Reel-View Ratings: The Bigger The Beard, The Better The Movie



A group of carnies are headed off to the next show when they are waylaid by a cult of murder-happy psychopaths who lock them all in a maze and offer a challenge: survive 12 hours in the labyrinth of murder … or die. A lot of carnage on both sides ensues. Director Rob Zombie, one suspects, wants to be an auteur in the vein of other grindhouse or horror scions of the past, but he’s missing something — finesse, the ability to write coherent scripts and characters, a steady camera — and so the film feels like little better than B-movie trash. A few more years of practice might serve Zombie well.

Opens Oct. 21 in wide release



A brilliant scientist develops the DC Mini — a device that allows her to slip into her patients’ dreams and help them through a very progressive kind of psychotherapy.

Of course, someone steals it and starts terrorizing her colleagues, leading to a psychedelic, trippy race to get it back. The lines between real and fake get blurred, and things dissolve into a determined, confusing chaos. It’s not a surprising or groundbreaking film, but it does its genre proud with especially fine animation that mixes traditional hand drawing with CG effects. Director Satoshi Kon has never been afraid to push the envelope, and it shows — even if this inevitably kind of reminds you of Inception.

Plays at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23, and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at Doris Duke Theatre



An avatar of death (Takeshi Kaneshiro) must decide whether three people — a young woman, a mobster and an elderly barber — are due for a sudden demise or a second chance at life. This slice-of-life-style flick follows the mellow, charming grim reaper as he chats with his would-be victims and learns about their lives and the human world over a four-decade span. It’s certainly not your average story about death (and in fact spends a lot of time not talking about death), though the expected lessons about life and love do apply, with few real surprises. The film still may come off as too twee for some viewers, but Kaneshiro’s charisma keeps it grounded in reality.

Plays at 1 and 7 p.m. Oct. 22 at the Movie Museum