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For the first third, the thriller Prisoners pulls you along smoothly, looking for all the world like a new David Fincher movie. In a Pennsylvania town creaking with recession woes, two families are celebrating Thanksgiving together. The two young daughters go off to play. After a while their parents look around but can’t find them, and a son remembers a battered RV that was parked down the street but is now gone.

Short Term 12

Set inside a group home for troubled teenagers, this film, the second by young director Destin Cretton, has almost nothing in common with Fruitvale Station, yet I keep thinking of them together. Both proceed with seemingly unforced naturalism to tell stories about ordinary lives whose problems unfold into understanding rather than melodrama. (The conclusion of Fruitvale Station is where the two separate.)

Computer Chess

Genres tend to be named post facto, not by the people who create them but by the ones who decide that a certain handful of movies has enough in common to be discussed as a group. (The classic example of this is film noir, and it explains why the term is so often inaptly applied.) Andrew Bujalski wasn’t trying to invent something called “mumblecore” when he started making small films like Funny Ha Ha a decade ago. So if this new film hardly fits into the mumblecore template, you can hardly blame him: There’s really no reason why it should.

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