400 Screens, 400 Blows is a weekly column that takes an in-depth look at the films playing below the radar, beneath the top ten, and on 400 screens or less.

I'm thankful for Rachel Getting Married (300 screens), for making me feel as if I were at an excruciating wedding without actually having to be there, and for making me feel as if I knew the extraordinarily wounded lead character, Kym (Anne Hathaway), no matter how monstrous she acts sometimes. But most of all for making me feel something.

I'm thankful for The Dark Knight (345 screens), for being like a 1940s film noir, reflecting the utter despair we feel about the world in 2008, but for making it entertaining and making us feel as if there's still a tiny scrap of hope left. Mainly, I'm thankful for movies that took on despair as a theme, but didn't show it.

I'm thankful for smart villains, like Heath Ledger's Joker. But I'm also thankful for quiet villains, like Ralph Fiennes in The Duchess (154 screens), who does all those terrible things for what he thinks are pretty good reasons, not simply because he's hateful or evil. I'm especially thankful for no moustache-twisting (and no moustaches).

categories Columns, Cinematical