The Orphanage
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Critics picks

“The Orphanage” (Jan. 23)

A shivery, plangent ghost story from Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona, “The Orphanage” stars Belen Rueda as a woman who returns to the orphanage where she was raised as its new proprietor with her husband and young son Simon (Roger Princep). Laura (Rueda) plans to open a school for disabled children, but when Simon disappears on the day of their welcome reception, all plans are put aside as she begins a frantic search. Expertly adopting the conventions of the genre, “The Orphanage” also transcends it, becoming a beautifully atmospheric and terrifically acted lament about grief and loss.

--Carina Chocano (Picturehouse)
Taxi to the Dark Side (Jan. 23)

A meticulous examination of the Bush administration’s embracing of torture as a weapon of choice in the war on terrorism, this film is disturbing and shocking, but not always in the ways you’d expect. Yes, its explicit visuals are hard to take, but what’s really appalling is how easily both government officials and ordinary soldiers lose their moral bearing and become parties to the atrocity.

--Kenneth Turan (Corbis)