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Film Capsules

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Safe House

Denzel Washington can look menacing without saying a word. He did it in Training Day, and he's at it again in Safe House, though the results aren't nearly as textured or deep. Washington plays Tobin Frost, a former CIA agent accused of trading national secrets. Ryan Reynolds is a baby-faced CIA newbie who goes shirtless at regular intervals and whiles away the time at a rarely used safe house in South Africa, pining for a tougher assignment. Then Tobin is brought in for questioning, followed by gunshots, fights, more gunshots, and assassins. Are there corrupt bosses back at the agency? What about double agents? You betcha. Plus, Tobin is carrying dirt that someone doesn't want to see the light of day. Safe House sprints along, killing off extraneous bystanders and characters every step of the way. Sure, it's an action-packed ride, but it would be nice if it slowed down for a minute. (Vince Grzegorek) Rated R. Chronicle (PG-13) — Three archetypal teens stumble upon a big glowing rock in an underground cave. Soon they develop the ability to move objects with their minds. Things go aces as they test out their new abilities, but then trouble brews after one of them cracks under pressure. Chronicle is shot found-footage style, but director Josh Trank drives it to the max. Instead of being glued to a single camera, perspective is passed around constantly. The jarring shifts and switch-ups make for some of the most exciting scenes you'll see this season. (Kyle Swenson)

Pariah (R) — Writer-director Dee Rees' Pariah is a deceptive little film. A butch black teen comes out to her disbelieving parents, who have spent a lifetime trying to girlie her up and bury their heads in the sand. Its lead character (played with unnerving stillness by Adepero Oduye) could be a poet, if only the right person believed in her and supported her. Sometimes the parents are the obstacle to overcome — the only people with the ability to devastate their children before their lives ever get started. (Justin Strout)

Pina (PG) — Wim Wenders was not interested in dance before a girlfriend dragged him to see two pieces by German avant-garde choreographer Pina Bausch. But he was so transfixed, he decided to showcase Pina's work in this 3D documentary. No dance critics or biographers talk about the life or technique of Pina, who died of cancer in 2009, just before filming began. Without narration, the movie becomes an entirely visceral experience of Pina's work, and its presentation of the dances is exquisite. (Pamela Zoslov)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (R) — Let the Right One In director Tomas Alfredson stages this story of a Cold War-era spy with quiet thrills and dense suspense. There's a mole in the British agency, and it's likely one of the spies in the inner circle. Called out of retirement, George Smiley (expertly played by Gary Oldman) sifts through notes, snoops around apartments, and assembles the tiny pieces that may lead back to one of his colleagues. It all gets confusing, but once things settle into place, the movie begins to take shape. (Gallucci)

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