Arts

Two War Films Are February's Dark Dazzlers

Friday, January 27, 2012

For your top movie dates in February, Jennifer Merin recommends two war movies, "In Darkness" and "Return." They're not sweet Valentine's Day offerings but both are cinematically rich.

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Valentine's Offerings

On Feb. 10, we have Hollywood's date with Valentine's Day. "The Vow" is a romance about Paige (Rachel McAdams), who comes out of a coma with amnesia and cannot remember her husband (Channing Tatum). He is determined to make her fall in love with him anew. The screenplay, co-written by Abby Kohn, is seethingly sentimental and somewhat slight. But the performances are heartwarming.

"Thin Ice" skates on to big screens Feb. 17. Directed Jill Sprecher, who co-wrote the script with Karen Sprecher, the film is an offbeat intrigue set in rural Wisconsin. In it, three oddballs -- played by Greg Kinnear, Billy Crudup and Alan Arkin -- try to outmaneuver each other to benefit from the theft of a rare and valuable violin. This film has some echoes of the Coen Brothers' "Fargo," and the Sprecher sisters are definitely a team to watch.

"Gone" arrives Feb. 24. Written by Allison Burnett, this crime thriller is about a woman who survives victimhood to fight back. Jill (Amanda Seyfried) has escaped the clutches of a serial killer several years earlier but now she's convinced he has kidnapped her sister. The police think she's nuts, so she goes on a mission to find the killer -- and her sister -- by herself. Seyfried's performance is strong and convincing.

Closing out the month, on Feb. 29, is a must-see documentary. "This Is Not a Film" is the autobiographical work of Iranian director Jafar Panahi, currently under house arrest in Tehran for allegedly planning to make a subversive film. With previous films such as "The Circle" (2000) and "Offside" (2006), Panahi has drawn fire from the Iranian government for showing strong female characters struggling against oppressive traditions and the repressive regime. As part of his sentence, the 52-year-old director has been prohibited from making films (hence the title) for the next 20 years. This profoundly clever not-a-film shows how Panahi, himself, is trying to cope. Don't miss it.

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In addition to covering film for Women's eNews, Jennifer Merin writes about documentaries for About.com (http://documentaries.About.com ) and is president of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists (http://www.AWFJ.org ), a nonprofit organization of the leading women film journalists in the U.S. and Canada. She is also a member of the Broadcast Journalists Association.

For more information:

Alliance of Women Film Journalists
http://www.awfj.org

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