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The Walking Dead: Season 1 (NR)

Valhalla Motion Pictures/AMC Studios

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) responds to a police call as a mild-mannered deputy sheriff with marital problems; after taking a bullet in the line of duty, he wakes up from a coma months later in a world overrun by flesh-eating zombies. Bummer. Last year's AMC The Walking Dead offered a watchable seven episodes but was not the transcendent horror series that the heavy hype, high production values, and vetted source material (an award-winning comic series) should've allowed. Despite high ratings, producer Frank Darabont fired the entire writing staff after the first season, an unexpectedly lucid move from the man who made The Majestic. There is good reason to hope the nest-egging AMC will nurture The Walking Dead into working out its kinks, so get caught up before the presumably superior Season 2 starts in the fall. — Daniel Barnes

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Wild Target (PG-13)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

I'm all for madcap British crime-comedies, and Wild Target fits ably. Bill Nighy is middle-aged hitman Victor Maynard, a cold killer facing midlife crisis when he gets mixed up with an aloof 'n flighty art thief (Emily Blunt) and a wide-eyed accidental apprentice (Rupert Grint) in a hit gone wrong. As the trio are chased by acerbic killers, including The Office U.K.'s Martin Freeman in a hilarious role as a jealous rival, they take refuge in Maynard's English country home. There, Nighy's nuanced take on the typical gruff assassin takes an unexpected, clever turn, and the plot switches from crime caper to lighthearted romantic comedy, but with a cool little mean streak. Director Jonathan Lynn has covered similar ground with films like Nuns on the Run and The Whole Nine Yards, but with Wild Target he's really perfected the formula. — Louis Fowler

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Fish Tank (NR)

Criterion Collection

It's not fair to describe writer-director Andrea Arnold's second feature as Precious meets An Education, but it's not wrong. Her vision is carefully calculated to bring gritty with pretty; she wants us to understand that even in the projects, teenage girls still swoon for white horses. It helps to have the girl so magnificently played by Katie Jarvis, who holds the (mostly handheld) camera's attention like her life depends on it. She's a tough and tender 15-year-old, dreaming of stardom as a hip-hop dancer, sassing her boozy, floozy mother, crushing on mom's troublingly receptive new boyfriend. How moved you are by the hidden grace of getting by in the gutter may depend on how well you tolerate a poignant/laughable late scene of mother and daughter coming to terms by dancing together to Nas' "Life's a Bitch." For reals. — Jonathan Kiefer


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