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A Beautiful Mind - The true story of prominent mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. is the subject of this biographical drama from director Ron Howard. Russell Crowe stars as the brilliant but arrogant and conceited professor Nash. The prof seems guaranteed a rosy future in the early ’50s after he marries beautiful student Alicia (Jennifer Connelly) and makes a remarkable advancement in the foundations of “game theory,” which carries him to the brink of international acclaim. Soon after, John is visited by Agent William Parcher (Ed Harris), from the CIA, who wants to recruit him for code-breaking activities. But evidence suggests that Nash’s perceptions of reality are cloudy at best; he is struggling to maintain his tenuous hold on sanity, and Alicia suspects a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. Battling decades of illness with the loyal Alicia by his side, Nash is ultimately able to gain some control over his mental state, and eventually goes on to triumphantly win the Nobel Prize. Based loosely on the book of the same name by Sylvia Nasar, A Beautiful Mind (2001) co-stars Paul Bettany, Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp, Christopher Plummer, and Judd Hirsch. Author: Karl Williams
Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Christopher Plummer, Paul Bettany, Adam Goldberg; Directed by Ron Howard; Universal Pictures; Rating: PG-13; 136 minutes; 2001
Godzilla - The king of all monsters returns in this Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures production helmed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters). As the story opens in Japan, we find dedicated nuclear power-plant manager Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) so caught up in his work that he forgets it’s his birthday. Sending his young son Ford off to school before reporting to the plant with his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche), who works in the reactor, Joe begins to suspect that some suspiciously patterned seismic activity may be something more sinister than shifting tectonic plates He’s right, too, because when the plant goes into meltdown mode and Sandra gets caught on the wrong side of the containment door, a massive cover-up ensues. Fifteen years later, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has become a bomb-disposal expert in the U.S. military. He’s just returned home to his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and their son Sam (Carson Bolde) when he gets word that Joe been arrested in Japan. Long estranged from his father, who was written off as a conspiracy theorist for his failed efforts to prove the Japanese government was attempting to hide something about the earlier disaster, Ford nevertheless ventures to Japan to get him out of jail, and reluctantly agrees to join him in traveling to their old home in the quarantined zone. Subsequently taken into custody, the pair end up in the very plant where Joe used to work, and where scientists Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) are studying a massive cocoon-like structure that appears to feed on radiation. The situation turns critical when the events of the present begin to mirror those of the past, and a terrifying winged-creature dubbed a “MUTO” is unleashed. Meanwhile, as the military attempts to devise a plan to destroy the beast, signals indicate that it had been calling out to something before it broke free, and the scientists learn that it has awoken a towering, godlike leviathan that has lied dormant for centuries, and may be mankind’s only hope for restoring the balance of nature. Author: Jason Buchanan
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche; Directed by Gareth Edwards; Warner Bros.; Rating: PG-13; 123 minutes; 2014
ParaNorman - When a small town comes under siege by zombies, who can it call? Only misunderstood local boy Norman, who is able to speak with the dead. In addition to the zombies, he’ll have to take on ghosts, witches and, worst, of all, grown-ups, to save his town from a centuries-old curse. But this young ghoul whisperer may find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.
Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Casey Affleck, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann; Directed by Chris Butler, Sam Fell; Focus Features; Rating: PG; 87 minutes; 2012
Saw - The directorial debut from filmmaker James Wan, this psychological thriller comes from the first screenplay by actor Leigh Whannell, who also stars. Whannell plays Adam, one of two men chained up in a mysterious chamber. The other, Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes), like Adam, has no idea how either of them got there. Neither of them are led to feel optimistic by the man lying between them dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Together, Adam and Dr. Gordon attempt to piece together what has happened to them and who the sadistic madman behind their imprisonment is. Also starring Danny Glover and Monica Potter, Saw premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Author: Matthew Tobey
Leigh Whannell, Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, Dina Meyer, Mike Butters; Directed by James Wan; Lions Gate Films, Inc.; Rating: R; 103 minutes; 2004
Scream - Scream is at once a slasher film and a tongue-in-cheek position paper on the “dead teenagers” movies of the late 1970s/early 1980s that plays as half-parody, half-tribute. Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is having a rough time lately: she’s still getting over the brutal rape and murder of her mother a year ago, and now one of her friends (Drew Barrymore) has been killed by a lunatic who harassed her with terrifying phone calls, then stabbed her to death while wearing a Halloween costume. Soon Sydney is receiving similar phone calls, quizzing her on the arcane details of such films as Friday the 13th and Prom Night, and is attacked by the same cloaked maniac. With her father missing, she has hardly anyone on her side except her best friend Tatum (Rose McGowan) and Tatum’s brother Dewey (David Arquette), a half-bright cop. As for the murderer, it could be any number of people: Syd’s father; her cute but overly intense boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ullrich); Tatum’s goofball boyfriend Stuart (Matthew Lillard); or Randy (Jamie Kennedy), who works at the local video store and seems to like horror movies just a little too much. Much like Halloween, Scream spawned a series of sequels and inspired a large number of similar films — its original working title, Scary Movie, became the title of the 2000 parody film by Damon Wayans. Author: Mark Deming
Drew Barrymore, Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Mattherw Lillard; Directed by Wes Craven; Miramax; Rating: R; 111 minutes; 1996
The Shining - Called “a masterpiece of modern horror” and “a tour-de-force of sheer terror” by the critics, Stanley Kubrick’s film is a chilling adaptation of Stephen King’s novel. THE SHINING combines eerie special effects, haunting performances by Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, and an unmistakable aura of evil into a spectacular horror film.
Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson, Philip Stone; Directed by Stanley Kubrick; Warner Bros.; Rating: R; 146 minutes; 1980
You’re Next - One of the smartest and most terrifying films in years, You’re Next reinvents the genre by putting a fresh twist on home-invasion horror. A family reunion turns into a full-on massacre when a gang of masked killers invade a sprawling country mansion on a ruthless mission of murder.
Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Barbara Crampton; Directed by Adam Wingard; Lions Gate Films, Inc.; Rating: R; 95 minutes; 2013
Zombieland - The most frightened guy on earth and an AK-toting, zombie-slaying hunter lead a crew of survivors in a world overrun by zombies. As they join forces with Wichita and Little Rock, who have also found unique ways to survive the zombie mayhem, they will have to determine which is worse: relying on each other or succumbing to the zombies.
Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard, Bill Murray; Directed by Ruben Fleischer; Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.; Rating: R; 88 minutes; 2009
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