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A Most Violent Year ***½ Directed by J.C. Chandor. Starring Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, Albert Brooks, Elyes Gabel, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Christopher Abbott, Peter Gerety, Alessandro Nivola. Amid New York City’s crime-filled winter of 1981, immigrant Abel Morales and his wife try to operate a successful business, only to see their efforts threatened by the lawless atmosphere permeating the streets. Stylish, sophisticated, simmering crime and character drama with Shakespearean dimension and bravura performances. Who knew heating oil could be a sexy subject?
The Immigrant *** Directed by James Gay. Starring. Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner. After arriving in New York, a Polish immigrant must provide for her ill sister — and soon falls under the thumb of a charming thug, who forces her into a life of prostitution. But when she falls for a magician, her fortunes turn. This is the first film Gray has made with a female protagonist — he wrote the part specifically for Cotillard — and he gives the character the same resilience and resourcefulness usually reserved in movies for men.
The Voices **½ Directed by Marjane Satrapi. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, Jacki Weaver. Leading a quiet bachelor existence, acfactory employee develops a crush on a lovely girl from accounting but ends up killing her by accident. However, his suddenly verbal cat and dog are there to help him consider his next move. Satrapi makes some bad calls in her attempts to balance bleak humor with bleaker thrills, including ending the film on a glibly cheerful note. Her best decision, bar none, was entrusting such heavy material to the guy who played Van Wilder. Behind that perpetual smirk lurks a talent for quiet depravity. Bonkers looks good on him.