Mildred Pierce (HBO)
Kate Winslet won an Emmy for her lead role in this five-and-a-half-hour miniseries about an emotionally fragile mom and her bitch of a daughter. Mildred Pierce was originally shown in five parts, but do yourself a favor and clear your schedule to take it all in at once. You’ll want to get right to Winslet’s pivotal scenes. But this miniseries – a remake of a 1945 melodrama starring Joan Crawford – is terrific throughout, including Guy Pearce as Mildred’s moneybags husband. Director Todd Haynes has an eye for period detail, especially when it comes to women (see Far From Heaven). He, like everyone else, is in his element here.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (Sony)
Despite Guillermo del Toro’s association, this remake of a ’70s TV movie about a haunted house never really connects. It slowly and somewhat stylishly builds up the scares, but the payoff isn’t there. And the stars (especially Katie Holmes) seem a thousand miles away.
The Guard (Sony)
Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle play a hard-living Irish policeman and an overstrung FBI agent, respectively, in this likable but flimsy buddy movie. Gleeson’s funny, foul-mouthed performance carries the corrupt-cop story at the center of the film.
Shark Night (Twentieth Century Fox)
From the director who gave us Snakes on a Plane comes this thriller about weekend vacationers who are terrorized by sharks. This awful Jaws ripoff came out at the tail end of summer and quickly disappeared. But it’s still better than that one Jaws movie with Michael Caine.