Limitless

Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Robert De Niro | PG-13 |

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THRILLER

You don't need to be a genius to know that popping a pill that unlocks all of your brainpower is a terrible idea. Failing writer Eddie (Cooper) isn't that smart-but he's about to get a lot smarter. When he gets his hands on a stash of not-exactly-FDA-approved superdrug NZT, it makes colors sing and turns synapses into fireworks. Suddenly he's the smartest guy in the room, generating a bestseller, millions of dollars and attempts on his life. (He didn't see that last part coming.) Of course there are junkies after his stash, which puts his girlfriend (Cornish) in danger and threatens his business dealings with a tycoon (De Niro). We all know where this is headed, right? Actually, no. Limitless, though far from perfect, takes some surprising turns that end up being very smart indeed.

The Lincoln Lawyer

Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy | R |

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THRILLER

Shady shark Mick Haller (McConaughey) has friends in low places, so he may be out of his depth with his rich new client, Louis Roulet (Phillippe). Roulet claims he was set up by a prostitute-a seemingly routine case that soon dismantles Haller's life. That's good, because we need to be reminded that McConaughey can really act. While the plot (based on Michael Connelly's book) is standard issue for fans of crime drama, McConaughey's performance is bracing.

Win Win

Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Alex Shaffer | R |

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DRAMEDY

What an apt title for this Sundance hit. Giamatti again proves he's the best everyman in the biz as Mike, a lawyer who bends principle to profit off an elderly client, then takes in the old man's grandson (affecting newcomer Shaffer). Ryan is flawless as Mike's wife, while Bobby Cannavale is hilarious as his buddy. Curiously, Win Win is heavier than it looks-and funnier.

Paul

Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig | R |

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REVIEWED BY RENNIE DYBALL

COMEDY

After seeing its trailer aimed at the toilet-humor set, I had about as much hope for Paul as I did for hitching a ride home on a UFO. But this E.T.-meets-The Hangover romp about two aging comic book nerds (the hilarious Frost and Pegg) who find a real alien made me a believer. The f-bombs abound, but so do subtler laughs and clever nods to sci-fi classics. And while he may be computer-animated, the beer-loving Paul himself is so human that he gives the whole film heart.

Inception was just the beginning. Limitless joins a batch of new brain twisters

INCEPTION

The Hook: Trained pros can sneak into your dreams and plant ideas ...

The Catch: ... that can kill you.

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU

The Hook: There are beings watching over us, guiding fate.

The Catch: They're mean.

SOURCE CODE (OUT APRIL 1)

The Hook: Time travel is real.

The Catch: It's on an 8-minute loop that blows up a train full of people (and Jake Gyllenhaal).

WHAT I LOVE THIS WEEK

STAND BY ME

ON DVD

The dead body, leeches and pukey pie-eating contest-they'll all look amazing in Blu-ray.

ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS

ON DEMAND

Trenchant doc on the New York Renaissance, the first all-black pro team.

KUNG FU PANDA 2

TRAILER

Cool animation is nice, but Fu 2 (out May 26) looks funny also: Po faces his old enemy-stairs.

That's "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" singer Trace Adkins under the biker getup as a client of McConaughey. "These guys get in trouble, so we have to have an attorney on call," he says. Not that he can relate anymore: "I quit drinking about eight years ago, and it's amazing how less frequently I go to jail now."

"It was the best five-week workout plan of my life. Nothing like a live chainsaw to motivate you to run faster"

-The Texas Film Hall of Fame inductee on her first big film role: 1994's Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation

MOVIE FLASHBACK

You gave me Cinderella and The Princess Bride, which basically makes you my fairy godparents. So you know I was psyched that you're redoing Snow White (and maybe Sleeping Beauty). Then I saw Beastly and Red Riding Hood. Now, I'm doubting you. Beastly, a high school Beauty and the Beast, is achingly clunky, while Red plays like Twilight: The Dark Ages. The clear link here is teens. You were so itchy to grab those short attention spans, you whiffed on telling great stories. So please stop straining to make fairy tales cool. They've been around for hundreds of years-they went from cool to classic ages ago.

With love, Alynda

ENCHANTED

Tongue-in-cheek but still earnest, Enchanted toys with the genre while respecting the audience.

TANGLED

The Rapunzel retelling wins because it's not hip-just a sweet, old-fashioned story with refreshingly modern characters.

LARA CROFT?

Angelina Jolie leaves some tough boots to fill as the action series gets reignited

8% NOOMI RAPACE

The Swedish Dragon Tattoo star has the chops-but she's not well-known yet stateside.

19% EMMA WATSON

What better way to bust out of the Potter box than her own butt-kicking franchise?

20% ZOE SALDANA

Avatar's star exudes plenty of 'tude, plus she held her own with the fellas in The Losers.

53% OLIVIA WILDE

Practically Angie's doppelganger, the versatile Tron star is a clear front-runner.