Don't Miss

November 27, 2009|By Michael Sragow

An Education **** ( 4 STARS) Director Lone Scherfig and screenwriter Nick Hornby turn Lynn Barber's wispy memoir into a full-bodied tragicomedy about a British schoolgirl (Carey Mulligan) who finds release from her constricted home life and monotonous track to academic success when a mysterious, cultured, charming adult cosmopolite (Peter Sarsgaard) takes her to concerts, galleries and nightclubs in London and Paris. The film moves nimbly through gamy material: it's about, not victimization, but the getting of wisdom. Mulligan and Sarsgaard partner each other excitingly and perfectly, like a pianist and trumpeter in a super jazz combo.

Opened Wednesday

The Fantastic Mr. Fox : ** 1/2 ( 2 1/2 STARS) Clever, glib, destined to divide audiences, Wes Anderson's meticulous stop-motion animation version of the Roald Dahl story features the voice talents of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and others. I was a little cool toward it, but you - you're not me, after all. PG. 1:28.

Ninja Assassin : * 1/2 ( One 1/2 STARS) After an insanely gory opening, this action flick starring the Korean pop star and fledgling actor Rain keeps most of its set pieces in the dark. You get the feeling you're not missing much. Director James McTeigue fractures the visuals into meaningless bits of "Huh? Wha?" R. 1:39.

Old Dogs : * ( ONE STAR) "Strained" doesn't begin to describe this groin-pull of a slapstick outing (with pathos), showcasing John Travolta and Robin Williams as best pals baby-sitting a couple of preteens (the Williams character's progeny) for two weeks. PG. 1:39.

The Road : ** 1/2 ( 2 1/2 STARS) Viggo Mortensen single-handedly makes this adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel worth a look. It's an honorable if static attempt (though oddly sentimental in some of its touches) at filming a borderline-unfilmable, end-of-the-world allegory. R. 1:59.

- Michael Phillips, Tribune Newspapers

Don't miss

An Education **** Director Lone Scherfig and screenwriter Nick Hornby turn Lynn Barber's wispy memoir into a full-bodied tragicomedy about a British schoolgirl (Carey Mulligan) who finds release from her constricted home life and monotonous track to academic success when a mysterious, cultured, charming adult cosmopolite (Peter Sarsgaard) takes her to concerts, galleries and nightclubs in London and Paris. The film moves nimbly through gamy material: it's about, not victimization, but the getting of wisdom. Mulligan and Sarsgaard partner each other excitingly and perfectly, like a pianist and trumpeter in a super jazz combo.

- Michael Sragow

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