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Thursday, October 2, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 64.0° F  Overcast

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James Gandolfini is a Mafia target, not a Mafioso, in the crime drama The Drop

James Gandolfini's wintry silences and bitter outbursts are just enough to merit seeing The Drop, director Michaël R. Roskam's slice of crime life set in Brooklyn. In a way, this is Tony Soprano's swan song, but there's one important difference: Here the late Gandolfini plays Cousin Marv, a beaten-down dive-bar owner who owes the local Chechen Mafia a lot of dough. >More
 Scarlett Johansson morphs into a sexy, unknowable alien in Under the Skin

Scarlett Johansson is occasionally nude: That's all some moviegoers need know about Under the Skin. They're in for a surprise, though: This is easily the most unique science-fiction movie to hit theaters in years. >More
 I, Frankenstein thrusts the famous fiend into a contemporary battle between heaven and hell

Mary Shelley, author of the classic 19th-century novel Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus, must be rolling in her grave. In the new I, Frankenstein, hunky Aaron Eckhart is oddly cast as Dr. Victor Frankenstein's brutish creature. He isn't a monster so much as a dour, angsty dude. >More
 Insidious: Chapter 2

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 The Intouchables, The Possession

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 The Expendables 2

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 The Words exploits clichés about writers and their love lives

The Words is about struggling writer Rory Jensen (Bradley Cooper) who lives with his gorgeous girlfriend Dora (Star Trek's Zoe Saldana) in New York City. He has two unsold novels under his belt when he discovers a manuscript of unknown provenance tucked inside an old leather briefcase bought in Paris. Already you can see where this is going. >More
 Total Recall remake doesn't match the original

Total Recall is the second feature-length adaptation of a paranoiac sci-fi story by Philip K. Dick, and this one may be more in tune with the bleak times we're living through. But it's also very much a product of director Len Wiseman. Fans of Paul Verhoeven's 1990 original will immediately notice a few major changes: no Schwarzenegger, no Mars, no exploding heads -- and, potentially the major deal-breaker, no sense of humor and precious little satire. >More
 A little girl stars in the jaw-dropping Beasts of the Southern Wild

In Beasts of the Southern Wild, 6-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis, who may turn out to be the youngest actor ever to win an Academy Award) lives an almost feral existence on a wild, low-lying island of the Louisiana coast known as the Bathtub. Hushpuppy narrates her vivid life story in the particular manner of kids. >More
 Dark Horse is pure Todd Solondz

Todd Solondz's Dark Horse probably isn't going to make anyone's list of best date movies of 2012, but the director's claustrophobic vision of optimistic youth slowly curdling into a hellish maelstrom of middle-age malaise is still a fun ride if you enjoy that sort of thing. >More
 Ted brings a stuffed toy to life

Ted is the first live-action feature film by Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy): the misadventures of a miraculous, talking teddy bear and his human, 35-year-old best friend forever (Mark Wahlberg). The cast is fine; the script is teasingly self-referential and packed with MacFarlane's gleefully coarse wit; and the digitally animated Ted is a visually flawless creation. >More
 Safe House

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 Bernie charts a bizarre May-December romance

If I hadn't already read Skip Hollandsworth's 1997 Texas Monthly article recounting the tragicomic tale of assistant funeral director Bernie Tiede, I'd swear this film adaptation was based on one of Joe R. Lansdale's East Texas gothics. As ever, truth proves itself stranger than fiction in this film by Richard Linklater, who co-scripted with Hollandsworth. >More
 In Darkness tells a devastating Holocaust story

Based on actual events, the claustrophobic epic In Darkness is as emotional as they come: a Holocaust story shot through with darkness both literal and figurative. Set mainly beneath the streets of Lvov, Poland, In Darkness uses the dank, horrific sewers to great and terrible effect. >More
 The Lucky One: Follow the photo

Depending on your taste in romantic fare, you'll find The Lucky One, adapted from Nicholas Sparks' novel, toe-curlingly dreamy or ploddingly predictable. I fall into the latter camp. The film is shopworn. >More
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