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Halle Berry stars 'The Call.'

Halle Berry stars in "The Call."

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Updated: July 30, 2013 6:14AM



NEW THIS WEEK

THE CALL

★★★ 1/2

Rated

PG-13 for sexual content, dangerous stunts, a drug-related incident and language

Stars

Halle Berry, Michael Eklund, Abigail Breslin

While it’s true that this is essentially a straight-ahead, unapologetic, trashy genre item, it’s extremely effective at delivering nonstop suspense, numerous adrenaline jolts and a couple of jump-out-of-your-seat shockers. It’s much better than you might expect, in other words, unless you’re looking for deep meaning and life-changing drama. Berry brings plenty of raw emotion to the role of 911 operator Jordan, who hangs up her headset after making a mistake while walking a girl through a home invasion that results in her kidnapping and murder — only to find herself, months later, taking a call from another girl (Breslin) who’s been abducted by the same man (Eklund). Director Brad Anderson (“The Machinist”) masterfully exploits every opportunity to ratchet up the suspense. Even when that means abandoning any pretense of credibility when Jordan eventually decides to go to the rescue all on her own. Ridiculous? Sure. But that doesn’t prevent the grisly, ultra-creepy finale of “The Call,” from ending with a twist and a cautionary note for psycho-killers everywhere.

THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE

★★½

Rated

PG-13 for sexual content, dangerous stunts, a drug-related incident and language

Stars

Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde

You’ll find a handful of solid laughs here and there in “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” but precious little in the way of storytelling magic. Bullied kid Burt and his best friend Anthony take solace in the world of prestidigitation and grow up to be the pseudo-incredible Burt and Anton (Carell and Buscemi), a couple of sleazy Las Vegas stars with an act that turned to pure cheese years ago. Well, actually, Burt’s the sleazy one, a velvet-clad, lion-maned egomaniac who’s turned into such a pompous, arrogant, sexist, clueless jerk that you can only despise him. That turns out to be a problem after Anton finally leaves and Burt loses his job to a gross-out street magician on the rise (Carrey), because there’s really not much reason to care about this guy as he goes through his by-the-numbers character reformation. Alan Arkin is a plus, however, as the cranky octagenarian former magic star who was Burt’s childhood inspiration. Much to the old guy’s chagrin.

NO

★★★½

Rated

R for language

Stars

Gael Garcia Bernal, Antonia Zegers, Genaro Arriagada

TV ads have been making and breaking political campaigns for quite awhile now, and it turns out they have been crucial to at least one bloodless revolution. That’s the subject of this semi-fictional, semi-satirical, all-the-way-cynical and fascinating account of media manipulation influencing the fate of a nation. Gael Garcia Bernal stars as successful young ad exec Rene, who’s hired in 1988 to create a TV campaign encouraging citizens to vote no in a referendum on whether Augusto Pinochet should remain in office — essentially a public relations move by the dictator to enhance his image internationally. While his hard-line leftist bosses want him to emphasize Pinochet’s grim injustices, Rene opts for upbeat, using happiness as his theme and applying the same techniques he uses to sell soft-drinks to the masses. Revolution, it seems, can come from a rainbow logo, a peppy jingle, a little sex appeal, saturation imagery of happy, smiling, dancing people — and even the occasional mime.

PHANTOM

★★½

Rated

R for violence and language throughout and some sexual content

Stars

Ed Harris, David Duchovny, Lance Henriksen

This poor-to-middling submarine-warfare drama, which is more than a little reminiscent of “The Hunt for Red October,” gets by thanks to the presence of Harris as Demi, the sub’s haunted, hard-drinking captain. On his final mission before retirement, Demi has been assigned to take his antiquated first command to sea for a test of some super-secret equipment. Equipment crucial to the plan of a group of hard-core KGB extremists led by the scornful Bruni (Duchovny), a man from Demi’s past who plans to provoke World War III with the sub’s nuclear missile. Harris gives “Phantom” more emotional heft than it deserves and writer/director Todd Robinson delivers a reasonable amount of claustrophobic suspense. The special effects are low-budget cheesy, though, and the plot points are just barely credible, right up to a regrettable finale that leaves credibility behind altogether. Of course, it doesn’t help that since we’re still around to see this movie, we know how it’s going to turn out in the end.

ALSO NEW THIS WEEK

BABAR ADVENTURE PACK

A triple-disc set of animated elephantine adventures including “Babar: The Movie,” “Best Friends Forever” and “School Days.”

FAT ALBERT AND THE COSBY KIDS: THE COMPLETE SERIES

This 15-disc box set from Shout! Factory includes all 110 episodes of Bill Cosby’s classic 1970s Saturday morning cartoon series featuring characters inspired by the comedian’s childhood in North Philadelphia. Extras include commentary by Cosby, a 16-page collectible booklet and the documentary “Hey, Hey, Hey. . . It’s the Story of Fat Albert,” featuring a new interview with Cosby.

IN THE FAMILY

The life of a six-year-old boy growing up in a two-dad household is disrupted when one of the men dies and names his sister as legal guardian.

A PLACE AT THE TABLE

A documentary investigating hunger in America (affecting 50 million people and one in four children) with a look at possible solutions. Extras include deleted scenes, cast and crew interviews, commentaries and trailers.

SHOAH

Claude Lanzmann’s nine-hour mega-documentary is a monument to the Holocaust, setting aside the typical archival footage and concentrating on first-person accounts by survivors, former Nazis and other eyewitnesses. This deluxe Criterion Collection reissue features a new hi-def restoration and extras including three additional films by Lanzmann (“A Visitor from the Living,” “Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m.” and “The Karski Report”), a new interview with the director, and a booklet of his writings.

AVAILABLE NEXT WEEK

Warner Brothers celebrates 90 years of laughs with “20 Film Collections: Comedy,” Michael Apted does another seven-year check-in with the people he’s been tracking since childhood in “56 Up,” and pre-“Gilligan’s Island” Bob Denver goes beatnik in “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis: The Complete Series.”



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