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Movie Reviews

How far would you go to catch a terrorist?

After the September 11, 2001, attacks that murdered 3,000 Americans, Osama bin Laden became the world’s most-hunted man. Ten years later, the search continued.     For CIA agent Mya (Jessica Chastain: Lawless), the search for bin Laden is an obsession. She takes a position in the Pakistan bureau and spends every waking hour tracking obscure leads and interrogating detainees.

Matt Damon teaches the simple folk about the environment

Slick salesman Steve Butler (Matt Damon: We Bought a Zoo) rolls into a Pennsylvania farming town with a plan. The agricultural community is dying, and Steve has the solution: Lease your land to a natural gas company. Global Natural Gas wants to frack for gas pockets beneath the land, and the desperately poor community will get a percentage of the take.

White people’s problems

A British family’s 2004 Christmas on a Thai beach paradise is spoiled when a massive tsunami devastates Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.     Maria (Naomi Watts: J. Edgar) and her eldest son Lucas (Tom Holland: The Secret World of Arrietty) are dragged by the wave through a battered countryside. Stranded in the middle of a foreign country, Lucas must figure out how to get his mother help before she succumbs to injuries.

An epic musical with a few sour notes

Life hasn’t turned out well for Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman: Rise of the Guardians). After stealing bread to feed his nephew and sister, he’s arrested and given 20 years hard labor. Branded a dangerous man, Valjean must wander the countryside looking for work and finding nothing but cruelty.
A fantastic concept gone horribly awry, Hyde Park on Hudson tells the story of the first time an English king visited America. It wasn’t a social call. In 1939, England was in grave danger from Nazi Germany and needed help.     President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Bill Murray: Moonrise Kingdom) invited the king and queen to his New York estate, Hyde Park.

Getting old isn’t for sissies.

From the outside, Debbie (Leslie Mann: ParaNorman) and Pete (Paul Rudd: The Perks of Being a Wallflower) have it made. A big house, two adorable kids and lots of luxury playthings. But look a little closer and you see the cracks.     Debbie is having trouble dealing with her fading youth. Turning 40 years old has made her a neurotic mess. She fights with Pete, worries about their daughters and constantly seeks validation.

The Master of Suspense would have made a ­better movie …

Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins: 360) was a great filmmaker with a lot of issues. He ate too much. He was pathetically dependent on his wife, Alma (Helen Mirren: The Door). Though their marriage was devoid of passion, he obsessed over the nubile blondes he directed. And, if Hitchcock is to be believed, he identified fully and had imaginary conversations with serial killer Ed Gein (Michael Wincott: A Lonely Place for Dying).     So Norman Bates has company.

Thank your lucky stars that your friends and family don’t resemble the people in

Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper: Hit and Run) is going through a rough patch. An undiagnosed manic-depressive most of his life, Pat got his diagnosis when he nearly beat the life out of his cheating wife’s lover.     To get beyond this violent outburst, he is remanded to a mental institution. Pat is more interested in getting his wife back — and getting her to lift her restraining order — than getting better. Instead of pills and therapy, Pat decides he needs to get in shape and improve his attitude.

Like the story of Pi, this movie isn’t about lines of dialog. It’s about the journey.

Do you have faith? For some the question is easy; for others, an epic journey. One writer (Rafe Spall: Prometheus) is in search of true faith and a story to make him believe in God. His search leads him to Pi (Irrfan Khan: The Amazing Spiderman), a middle-aged man who shares a tale of survival and faith that rivals Job.

A saintly man makes an uninteresting subject

In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis: Nine) had just been elected to his second term. He enjoyed a wide popularity in spite of the Civil War, which slaughtered American citizens and deeply divided the country.