Among more important things, Side Effects is a first-rate mystery of the classic school in which all the clues are out in sight and the solution links everything together into a single coherent story. The story is usually not particularly credible, because crime is more banal than the mystery story form likes to suggest; but it does fit together into a logical pattern with no loose ends. This is a very rare situation these days, on film, and congratulations for it.
I thought Quartet was a short-story movie, like the 1948 classic of Somerset Maugham stories. I was delighted to find that it is one of those multi-starred character studies that the British are so good at, but Americans hardly touch except on television like "Seinfeld," which is famously about nothing.
Parker is one of those standard violence thrillers, with Jason Statham as one of those heroes who can push a knife blade through the palm of his hand in order to get a grip on the villain, and Michael Chiklis, who can take six bullets in the chest at close range and not even be slowed down.
Mama is a horror movie that is not a "splatter" movie, which means it does not rely on blood and pain and sadism for its effects, and that's all to its credit. How often do you see a horror movie rated PG-13?
Those who protest the violence and brutality of the torture scenes in Zero Dark Thirty are apparently not familiar with the standards set by current splatter movies like the Saw series. Those who object to the subject itself may not be considering that the government does not deny using torture so much as it denies that it worked.
Promised Land, startting Matt Damon as the agent of the energy company and John Krasinski as the environmentalist, is a fairly good introduction to the "fracking" process of getting natural gas out of the ground, but it falls a bit into the stereotypes of entertainment movies, and seriously dilutes its message about the pros and cons of the fracking process.
The biggest problem with Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchainedis that it is made up largely of two pretty ordinary short bits and then a main story that is interesting but stretches the movie out to two-and-a-half hours plus.
The Paperboy is the latest of a series of movies about a class of people lower economically, culturally and sometimes morally. Winter's Bone and Beasts of the Southern Wild included people we could admire, but Killing Them Softly, Killer Joe, and now The Paperboy feature characters we would not care to spend time with in real life.