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The Abandoned
directed by Nacho Cerda
Sure signs of winter are snow, ice, cold–and schlocky horror movies. Foreboding lighting, screechy noises and dingy set design are meant to add up to “scary” but translate only into been-there-done-that in the case of The Abandoned. A woman looking for her birth parents is led to a haunted house in Russia where she meets a supposed twin brother and a whole lot of danger because the house “knows how you will die.” Are those chills from the premise or the draft in the theater? Starring Anastasia Hille, Karel Roden, Valentin Ganev and Carlos Reig.

The Astronaut Farmer
directed by Michael Polish
Billy Bob Thornton goes where he hasn’t gone before—or, at least where he doesn’t go very often: Planet Family-Friendly. The often foul-mouthed star of raunchy comedies throttles back a bit in this story of a farmer who builds a rocket in his barn. Daring to defy a government non too keen on his DIY trip to outer space—and daring to dream, gosh darn it—Thornton brings his family and community together in a way Frank Capra would approve of. Also starring Virginia Madsen, Tim Blake Nelson and Bruce Dern.

The Number 23
directed by Joel Schumacher
Jim Carrey gets obsessed by a number that’s not on his gargantuan paycheck in this psychological thriller. Given a book detailing a life built around the number 23, Walter Sparrow (Carrey) is driven to the brink of insanity (or is it inanity?) by the parallels he thinks he finds between the book and his life. It’s the age-old tale of a mentally unstable egoist driven to madness by his narcissism. Also starring Virginia Madsen and Danny Huston.

Reno 911!: Miami
directed by Ben Garant
Based on the cult Comedy Central hit, Reno 911!: Miami finds our irreverent group of Washoe County Sheriff’s Department cops in Miami for a police convention. But when terrorism puts every single cop in Miami out of commission–with the exception of Lt. Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon) and his cohorts–the aloof Reno lawmen swing into action to patrol the mean streets of Miami-Dade County during the dog days of spring break. This is certainly for fans of the show, but newcomers entranced by Borat will enjoy the faux-documentary style in which the movie is shot. (Think “Cops” with likeable morons.) Also starring Robert Ben Garant, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Danny DeVito.

Starter for Ten
directed by Tom Vaughan
In this Tom Hanks-produced slice of John Hughes nostalgia, working-class Brian (James McAvoy) struggles with life and love in an upper-class British university in the 1980s. Period clothes and hairdos are everywhere as Brian pursues the hot girl in his class (Alice Eve) and is entranced by the long-term possibilities of his close friend (Rebecca Hall). Like the obedient genre picture it is, this coming-of-age romantic comedy has life- and love-lessons aplenty. Also starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

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