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12-21 Kam's Kapsules: Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun

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For movies opening December 21, 2012

BIG BUDGET FILMS

The Guilt Trip (PG-13 for violence, profanity and drug use) Dysfunctional family comedy about a scientist (Seth Rogen) who, against his better judgment, invites his overbearing mother (Barbara Streisand) to tag along on a cross-country journey in search of a distributor for his new invention. With Ari Graynor, Kathy Najimy, Colin Hanks, Nora Dunn and Casey Wilson.

Jack Reacher (PG-13 for violence, profanity and drug use) Tom Cruise stars as the title character of this adaptation of "One Shot," the Lee Child suspense thriller about a military veteran-turned-drifter enlisted by a suspected serial killer's (Joseph Sikora) defense attorney (Rosamund Pike) to help clear her client's name. With Robert Duvall, Richard Jenkins and David Oyelowo.

Monsters Inc. (G) 3-D rerelease of the Pixar animated adventure about the world's largest scare factory whose frightening creatures meet their match when a feisty, fearless toddler (Mary Gibbs) wanders into the place one night. Voice cast includes John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Tilly and James Coburn.

This Is 40 (R for sexuality, nudity, crude humor, drug use and pervasive profanity) Midlife crisis comedy, a spinoff of Knocked Up, revolving around a jaded married couple (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) who find themselves facing both financial and relationship troubles as they turn 40. Supporting cast includes Jason Segel, Megan Fox and Charlyne Yi.

INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

American Empire (Unrated) Eco-documentary indicting the U.S. and the capitalist system for destroying the planet's natural resources in the name of civilization and progress. Featuring commentary by John Robbins, Tariq Ali and economic hit man John Perkins.

Amour (PG-13 for mature themes and brief profanity) Romance drama, set in Paris, about a retired music teacher's (Jean-Louis Trintignant) desperate attempt to keep his word to his bed-ridden wife of 60 years (Emmanuelle Riva) never to move her to a nursing home. With Isabelle Huppert, Alexandre Tharaud and William Shimmell. (In French and English with subtitles)

Barbara (PG-13 for sexuality, mature themes and smoking) Nina Hoss handles the title role in this character-driven drama, set in East Germany in the Eighties, about a physician banished to a tiny hospital on the Baltic Sea after trying to get transferred to the western side of the Berlin Wall. Support cast includes Rainer Bock, Christina Hecke and Ronald Zehrfeld. (In German with subtitles)

Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3-D (Unrated) Romantic fantasy about an attractive young woman (Erica Linz) who falls in love at first sight with a handsome trapeze artist (Igor Zaripov) performing in the circus. With Dallas Barnett, John Clarke and Matt Gillanders.

The Impossible (PG-13 for brief nudity, disturbing images and intense disaster sequences) Fact-based drama, set in Thailand, recounting a family's real-life struggle for survival after a tsunami hits the oceanfront resort where they're vacationing. Starring Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Geraldine Chaplin. (In English and Thai with subtitles)

Not Fade Away (R for sexuality, drug use and pervasive profanity) Rock and roll saga, set in the Sixties, about garage band from suburban Jersey's attempt to make it big. Ensemble includes James Gandolfini, Brad Garrett, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., John Magaro, Jack Huston, Will Brill and Christopher McDonald.

On the Road (R for drug use, profanity and graphic sexuality) Screen adaptation of Kerouac Beat Generation classic about an aspiring writer (Sam Riley) who undergoes a transformation while embarking on a cross-country road trip with a couple of free-spirited hedonists (Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart). With Amy Adams, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Terrence Howard, Alice Braga and Steve Buscemi.

Tears of Gaza (Unrated) Pacifist documentary examining the fallout of modern warfare as visited upon women and children subsisting in bombed out homes without roofs or walls, and basic like food, water and electricity. (In Arabic and English with subtitles)

Zero Dark Thirty (R for profanity, disturbing images and graphic violence) War on Terror docudrama, directed by Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow (for The Hurt Locker), chronicling the efforts of the CIA Agent (Jessica Chastain) spearheading the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden (Ricky Sekhon) culminating in his death during a daring, nighttime assault on his compound in Pakistan. With Jason Clarke, Jennifer Ehle, Kyle Chandler, Jeremy Strong and Harold Perrineau.

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, and the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee. Contact him through NewsBlaze. Read more reviews by Kam Williams.

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