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At Middleton, Labor Day, Oscar Shorts, That Awkward Moment, The Servant, and The Black Stallion


AT MIDDLETON The most impressive thing about this middle-aged rom-com may be the amount of cliches it manages to pack into a two-minute trailer. George (Andy Garcia) and Edith (Vera Farmiga) meet and improbably fall in love while taking their respective kids on a college campus tour. Taissa Farmiga, who’s been getting attention for her turn in American Horror Story, plays the daughter of real-life sister Vera. Opens Jan. 31

LABOR DAY Director Jason Reitman drops the quirky banter of his earlier works (Up in the Air, Juno, Thank You for Smoking) for this straightforward, dramatic adaptation of Joyce Maynard’s coming-of-age novel. Escaped convict Frank, played by Josh Brolin, takes single mother Adele (Kate Winslet) and her son, Henry (Gatlin Griffith), hostage in their home. Stockholm syndrome kicks in when Adele and Frank start baking pies Ghost-style (sex metaphors have never been so juicy) and when Frank teaches Henry to hit one out of the park. Opens Jan. 31 at the Senator Theatre

OSCAR SHORTS The Charles presents this year’s crop of Oscar-nominated short films. Highlights on the animated side: Feral, a silent film about a feral child brought back to civilization by a hunter, and Get a Horse!, featuring old-time Mickey Mouse (like Steamboat Willie-era) in a hand-drawn 3-D musical. In the live-action category, the sole English-language offering, The Voorman Problem, stars Martin Freeman as a psychiatrist assigned to evaluate an inmate who believes he is a god, and Helium, director Kim Magnusson’s fifth nomination in the shorts category, follows a doctor and his young patient, who explores different dreamscapes while under the knife. Opens Jan. 31 at the Charles Theatre

THAT AWKWARD MOMENT Three friends make a pact to stay single after one of them gets dumped; naturally, they respectively fall in love with dream girls. We have to admit we were mildly disappointed to see Michael B. Jordan, aka Wallace from The Wire, follow up his Fruitvale Station performance with this bro comedy (co-starring Zac Efron, who seems to be returning to type after some indie-film dabbling in At Any Price). But hey, we guess he’s just cultivating his range. Opens Jan. 31

THE SERVANT Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter adapted the screenplay for this 1963 film; it was his first collaboration (of three) with prolific filmmaker Joseph Losey. Using the relationship of a young Englishman and his servant as a lens, the story explores the degradation of the British caste system in the ’60s. Tony hires Barrett on as his manservant, and Barrett expertly drives a wedge between Tony and his fiancée, cultivating the aristocrat’s dependence on him. In short, this is a revival screening for all the Downton Abbey fans. Plays at the Charles Theatre 11:30 a.m. Feb. 1, 7 p.m. Feb. 3, 9 p.m. Feb. 6

THE BLACK STALLION Francis Ford Coppola produced this classic family flick, based on the beloved children’s book about a boy and a mysterious black horse. The movie adaptation earned some recognition when it debuted in 1979 for offering a strong first half with a 50-minute desert-island sequence without dialogue. As one might expect, however, it slips into a underdog-story mold for the second act. Mickey Rooney stars as the wise old trainer, a role that earned him an Academy Award nomination. Plays 10 a.m. Feb. 1 at the Senator Theatre

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