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Opening this week - March 17
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Robert De Niro, left, and Bradley Cooper star in Relativity Media's “Limitless.”
From left, Graeme (Simon Pegg), Ruth (Kristen Wiig), Clive (Nick Frost) and Paul (Seth Rogen) try to stay on the highway in the comedy-adventure "Paul."
Marisa Tomei and Matthew McConaughey star in “The Lincoln Lawyer.”
Photo courtesy of IFC FILMS
Eva Green stars as Miss G in “Cracks,” directed by Jordan Scott.
Paul Giamatti, left, and Alex Shaffer star in “Win Win.”
Cooper broadens his horizons, McConaughey defends a playboy. A number of new movies will hit theaters this week, including the following films opening in wide release:

Genre: Drama, thriller and adaptation
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel and Johnny Whitworth
Director: Neil Burger
Rated: PG-13

Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro star in “Limitless,” a paranoia-fueled action thriller about an unsuccessful writer whose life is transformed by a top-secret “smart drug” that allows him to use 100 percent of his brain and become a perfect version of himself.

His enhanced abilities soon attract shadowy forces that threaten his new life in this suspenseful and provocative film.

Aspiring author Eddie Morra (Cooper) is suffering from chronic writer’s block, but his life changes instantly when an old friend introduces him to NZT, a revolutionary new pharmaceutical that allows him to tap his full potential. With every synapse crackling, Eddie can recall everything he has ever read, seen or heard, learn any language in a day, comprehend complex equations and beguile anyone he meets – as long as he keeps taking the untested drug.

Soon Eddie takes Wall Street by storm, parlaying a small stake into millions. His accomplishments catch the eye of mega-mogul Carl Van Loon (De Niro), who invites him to help broker the largest merger in corporate history. But they also bring Eddie to the attention of people willing to do anything to get their hands on his stash of NZT. With his life in jeopardy and the drug’s brutal side effects taking their toll, Eddie dodges mysterious stalkers, a vicious gangster and an intense police investigation as he attempts to hang on to his dwindling supply long enough to outwit his enemies.

The Lincoln Lawyer
Genre: Thriller, crime, gangster and adaptation
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy and Josh Lucas
Director: Brad Furman
Rated: R

In the gripping thriller “The Lincoln Lawyer,” Matthew McConaughey stars as Michael “Mick” Haller, a slick, charismatic Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who operates out of the back of his Lincoln Continental sedan.

Having spent most of his career defending petty, gutter-variety criminals, Mick unexpectedly lands the case of a lifetime: defending a rich Beverly Hills playboy (Ryan Phillippe) who is accused of attempted murder. However, what initially appears to be a straightforward case with a big money pay-off swiftly develops into a deadly match between two masters of manipulation and a crisis of conscience for Haller.

Genre: Comedy and science fiction
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader
Director: Greg Mottola
Rated: R

For the past 60 years, a space-traveling smart-ass named Paul (Seth Rogen) has been locked up in a top-secret military base, advising world leaders about his kind.

But when he worries he’s outlived his usefulness and the dissection table is drawing uncomfortably close, Paul escapes on the first RV that passes by his compound in Area 51. Fortunately, it contains the two earthlings who are most likely to rescue and harbor an alien on the run.

In the comedy-adventure Paul, best friends Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Nick Frost) have saved for decades to take a sci-fi fan’s trip of a lifetime: a pilgrimage to America’s UFO heartland to track the legendary hot spots of extraterrestrial activity. But when a close encounter with Paul derails the plans … their dream vacation turns into a road trip that will rock their universe forever.

Hunted by federal agents and the fanatical father of Ruth Buggs (Kristen Wiig), a young woman whom they have accidentally kidnapped, Graeme and Clive hatch a fumbling plan to return Paul to his mother ship in one piece. And as two nerds fight to help save an awesome little green man, Paul might just take his fellow outcasts from misfits to intergalactic heroes.

The following will open in limited release. It may be several weeks before these films appear in local movie theaters.

Genre: Foreign, drama and adaptation
Cast: Eva Green, Imogen Poots, Juno Temple, Maria Valverde and Sinead Cusack
Director: Jordan Scott
Not rated

In an austere and remote all-girls boarding school, the most elite students are the illustrious members of the schools’ diving team.

