Film Clips: This weekend's movie openings and more October 22 2010

New films with Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Matt Damon, Ed Norton and De Niro. 'Nough said.


  • Ken Regan/Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Cecile De France and Matt Damon in "Hereafter."

CONVICTION 2 stars (R) Two-time Oscar-winner Hilary Swank puts herself through law school to defend her brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) after he’s wrongfully convicted of murder. Directed by Tony Goldwyn, Conviction struggles to visually dramatize its inspirational story, given the repetitive nature of the siblings’ meetings in prison visitation rooms and the drabness of scenes about homework. Nevertheless, Swank excels at playing these kind of suffering women contending with a callous system, and plays well against Minnie Driver, Melissa Leo and Juliette Lewis in colorful supporting roles. — Holman

HEREAFTER 1 star (PG-13) Death touches the lives of three strangers — successful French newswoman Marie LeLay (Cécile de France), poor English schoolboy Marcus (played by twins Frankie and George McLaren), and George (Matt Damon), a factory worker/psychic — prompting them all to wonder, “What really happens when we die?” A feeble, Crash-esque attempt at intertwining the three lives and pondering the great beyond follows. Nobody expects director Clint Eastwood or writer Peter Morgan to actually answer the question, “What happens when we die?” But we’d at least like to feel engaged in an interesting discussion about the subject. — Debbie Michaud

HOWL 3 stars (R) James Franco plays Allen Ginsberg in an unconventional biopic that examines the creation, controversy and content of the Beat poet’s ecstatic masterpiece, “Howl.” Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman cross-cut between Ginsburg’s coffeehouse reading in 1955, his revelatory interview in 1957 and that year’s “Howl” obscenity trial in San Francisco (with Jon Hamm and David Straithairn as opposing lawyers). Surreal animation meant to illustrate the text merely serves as a distraction, but the Howl serves as a surprisingly effective collage of how a writer’s experience and artistry transforms personal experience into literature. — Holman

THE LAST TRAIN HOME (NR) This documentary explores the cultural tensions revealed by China’s annual tradition of millions of city workers returning to their rural villages for the New Year’s festivities, described as “the world’s largest human migration.”

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (R) Director Oren Peli’s follow-up to his lo-fi sleeper hit Paranormal Activity depicts not a couple but a family bedeviled by poltergeist-style phenomena, so expect to see dogs and kids in peril from unseen forces. Directed by Tod Williams.

STONE (R) To ensure his earliest possible release, a convicted arsonist (Ed Norton) encourages his wife (Milla Jovovich) to seduce his parole officer (Robert De Niro) in this thriller centered around the criminal justice system.