Kate Winslet won a Best Actress Oscar for her “supporting” turn in The Reader (Weinstein) as a German seductress who makes a man out of a smitten 15-year-old. Years later, as a law student, the boy spots his former lover again and is forced to come to terms with her Nazi past. To its credit, The Reader treats Winslet’s character with gratifying (and, in the case of any movies about the Holocaust, rare) ambiguity, but Stephen Daldry (The Hours) directs with stifling earnestness…

Apparently, Frank Miller was satisfied with Robert Rodriguez’s adaptation of Miller’s comic Sin City, accomplished via a lot of green-screen magic. Miller (who shared Sin City co-director credit) appropriated the style for the Will Eisner sort-of-adaptation The Spirit (Lionsgate), which isn’t a sequel, but does succeed in pushing Miller’s style into the realm of embarrassing self-parody. As a hot-babe delivery system—those babes being Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, and Sarah Paulson—the film is an unqualified success. As anything else, it’s a failure…

A two-part HBO miniseries on Saddam Hussein seems like a slam-dunk proposition, given the network’s lack of content restrictions and a subject with a fascinating (and dramatically concluded) biography. But House Of Saddam (HBO), which opens with his bloody rise to power in 1979, doesn’t have much impact, in spite of the creators’ evident access to several people within Hussein’s ever-shrinking inner circle…

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Though a noble, economical (82 minutes!) attempt to cross-pollinate the hostage thriller with the creature feature, Splinter (Magnolia) feels more like a young filmmaker’s calling card than an original achievement in itself. (Indeed, director Toby Wilkins went on to make the straight-to-DVD Grudge 3.) Still, it’s a passable time-waster, built on a simple splinter that’s both deadly to the host and infectious to others.