Natalie Portman is all grown up, and the proof is in her searing portrayal of the innocent perfectionist Nina in Darren Aronofsky's intense exploration into the dark heart of a rising ballerina. As Nina, Portman fully embraces the girlishness and wide-eyed striving of an artist who has been little more than an instrument to be set in motion by others. Grade: A.
Falling on the heels of 'The Road,' here is a similarly themed vision of a post-apocalyptic dystopia where cannibals and criminals make up what's left of the human species. Survivalist extraordinaire Eli (Denzel Washington) is a loner badass with a Bible, and if that isn't good enough for an audience to empathize with, then the exit doors are located at the front and rear of the cinema. Grade: C.
As prolific as writer/director Mike Judge has been throughout a stellar career that includes such television staples as 'Beavis and Butt-Head' and 'King of the Hill' and cult films as 'Office Space' and 'Idiocracy,' it's to his detriment (and ours) that he hasn't done more feature films. The tone of 'Extract' is spot-on, but unfortunately Judge never manages to bring the humor to a boil. Grade: B-.