Broken City

Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones | R |

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THRILLER

If the first person a smart gumshoe checks out is his client, then Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) is a fool. He doesn't think twice when garrulous New York City mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Crowe, charismatic and menacing) asks him to investigate the city's First Lady, Cathleen (Zeta-Jones). Of course Hostetler has his own agenda; everyone does in this grim look at dirty politics and shady characters that wants to be smarter than it is. The plot takes such wild turns that the film fishtails, leaving a viewer barely hanging on. Still, the fine cast of underemployed actors, from the luminous Zeta-Jones to the crafty Jeffrey Wright (as police commissioner), works. It'd just be nice if they could do so more often-and in better projects.

LUV

Common, Danny Glover, Dennis Haysbert, Lonette McKee | R |

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DRAMA

Eleven-year-old Woody (the promising Michael Rainey Jr.) gets the kind of education no kid should have in this hard knocks coming-of-age drama. Instead of dropping him off at school, Woody's uncle Vincent (Common) takes him on a daylong tutorial in drinking, driving, drug dealing and murder. The kicker is that not only does Woody learn quickly (truly, his driving and dope-slinging skills are impeccable), the film suggests that we should be proud of him for it. Sorry, I can't get there.

COMMENTS? WRITE TO ALYNDA: alyndasreviews@peoplemag.com

THE SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

The high-altitude indie film festival is in peak form this year with starry, eclectic and just plain good fare. (Ready to talk about next year's awards race yet?) Some films heating up the slopes:

AUSTENLAND

Toss pride (and prejudice) aside for this comedy about a Brit-lit obsessive (Keri Russell) who takes a vacation to a Jane Austen-theme resort. Plus, Jennifer Coolidge is a hoot.

AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS

The title is a tongue twister, but the story is a winner-at least judging by the rapturous applause for Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck as Southern lovers/bank robbers.

LOVELACE

Amanda Seyfried goes dark (and I don't just mean those brunette tresses) to play porn star Linda Lovelace opposite Peter Sarsgaard in this highly anticipated biopic.

DON JON'S ADDICTION

Speaking of porn (sorry, it's a Sundance favorite topic), Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut got a solid reception. He stars as a lothario who's more into erotica than real women.

THE INEVITABLE DEFEAT OF MISTER AND PETE

Jennifer Hudson earned strong reviews for her role as a heroin-addicted mom, but the standout is young Skylan Brooks, who plays her son, desperate to escape the projects.

MUD

We can talk Oscars, right? Because Matthew McConaughey is already being fitted for a tux for his role as an outlaw who befriends a boy in this drama.

BEFORE MIDNIGHT

Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are back in the second Before Sunrise follow-up, this time in Greece. Fans are already swooning.

JOBS

Wildly enough, the talk of the festival was a movie no one had seen (yet): the Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher. It could be the next The Social Network.

It's been 10 years since Arnold Schwarzenegger's last lead role, so what does he do for his comeback? Channel Clint Eastwood. As Sheriff Ray Owens, trying to stop a drug boss in The Last Stand, Arnold is still tough, but at 65 he's creaky, crusty and, with a $6 million first weekend, barely bankable. Still, the movie is fun, and Clint won't mind. He's busy, with people to see, chairs to talk to.

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