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Weekend Box Office: September 7-9, 2007
3:10 to Yuma (2007) tops the box office with $14.0 million

Daily Box Office: Wednesday, September 12, 2007
3:10 to Yuma (2007) tops Wednesday's box office with $1.3 million

The Brave One / ***1/2 (R)
“The Brave One” (R, 122 minutes). Jodie Foster plays a radio talker whose finance is murdered by muggers in Central Park. Recovering from her own wounds, she buys a gun for self-protection, which turns into revenge. But this superior, perceptive thriller isn’t a “Death Wish” remake but a psychological study of a subtle understanding that takes shadowy form between Foster and a detective played by Terrence Howard. Directed by Neil Jordan. Rating: Three and a half stars

Eastern Promises / **** (R)
“Eastern Promises” (R, 96 minutes). One of David Cronenberg’s finest films with Viggo Mortensen as a driver for the Russian Mafia in London, and Naomi Watts as a midwife determined to protect the life of newborn infant. A diary leads her to the sealed world of the Russians, led by Armin Mueller-Stahl as the patriarch and Vincent Cassel as his son; the result into exactly a crime story, but a thriller about human nature. Scenes of startling violence. Rating: Four stars.

Across the Universe / **** (PG-13)
"Across the Universe" (PG-13, //// minute). Here is a bold, beautiful, visually-enchanting musical where we walk (ital) into (unital) the theater humming the songs. Julie Taymor's "Across the Universe" is an audacious marriage of cutting-edge visual techniques, heart-warming performances, 1960s history, and the Beatles song book.

In the Valley of Elah / **** (R)
By Roger Ebert I don't know Tommy Lee Jones at all. Let's get that clear. I've interviewed him, and at Cannes we had one of those discussions at the American Pavilion. He didn't enjoy doing it, but he felt duty-bound to promote his great film "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada." During my questions, he twisted his hands like a kid in the principal's office. He remains a mystery to me, which is why I feel free to share some feelings about him. I'm trying to understand why he is such a superb actor.

Mr. Woodcock / *** (PG-13)
“Mr. Woodcock” (PG-13, /// minutes) Billy Bob Thornton in full Bad Santa mode in an uneasy comedy about an adult (Seann William Scott) who returns home to discover his mother (Susan Sarandon) is planning to marry the gym teacher (Thornton) who made his high school days a living hell. Thornton makes no compromises and takes no prisoners when he plays Woodcock. He’s a hateful SOB, and he means it. That makes the movie better, actually, than if we sensed a heart of gold. Rating: Three stars.

Vanaja / **** (Not rated)
“Vanaja” (Unrated. 111 minutes). A beautiful and heart-touching film from India, about a lower-caste girl (Mamatha Bhukya) who takes dance lessons and develops a special talent She becomes the favorite of a rich landowner. but not when she and the landowner’s son begin to feel for one another. A film of striking visual splendour, with a luminous performance in the lead. Rating: Four stars.

Pete Seeger: The Power of Song / **** (No rating)
By Roger Ebert I don't know if Pete Seeger believes in saints, but I believe he is one. He's the one in the front as they go marching in. "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song" is a tribute to the legendary singer and composer who thought music could be a force for good, and proved it by writing songs that have actually helped shape our times ("If I Had a Hammer" and "Turn, Turn, Turn") and popularizing "We Shall Overcome" and Woody Guthrie's unofficial national anthem, "This Land Is Your Land." Over his long career (he is 88), he has toured tirelessly with song and stories, never happier than when he gets everyone in the audience to sing along.

In the Shadow of the Moon / **** (PG)
"In the Shadow of the Moon" (PG, 100 minute). I never use the words “must-see,” which have been cheapened by association with so many films you need not see. But this extraordinary documentary, interviewing many of the surviving Apollo astronauts about their voyage to the moon, combines restored and in many cases never-before- seen moon footage into a spellbinding experience. Especially recommended for those to whom Apollo is only a word in a history book. Rating: Four stars.

Silk / ** (R)
“Silk” (Unrated. Running time: 116 minutes. In English and Japanese with English subtitles.) A languid, too languid, story of romantic regrets, mostly ours, because romance is expected to carry the film without explaining it. It is told as a mournful flashback, circa 1860, narrated by a man (Michael Pitt) who has been in love with two women, one French (Kiere Knightley), one in far off Japan (Sei Ashina), where he goes to buy silkworms. Languid, slow, underwhelming. Rating: Two stars.

The Fountain / **1/2 (PG-13)
By Roger Ebert As a believer that Darren Aronofsky is one of the rare originals among the recent class of new directors, I was eager to double back and view his “The Fountain” (2006), a movie about immortality that was released just about the time my own was being called into question.

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.

The Prestige / *** (PG-13)
“The Prestige” (PG-13, 130 minutes). Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale star as Victorian-era magicians, once friends, now deadly enemies. The successful Bale is obsessed by a trick Jackman does called The Transported Man, but does the explanation hold water, so to speak? “The Prestige,” or pay-off, for the magic trick bends the rules, in my opinion. With Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, Piper Perabo, David Bowie. Directed by Christopher Nolan (“Memento”). Rating: Three stars.

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