Some intriguing smaller pictures opened in Berkeley this past weekend, giving moviegoers ample opportunity to sample something a little more refined than, for example, the new wide-release apocalyptic thriller Legion.

Truth be told, though, I’m probably going to check out Legion at some point (it’s currently playing at the UA Berkeley 7). For those of us who enjoy the occasional dose of sturm, drang, blood, and guts, Legion’s trailer is spectacular: featuring a little old lady who climbs walls, walks on the ceiling, and indulges in human flesh, as well as a slumming Paul Bettany adorned with angel’s wings, it’s a most effective piece of advertising. The film may not be much good, but the trailer is first-rate. (More on trailers — the good, the bad and the ugly — next week.)

The Shattuck’s current bountiful crop of goodies includes a new Belgian animated film, A Town Called Panic. Unlike your typical Pixar or Disney cartoon, A Town Called Panic includes no CGI or hand-drawn cels and relies entirely on stop-motion, the time consuming technique resurrected by Aardman Studios (you know, the Wallace & Gromit folk). The plot sounds somewhat reminiscent of Toy Story, though human beings are apparently surplus to requirements in the fantasy world created by writer-directors Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar.

Awards junkies can get their fix courtesy of Crazy Heart, a drama about a down-on-his-luck country-western singer portrayed by Jeff Bridges, now playing on the other side of Shattuck Avenue at the California Theatres. Bridges’ performance won him the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture/Drama, and he’s hotly tipped to get an Academy Award nomination as well.

John Seal is a regular Berkeleyside contributor. He writes a weekly film recommendation column at Box Office Prophets, as well as a column in The Phantom of the Movie’s Videoscope, an old-fashioned paper magazine, published quarterly.

Freelancer John Seal is Berkeleyside’s film critic. A movie connoisseur with a penchant for natty hats who lives in Oakland, John writes a weekly film recommendation column at Box Office Prophets, as...