The Artist  
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The Artist is a love letter and homage to classic black-and-white silent films. The film is enormously likable and is anchored by a charming performance from Jean Dujardin, as silent movie star George Valentin. In late-1920s Hollywood, as Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he makes an intense connection with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break. As one career declines, another flourishes, and by channeling elements of A Star Is Born and Singing in the Rain, The Artist tells the engaging story with humor, melodrama, romance, and—most importantly—silence. As wonderful as the performances by Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo (Miller) are, the real star of The Artist is cinematographer Guillaume Schiffman. Visually, the film is stunning. Crisp and beautifully contrasted, each frame is so wonderfully constructed that this sweet and unique little movie is transformed from entertaining fluff to a profound cinematic achievement. —Kira Canny

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Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close  
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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close touches the viewer to the very core. In the way that Titanic and The Sweet Hereafter depicted tragedy by pulling back at the pivotal moment, only increasing the heartache portrayed, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close shows the massive losses experienced in New York on September 11, 2001, through the lens of one young boy. Thomas Horn plays Oskar, a boy devoted to his dad (played by Tom Hanks, in flashbacks), who is lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center. The devastation of that day shudders through Oskar's family, including his mother, Linda (Sandra Bullock, in a subdued and affecting turn). Young Oskar is lost in the broken new world, but suddenly finds a purpose: a key left by his father. As Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close progresses, Oskar focuses on the key as a way to connect to his lost father—but finds, instead, connections in the unlikeliest of places. Horn is a wonder in his leading role, and commands attention even as his emotions are scattered. Hanks and Bullock are excellent, as always, though they are more incidental to the film than the viewer might have hoped. Standing out in the cast is Max von Sydow, a mysterious mute whom Oskar meets on the New York subway, and who becomes the most unlikely of guardian angels. Based on Jonathan Safran Foer's best-selling novel, which was able to depict a bit more wry humor to leaven the heartbreak and history lessons, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close nonetheless faces human tragedy straight on, and shows how a broken family can be rebuilt, one small key, one subway ride, one awkward hug at a time. —A.T. Hurley

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War Horse Steven Spielberg  
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From legendary director Steven Spielberg comes the epic adventure War Horse, a tale of incredible loyalty, hope, and tenacity. Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway play, and set against the sweeping canvas of World War I, this deeply heartfelt story begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and his young trainer Albert. When they’re forced apart by war, we follow Joey’s extraordinary journey as he changes and inspires the lives of everyone he meets. Filled with spectacularly rich visuals — and complete with never-before-seen bonus features — War Horse is a “Genuine movie masterpiece,” (Rex Reed, The New York Observer) and one of the most powerful and moving stories of friendship ever told.

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We Bought a Zoo Cameron Crowe  
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Oscarr Winner Matt Damon gives a heartfelt performance in this "delightful surprise" (Lou Lumenick, New York Post) that's based on a true story. When his teenage son gets into trouble, Benjamin Mee (Damon) gives up a lucrative newspaper job to move his family to the most unlikely of places: a zoo! With help from an eclectic staff, and with many misadventures along the way, Benjamin embarks on a fresh beginning to restore the dilapidated zoo to its former glory, while uniting his family. From the director of Jerry Maguire, We Bought a Zoo is a "wonderful, warm and witty" (Bill Bregoli, CBS Radio News) celebration of the human spirit.

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Robert Jr. Downey  
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Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as the world's most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, and Jude Law returns as his friend and colleague, Dr. Watson, in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Sherlock Holmes has always been the smartest man in the room... until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large - Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris) - and not only is he Holmes' intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may give him an advantage over the renowned detective. Around the globe, headlines break the news: a scandal takes down an Indian cotton tycoon; a Chinese opium trader dies of an apparent overdose; bombings in Strasbourg and Vienna; the death of an American steel magnate... No one sees the connective thread between these seemingly random events - no one, that is, except the great Sherlock Holmes, who has discerned a deliberate web of death and destruction. At its center sits a singularly sinister spider: Moriarty. Holmes' investigation into Moriarty's plot becomes more dangerous as it leads him and Watson out of London to France, Germany and finally Switzerland. But the cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead, and moving perilously close to completing his ominous plan. If he succeeds, it will not only bring him immense wealth and power but alter the course of history.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo David Fincher  
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This stylish, American adaptation of Stieg Larsson's novel chronicles the unusual partnership of disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) and tattooed computer whiz Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). Working together to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of a wealthy businessman's niece nearly 40 years earlier, they find themselves thrust into a dangerous web of secrecy and deception. With Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright; David Fincher directs. 158 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Surround, DVS Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1; Subtitles: English (SDH), French, Spanish; audio commentary.

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Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol Brad Bird  
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No plan. No backup. No choice. Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his elite team (Jeremy Renner, The Avengers and Simon Pegg, Star Trek) go underground after a bombing of the Kremlin implicates the IMF as international terrorists. While trying to clear the agency's name, the team uncovers a plot to start a nuclear war. Now, to save the world, they must use every high-tech trick in the book. The mission has never been more real, more dangerous, or more impossible.

