"Albert Nobbs" — The role of Albert Nobbs is one that's been near to Glenn Close's heart for a while. She first played it 30 years ago off-Broadway and reprises it now in a project she's been working for some time to bring to the screen. Her dedication is obvious in watching "Albert Nobbs," based on a short story about a woman living as a man and working as a posh hotel waiter in order to survive in 19th-century Ireland. Close's Albert is all quiet repression: the low monotone of her voice, the horizontal line of her mouth, the dark, conservative suit topped frequently by a prim bowler hat. The slightest gesture or facial expression is so subtle as to be practically imperceptible. Every moment of the performance is a marvel of precision — and yet, because she immerses herself so completely in the emotional restraint of this odd little man she's created, it's difficult to feel a connection with the character, despite the difficult life she's lived. There's no sense of the woman within, which would have provided crucial context for us to appreciate fully the sacrifice and sadness she's suffered for decades. Janet McTeer, meanwhile, is electrifying in every scene she's in as a painter who comes to work at the hotel who's also a woman disguised as a man; she shakes up Albert's world, and the film drags noticeably in her absence. Mia Wasikowska and Brendan Gleeson are among the strong supporting cast. R for some sexuality, brief nudity and language. 113 minutes. Two stars out of four.
— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"The Grey" — After the thrillers "Taken" and "Unknown," Liam Neeson is back in his new genre of choice, looking quite at home punching a wolf. As the grizzled, morose sniper John Ottway, he's among a roughneck band of Alaskan oil refinery workers who, while being shuttled by plane to Anchorage for vacation, crash violently in a storm, stranding them in the snowy tundra. Ottway, the alpha dog, takes charge among the seven survivors (among them Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts and, most memorably, Frank Grillo) whose predicament severely worsens when a pack of wolves announce themselves by their eerie, glowing eyes on the dark fringes of their campfire. Director Joe Carnahan ("The A-Team," "Narc"), adapting a short story by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers, sends their dwindling numbers on a survivalist adventure that grows increasingly bleak and existential. In manly, fireside chats, they parse out philosophical ideas, talking God in a wintery void, faced with the cruel brutality of nature. But "The Grey" is not "Jaws" and it's certainly not "Moby-Dick." In ambling toward an unconventional ending, its musings aren't as sure-handed as its action sequences. Ultimately, it feels less like a genuine existential thriller than a movie aping the conventions of one. R for violence, disturbing content including bloody images, and for pervasive language. 117 minutes. Two stars out of four.
— Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer
"Man on a Ledge" — This so-called thriller about a disgraced cop who threatens to jump off a building to divert attention from a heist going on across the street isn't even implausible in a fun way. You see a movie like "Ocean's 11" or "Tower Heist" (which is thematically similar to this with its wily have-nots stealing from the filthy-rich haves) and you suspend some disbelief because they have an irresistible, knowingly giddy energy about them. "Man on a Ledge" is so cliched and reheated, it almost feels like a parody of a generic action picture — only no one seems to be in on the joke. Director Asger Leth's film plods along with its trash-talking New York cops and its forensic evidence and its elaborate surveillance systems. Every few minutes, a new star you recognize shows up: Edward Burns, Elizabeth Banks, Kyra Sedgwick, Ed Harris. At the center is a bland Sam Worthington doing a horrible job of disguising his Australian accent. He stars as Nick Cassidy, a fugitive who insists he was wrongly imprisoned for stealing a $40 million diamond from Harris' reptilian real-estate tycoon. As Nick teeters along a ledge on the 21st floor of the Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan, stalling for time while toying with Banks as a scarred police negotiator, Nick's brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and Joey's stereotypically saucy Latina girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) are trying to pull off a real burglary across the street. PG-13 for violence and brief strong language. 102 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.
— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic