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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

With The Desolation of Smaug, we’re into the middle third of Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, a two-year, nearly eight-hour project. The almost impossibly hazardous odyssey of the characters—the dwarves, elves, largish, violent goblinesque orcs, wizards, assorted other creatures, and ordinary mortals—is proceeding according to the movie-makers’ somewhat grandiose scheme, but for those not enrolled in the Tolkien-fan tribe, this cinematic saga can sometimes be more a perplexing slog than compellingly Odyssean.


If you’ve already overdosed on Christmas cheer, you won’t find any more effective counterweight at the movies than the latest film by France’s Claire Denis, who takes her nation’s love of film noir (they named the genre, after all) to a new level.

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