Film Clips: This weekend’s movie openings and more November 12 2010

Pianists, monsters, speeding trains and a brunette in in short shorts.

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  • Credit: Peter Mountain, courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
  • Gemma Arterton as Tamara Drewe.

OPENING FRIDAY
GENIUS WITHIN: THE INNER LIFE OF GLENN GOULD (NR) This documentary profiles the brilliant, obsessive classical pianist Glenn Gould (who received a less-conventional cinematic portrait in 1993’s fascinating 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould).

MONSTERS 3 stars (R) A photojournalist and a runaway bride (Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able) travel to the United States through the “infected zone” of Northern Mexico, overrun with extraterrestrial beasties. The callow performances of the two leads diminish the effectiveness of this moody, metaphorical sci-fi adventure. Director Gareth Edwards proves that filmmakers can now produce intriguing, Cloverfield-style creature features on a tiny budget. — Holman

TAMARA DREWE 3 stars (R) The tranquility of a writer’s colony in rural England gets shaken up by the return of the eponymous knockout journalist (Gemma Arterton) and various other melodramas. This faithful adaptation of xx’s graphic novel (which was loosely inspired by Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd) does a lovely job of capturing the foibles of the literary life, with touching performances by Bill Camp and Tamsin Greig. The Queen director fares less well with subplots involving a sullen indie drummer and his crazed fans, which strain for laughs. — Holman

UNSTOPPABLE Based on a true story, a freshman conductor, Will Colson (Chris Pine) and a veteran engineer, Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) attempt to stop a runaway train — the 777, carrying flammable, toxic materials from potentially derailing and destroying a Pennsylvania town. Leave it to director Tony Scott  to turn something as mundane as a train that went for a two-hour joyride and turn it into a nail-biting, hold-on-to-your-seats thriller. What works is Scott’s technique of getting the character development out of the way as quickly as possible, leaving the bulk of the story brimmed with high-speed chases and moments that leave you gasping at every near miss and fingers crossed for the two lone heroes. With a seemingly simple premise and a cast that are totally on board for the ride, Unstoppable goes full steam ahead, delivering high-speed action and thrills along the way. — Edward Adams