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Weekend Box Office: August 31-September 3, 2007
Halloween (2007) tops the box office with $30.6 million

Daily Box Office: Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Halloween (2007) tops Wednesday's box office with $1.1 million

3:10 to Yuma / **** (R)
"3:10 to Yuma" (R, 117 minutes). Christian Bale plays an Easterner who lost a leg in the Civil War and has now come to the Arizona territory to try ranching. Russell Crowe plays the vicious leader of a gang feared in the territory. Almost by unlucky fate, the rancher joins a posse to bring the killer to a nearby town where he will be taken by train to prison. Splendid dialog and acting, also by Peter Fonda, Ben Foster snd Gretchen Mol, restore the wounded heart of the Western, and returns it to its glory days. Directed by James Mangold ("Walk the Line"). Rating: Four stars.

Shoot 'em up / ***1/2 (R)
"Shoot 'em Up" (R, 93 minutes). The only film I can think of that opens with the hero delivering a baby during a gun battle, severing the umbilical cord with a gunshot, and then killing a villain by penetrating his brain with a raw carrot. Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti and Monica Bellucci co-star in a (ital) way (unital) over-the-top violent action thriller, redeemed by style and satirical exaggeration, but still too extreme for all but hard-boiled action fans. You have been warned. Deserves an R-plus rating. Written, directed by Michael Davis, who knows what he’s doing. Rating: Three and a half stars.

The Hottest State / ** (R)
"The Hottest State" (R, 117 minutes). Ethan Hawke’s semi- autobiographical 1996 novel now becomes a semi-autobiographical movie about a kid from Texas (Mark Webber), who moves to New York, wants to be an actor, meets a Latina musician (Catalina Sandino Moreno) and falls in love with her, and she out of love with him. Too much about love, not enough about what makes them interesting apart from love. Rating: Two stars.

Exiled / **1/2 (R)
"Exiled" (R, 100 minutes). Johnny To, from the first rank as Asian martial arts movie, with what seems almost to be a spaghetti Western set in Macao. Five old friends are involved in a standoff; two are hired to kill, two are hired to defend, and after they have dinner together it’s action all the way. Rating: Two and a half stars.

Prestige / *** (PG-13)
By Roger Ebert Note: I am doubling back to pick up some titles I missed when ill. Christopher Nolan's "The Prestige" has just about everything I require in a movie about magicians, except ... the Prestige. We are instructed at the outset, in a briefing by Michael Caine, that every magic trick consists of three acts: (1) the Pledge, in which a seemingly real situation is set up, (2) the Turn, in which the initial reality is challenged, and (3) the Prestige, where all is set right again. An example, one not used in the film, would be (1) a woman, and it's always a woman, except with Penn and Teller, who is placed into a box; (2) the box is sawed in half, and the halves separated, and (3) magically, the "victim" is restored in one piece.

Death Sentence / **1/2 (R)
"Death Sentence" (R, 99 minutes). Kevin Bacon stars as a man whose (spoiler) is killed, and gets a gun and seeks revenge. Kelly Preston is his wife, and John Goodman and Garrett Hedlung play the creepiest father-and-son pair outside the Chainsaw Family. Directed by James Wan ("Saw") and effective at getting the job done, if this is the kind of job you like to be seen done effectively. Rating: Two and a half stars

Delirious / ***1/2 (Not rated)
"Delirious" (PG, 107 minutes). Steve Buscemi stars as a desperate paparazzi who dreams of that one great celebrity shot that will make his fame and fortune. Michael Pitt is the street kid who signs on as his unpaid assistant, and Alison Lohman is the starlet who becomes their obsession. Written and directed by indie legend Tom DiCillo, and the best of his films I’ve seen. Rating: Three and a half stars.

Self Medicated / *** (R)
"Self-Medicated" (R, 107 minutes). Monty Lapica, at 24, wrote, directed, and stars in the story of a drug-abusing Las Vegas teenager who is committed by his mom against his will to a "treatment facility" from hell. Strongly seen, made with conviction, fairly enlightened about drug abuse. With Diane Venora as the pill-popping mom. Rating: Three stars.

Ratatouille / **** (G)
"Ratatouille" (G, 110). Not merely funny, smart, beautiful to look and surprisingly moving, but with one of the most lovable heroes in a long time—Remy, a rat with a culinary genius. He teams up with a dishwasher to save a famous Paris restaurant, in one of the most inspired animated films in years. Directed by Brad Bird ("The Incredibles," "The Iron Giant") and with the voices of such as Peter O’Toole, Ian Holm, Janeane Garofalo, Brian Dennehy and Patton Oswalt as the hero rat. Rating: Four stars.

Great Movie: Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
By Roger Ebert "Pan's Labyrinth" is one of the greatest of all fantasy films, even though it is anchored so firmly in the reality of war. On first viewing, it is challenging to comprehend a movie that on the one hand provides fauns and fairies, and on the other hand creates an inhuman sadist in the uniform of Franco's fascists. The fauns and fantasies are seen only by the 11-year-old heroine, but that does not mean she's "only dreaming;" they are as real as the fascist captain who murders on the flimsiest excuse. The coexistence of these two worlds is one of the scariest elements of the film; they both impose sets of rules that can get an 11-year-old killed.

Movie Answer Man: Think beyond the top layer
Q: Please provide a definition for the "hyperlink film," to which you have made reference in prior reviews. There is a now widespread belief that such films need international flair (as in "Syriana," "Traffic" or "Babel") and multiple languages. Would you agree, or need the parameters be broader so that the earlier works can be included in the definition (as suggested in your review of "Cape of Good Hope")? How many storylines do you need/how connected need they be to constitute a hyperlink film? Milton Wilkins, St. Louis A. The term is borrowed from the concept of hyperlink fiction in the early days of computing, in which a text could be read in any order. A movie, of course, can be seen in only one order. For me, a hyperlink movie shows apparently unrelated stories and characters that have a gradually revealed, hidden connection. I don't think languages or story counts have anything to do with it. For an influential example, see Altman's "Nashville."

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