Conti, Garrett, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
"Now You See Me" (2013, PG-13, 115 min., $29.95). Filmmaker Louis Leterrier's latest film boasts an incredible cast -- Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg and Isla Fisher -- and an exciting storyline that has a group of musicians pulling off large heists. It sounds fantastic, but the follow through is far from great. Underdeveloped characters and lousy storytelling are hard to overcome, even though Leterrier tries his best with flashy special effects and an annoying score. The stylish picture brings four solo magicians (Dave Franco, Eisenberg, Fisher and Harrelson) together to perform at some of the biggest venues in the world. The unusual thing is that the crew is brought together by an unknown with plenty of connections. This guiding force has his team pulling off heists in which they take from the rich and give to the poor.
"The Iceman" (2012, R, 105 min., $28.99). Michael Shannon continues to gain acclaim as one of the better actors working today, and he proves that again with his lead role in "The Iceman." Director Ariel Vroman's film won't be remembered as one of the best mobster movies of the past few years -- the storyline gets confusing in the final act and the picture fails to finish as strong as it started -- but because of Shannon's performance, it will find some devoted followers. "The Iceman" focuses on the real life story of contract killer Richard Kuklinski (Shannon), who claimed to have killed more than 100 men. While "The Iceman" does cover Kuklinski's job as a killer, it gives equal time to him as a great family man. How does this ruthless brute go out and kill a guy, then return home to be a sweet and devoted husband and father? That's the question that Vroman's film tries to answer.
"Stories We Tell" (2012, PG-13, 108 min., $19.98). Sarah Polley might have started out as an actress, but she's really found her niche as a director. She follows up her 2006 hit "Away From Her" and "Take this Waltz," an under-the-radar triumph from 2011, with "Stories We Tell," a remarkably touching documentary. Polley bravely explores a dark myth about her family -- the rumor that she's the result of an extramarital affair her mother had when she was starring in a play away from home. Polley explores every angle of the story, using interviews with family and friends to weigh in on what they knew about her mother. Polley also uses a Super-8 camera to shoot re-creations of the moments her mother might have had with the man who raised her and the one who was rumored to be her biological father. "Stories We Tell" should garner much attention come awards season, as it's easily one of the better motion pictures of the year.
"From Up on Poppy Hill" (2011, PG, 91 min., $29.95). Japanese animation giant Studio Ghibli has another classic on its hands with this pic about a group of teens trying to find their way in 1963 Japan, as the country tries to pick itself up after World War II. …