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Weekend Box Office: August 10-12, 2007
Rush Hour 3 tops the box office with $49.1 million

Daily Box Office: Friday, August 17, 2007
Superbad tops Friday's box office with an estimated $12.1 million

Superbad / ***1/2 (R)
“Superbad” (R, 112 minutes). Four-letter raunch-a-rama with a heart, and a fascination for other key organs. Best friends Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera), have been inseparable in high school, mainly because they were equally unpopular. Now it is the last night of the high school year, bringing to mind the ancient truism that if you haven’t had sex yet and you don’t have it tonight, you will never have had sex in high school. Rating: Three stars.

Rocket Science / ***1/2 (R)
“Rocket Science” (R, 101 minutes) Light-hearted, smart high school comedy beginning when a debate champ freezes on stage, and his pretty partner (Anna Kendrick) chooses a stuttering nerd (Reece Daniel Thompson) as his replacement. The director, Jeffrey Blitz, obviously learned a lot about teenage insecurity from his first film, the Oscar-nominated “Spellbound” (2002), about the National Spelling Bee. A lot better than your average high school comedy. Rating: Three and a half stars.

Death at a Funeral / *** (R)
“Death at a Funeral” (R, 90 minutes). British comedy involving unplanned entrances and exits, misbehavior of corpses, and just plain wacky eccentricity. Directed by Frank Oz, it finds its laughs in the peculiar human trait of being most tempted to laugh when we’re absolutely not supposed to. With Matthew Macfadyen, Keeley Hawes, Ewen Bremner, Jane Asher, Rupert Graves and last but not least Peter Dinklage.

Flanders / *** (No rating)
“Flanders” (R, 91 minutes). The 2006 Jury Prize winner at Cannes. Stolid, passive, depressed farm workers have sex, the men go to war, one returns, in a film that wants to depict lives that are without curiosity, introspection, and hope. I watched with mournful restlessness. Directed by Bruno Dumont, who also won Cannes in 1999 with "L'Humanite." Rating: Three stars.

The Invasion / ** (PG-13)
"Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (PG-13, 95 minutes). The fourth, and the least, of the movies made from Jack Finney's classic science fiction novel "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Here is a great story born to be creepy, and the movie churns through it like a road company production. If the first three movies served as parables for their times, this one keeps shooting off parable rockets that fizzle out. Nicole Kidman stars as a mom fighting off alien spores for herself and her son, Daniel Craig is her current squeeze, Jeremy Northam her ominous ex-husband, Jeffrey Wright the brilliant scientist who solves everything in two concise speeches, and Jackson Bond is Kidman's young son. The actors do what they can with a plot that we concede must be implausible but does not necessarily have to upstage the Mad magazine version. Rating: Two stars.

Pierrot Le Fou / **1/2 (No rating)
“Pierrot le Fou” (Unrated, 110 minutes). Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina as young lovers on the lam, in Jean-Luc Godard’s pastiche is Hollywood genres and self-conscious visual effects. Has not aged well. In a new 35mm print at the Music Box. 1968 rating: 3.5 stars. 2007 rating: Two and a half stars.

Casino Royale / **** (PG-13)
“Casino Royale” (2006, PG-13, 144 minutes). New from the get- go. It could be your first Bond. In fact, it was the first Bond; it was Ian Fleming’s first 007 novel, and he was still discovering who the character was. Daniel Craig makes a superb Bond: Leaner, more taciturn, less sex-obsessed, able to be hurt in body and soul, not giving a damn if his martini is shaken or stirred. I never thought I would see a Bond movie where I cared, actually cared, about the people. But I care about Bond, and about Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), who is not a Bond Girl but very much her own woman. Rating: Four stars

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.

Great Movie: Ace in the Hole (1951)
by Roger Ebert There's not a soft or sentimental passage in Billy Wilder's "Ace in the Hole" (1951), a portrait of rotten journalism and the public's insatiable appetite for it. It's easy to blame the press for its portraits of self-destructing celebrities, philandering preachers, corrupt politicians or bragging serial killers, but who loves those stories? The public does. Wilder, true to this vision and ahead of his time, made a movie in which the only good men are the victim and his doctor. Instead of blaming the journalist who masterminds a media circus, he is equally hard on sightseers who pay 25 cents admission. Nobody gets off the hook here.

Movie Answer Man: 'Stardust' memories
Q. Neil Gaiman claims he holds the record for having sold the most screenplays to Hollywood that were never produced. I thought Harlan Ellison was the gold medalist in that event. Greg Nelson, Chicago A. Neil Gaiman writes: "It wasn't me who said it; the Hollywood Reporter ran a front page story in 2003 (when 'Coraline' was optioned) saying that I was the person with the most things optioned but never made. They listed lots of them, and interviewed various people about how hard it was to make my stuff. Even at the time I thought it was a silly way for them to do an article on me and didn't take it seriously. I'm sure there are many more people than me with worse runs of getting things made (and I have three movies coming out in the next 12 months, so I'm definitely off the meter now)." And Harlan Ellison writes me: "I've no idea what my pal Neil Gaiman claims for a total of unproduced screenplays but (including films intended for TV, as well as theatrical, but not series) I had the list printed out, and at the moment, it stands at a terrifying 27 screenplays written and unproduced. (All were paid for at exorbitant rates, thank goodness.)"

Commentary: Shake, rattle, and Bourne!
We here at the website have received so many letters about the editing style of the Bourne movies that we felt obligated to share a sampling. David J Swift, Jackson WY: Is there a cinematographer's joke in “The Bourne Ultimatum?” The entire movie shake-a-shakes with an incessant Queasy-Cam affectation -- except for one shot. This shot is a POV of Jason peering through a hand-held zillion-power scope to read 12-point type on a document a few hundred feet distant. If there was one shot in the movie should realistically vibrate, it's this one. Care to ask the powers-that-be if this is an inside joke?

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