the best of the rest

Capsules by Michael Sragow. Full reviews are at


Boy A : *** ( 3 STARS)This film centers on a young man released from prison after a lengthy term for an atrocity committed when he was a child. Andrew Garfield pulls off a death-defying act of imagination in the role. With a new name and a made-up past, this profoundly troubled character manages to get a job and fall in love. His case worker (Peter Mullan) views him as his "greatest accomplishment." Our antihero is not so sure. The genius of Garfield's performance is that he fills him with equal amounts of terror and wonder. We measure his ups and downs with each beat of our hearts. R 100 minutes

Brick Lane : *** ( 3 STARS) This London-based tale of a young Bangladeshi woman, Nazneen (Tannishtha Chatterjee), who begins to feel trapped in her arranged marriage to a decades-older man, Chanu (Satish Kaushik), lacks the stature we associate with tragedy or tragicomedy. But the movie evokes tears and laughter in its evocation of Bangladeshi tradition and modernism colliding in the streets of London. In its portrait of a husband who painfully comes to know his limitations, the film achieves that rarest quality: nobility. PG-13 102 minutes


Elegy: *** ( 3 STARS) An aging critic and academic (Ben Kingsley) sees an intoxicatingly beautiful student (Penelope Cruz) as his last chance for ecstasy; Kingsley is miscast, but Cruz and the supporting players (Patricia Clarkson, Peter Sarsgaard and Dennis Hopper) are superb. R 107 minutes

Frozen River : *** ( 3 STARS) This solid, satisfying, ruthlessly character-driven thriller focuses an unblinking eye on the fraying lives of Native Americans and struggling whites living in and around the Mohawk Reservation on the New York-Canada border. It creates a charged emotional atmosphere in which you feel anything can happen. As a working-class mother who smuggles illegal immigrants across the frozen St. Lawrence River, Melissa Leo brings a ferocious brusqueness to a downward-spiraling character and is never less than galvanic. R 97 minutes

Star Wars: The Clone Wars : ** 1/2 ( 2 1/2 STARS) Lucasfilm's feature-length cartoon gives fanboys and fangirls their chance to see sweeping big-screen images of the Jedi using their clone armies to protect the Republic against the Dark Lords of the Sith and their droid armies. It's not exactly thrilling, but young audiences will lap it up like ice cream, and its good humor and faith in the Force will put adults in a Saturday-morning frame of mind. PG 98 minutes

Tell No One : **** ( 4 STARS) This film is a terrific, humane suspense film. On the eighth anniversary of his wife's abduction and apparent murder, a Paris-based pediatrician (Francois Cluzet) receives an e-mail containing a link to a video Web site on which he thinks he spots her alive. The e-mail comes with the warning "tell no one," because people will be watching. The movie, like its hero, is shrewd about the small lies and mini-corruptions that can lead to major crimes. Unrated 125 minutes

Traitor: ** 1/2 ( 2 1/2 STARS) Don Cheadle stars as Samir Horn, a righteous Muslim connected to Islamic extremists who are plotting to blow up buses across America. Guy Pearce plays an FBI counterterrorist agent who starts tracking Samir after he lands in a Yemeni prison for selling detonators to an Islamic militant cell. Although earnest and intelligent, this film is like an elaboration of that old hair-dye commercial: "Does she or doesn't she?" Only this time, it's "Does he or doesn't he harbor a secret anti-terrorist agenda?" PG-13 110 minutes

Vicky Cristina Barcelona: **** ( 4 STARS) In seductive Barcelona, romantic complications swirl around an artist (Scarlett Johansson), a grad student (Rebecca Hall), a painter with a past (Javier Bardem) and the painter's ex-wife (Penelope Cruz). Woody Allen's affectionate, enlightening and blissfully entertaining movie shows how much residue sexual desire or experience leaves in the brain and gut and heart. It's a summery idyll. PG-13 97 minutes