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is more of a fashion show and a forced march. Screenwriter Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast) is sensibly trying to do a Wicked on the famous tale, complete with rivalry between witchy queens: the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and the ghostly yet sugary White Queen (Anne Hathaway). The now 19-year-old Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is meant to quest for good in â&#x20AC;&#x153;Underland,â&#x20AC;? a place she misremembered as Wonderland. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a helpless Burton fan, but the colors here arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t state of the art, and compared to Coralineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s solitude and thoughtfulness the finale turns out to be familiar dragon slaying; ultimately, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not just Alice who has been here before. (RvB) /D/B/@ (PG-13; 162 min.) A victory for people who insist that science fiction has to be dumb. In the future, Earthling mercenaries are shipped to the planet Pandora, where 9-foottall, blue-skinned noble savages called Naâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;vi live in a phosphorescent forest full of saurian beasts. Jake (Sam Worthington) is the paraplegic brother of a dead soldier hooked up to a Naâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;vi shell; the program is under the direction of a chainsmoking biologist (Sigourney Weaver). While it is a maxim of screenwriting that the plot ought to be the longest distance between two points, James Cameronâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s terrible script for this putative end-of-thedecade experience really overworks the principle. The politics play it both ways; letting us swoon over the military hardware and still lament for the plundered forests. After an hour, the drugs wear off, and the appeal of synthespianism starts to drag; motion capture isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t exactly motion release (compare the synthetic Weaver to the real thing), and the cobbled-together story

of eco-rebellion isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be eclipsed by the visuals. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to see it anyway, see it in 3-D. (RvB) 0=C<BG6C<B3@

(PG-13; 111 min.) Jennifer Aniston is a reporter working undercover and Gerard Butler her bountyhunting ex in this romantic comedy directed by Andy Tennant (Hitch, Sweet Home Alabama). Bit parts by Jason Sudeikis and Jeff Garlin sweeten the pot. (TH) 1:/A6=4B63 B7B/<A (PG-13;

110 min.) Sam Worthingtonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Perseus saves Argos from a large and angry Kraken. A synthespian made completely out of Black Angus beef, Sam Worthington demonstrates his ability to suck every touch of humor in a movie, so that no matter how ridiculous things get no one laughs during his scenes. He passed on the risible coiffures endemic in director Louis Leterrierâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vision of the ancient world, the land of a thousand frightwigs. Hairiest of them all is Liam Neesonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Zeus, in shiny tinfoil armor last seen in Excaliburâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;glittering 3-D eyesore like a f licker postcard. This glowing apparition stares down his evil brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes): nothing says â&#x20AC;&#x153;tensionâ&#x20AC;? like two furry, heavily mascaraed men giving each other the eye. Your kid will agree that any movie with Medusa in it canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be a total loss. Her backstory is told by Perseusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; guardian angel Io (Gemma Arterton); Arterton provides not only the movieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s too-rare girly-action, but Clashâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s one nod to the pathos of Ovid. Some respite by Mads Mikkelsen and Jason Flemyng. Bargainmatinee filler, heavily Cecil B. Demillized to make it all about the chastisement of a loving God on his impious people. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve seen more out of control paganism at a Unitarian potluck. (RvB)

2/B3<756B (PG-

13; 88 min.) Tina Fey fans, calm yourselves. The queen of quirk teams up with Steve Carrell in a story about a couple trying to survive a date night gone horribly wrong. 27/@G=4/E7;>G 972 (PG; 120 min.) A

live-action adaptation of the graphic novel by Jeff Kinney about life in middle school. Stars Zachary Gordon. B6356=ABE@7B3@

(PG-13; 136 min.) Roman Polanskiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s good-looking thriller follows a British journalist (Ewan McGregor) hired to clean up the memoirs of a British prime minister (Pierce Brosnan) whose previous ghost writer has just turned up dead. With Kim Cattrall as the PMâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s curvaceous chief of staff and Olivia Williams as his intellectual wife. (CW)


B6357@:=<B63 B@/7< (Unrated;

113 min.) French film starring Catherine Deneuve focuses on a young woman who claims sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been the victim of an antiSemitic attack. B6357@:E7B6B63 2@/5=<B/BB==

