Film Capsules

In theaters this week

The Words Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) has always dreamed of being a published author. But his dream seems to be slipping further and further away, with countless rejections and money problems piling up. When he stumbles across an abandoned and unpublished novel, he thinks he may have found the solution to his problems. The book becomes a big hit and brings Rory a bunch of fans — except for one person: the real author of the novel. The Words starts with plenty of potential but ends up falling apart as it moves forward. For one thing, Cooper is much better at comedies like The Hangover than serious works like this. Plus, the movie's attempts at being artsy just turn into a confusing mess by the end of the film. (PG-13) (Julia Eberle)

Compliance (R) Based on a true story that took place in a Kentucky McDonald's in 2004, Compliance is one seriously creepy movie. A man pretending to be a police officer calls a restaurant manager (Ann Dowd) and has her detain an employee whom he accuses of theft (Dreama Walker). The manager and other employees never question the guy on the phone, even as the victim is strip-searched and sexually assaulted. Writer-director Craig Zobel's psychological thriller raises some tough questions, like: How would you react in the same situation? A deeply disturbing movie, made even more so because it really happened. (Cleveland native Tyler Davidson, who produced the film, will answer your questions after the 7:20 p.m. showings on Friday and Saturday at the Capitol Theatre.) (Jeff Niesel)

The Imposter (R) How's this for a slice of messed-up real life? Thirteen-year-old Nicholas Barclay disappeared from his Texas home in 1994. Three years later, in Spain, 23-year-old Frenchman Frederic Bourdin claimed he was the missing kid. And a lotta people — including everyone in Nicholas' family — believed him. This gripping documentary — which pulls together new interviews, reenactments, and archival footage — poses some disturbing questions, like: Why was the Barclay family so willing to believe this guy was their son, when others — including an FBI agent and private investigator — had their doubts? What did they know about Nicholas' disappearance, and what were they hiding? But this is Bourdin's story too, and he tells it with a disarming straightforwardness. He says he just wanted a second chance at life. Mesmerizing. (Gallucci)

Lawless (R) — This Depression-era period piece centers on the bootlegging Bondurant brothers and their run-ins with an overly zealous lawman played by Guy Pearce. The ultra-violent movie features another standout performance by The Dark Knight Rises' Tom Hardy, who plays the soft-spoken but fierce patriarch of the Bondurant clan. Lawless is so masterfully directed by John Hillcoat (The Road) that even Shia LaBeouf turns in a solid performance as the arrogant brother with the most ambition and the least capacity to fight for himself. Moody post-punk rocker Nick Cave wrote the terrific script and assembled a period-specific soundtrack featuring original tunes by vets like Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, and Ralph Stanley. (Niesel)

Searching for Sugar Man (PG-13) — After both of his albums failed to gain recognition in the 1970s, singer-songwriter Rodriguez disappeared from the scene. Rumors of a dramatic suicide onstage became his legacy, but in reality he was living in Detroit and doing manual labor to make ends meet. A few decades later his music was rediscovered in South Africa and he became a cult hero. In this documentary, co-workers and family members describe Rodriguez's life before his rebirth, painting a picture of a man who worked toward social justice. It's almost shocking that this quiet, reserved father earned both the ire of officials and the admiration of youth in South Africa for his songs about sex, drugs, and fighting the establishment. (Erin Gleeson)

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