Taking a look at the movies

Big Bad Wolves

"Big Bad Wolves" is a violent, twisted and darkly funny thriller. No wonder why Quentin Tarantino named it the best movie of 2013. A fairy tale for adults, the movie is about a string of child killings (the first victim, who leaves behind only a single red shoe, immediately brings to mind Little Red Riding Hood) and the men who capture the prime suspect, a schoolteacher named Dror. They plan to give him the full “Saw” treatment in an effort to make him confess, and that plan (involving broken fingers, torn-out toenails and a rusty saw) takes up a full hour of the movie.

This scenario might sound unbearable to all but the most hard-core genre fans, but Israeli writer-directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado pull it off with real panache. The script is genuinely tricky and keeps us guessing right up until the final few minutes. It's the kind of twisty thriller that fools you in a satisfying way, particularly during a creepy home-buying scene near the beginning in which we think we're being introduced to the real killer. The filmmakers use Tarantino's sense of humor better than anyone who isn't Tarantino, with increasingly absurd “interruptions” to the torture scenes. But viewers should be prepared for an intense level of violence (the recovery of the first victim's body is a virtual punch to the gut). It's almost better to watch this movie at home so you can skip through the tougher parts.

Metallica Through the Never

“Give me fuel, give me fire, give me that which I desire!”

If you recognize those lyrics, then you might be a Metallica fan. Or, at the very least, you might be (like me) a child of the late '80s and early '90s, when the heavy-metal was at its peak. The Black Album was a big deal when I was in middle school, so it was with a sense of nostalgia that I approached "Metallica Through the Never". Released in IMAX last fall, it's “a narrative movie in which a concert takes place.” The narrative aspect isn't anything to write home about, but the band is still full of fuel and fire.

Amazingly, Metallica was in its 31st year when the movie was filmed. Lead singer James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich were both pushing 50, and they'd lost none of their ability to hold a stadium full of metal-heads in thrall. Director Nimrod Antal's high-definition cameras provide the best seat in the house. The disappointment is the narrative scenes with a roadie named Trip (Dane DeHaan), which don't mix well with the concert footage. But the concert itself is spectacular, proving that, after all these years, Metallica still has the power to rock you.

Also out this month

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues: The R-rated cut promises 763 new jokes. Having seen the original theatrical cut, I'd bet maybe five of those are funny.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Get ready for some Middle Earth delights, as Bilbo finally sneaks into the dragon's lair.