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This dysfunctional family comedy makes for a terrific season opener.

 

The dysfunctional family comedy Keeping Faith is a terrific choice for Twin Beach Players’ season opener. When well-meaning parents kidnap their own daughter to frustrate her May-September romance, it’s high-stakes drama in a low-rent motel. The plot, inspired by a 2007 news sensation, requires only four solid actors and a simple space that lends itself well to cheapening. The Holland Civic Center fills the bill beautifully, and the cast is nearly there.

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A sister struggles to free her innocent brother in this jumbled biographical legal drama.

Betty Anne (Hilary Swank: Amelia) and Kenny (Sam Rockwell: Iron Man 2) are tight-knit siblings bound by hardship and mischief. Kenny’s a little more mischievous, though, and the favorite suspect of local cops winds up serving a life sentence without parole when they pin him for a vicious murder....

Film noir takes the stage.

Murder, mayhem, lies and double-crossing; good gals, bad guys, gangsters, thugs, hard-boiled detectives and hapless bartenders — Earth and Sky has all the elements of film noir. But can the atmospheric genre translate to the stage? Do the intricate and often confusing plot lines of the mid-20th century film style make sense in live theater?

Yes and no.

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This meditative speculation on the spiritual realm is easily the quietest death-minded movie in the Cineplex this Halloween.

Three strangers are wrestling with death. Marie (Cécile De France: Mesrine: Killer Instinct), a French journalist, is revived after nearly being consumed by the Indian Ocean tsunami and emerges shaken by her brush with the afterlife. Marcus, a British schoolboy, is left rudderless when his twin brother Jason is stolen by tragedy (Frankie and George McLaren in their debut)....

A bigger budget means louder, not scarier, thrills in this horror prequel

I don’t think of myself as a horror wimp. I’ve seen it all, and I’ll watch the sequels. That said, the first Paranormal Activity creeped me out. Days later an unexplained noise or a movement in my peripheral vision would cause me to tense and search for its demonic origins. Paranormal Activity 2 is a worthy step in the series, but it nowhere nears the original’s scare-power.

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Superspy sages come out of retirement swinging in this snappy comic action flick.

Frank Moses (Bruce Willis: Cop Out) is a lonely guy, quietly whiling away retirement with regular phone calls to his federal pension agent, Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker: TV’s Weeds). Dimmed verve gets a jolt, though, when a hit squad comes crashing through his home in the dead of night. Suddenly he’s crisscrossing the country, fighting off a kill order and CIA hotshot William (Karl Urban: Star Trek) even while connecting with mothballed allies and assets....

The title’s a metaphor; this play’s a triumph

We hear a lot these days about relationships. There’s the romantic kind, and then there are other kinds: husband/wife, brother/sister, parent/offspring as well as the illicit kind, among others, some of which migrate from one form to another. In Bay Theatre’s fine new production, Lips Together, Teeth Apart (we’ll discuss the title later; stick with me), we see relationships that are stretched to the breaking point.

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Don’t miss this burnished Dignity Players’ production

Many of us studied The Crucible in high school. Arthur Miller used the Salem Witch Trials of America’s 17th century to tell a pointed cautionary tale about Red Scare fears and McCarthy Hearings of his own America in the 1940s and 1950s. The Crucible proves itself resilient for our times as well.

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An upstart horse owner rocks the racing world in this capable equine sports drama.

Penny (Diane Lane: Nights in Rodanthe) is a Denver housewife returned to the family’s Virginia horse farm by her mother’s death. She means to stay just long enough to set the stables in order. But Penny’s equestrian id returns full force, and her passion flares when she’s gifted with the prize foal that will become Secretariat. She’s hooked....

Harvard alums battle for ownership of a legacy in this smart Silicon Valley pastiche.

Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg: Zombieland) is a socially stunted Harvard sophomore. Just dumped by his girlfriend, he gets drunk, lashes out in a blog, hacks for photos of Ivy League co-eds and creates a hotness rating website that crashes Harvard’s network. The misadventure stirs up trouble but also catches the attention of alpha twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (both Armie Hammer: Spring Breakdown), who recruit him into developing their own dating website....