The Artist (Weinstein)
A modern-made silent film proves to be a breath of fresh air without uttering a word. A dashing star of the silent screen (Jean Dujardin) plays every role with panache: the handsome lover, the swashbuckling hero, the athletic comedian with a sidekick Jack Russell terrier. But Hollywood is changing, and the arrival of the "talkies" presages his decline. Meanwhile, an adoring fan (Berenice Bejo) gets her big break in show business and becomes destined for stardom. Their paths intersect in a film that is at turns zany and hilarious, sad and affecting, uplifting and inspiring. One obscene hand gesture, two scenes of attempted suicide. (A-III, PG-13)
Expletive-laden, dispiriting crime thriller about an ex-smuggler (Mark Wahlberg) forced to ply his illicit trade once more in order to protect his family from a drug dealer. Set in New Orleans, and in the shipping lanes between the Crescent City and Panama, this Hollywood retread of a 2008 Nordic movie immediately bogs down in vulgar language, while director Baltasar Kormakur, who starred in and produced the original, fails to provide any depth or to exploit the relatively novel crime scenario. Adding insult to injury, Aaron Guzikowski's script shows its putative hero profiting from his escapade and thus transmits a false message about the consequences of felonious behavior and a supposed immunity from ethical corruption. Skewed values, much lethal but only moderately graphic violence, one instance of drug use, some profanity, pervasive rough, crude and crass language. (O, R)
The Devil Inside (Paramount)
Director and co-writer William Brent Bell's eye-poppingly bad, grotesque exorcism outing combines inept storytelling with a lazy, sullen antagonism toward the Catholic Church. Anti-Catholic animus, a fallacious presentation of church teaching and practice, implied acceptance of abortion, rare but intensely gory violence, a few uses of profanity and frequent rough and occasional crude language. (O, R)
Joyful Noise (Warner Bros.)
Vibrant, faith-driven blend of comedy, drama and music focused on the sometimes raucous but ultimately friendly rivalry between two leading members (Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton) of a small-town Georgia church choir. As the chorus competes for regional and national recognition, the free-spirited, mildly prodigal grandson (Jeremy Jordan) of Parton's character falls for the strictly reared daughter (Keke Palmer) of Latifah's. Though it gives a pass to an incidental out-of-wedlock fling, and showcases some humor and vocabulary that make it unsuitable for youngsters, writer-director Todd Graff's otherwise uplifting celebration of traditional values emphasizes trust in God and illustrates the positive effects of compassionate and forgiving behavior. A premarital situation, occasional sexual references and jokes, about a half-dozen crude expressions, some crass language. (A-III, PG-13)
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Focus)
The hunt is on for a double agent within Britain's intelligence service in this faithful adaptation of John le Carre's best-selling 1974 novel, set at the height of the Cold War between East and West. A loyal lieutenant (Gary Oldman) of the agency's chief (John Hurt) is sacked when a covert mission to find the mole goes awry. Secretly rehired and commissioned to ferret out the traitor, he identifies four principal suspects (Toby Jones, Colin Firth, Ciaran Hinds, David Dencik). Swedish director Tomas Alfredson sets a deliberately slow pace, especially for an espionage thriller. But amid all the stimulating conversations and lengthy ruminations, his film also includes elements severely circumscribing its appropriate audience. Bloody violence including gunplay and torture, a scene of nonmarital sexual activity, brief rear nudity, a homosexual reference, some profane and rough language. (L, R)
Catholic News Service classifications: A-I ---- general patronage; A-II ---- adults and adolescents; A-III ---- adults; L ---- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; O ---- morally offensive. Full-length reviews: www.catholicnews.com/movies.htm.
Prayer of the MonthPapal intentions for November: That priests who experience difficulties may find comfort in their suffering, support in their doubts, and confirmation in their fidelity. That as fruit of the continental mission, Latin American Churches may send missionaries to other Churches.
Papal intentions for December: That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.