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Weekend Box Office: July 27-29, 2007
The Simpsons Movie tops the box office with $74.0 million

Daily Box Office: Wednesday, August 1, 2007
The Simpsons Movie tops Wednesday's box office with $6.4 million

The Bourne Ultimatum / ***1/2 (PG-13)
Run, Jason, Run. The Bourne films have taken chases beyond a storytelling technique and made them into the story. This time Jason hurtles through London, Madrid, Moscow, New York, Paris, Tangier and Turin, in search of the identity the CIA took from him. Matt Damon plays a man who survives one impossible situation after another, in a superior action thriller that doesn’t much care who his enemies are, as long as he’s in a big hurry to find them or escape them. With Julia Stiles, Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn, Albert Finney.

Arctic Tale / ** (G)
A fable in documentary style about the hard lives of polar bears and walruses in the Arctic. Using footage shot over 10 years but edited together to seem to be about the same animals, the film follows Nanu, a polar bear with two cubs, and Seela, a newly-born walrus. They live in a dangerous and harsh environment. More sentimental and contrived than "March of the Penguins," but effective as family entertainment. Narrated by a folksy Queen Latifah.

Hot Rod / *** (PG-13)
SNL freshman Andy Samberg is perfectly cast as a young daredevil who dreams of fame. Something, however, always seems to go wrong with his stunts; he’s Evel Knievel on a moped, leading a life resembling an episode of “Jackass.”

Becoming Jane / *** (PG)
Fictionalized speculation about a great romance in Jane Austen's 20th year. The would-be author (Anne Hathaway) meets a handsome lawyer (James McAvoy) and wonders, if he loses his allowance from his spiteful uncle, she could support them by her writing (mostly still unwritten). Engaging love story in charming Britlit Land (actually Ireland), even if it's mostly made up and has little to do with the real Jane. With Julie Walters, James Cromwell and Maggie Smith.

El Cantante / ** (R)
The story of Hector Lavoe (Marc Anthony), the godfather of salsa music, and his ascent to stardom and descent into drugs. With his wife Puchi (Jennifer Lopez) at his side, he lives a Jekyll and Hyde existence as a great musician and a pathetic addict, and the movie never gets the two sides into synch. Depressing and inexorable, but with a lot of good music well- performed by Anthony.

The Real Dirt on Farmer John / ***1/2 ()
by Roger Ebert The filming of "The Real Dirt on Farmer John" essentially began on that day in the 1950s when John Peterson's mother, Anna, brought home a Super-8 movie camera. A farmer's wife and school teacher from Caledonia, Ill., she filmed her family working in the fields, her children playing in the yard, the raising of a barn, the changing of the seasons and the harvest dinners supplied to neighbors who came to help with the threshing.

The Simpsons Movie / *** (PG-13)
A feature-length adventure starring America's most dysfunctional family, which succeeds in the nearly fatal pollution of Springfield. That story is interspersed with a lot of wickedly funny spoof of the most famous sequence in the Austin Powers movies.

My Best Friend / *** (PG-13)
That superb French actor Daniel Auteuil plays an antique dealers who is shocked to be told bluntly that they don't really like him. He runs into a chatty taxi driver (Dany Boon) and eventually hires him to teach him to make friends. Witty, affectionate, strange comedy by Patrice Leconte ("The Girl on the Bridge," "The Man on the Train").

No Reservations / ** (PG)
Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart co-star as rival chefs; she hates him as a rival, but inevitably they're drawn together, thanks partly to the matchmaking of her sister's orphaned child (Abigail Breslin). Alas, the characters seem to feel more passion for food than for one another. Remake of the 2002 German film "Mostly Martha." With Patricia Clarkson, Bob Balaban. Directed by Scott Hicks ("Shine").

Vitus / *** (PG)
A sentimental crowd-pleasing "Pinocchio" fable that turns the child prodigy movie on its ear. The title characcter is a budding piano genius who wants nothing more than to become a real boy. Enjoyable performances.

Great Movie: Killer of Sheep (1977)
by Roger Ebert Ordinary daily life is one of the hardest things for a movie to portray, because so many other movies have trained us to expect patterns and plots. In my own 1977 review of Charles Burnett's "Killer of Sheep," I made that mistake of expectation, in a sentence so wrong-headed it cries out to be corrected: "But instead of making a larger statement about his characters, he chooses to show them engaged in a series of daily routines, in the striving and succeeding and failing that make up a life in which, because of poverty, there is little freedom of choice."

Movie Answer Man: Mmmmmm, D'oh Nuts!
Q. In your review of "The Simpsons Movie," you mention that it is already voted as the 166th best film of all time on the Internet Movie Database and ask, "Do you suppose somehow the ballot box got stuffed by 'Simpsons' fans who didn't even need to see the movie to know it was a masterpiece? D'oh!" Likewise, readers of your own Web site on the morning of the film's release already gave it a four-star rating. Don't you think these are merely fans of the movie showing their contempt for you and all other reviewers, and in fact for any but their own opinions? Bill Pierce, Burlington, Ontario A. Not at all. They simply love the Simpsons. By the way, on July 29, "The Simpsons Movie" had climbed up to the 43rd greatest film of all time, right behind Kubrick's "Paths of Glory" and three ahead of "Chinatown." Will it knock off "The Godfather" for No. 1? notes: "For the Top 250, only votes from regular voters are considered."

People: Michelangelo Antonioni: In Memory
by Roger Ebert Michelangelo Antonioni, the Italian director who perfected a style of languid, weary alienation in a series of influential films mostly made between 1960 and 1970, is dead at 94. He died on Monday, the same day as Ingmar Bergman; with Federico Fellini, the three were sometimes thought of as the ruling triumvirate of European art cinema. Although film lovers endlessly debated his best films, he had only one major international hit, “Blow-Up” (1966). Filmed in London, it starred David Hemmings and Vanessa Redgrave in the story of a photographer who takes a picture of her in a park with a man, and then later, painstakingly enlarging his work, thinks he may have photographed a murder.

People: Ingmar Bergman: In Memory
by Roger Ebert The solitary, poetic, fearful, creative, brave and philosophical mind of Ingmar Bergman has been stilled, and the director is dead at 89. Death was an event on which he long meditated; it was the subject of many of his greatest films, and provided his most famous single image, a knight playing chess with Death in “The Seventh Seal.” The end came Monday on the remote island of Faro, off the Swedish coast, where he made his home and workshop for many years. During a long and productive career, he made more than 50 films, some of them in longer versions for television, and directed more than 200 plays and operas.

People: Artists pay tribute to Bergman
WEB EXCLUSIVE -- UPDATED 8/2/07: Roger Ebert has received these e-mail observations about the death of Ingmar Bergman: ===== Studs Terkel, author: Ingmar Bergman had an audience of one aside from himself. The one he always sang about was you. Or me. His was one symphony with slight variations -- from childhood to old age. (My favorite is obviously "Wild Strawberries," aging with considerable awkwardness, and I hope some slight honor.) The two warriors have always been life and death, who had deep respect for one another. There is no death unless there is life; otherwise you never die because you have never lived."

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