In one of the decisive scenes in “Silver Linings Playbook,” Pat Solitano Sr. (Robert De Niro) strikes a parlay with his gambling friend while the rest of the crowd in the house — including his son Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Pat’s dance partner Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) — fire their opinions in high volumes. Comparing their volatility to a bundle of home-made bombs would not be inappropriate: Pat Sr.

In what is probably not a good start to 2013, I am breaking two of my own rules for film reviews in writing about “Amour.” First, I read other film critics’ reviews halfway through drafting. Still baffled and frustrated, I then decided to frankly tell you that I don’t know what to think of it.

Survival films allure us with a scenario that is thankfully distant yet palpably visceral. Civilization absent, society invisible, norms abandoned, life threatened and despair the fabric of everyday existence, the dire circumstances that a survivor faces grip the audience with suspense. Yet the true charm of survival films lies not in our imagination of these harsh circumstances, where we, too, hold our breath when the protagonist dives underwater to escape from a sinking ship or clasp our armrests when he clings on to the only mast that will keep him from being devoured by iron waves.

The 23rd and latest installment of the iconic spy film series by Ian Fleming, “Skyfall” is slick, sexy, exciting and above all, classic James Bond. Its loyalty to the franchise is rivaled only by that of Bond to MI6, the British intelligence agency that falls under attack both from an unexpected enemy and from the Parliament. Either side of the challenge presents a face-off: villain Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) brings a bitter reunion of kinship and betrayal, and the government brings up doubt over MI6’s relevance in the present-day world.

Stripped of the fame and glory of movie stars or big-shot directors, documentary filmmakers often stand far from the spotlight and let their subjects speak instead. In “First Position,” the debut documentary feature by Bess Kargman ’04, the greatest voices come not from words but from body language.

Watching Meredith Monk was a dream come true for me. Indeed, her concert had the rare magic of teleporting me from the Buckley Recital Hall to imaginary landscapes: when she performed parts of “Songs from the Hill” (1977), I was watching her at the top of a mountain in New Mexico under the scorching summer sun, where the music was born. And when her voice bounced with the piano keys in “Traveling,” I felt like a kid hopping along a grassy path in a vast open land, bounded only by the snowy range from afar.

Fireworks never flash across the screen, but “The Master” celebrates the genius of acting, screen-writing, set design, directing and almost everything else about cinema with no less fuel and splendor. It is your typical Oscar suspect: an art-house independent film with more than a streak of ambition, an idolized director notable for his uncompromising style, a fierce cast, an intriguing story and as always, something contentious that nests at the tongue of the critics and the public alike. And yes, it is irresistible to an upper-middle class college town.