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'Charlie Bartlett' tries – and fails – to pass as a new-style 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'; 'The Counterfeiters,' a favorite for this year's Best Foreign Film Oscar, is a tale of survival, in all its ramifications.

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Charlie Bartlett (R)

Director: Jon Poll. With: Anton Yelchin, Robert Downey Jr. (97 min.)

No doubt the filmmakers of "Charlie Bartlett" were hoping for a new-style "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," but the results are rather rancid. Anton Yelchin plays Charlie, a preppy high-schooler who becomes a kind of psychiatrist to his classmates. By siphoning drug prescriptions from the family psychiatrist, Charlie supplies drugs to everyone who claims to need them. Yelchin gives Charlie a fresh-faced naiveté that raises the question: Is he a do-gooder or a villain? And do you care?

Grade: – Peter Rainer

The Counterfeiters (R)

Director: Stefan Ruzowitsky. With Karl Markovics. (99 min.)

"The Counterfeiters" tells the true story of Salomon "Sully" Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics), a Jewish concentration-camp inmate and expert forger who, along with fellow imprisoned forgers, bankers, and printers, was forced to fuel the German war effort by crafting bales of counterfeit cash. The moral dilemmas posed by this operation are dramatically rendered, and without once resorting to cant. A tale of survival in all its ramifications and Markovics's intense performance holds it all together. The favorite for this year's Oscar for best foreign film. Grade: – P.R.


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