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Happy families are all alike ...

By The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

This article was published November 29, 2012 at 11:07 a.m.

And every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. And this week’s MovieStyle has no shortage of unhappy families.

Leading off is Killing Them Softly, in which Brad Pitt plays a philosophical mob enforcer called to bring equilibrium to a troubled family business. Our Dan Lybarger approvingly notices that director Andrew Dominik “seems more interested in what kinds of people get themselves into lives of crime and how the business affects their behavior.”

And then there’s (yet another) Anna Karenina, this one by British dollhouse maker Joe Wright, that our Philip Martin finds “sumptious,” “self-consciously stylish” and ultimately connected to the “essential romantic and philosophical poles of Tolstoy’s book” despite feeling a little light in the Vronsky department.

A third kind of family is limned in The Last Quartet, a drama about a string quartet whose father figure (Christopher Walken) is facing the end of his playing career. Lybarger likes the strong cast, and the music, but finds its drama a bit flat.

Finally a young family is brought low by demon rum (and tequila and vodka, et. al.) in the indie drama Smashed, which our critic Karen Martin appraises as “a thoughtful, sometimes funny, direct and artfully written investigation of a lively life that makes a wrong turn.”

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