Death Defying Acts ( PG): This is not a biography of the great illusionist Harry Houdini but a fictionalised romance between Houdini ( Guy Pearce) and a Scottish confidence trickster ( Catherine Zeta- Jones). It’s a handsome production from Gillian Armstrong but, sadly, not a convincing one. — David Stratton
The Other Boleyn Girl ( M): Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson bring much- needed star appeal to this long- winded historical soap opera, based on Philippa Gregory’s novel about Anne Boleyn, her less remembered sister Mary and the lustful Henry VIII ( Eric Bana). Handsome, fruity and shallow. — E. W.
Vantage Point ( M): A silly but perversely enjoyable conspiracy theory thriller about a plot to kill the US president ( William Hurt) in Spain. Told from several points of view, and with a strong cast ( Dennis Quaid, Sigourney Weaver, Forest Whitaker), the film makes up for its narrative shortcomings through the skill with which it is staged. — D. S.
The Black Balloon ( M): Writerdirector Elissa Down has made one of the best Australian films of recent years, an exhilarating story of suburban family life and the anguish of teenage love. A fine performance from Luke Ford as an autistic boy, with memorable support from Rhys Wakefield, Toni Collette and model Gemma Ward. — E. W.
Paranoid Park ( M): Gus Van Sant’s latest is a minimalist drama centring on an inarticulate 16- year- old skateboarder ( Gabe Nevins). Fine cinematography by Australia’s Christopher Doyle can’t compensate for the needlessly fractured narrative and inappropriate music. — D. S.
Sleuth ( M): Anthony Shaffer’s venerable mystery play, filmed in 1972 with Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine, is given a hi- tech gloss in Kenneth Branagh’s stylish remake, with Caine playing the Olivier role and Jude Law as his sparring partner in a dangerous battle of wits. Devious and engrossing. — E. W.
The Eye ( M): A polished supernatural thriller about a blind concert violinist ( Jessica Alba) who has frightening visions after her sight is restored in an operation. Understated direction from David Moreau and Xavier Palud gives freshness to an old story, with reminders of The Sixth Sense . — Evan Williams
Run, Fatboy, Run ( M): A British comedy that, like Death at a Funeral , is directed by an American, David Schwimmer, who brings a fresh eye to the London backdrops. Simon Pegg is in tremendous form as the hopeless hero who shapes up to try to win back the woman he loves. — D. S. Our critics avoid
Closing the Ring ( M): Richard Attenborough’s new film cuts back and forth between 1944 and 1991, but this story of lost love is compromised by unlikely situations and unbelievable characters, two played by Mischa Barton and Shirley MacLaine. — D. S.
Sharp focus: Jessica Alba in The Eye