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Stephanie Daley / ***1/2 (R)
At a high school ski outing, a trail of blood is visible in the snow. The trail is left by Stephanie Daley, a 16-year-old girl, whose stillborn baby is found in a toilet. The girl claims that she didn't know she was pregnant, but the "ski mom" case becomes a sensation. She is charged with murder, and before her trial, is sent for sessions with a forensic psychologist named Lydie Crane.

War and Peace / **** ()
The Gene Siskel Film Center presents the North American Premiere of Sergei Bondarchuk's Oscar-winning 415-minute "War and Peace," June 1-7, 2007. Roger Ebert's original review is here. The movies have done a lot of borrowing during their long climb to the status of an art form, but they've also invented an approach or two. It is impossible to think of gangsters or cowboys without thinking of the movies; and perhaps epics also belong on the list of genres that are uniquely cinematic. No other medium, except literature, is so well suited to the epic form.

June 1, 2007 / * ()
Knocked Up
Mr. Brooks
Art house films

Bug / ***1/2 (R)
William Friedkin's latest film, "Bug," begins as an ominous rumble of unease, and builds to a shriek. The last 20 minutes are searingly intense: A paranoid personality finds its mate, and they race each other into madness. For Friedkin, director of "The Exorcist," it's a work of headlong passion. Its stars, Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon, achieve a kind of manic intensity that's frightening not just in itself but because you almost fear for the actors. They're working without a net. The film is based on a play by Tracy Letts, an actor and playwright at Chicago's Steppenwolf theater, that was a hit here and in New York.

Commentary: Coen country
Gene Siskel and I came back from our vacations and went to a screening the next morning -- for a movie named "Fargo." We knew nothing about it. Sounded like a Western. After the lights came up after that great film, we gasped at the credits: Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It was and it wasn't a "Coen Brothers film." It didn't have the deliberate quirkiness and flywheel plot, but it had the intelligence, the humor, the human nature pushed to extremes, the violence raised to the level of classical irony.

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Weekend Box Office: May 25-28, 2007
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End tops the box office with $139.8 million

Daily Box Office: Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End tops Wednesday's box office with $6.4 million

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