Di (Juno Temple), Lily (Ellie Nunn), Poppy (Imogen Poots), Laurel (Adele Mccann), Rosie (Zoe Carroll) and Fuzzy (Clemmie Dugdale) are the envy of their fellow pupils who watch on as the girls compete for the attention of their glamorous teacher Miss G (Eva Green). Miss G in turn thrives on the attention she receives from her girls and believes it is her role to teach them the ways of the world.

As Team Captain, Di is closest of all the girls to Miss G but her position is challenged when a beautiful Spanish girl, Fiamma (Maria Valverde), arrives at the school and joins the diving team. Di, pulls rank as team captain and lays down the rules in an attempt to assert her position but Miss G is spellbound by Fiamma’s beauty and maturity and becomes obsessed with her new favorite girl.

Consumed with jealousy, Di encourages the group to bully their teammate and they chase her out of the school. When Fiamma is made to return the girls are forced to try and get along with Fiamma and as they open up to her they too begin to warm to the charms that so captivated Miss G. In an attempt to put their differences aside – the diving team and Fiamma plan a secret midnight party to celebrate the feast of St. Agnes; a ritualistic celebration that is both innocent and erotic. A night that begins with high spirits soon takes a turn that will change the girls’ lives forever as Miss G interrupts the evening and takes a drunken Fiamma away to her room.

Win Win
Genre: Drama and sports
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor and Burt Young
Director: Tom McCarthy
Rated: R

Director Tom McCarthy explores the depths and nuances of human relationships in his new film about the allegiances and bonds between unlikely characters.  

Disheartened attorney Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti), who volunteers as a high school wrestling coach, stumbles across a star athlete through some questionable business dealings while trying to support his family. Just as it looks like he will get a double payday, the boy's mother shows up fresh from rehab and flat broke, threatening to derail everything. McCarthy's deft touch with balancing drama and comedy, broken hearts and poignant humanity is at play in “Win Win.”

The Music Never Stopped
Genre: Comedy, drama and adaptation
Cast: Lou Taylor Pucci, J.K. Simmons, Julia Ormond, Cara Seymour and Mia Maestro
Director: Jim Kohlberg
Not rated

"The Music Never Stopped," based on the case study "The Last Hippie" by Dr. Oliver Sacks, M.D. ("Awakenings"), chronicles the journey of a father and son adjusting to cerebral trauma and a lifetime of missed opportunities. Through the music that embodied the generation gap of the 1960s, the film weaves the heartwarming progress of Henry and Gabriel.

With father and son on the opposite side of musical tastes as well as politics and the war in Vietnam, Gabriel disappears into the counterculture following a devastating confrontation with his father. The film opens nearly two decades later, when Henry and wife Helen (played by Cara Seymour) are told their son has been found wandering the streets of New York City. Gabriel has a brain tumor that has caused extensive brain damage, and needs immediate surgery. When he recovers, he is in a near-catatonic state, his brain damaged to the point that it cannot recall or create any long-term memories. Effectively, Gabriel still thinks he is in 1968.

After his operation, the extent of Gabriel's condition is made clear: the tumor damaged the part of the brain that creates new memories. For Gabriel, past, present, and future are indistinguishable, and he still lives in the era of Vietnam, acid tests, and psychedelic music. Determined not to let their son slip away from them again, Henry and wife Helen (Cara Seymour) vow to connect with Gabriel, who is barely able to communicate effectively. Unhappy with Gabriel's progress, Henry researches brain injuries, which leads him to Dr. Dianne Daly (Julia Ormond). She is a music therapist who has made progress with victims of brain tumors using music.

As Diane works more with Gabriel, she realizes that he seems to respond actively to the music of the psychedelic era – the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and particularly the Grateful Dead – which has a remarkable effect on Gabriel. He is able to have conversations and express himself, even though he is unaware the era of his music has long passed. Henry can't stand rock and roll — but he is determined to forge some memories and a new relationship with his son. While his own health fails, Henry begins his own pilgrimage through the bands of the sixties. As he learns the songs that animate his son's soul, he indeed begins to form a most unusual but emotionally vibrant bond with the child he thought he had lost.
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