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On the Screen

****: Inspired brilliance

***: Solid filmmaking

**: Mild entertainment

*: Embarrassing dreck

** The Devil and Daniel Johnston

Whether you’re Danny Johnston’s biggest fan or have no idea who he is, this documentary will both enlighten and entertain you with the tale of his troubled life and beautiful music. A talented artist, filmmaker, and musician, Johnston is also a manic-depressive who spends significant emotional effort trying to fight off the demons he thinks are constantly pursuing him. The way his story is told here is touching, and the use of Johnston’s original recordings makes the film genuine — the only thing that’s difficult to watch is its lack of organization. (Yong-yi Zhu)

** Ice Age: The Meltdown

This sequel begins where “Ice Age,” the first film, left off; the animals have found a warmer paradise and discovered that the ice age is coming to an end. More appealing to a younger audience, “Meltdown” has a straightforward plot — and unlike recent animated features that dabble in pop culture — doesn’t require viewers to be hip to get a good laugh. Despite the second-class graphics and predictable story, the movie is filled with creative humor, and it accomplishes one goal with ease: entertainment. (Hendrata Dharmawan)

*** Lucky Number Slevin

A boss, a rabbi, a man in a purple-flowered towel, a cop, a perky neighbor, an assassin, and a missing friend: sounds like a recipe for total disaster. Somehow, though, this group of misfits comes together in one of the most brilliant films of the year. Director Paul McGuigan pieces together the stories of all these characters to make a disorienting dark comedy about a man who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time — all the time. In a strong male cast, Lucy Liu steals the show, and the superb acting is crucial; it makes this film come out just right. (Yong-yi Zhu)

** On a Clear Day

This film centers around a middle-aged man, Frank (Peter Mullan) who is fired after years of hard labor at a boatyard. He is lost without the daily routine and literally freaks out — so in order to reclaim his sanity and the admiration of his son (Jamie Sives), he attempts to swim the English Channel. Though “On a Clear Day” starts strong, around the halfway point it starts to drag and completely loses its charm. It teeters on the line of decency; depending on your mood, you will either love or despise this movie. (Alice Macdonald)

** She’s the Man

Starring Amanda Bynes, this movie is an unimpressive, medium-quality modern adaptation of the Shakespeare comedy “Twelfth Night.” There are two kinds of humor, witty and situational, and “She’s the Man” only excels at the latter. It could have been much more than just a teenybopper movie with some awesome Shakespearian references, but that’s just not what they wanted for this picture. What a tragic ending for this comedy! (William Andrews)

*** Tsotsi

Destruction — of people, lives, and community — is a fact of life in the ghetto. What sets “Tsotsi” apart as a film about the life of an urban gangster is its message of hope. From the start, viewers experience the slums of Johannesburg, South Africa, through its music, an enthralling innovation on hip-hop. The secondary characters are straightforward and often fall into recognizable types, so the film is rightly named after its most interesting character; his redemption courses through the heart of the film. (Beckett Sterner)

**V for Vendetta

Three great things about Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s graphic novel “V for Vendetta” are that it’s a collection of brilliant character studies, it’s not like any other dystopian story, and the connection between the two main characters isn’t reduced to a cheap and hackneyed infatuation. In their movie adaptation, the Wachowski Brothers changed all that. Natalie Portman’s performance is memorable, a masked Hugo Weaving delivers his lines with great success, and as far as cinematography and special effects go, director James McTeigue doesn’t disappoint. However, it’s a far more difficult task to tell a good story, and this movie doesn’t. (Nivair H. Gabriel)

Compiled by Nivair H. Gabriel