Movies

Opening This Week

Texas Chainsaw 3D

See Steven Rea's preview on H2.

Zero Dark Thirty See Steven Rea's preview on H2.

Excellent (****)

Reviewed by critics Steven Rea (S.R.) and Carrie Rickey (C.R.). W.S. denotes a wire service review.

Monsters, Inc. 3-D This enchanting 2001 animated comedy that explains why beasties haunt the sleep of children returns to the big screen in 3-D. 1 hr. 24 G (some sequences a little intense for the under-5 set) - C.R.

Rust and Bone Marion Cotillard is a trainer of orca whales, Matthias Schoenaerts is a homeless father of a small boy, and a couple of jolting events throw the two of them together in the south of France, in Jacques (A Prophet) Audiard's raw and beautiful melodrama. 2 hrs. R (sex, nudity, violence, profanity, adult themes) S.R.

The Sessions A beautiful, funny, life-affirming film about the quadriplegic poet and journalist Mark O'Brien, who, at 38, sought a sex surrogate to help him lose his virginity. John Hawkes and Helen Hunt star, brilliantly. 1 hr. 35 R (sex, nudity, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Silver Linings Playbook A head-spinning wonder of a movie about love, pain, reinvention, rehabilitation, and the totemic power of an NFL franchise, with Bradley Cooper as a guy dealing with bipolar disorder and heartbreak, Jennifer Lawrence as a young widow with her own troubles, and an amazing supporting cast. From director David O. Russell, based on Matthew Quick's novel, and about as Philly-centric as you can get. 2 hrs. 02 R (profanity, sex, drugs, violence, adult themes) - S.R.

Very Good (***1/2)

Argo Ben Affleck stars in, and directs, the far-fetched but nonetheless factual tale of a CIA plot to extricate six U.S. Embassy workers from Tehran as the 1979 Iran hostage crisis unfolds. With Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, and crackling humor amid the white-knuckle suspense. 2 hrs. R (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Flight A high-wire drama about a commercial airline captain - Denzel Washington in an extraordinary, Oscar-worthy performance - who crash-lands a jet carrying "102 souls." Back on the ground, things get complicated - and all the more rewarding for the experience. 2 hrs. 18 R (sex, nudity, drugs, alcohol, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Hyde Park on Hudson Bill Murray disappears beneath the pince-nez and the presidential fedora, playing FDR during one fascinating summer weekend in 1939 when he and his wife host the King and Queen of England, and when a distant cousin (Laura Linney) falls in love with the polio-hobbled commander in chief. A charming, wistful film. 1 hr. 34 R (sex, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

The Impossible A family caught in the unbelievable carnage of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami - unbelievable, but true - with Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, and the remarkable young actor Tom Holland. A chilling but thrilling account of survival, visceral and inspiring. 1 hr. 54 PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Lincoln Daniel Day-Lewis in an act of human alchemy, delivering an absolutely extraordinary performance as the 16th president of the United States, campaigning to end the Civil War and abolish slavery. A film about America's unique political process, and the leader trying to bend it to his will. 2 hrs. 29 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - S.R.

Rise of the Guardians Enchanting animated adaptation of William Joyce's The Guardians of Childhood, featuring Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Sandman, and Jack Frost as the fantastic five who protect and serve children's imaginations. 1 hr. 29 PG (Animated adventure, gloomy villain. For those 6 and older) - C.R.

Also on Screens

The Guilt Trip **

Seth Rogen is the insecure science geek inventor son and Barbra Streisand the overbearing and suffocating mom, trapped together on a getting to know you/getting on your nerves road trip from North Jersey to Northern California in this not-terribly-funny road comedy. Are we there yet? 1 hr. 35

PG-13

(profanity, adult themes) -

S.R.

The Hobbit: The Journey Begins ** Bloated and blustery, the first installment of the promised film trilogy based on Tolkien's slim fairy tale finds furry-footed Bilbo Baggins reluctantly trekking across Middle-earth in the company of 13 grumpy dwarves and a worried wizard. cqOrcs and cqwargs, elves and goblins, cqgreat eagles and great spiders, furry little ponies, and giants made of stone get in their way - but not nearly as much as director Peter Jackson's obsession with newfangled movie technology. The 3-D, 48-frames-per-second business makes the whole thing look like hi-def Dr. Who. 2 hrs. 46 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - S.R.

Jack Reacher *1/2 Tom Cruise stars as the hero of Lee Child's book series about an ex-Army investigator tough guy. In this case, Reacher heads for Pittsburgh to find out who was behind the apparently random murder of five strangers by a sniper. Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins and David Oyelowo also star. 2 hrs. 10 PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Parental Guidance *** Billy Crystal and Bette Midler anchor this engaging comedy that bridges multiple generation gaps. Made with more heart than art by director Andy Fickman, the film also features Marisa Tomei. 1 hr. 44 PG (one instance of below-the-belt humor) - C.R.

Skyfall *** The 23d Bond film, and the third with Daniel Craig as the steely 007, takes a veddy British turn, even if it starts in Istanbul and hopscotches across the Pacific. Javier Bardem is the fey and psycho (and not terribly interesting) villain, and Judi Dench is back, and bristling, as M. There's a new young Q (Ben Whishaw), pleased with himself, and there's a fussy parliamentarian (Ralph Fiennes) displeased with MI6's security lapses. Bérénice Marlohe is the exotic Bond girl, Naomie Harris the empowered one. Great action, and a bit of Bond backstory, too. 2 hrs. 23 PG-13 (violence, intense action, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

This Is 40 *** Judd Apatow pays a return visit to the marrieds played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann in Knocked Up, in this funny, messy, characteristically Apatowian mix of weighty issues about intimacy and cohabitation, smart-alecky pop-cult references, crude bathroom jokes, stoner riffs, boob ogling and existential angst. With Jason Segel, Megan Fox, Albert Brooks and John Lithgow. 2 hrs. 14 R (profanity, nudity, sex, drugs, adult themes)- S.R

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Theater

Reviewed by Wendy Rosenfield (W.R.), Peter Dobrin (P.D.), Jim Rutter (J.R.), Howard Shapiro (H.S.), David Patrick Stearns (D.P.S.), and Toby Zinman (T.Z.)

Continuing

Aladdin

(People's Light & Theatre) A return to form for the company's holiday panto brings back some old favorites and introduces some stellar new faces. Through Jan. 6.

- W.R.

Cinderella (Arden Theatre) Generally antic and prone to bellowing, this new version of an old tale nonetheless conveys some admirable subtleties about the things people do to each other, and why. Through Jan. 27. - P.D.

Cooking With the Calamari Sisters (Society Hill Playhouse) Mamma Mia! Two guys portray behavior-challenged adult Italian sisters in a laugh-filled spoof of cooking shows that gets wilder as it progresses. Extended through March 10. - H.S.

The Music Man (Walnut Street Theatre) Though the production isn't handsome, the cast is - as well as smart and just about everything you could hope for in this still-magic Broadway classic. Through Jan. 6. - D.P.S.