The Secret of the Grain ( La Graine et le mulet) ( M): French director Abdellatif Kechiche’s film about the lives of a North African Arab family in France is distinguished by Habib Boufares’s deeply affecting performance as a retrenched dock worker seeking a new life in business. This humane, often beautiful film is marred by narrative indiscipline and long digressions. — Evan Williams
Brick Lane ( M): Though this is a truncated adaptation of Monica Ali’s novel about the Bangladeshi community in London’s East End, the film has a strong core thanks to the journeys taken by a traditional Muslim wife ( Tannishtha Chatterjee) and her conventional, overbearing but basically decent husband ( Satish Kaushik). Excellent performances all around. — David Stratton
Dr Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! ( G): One of the best- loved Seuss stories has become one of the best recent animated features: funny, subtle and inventive. Jim Carrey is the voice of Horton, the kindly elephant who rescues a threatened species of microscopic creatures led by their anxious mayor ( Steve Carell). A charmer. — E. W.
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead ( MA15+): A cleverly structured, beautifully crafted thriller from octogenarian director Sidney Lumet that is a story of family tragedy as well as a crime movie. Impeccable performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei. — D. S.
Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger ( M): Cathy Randall’s amiable first feature gives us 14- year- old Esther ( Danielle Catanzariti), a shy Jewish girl determined to break free of her middleclass upbringing in a snooty Adelaide suburb. Endearing performances make up for the script’s zany excesses. — E. W.
Be Kind Rewind ( PG): A minor joke from writer- director Michel Gondry. When all the VHS tapes in a video rental store are accidentally wiped, the manager ( Mos Def) and his buddy ( Jack Black) set out to remake classics such as Driving Miss Daisy and Ghost Busters. — 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. Fine performances from Luke Ford, Rhys Wakefield and Toni Collette. — E. W. Our critics avoid
The Dinner Guest ( L’Invite) ( PG): Daniel Auteuil, Thierry Lhermitte and Valerie Lemercier do their best with substandard material that centres on a dinner for a prospective new boss, hosted by an unemployed man and his wife who are helped by their neighbour, an interfering, self- styled PR expert. — D. S.
Drillbit Taylor ( PG): A hackneyed teen comedy about high school nerds who hire a homeless man to protect them from bullies is almost redeemed by Owen Wilson, milking the script for all it’s worth. — D. S.
Humane: A scene from The Secret of the Grain