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Sleeping Beauty Julia Leigh  
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Jane Campion presents SLEEPING BEAUTY, a fascinating depiction of a young woman s reckless decent into a shocking world of erotic desires. Lucy (Emily Browning in a breakthrough performance) is a young university student possessed by a kind of radical passivity, letting coin tosses decide random sexual encounters and enduring her menial jobs with an uncomplaining patience. After answering an ad in the student newspaper for a lingerie waitress, Lucy is secretly initiated into the job of a Sleeping Beauty, for which she is sedated and given in absolute submission to her clients. As this unnerving experience begins to bleed into her daily life, Lucy develops the courage to break the spell and discover what happens to her while she sleeps. First-time director Julia Leigh creates a bold cinematic vision with her shocking retelling of the classic myth that poses its heroine as a rarified sex-worker confronting ideas of feminine sexuality with bravado and precision.

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part I Bill Condon  
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In the highly anticipated fourth installment of The Twilight Saga, a marriage, honeymoon and the birth of a child bring unforeseen and shocking developments for Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) and those they love, including new complications with werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner).

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The Muppets James Bobin  
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Muppet domination continues with a hilarious new movie from Walt Disney Studios. Jason Segel, Academy Award(R) nominee Amy Adams (Best Performance By An Actress In a Supporting Role, Junebug, Doubt, The Fighter) and Academy Award winner Chris Cooper (Best Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role, Adaptation) join everyone's favorite Muppets and an all-star celebrity cast in a comic adventure for the whole family. While on vacation in Los Angeles, Walter, the world's biggest Muppet fan, his brother Gary, and friend Mary uncover the diabolical plot of a greedy oil millionaire to destroy the Muppet Theater. Now, the Muppet-loving trio must reunite Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and their friends to stage the greatest Muppet telethon ever and save their beloved theater. The gang is back together again in a must-own movie full of irresistible music and family fun. Bring home the biggest Muppet adventure ever on Disney Blu-ray(TM) and DVD!

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Machine Gun Preacher Marc Forster  
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Gerard Butler (300) delivers a searing performance in this explosive, action-packed story of an inspiring real-life hero. Butler stars as Sam Childers, a drug-dealing criminal who undergoes an astonishing spiritual transformation and makes a life-changing decision to travel to war-torn East Africa. After witnessing unspeakable horrors faced by innocent children, he vows to save them at any cost, including his own safety. Childers begins waging a relentless battle against the territory's renegade militia, leading harrowing missions behind enemy lines to rescue kidnapped orphans and restore peace to their lives - and eventually his own.

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In Time Andrew Niccol  
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Every second counts in this sexy, stylish action-thriller starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried. In a future where time is literally money and aging stops at 25, the only way to stay alive is to earn, borrow, steal or inherit more time. But when a poor, working-class man (Timberlake) is falsely accused of murder, he teams up with a beautiful heiress (Seyfried) and must figure out a way to bring down the corrupt system before their dwindling life clocks run out!

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The Three Musketeers Paul W.S. Anderson  
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The young hero D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman) and three of France's most elite warriors battle their way across Europe to save king and country from a conspiracy led by deadly assassin Milady (Milla Jovovich) & the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom). A modern update to Alexander Dumas' classic story, The Three Musketeers is an explosive action adventure that's fun & entertaining for the whole family.

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Real Steel Shawn Levy  
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Sometime in the not-too-distant future, boxing has been outlawed and replaced by fighting matches with robots. Big robots. Hulking, rock 'em, sock 'em mechanical robots. But if those machines are cutting edge, Real Steel sticks to an old-fashioned style of storytelling, with a tale of a down-and-out fight manager (Hugh Jackman) looking for a good 'bot to get back in the game, and get back out of debt. Hearts are further tugged by the arrival of this guy's 11-year-old son (Dakota Goyo), who hasn't seen his dad in many years but now needs tending. There's something endearing about the way nobody ever pauses to remark on the fact that they are in the presence of giant remote-controlled prizefighting robots; it's taken for granted in this cockeyed universe. Loosely inspired by a Richard Matheson-penned episode of The Twilight Zone, Shawn Levy's film is lavishly mounted and fairly ridiculous—although in this case, the human interactions are more preposterous and formulaic than the fun robot action. Jackman plays to his roguish strengths, Evangeline Lilly (Lost) gets the perfunctory love interest role, and the villains are uncomplicatedly hissable, from Jackman's good ol' boy rival (Kevin Durand) to the heavily accented owners (Olga Fonda, Karl Yune) of the most fearsome of robots, the undefeated Zeus. If you can imagine Rocky restaged with a pile of spare parts, you might be the audience for Real Steel. —Robert Horton

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