(Unrated; 158 min.) Stieg Larssonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s book is the hottest thing going in mysteries right now, and thankfully, director Niels Arden Oplev and screenwriters Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg recognized that more important than any of the hype swirling around the book is the protagonist at its center, Lisbeth Salander. She is the girl with the dragon tattoo, and sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s maybe the best fictional character to come around yet this century. Swedish actress Noomi Rapace is absolutely incredible in her ability to bring Lisbeth to life. She is a force of nature, pure and simple. Lisbeth is hired to dig up dirt on Mikael (Michael Nyqvist) but ends up helping him investigate the disappearance many years ago of Harriet, heiress to a creepy, feuding family

of millionaires. Though it may use the U.S. title, the movie doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t shy away from the bookâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unrelenting critique of the violence that society allows men to perpetuate against women, and though the scenes with certain unsavory characters may have been cut down in number, they are still surprisingly graphic. Luckily, Lisbeth is womankindâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ultimate revenge fantasy come trueâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;sooner or later, her boots are gonna walk all over absolutely everyone. (SP) 5@33<03@5 (R; 107 min.) Writer/director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) is back with another character study. A dysfunctional, emotionally unbalanced fortysomething in full-on midlife crisis, Greenberg (Ben Stiller), to be blunt, is an asshole. He makes the nearly two hours we spend with him an unpleasant, disquieting experience, but Baumbach wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have it any other way. Roger Greenberg, a

one-time musician down on his luck, arrives in Los Angeles from New York City after a six-week stay in a mental institution. He plans to house-sit for his more successful brother and his wife. He strikes up a halting, hesitant relationship with his brotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s personal assistant, Florence Marr (Greta Gerwig). (MV) 6=BBC0B7;3 ;/167<3 (R; 100

min.) Sublime, but not dainty. Due to a wormhole, observed by a hot tub repairman or a Time Lord or something (Chevy Chase), three idiots (Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry and the ever soulful John Cusack) are transported back to their happier past at a ski resort in 1986. Accidentally transported with them is 24-year-old Jacob (the hilarious Clark Duke), a depressed middle-aged-man-intraining whose life may depend on the events of the night to come. Certainly the funniest and grimiest film since The Hangover, but Hot Tub Time Machineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

editing is ruthless, almost to the point of resembling a comingattractions reel. Rather than looking like a frenzied mess, however, it is more like there was some brilliant four-hour version that was cut down to a ragged but right shape. Director Steve Pink scripted High Fidelity; Cusack and Corddry do things here that you will still be laughing about 10 years from now: examples being Corddryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s violent unplugging of himself from a hospital bed or Cusackâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s monologue about the day life went wrong for him, a tale as funny as the story in Gremlins about the Santa who ruined Christmas. (RvB) B63A31@3B=4 93::A (Unrated;

80 min.) Short but ravishing Irish cartoon about their national treasure, the Book of Kells, an 1800year-old illuminated manuscript. Young Brendan (voiced by Evan McGuire) is a monk at his uncleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s abbey at Kells in ninthcentury Meath. The merciless Viking raiders

approach, but Brendan is more interested in the arrival of a fellow artist to the monastery: the aged brother Aidan (Mick Lally), who carries with him the last treasure from his island of Iona: the book which later will be known as the Book of Kells. When Aidan sends the boy out into the wolf-haunted forest to seek pigments, the boy encounters a fairy named Aisling (Christen Mooney). Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s stressed here is art as the hope of civilization, representing something more than life.The love of nature also radiates from this movie; directors Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey and the rest of the artists at Cartoon Saloon have indeed made something thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s beautiful yet never airy-fairy. (RvB) D7<13@3 (Unrated; 136 min.) When you get into bed with a fascist, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be surprised if he steals all the covers. Director Marco Bellocchio charts the story of Ida Dalser (the lovely, monotonous Giovanna

Mezzogiorno), a beautician who sacrificed everything for Mussolini (Filippo Timi). It is thought that Dalser married Il Duce, and thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s evidence he acknowledged their child. After World War I, the luckless Dalser becomes a state secret, interned at a series of mental hospitals. And her son, also named Benito, is spirited away to captivity at a grim boyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s school. Ida can only watch Il Duce in newsreels. Was Mussolini, then, cinema itself ? A seductive deception, no deeper than a screen? Turbulent music heightens the operatic side of the story: Carlo Crivelliâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s score sounds like Philip Glass and Bernard Herrmann having a fistfight while going over a waterfall. For most of the film, Ida does two things. She writes letters and she watches movies. Regrettably, the retroness of this drama signals an Italian cinema that, like Ida, looks backward instead of forward. (RvB)


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