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NEW MOVIES Act of Valor (R; 101 min.) Navy Seals rescue a hostaged CIA agent and blow away some terrorists on the way. (GB)

Hugo (PG; 127 min.) Hugo, a young boy sent

Gone (PG-13; 94 min.) Amanda Seyfried searches for her missing sister, suspecting her own abductor, a serial killer who kidnapped her in the past. (GB)

Good Deeds (PG-13; 111 min.) Tyler Perry plays successful businessman Wesley Deeds, dutiful son and fiancé, who finds himself tempted to change his life after helping out the cleaning lady at his office. (GB)

TUMULT AND BEAUTY Leila Hatami plays Simin in this Iranian breakthrough.

Family Planning

‘A Separation’ a brilliant film from Iran BY RICHARD VON BUSACK


nother brilliant movie from the land of brilliant movies, A Separation unfolds in layers. Set in Iran, the film follows a potential divorce that’s complicated by a criminal case: a pious nursemaid (Sareh Bayat) who tends to an aged member of the fractured family claims that she was made to miscarry. I mention Bayat first, but there isn’t a lead actor per se; the cast is more of a circle than a hierarchy. Director Asghar Farhadi is excellent here, and he’s also cast his daughter, Sarina, in an auspicious debut. The precious girl plays 10-going-on-11 Termeh, a student with no social life to speak of, since her life is all homework and tutoring. Termeh’s mother, Simin (Leila Hatami), yearns to take her family out of Iran, perhaps to the West. The film doesn’t explain why a Europeanized English teacher who drives a Peugeot would want to leave Iran, but the audience can hazard a guess or two. The significant glances and open-faced lies in the script make the film’s title a play on words; it’s actually about the split between the world of men and the world of women, exacerbated in an Islamic republic seeking to keep the two as separate as possible. Yet despite the subject matters of courtroom suspense, tragic divorce and a dead baby, A Separation is not overly melodramatic. You couldn’t ask for a more eloquent protest against the moral courts, seemingly engineered to complicate already painful situations. Farhadi’s astonishing drama shows the problems of legislated morality, but he seems to have his eye on a more metaphysical, ancient statute: the hidden laws of bad luck, and how that luck inevitably worsens because of the acts of desperate men and women. We have so many, many movies, and so few have a real reason to exist. A Separation was made with clear urgency, and with a grand reveal in the last 20 minutes of the film. ‘A Separation’ opens Feb. 24 at Summerfield Cinemas. 551 Summerfield Road, Santa Rosa. 707.522.0719.

Haywire (R; 93 min.) A freelance operative is doublecrossed after a mission rescuing a hostaged Chinese journalist in the latest from Steven Soderbergh. (GB)

A Separation (NR; 123 min.) Gender inequality is explored in new import from Iran. See review, adjacent. Wanderlust (PG-13; 98 min.) The ubiquitous Judd Apatow produces new comedy starring Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston as an NYC couple forced to move in with the in-laws in Georgia after losing their cushy jobs in Manhattan. (GB)

ALSO PLAYING Albert Nobbs (R; 117 min.) Glenn Close stars in the adaptation of George Moore’s 1927 story about a woman living life disguised as a man. (GB) The Artist (PG-13; 100 min.) French romance and homage to silent film, The Artist stars Jean Dujardin (OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies) as a silent-film star in love with an aspiring actress during the rise of the talkies. In black-andwhite with French subtitles. (GB)

Big Miracle (PG; 123 min.) Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski co-star in the adaptation of Tom Rose’s book Freeing the Whales, about a 1988 international effort to rescue gray whales trapped under ice near Alaska. (GB)

to live with his uncle who maintains the clocks at a railway station, searches for the missing part, the key to the heart, of the automaton his clockmaker father had found before his death. Directed by Martin Scorsese in an adaptation of Brian Selznick’s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret. (GB)

The Iron Lady (PG-13; 115 min.) Meryl Streep plays Margaret Thatcher in biopic costarring Jim Broadbent, Nick Dunning and Richard Grant. From the director of Mamma Mia! (GB)

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (PG; 94 min.) The sequel to 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth stars Dwayne Johnson, Luis Guzman and Michael Caine (?). (GB)

Oscar Nominated Short Films This year’s live-action and animated shorts with an Oscar nod screen at the Rafael Center and Summerfield Cinemas. (GB)

Pina (PG; 106 min.) Wim Wenders’ glorious cinematic festschrift for German choreographer Pina Bausch, who passed away in 2009. The dancers deliver their memories of Bausch straight to the camera, and we can see why they fell in love, despite what Bausch demanded from them. However rarefied it seems in descriptions, Bausch’s art was all about hard work and ordinary pain. (RvB) Safe House (R; 117 min.) When a CIA safe house is attacked by Cape Town rebels, the paper-pushing agent must step up to transport the secured criminal to an even safer house. With Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. (GB)

Chronicle (PG-13; 83 min.) Three teens develop superhuman abilities after stumbling on a mysterious substance in a crater. (GB)

The Secret World of Arrietty (G; 94 min.) The new film from Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli features the voices of Bridgit Mendler, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler and Carol Burnett. (GB)

The Descendents (R; 94 min.) Matt King (George Clooney) is forced to reconnect with his kids after his wife suffers a boating accident in Hawaii. With Jody Greer, Matthew Lillard and Beau Bridges. (GB)

This Means War (PG-13; 98 min.) CIA buddies Tuck and Foster discover they’re dating the same woman (Reese Witherspoon) in this action-romcom from McG (Charlie’s Angels). With Chris Pine and Tom Hardy. (GB)

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

The Vow (PG-13; 104 min.) A young husband (Channing Tatum) tries to rekindle the affection of his wife (Rachel McAdams) after she wakes from a coma with no memory of her life with him. (GB)

(PG-13; 95 min.) Nicholas Cage returns in the sequel to the 2007 Marvel film. (GB)

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (R; 158 min.) David Fincher directs the Englishlanguage version of the hit 2009 Swedish film, based on the first in Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium series.” Co-stars Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, as Lisbeth. (GB)

The Woman in Black (R; 95 min.) Daniel Radcliffe plays a widowed lawyer processing a will in an eerie village where the sight of a spectre foretells the death of another child. From recently reborn Hammer Film Productions! (GB)

Film capsules by Gary Brandt and Richard von Busack.






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