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Weekend Box Office: August 3-5, 2007
The Bourne Ultimatum tops the box office with $69.3 million

Daily Box Office: Wednesday, August 8, 2007
The Bourne Ultimatum tops Wednesday's box office with $6.7 million

Stardust / **1/2 (PG-13)
A shooting star (Claire Danes) falls into a forbidden kingdom, and Charlie Cox enters the kingdom to get it for his love (Sierra Miller). Also fighting for the star/woman: A wicked witch (Michelle Pfeiffer) and a dying king (Peter O’Toole). Robert De Niro turns up as a cross-dressing pirate in an airship. Cluttered and too busy; funny, not boring, but “The Princess Bride” it’s not.

Rush Hour 3 / ** (PG-13)
Chris Tucker is once again Carter, the motormouth LAPD cop who’s always in trouble, and Jackie Chan is once again Lee, the ace Hong Kong cop called in to partner with him. A case involving an ambassador’s murder and secret documents from a Triad gang sends them to Paris, where of course it is necessary for them to defend their lives while hanging from the Eiffel Tower. Pretty much what you’d expect, but kinda fun.

No End in Sight / **** (Not rated)
A documentary featuring devastating testimony from men and women who had top government or military jobs, had responsibility in Iraq or Washington, implemented policy, filed reports, labored faithfully in service of U.S. foreign policy, and then left the government. Some jumped, some were pushed. They all feel disillusioned about the way the White House stubbornly refused to listen to their advice. All the more powerful because they are not anti-war activists or sitting ducks for Michael Moore, but people who were important to the Bush administration.

This is England / ***1/2 (R)
A small, alienated 12-year- old falls into the orbit of an English skinhead gang and finds a surrogate family. But the dues he pays, as the skinheads drift toward neo-Nazis, is more than he can afford or understand. Directed by Shane Meadows (“Once Upon a Time in the Midlands.”

Walking to Werner / *** (Not rated)
Linas Phillips, an admirer of the director Werner Herzog, paid homage to his hero by emulating Herzog’s lifelong habit of very long walks. Phillips set out to walk 1,200 miles from Seattle to Herzog’s Los Angeles home, and encountered strange and sometimes wonderful people along the way.

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.

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: Long & short of 'Bourne'
Q. The blogger Brian at goneelsewhere.wordpress.com takes issue with your remarks about Paul Greengrass' long takes in "The Bourne Ultimatum," writing: "I don't recall a single take in this movie that was more than about three seconds long. Either Greengrass really does a spectacular job of not 'calling attention' to those long takes, or Ebert saw a different movie. But it's very strange, no matter what." Who's right? Greg Nelson, Chicago A. This inspired some introspection. I didn't write about long takes in my notes during the movie, but while writing the review, they formed in my memory. If Brian is right, perhaps what happened was that sustained stretches of breakneck action, as assembled by editor Christopher Rouse, played like unbroken takes in their effect, especially since so much of the movie follows the action with a Steadicam or hand-held camera. Rouse tells me there are lots of shots more than three seconds long, and the film's first assistant editor, Robert Malina, writes me: "We have long shots! In Reel 2, we have a 20-second Steadicam shot going through the halls of SRD, following the characters Vosen and Wills (David Strathairn and Corey Johnson)."

People: Defending Ingmar Bergman
by Roger Ebert I have long known and admired the Chicago Reader’s film critic, Jonathan Rosenbaum, but his New York Times op-ed attack on Ingmar Bergman (“Scenes from an Overrated Career,” 8/4/07) is a bizarre departure from his usual sanity. It says more about Rosenbaum’s love of stylistic extremes than it does about Bergman and audiences. Who else but Rosenbaum could actually base an attack on the complaint that Bergman had what his favorites Carl Theodor Dreyer and Robert Bresson lacked, “the power to entertain — which often meant a reluctance to challenge conventional film-going habits?" In what parallel universe is the power to entertain defined in that way?

Commentary: A crossword for movie fans
by Joe Krozel We received this entertaining puzzle from reader Joe Krozel, who describes himself as: "A free-lance puzzle constructor who has had a couple of crosswords appear in the New York Times since 2006. I pioneered the stacking of long theme entries seen in the current puzzle, while maintaining focus on providing enjoyment to the solver." The puzzle is based on information found in my annual Movie Yearbooks. We'll publish the answers here in two weeks. -- RE

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