured by Germans, then ends up on a picturesque French farm with windmills, then finds himself caught in No Man's Land between English and German troops. Barring the odd nicker or whinny, the horse does not emote in any recognizable fashion. The horse is, more or less, incidental to the episodic plots of the various humans he comes in contact with. As a dramatic narrative, then, Steven Spielberg's Battle Pony is a failure. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
The Swell Season
A shockingly intimate look at Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, the stars of the 2006 movie Once and winners of the Academy Award for Best Song. They became an actual couple in the wake of Once's success, but constant touring and a substantial age difference took their toll on the couple, whose relationship unravels right in front of the camera. At times, you almost can't believe what you're seeing is real—The Swell Season is unflinching, raw, and almost unbearably sad. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Spying is, by definition, a tight-lipped profession. This partially accounts for the surprising restraint of director Tomas Alfredson's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, a new adaptation of John le Carré's classic Cold War espionage novel. But credit must be given to Alfredson, too, and the film's writing team, for trusting their audience's willingness to sit still and pay attention. Despite its innately thrilling subject matter (Globetrotting spies! Soviet moles!), Tinker is an assured, thoughtfully paced movie, slow to reveal its secrets. Of course, secrets become even more irresistible in the presence of actors like Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch—and a perfectly cast Gary Oldman as the mild-mannered George Smiley, le Carré's most enduring hero. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
We Bought a Zoo
Does anyone know what happened to Cameron Crowe? Was he struck by lightning? Did he join a cult? Did he get touched, or something? Crowe's films have always had a healthy dose of sentiment, to be sure, but he's never done anything as mushy, gushy, and flat-out icky as We Bought a Zoo. It's his adaptation of a British zookeeper's memoir, but it's the same kind of manipulative, "based-on-a-true-story" barf as Patch Adams. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody have made a film that's difficult to classify: It's either a comedy with no laughs, a drama with no character movement, or a social critique with no insight. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.