Friday night at the movies


"What do you wanna see?"

"I dunno. What do you wanna see?"

Don't let this happen to you! Here are our weekend recommendations of the area's best movies.

OPENING THE MESSENGER: A moving and nuanced drama about a wounded Iraq War hero (Ben Foster) and a struggling Army lifer (Woody Harrelson) who are assigned to deliver the worst news to fallen soldiers' next of kin. (area theaters) City Pages: "The top-notch script is loaded with authentic compassion and charm--even unlikely sucker punches of humor. Harrelson, never over the top, nails a showy role." Star Tribune: 4 stars Pioneer Press: 3.5 stars 89% positive

PRECIOUS: Based on the 1996 bestseller Push by African-American poet Sapphire, Precious is a powerful drama about the life of an obese, illiterate 16-year-old who has been physically and psychologically abused by her mother and repeatedly raped by her father. Superb performances from Mo'Nique and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe. (area theaters) City Pages: "The film adopts an aesthetic that is often more grotesque than artful, sometimes artfully grotesque, and rarely delivered with less than a sledgehammer thwack. ... The movie packs a wallop. What it lacks in craftsmanship it makes up for in its willingness to put the lives of black women on the screen with brute-force candor and a lack of sentimentality." Star Tribune: 4 stars Pioneer Press: 3 stars 90% positive


INSIDE HANA'S SUITCASE: A documentary and dramatic reenactments tell the poignant true story of a woman at a Holocaust museum who comes across a battered suitcase with the name "Hana Brady." The contents of the suitcase lead to a heart-wrenching search to uncover the story of Hana and her brother George, two Jewish children in Czechoslovakia imprisoned by the Nazis. (Oak Street Cinema, Sunday at 5 p.m.)

MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN: Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur charm in a 1936 Capra picture about a greeting-card poet and tuba player (Cooper) from Mandrake Falls, Vermont, who inherits $20 million from a libertine uncle, and a New York reporter (Arthur) who courts the small-town rube to break his story. (Trylon Microcinema, Friday and Saturday at 7 and 9:15 p.m.)


AN EDUCATION: Spirited, 16-year-old overachiever Jenny (Carey Mulligan, in an enchanting, star-making performance) falls under the spell of David Goldman (Peter Sarsgaard), a thirtysomething Jewish entrepreneur, who begins whisking Jenny off to glamorous concerts and art auctions--and not just for her erudition. (Edina Cinema)

SKIN: This enormously moving film is a dramatized biopic of Sandra Laing, the visibly black daughter born in the 1950s to white Afrikaner parents. Sandra is turned into a human shuttlecock, classified and reclassified as black or white according to the needs of her doting but racist father and the schools and government agencies who have no idea what to do with her. (Edina Cinema)

For more film ideas, capsule reviews, and showtimes, click here.