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The low-down on this week’s premieres

It would be so easy to jump onto the Tom-Cruise-hater bandwagon, but I simply refuse. Truth be told, he might be a bit controversial when it comes to his religious beliefs, but as an actor, he rarely makes bad career decisions. In Mission: Impossible III, Cruise returns as super-secret-agent Ethan Hunt, this time battling a sadistic arms dealer played by recent Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote). Directorial duties fall to J.J. Abrams (TV’s Alias), the third director of the triology.

Set mostly in the early 1800s, An American Haunting (based on Brent Monahan’s novel The Bell Witch: An American Haunting) tells the story of the only documented case in U.S. history in which a poltergeist caused the death of a human being. The film stars Sissy Spacek (In the Bedroom), Donald Sutherland (Pride & Prejudice) and Rachel Hurd-Wood (Peter Pan) as the suffering Bell family.

In Hoot, three teenagers (Logan Lerman, Brie Larson, and Cody Linley) attempt to stop the development of a new pancake house on a piece of land in Florida that is home to a group of endangered burrow owls. Rated PG for, among other things, “mild bullying.” Also on board: Jimmmy Buffett (which is fitting, as you might need a few drinks to get through this one).

The life of The Notorious Bettie Page, in a movie event sure to expand the world-famous 50s pin-up girl’s already-sizeable cult following, is sifted and given the celluloid treatment by director Mary Herron (American Psycho). In the film, actress Gretchen Mol (The Shape of Things) portrays the iconic American sex symbol, who gained most of her popularity through her fetish and bondage photographs.

In the Chinese martial-arts fantasy The Promise (Wu Ji), Princess Qingcheng (Cecilia Cheung) makes a solemn oath in her youth to a goddess, choosing riches and power over true love. Things get predictably sticky as she becomes the object of desire for two men — one a general, the other his slave — and the object of hatred for another. In Mandarin, with subtitles.

Local premiere dates for limited-release films are tentative and can change at the last minute. Please check your local theater listings to confirm showtimes.

Kiko Martinez

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