Walker's Three to See: "Sarah's Key" and "Tabloid"

KCUR Arts Reporter Steve Walker shares his top movie picks of the week.

Kansas City, Mo. – "Sarah's Key" - Any film blessed to have Kristen Scott Thomas in it can always be upgraded to first class, and "Sarah's Key" is no exception. Based on the popular novel by Tatiana de Rosnay, the story ricochets between the present and two ugly days in July of 1942 when French police went door-to-door rounding up Jewish families. In the chaos, 10-year-old Sarah Starzynski makes a rash move that will haunt her forever: she secretly locks her little brother in a hidden storage area, assuming she and her family would be back later that afternoon. In Paris of 2009, Kristin Scott-Thomas is a writer for a prestigious magazine who's doing a story about the event (one that, even today, the French are reluctant to talk about). Through her research and probing questions, she learns how she and her husband's family are connected to the Starzynskis. Though everyone isn't a fan of movies that jump back and forth in time, the first hour of this one is quite strong, and it's worth seeing anything with the impeccable Scott Thomas. Where the film disappoints is in the second half, where the modern-day characters are learning (at a snail's pace) about events of the past the audience has already seen.

"Tabloid" - Errol Morris has only won one Oscar - for the documentary "The Fog of War" - but should have a couple more when you look at the way he examines subject matter that's always fascinating and a little strange yet never predictable. That's certainly the case with "Tabloid," a delicious, depraved and hilarious dive into a world where a beauty queen, cloned dogs, and a sex slave in chains all involve one woman: Joyce McKinney, whose daffy life zig-zags from the film's opening line - "Once upon a time there was a little princess..." - to her uninvited (but secretly relished) reign as queen of the British tabloids in the Seventies to owning five cloned pit bulls. Here's just a cursory list at what the film touches: an IQ of 168; Mormon cartoons; kidnapping; guns; chloroform; Joan Collins; paparazzi stakeouts - who could make this up? McKinney says late in the film, "I don't see any connection between cloned puppies and a 32-year-old sex - in-chains story." Morris's implicit reply is "Wanna bet?"