Hollywood did its work early this week with Christmas Day openings of "Les MisÃ©rables," "Django Unchained" and "Parental Guidance" so there are only a couple of art-house debuts among the weekend movie releases.
"Simon and the Oaks" is an overstuffed, overwrought Swedish drama a coming-of-age tale involving a lad (played by Jonaton S. WÃ¤chter as a boy, and Bill SkarsgÃ¥rd as a young man) who discovers a dark family secret, leading to an identity crisis during the Nazi occupation of Sweden. SkarsgÃ¥rd (brother of "True Blood" star Alexander, son of "The Avengers'" Stellan) is charismatic, but the movie is a slog of too many extraneous subplots.
Also this week is "Sundance Short Film Reel 2012," a compilation of 10 short films from the last Sundance Film Festival. Such programs are always hit and miss, but this one has a pretty high average. Some of the shorts like the animated "Song of the Spindle" and the wicked comedy "Bear" are phenomenally good.
By the way, in today's Tribune is The Cricket's list of the Top 10 movies of 2012, all of which are recommended viewing. (There's also a list of the worst movies of the year, if you're feeling masochistic in your film choices.)