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Anonymous, Dawn of the Dead, The Grapes of Wrath, In Time, The Matrix, Puss in Boots, The Rum Diary

ANONYMOUS

This Shakespeare-had-a-ghostwriter period thriller stars Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, and David Thewlis. On the other hand, it’s directed by Roland Emmerich (

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Independence Day

,

2012

).

Opens Oct. 28.

DAWN OF THE DEAD

The sequel to writer/director George A. Romero’s 1968

Night of the Living Dead

is the horror master’s masterpiece, an apocalyptic social satire of our national obsessions with shooting and shopping. As the film’s first flesh-eating zombies overwhelm the countryside, four renegades in a stolen helicopter take refuge in an abandoned shopping mall. Initially planning to stop only for supplies, they succumb to the smorgasbord of goods laid out before them, clear out the ghouls who’ve gathered there (as if out of some primordial instinct), and set up a consumer paradise, only to have it blow up in an orgy of violence and greed.

Dawn

is an audacious shape-shifter of a movie, by turns hilarious and horrifying (sometimes both at once), wielding metaphor and set-piece suspense with equally blunt force. We have met the zombies, and they are us. (Andy Markowitz)

THE GRAPES OF WRATH

John Steinbeck’s quintessential novel of America’s 1930s social-consciousness rude awakening receives a tender treatment from staunchly conservative director John Ford in this 1940 anomaly of Hollywood naturalism. Henry Fonda becomes Henry Fonda, the honest, hard-working American just trying to get by, with his portrayal of Tom Joad, the Oklahoma sharecropper who packs up his family and heads to California in search of a better life, only to find more woes in the land of dreams.

The Grapes of Wrath

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is riddled with such effectively mannered performances—particularly John Carradine’s ex-preacher Casy and Eddie Quillan’s driven-mad-by-desperation Connie. But the real star here is cinematographer Gregg Toland’s vérité camerawork. Toland’s craftmanship would be rightly laureled for the wildly imaginative work in

Citizen Kane

, but what he pulls off here is arguably more impressive. His low-light night shooting and fiercely unromantic portraits of migrant laborers’ conditions feel wind-swept dusty even today: The Joads’ arrival to a California shantytown is a Walker Evans photograph come to harrowing life. (Bret McCabe)

IN TIME

Justin Timberlake toplines a futuristic action thriller in which time is literally money—the rich live forever, the poor get screwed.

Opens Oct. 28.

THE MATRIX

The Matrix

’s reputation seems to have suffered from the collective gas face that greeted its bloated, lackluster sequels. Revisit the 1999 original, however, and you’ll find that everything that made it an epochal mind-blower is still there, from its furious kineticism (superpowered kung fu! full-auto gunfights! motorcycle as flying bomb!) to its still oh-so-attractive notion that this dumb ol’ world of ours is just a construct fabricated to keep us down. True, it’s pretty talky for stretches (mostly via Laurence Fishburne, thank god, not Keanu Reeves), and it’s hard not to think about all the lame end games that its open-ended story led to in

Reloaded

and

Revolutions

. But like the original

Star Wars

, it’s underappreciated as a nearly perfect standalone film/cultural touchstone, and it’s shot and edited far better than

Star Wars

too. (LG)

PUSS IN BOOTS

Antonio Banderas returns to voice the title computer-animated feline badass in this

Shrek

spinoff. This seems like the sort of flick where all the good jokes are in the trailer, but the jokes in the trailer are pretty good.

Opens Oct. 28.

THE RUM DIARY

Johnny Depp returns to playing Hunter S. Thompson, this time in an adaptation of Thompson’s quasi-autobiographical novel of youthful hijinks in pre-Castro Cuba. Writer/director Bruce Robinson knows a thing or two about youthful hijinks—see his

Withnail and I

—so this is promising.

Opens Oct. 28.

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