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Weekend Box Office: September 21-23, 2007
Resident Evil: Extinction tops the box office with $23.7 million

Daily Box Office: Friday, September 28, 2007
The Game Plan tops Friday's box office with an estimated $6.3 million

Into the Wild / **** (R)
“Into the Wild” (R, 150 minutes) Sean Penn’s film, based on the Jon Krakauer best-seller, stars Emile Hirsch in a courageous performance as Christopher McCandless, who embarked on an idealistic journey all alone into the Alaskan Wilderness. The film gives us the people who saw him along the way, mentored him, cautioned him. And then he has only the implacable company of nature. Builds with a fascinating dread. With Vince Vaughn, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Hal Holbrook, Catherine Keener, Jena Malone. Rating: Four stars

Feast of Love / ** (R)
“Feast of Love” (R, 102 minutes). Morgan Freeman plays the wise and benevolent counselor who looks on as a variety of couple join, split up, and make a mess of love. All centers on a Portland coffee chop owned by Greg Kinnear, who is an unluckiest in love of all. Also starring Jane Alexander, Selma Blair, Toby Hemingway, Radha Mitchell, Stana Katic and Fred Ward. Directed by Robert Benton, who has made better films. Rating: Two stars.

Blame it on Fidel / ***1/2 (Not rated)
“Blame It on Fidel” (Unrated, 100 minutes). Told through the eyes of a 9-year-old girl in Paris, whose world goes topsy-turvy when her parents suddenly embrace radicsl politics. Anna, wonderfully plated by Nina Kervel, is, like all children, profoundly conservative—not in a political way, but by demanding continuity and predictability in her life. She doesn’t like the new dogmas and people turning up in her home. Not an angry film, however, because Anna and her parents always love one another, but a wry and observant one; directed by Julie Gavras, the daughter of the left-wing Greek filmmaker Costa Gavra. Rating: Three and a half stars

Outsourced / *** (PG-13)
“Outsourced” (PG-13, 102 minutes). A film bursting with affection for its characters and for India. Josh Hamilton plays an American exec sent o India to train a telephone order-fulfillment center for his tacky novelty company (Wisconsin cheesehead hats a specialty). The beautiful Ayesha Dharker plays an employee was is ahead of the curve; they generate amazing chemistry. Not a great movie, but maybe couldn’t be this charming if it was. There is a fundamental sweetness and innocence to it; leaves you feeling good. Rating: Three stars.

Trade / * (R)
“Trade” (R, 119 minutes). Based on fact, the story of a 13-year-old girl (Paulina Gaitan) kidnapped in Mexico City and transported to New Jersey to have her virginity auctioned on the internet. She is tracked by her 17-year-old brother (Cesar Ramos) who, improbably, joins forces with a Texas lawman (Kevin Kline) to follow and rescue the girl and another victim. The movie lingers too much on the mistreatment of the young women, and create too much false suspense, to be worthy of its heartbreaking subject matter. Rating: One star.

Jane Austen Book Club / ***1/2 (PG-13)
"The Jane Austen Book Club" (PG-13, 105 minutes). Six members of a book club read Jane Austen’s six novels over six month of their lives, in a wise and witty romantic comedy where Austen sometimes seems to be advising them. You don’t need to have read the books to enjoy the movie (but you may want to afterwards). With Kathy Baker, Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Amy Brenneman, Hugh Dancy, Maggie Grace, Lynn Redgrave and Jimmy Smits. Rating: Three and a half stars.

Good Luck Chuck / * (R)
By Roger Ebert Here is the dirty movie of the year, slimy and scummy, and among its casualties is poor Jessica Alba, who is a cutie and shouldn't have been let out to play with these boys. "Good Luck Chuck" layers a creaky plot device on top of countless excuses to show breasts, sometimes three at a time, and is potty-mouthed and brain-damaged.

December Boys / ** (PG-13)
"December Boys" (PG-13, 105 minutes). Daniel Radcliffe's first non-"Harry Potter" feature, where he plays one of four Australian orphans taken for a summer holiday by the sea. Three of them hope to get adopted; Daniel hopes to begin a lifelong romance with the lithesome Teresa Palmer. The storybook opening slides into more daring material about smoking, drinking and sex, and it’s odd that the Virgin Mary makes an appearance in a movie so chockablock with mortal sins. Rating: Two stars.

King of Califorina / *** (PG-13)
"King of California" (PG-13, 93 minutes). Michael Douglas plays a whiskery mental patient, just released, who enlists his 16- year-old daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) in a quest for buried treasure which he finally locates beneath the aisle of a Costco store. The actors make the characters almost unreasonably plausible, redeeming roles that almost seem tailored for Abbott and Costello and turning them into perversely intriguing individuals. Rating: Three stars.

Dedication / ** (R)
“Dedication” (R, 93 minutes). Billy Crudup plays a children’s book author whose collaborated (Tom Wilkinson) dies. his publisher (Bob Balaban) yokes him to a new collaborator (Mandy Moore), setting up the obligatory rom-com situation where their incompatibilities mesh. The author is a hateful and neurotic man, cured by the movie’s formula, in the directorial debut of that splendid actor Justin Theroux. Rating: Two stars.

The Lives of Others / **** (R)
By Roger Ebert Doubling back to review some titles I missed while ill. He sits like a man taking a hearing test, big headphones clamped over his ears, his body and face frozen, listening for a faraway sound. His name is Gerd Wiesler, and he is a captain in the Stasi, the notorious secret police of East Germany. The year is, appropriately, 1984, and he is Big Brother, watching. He sits in an attic day after day, night after night, spying on the people in the flat below.

Great Movie: The Great Dictator (1940)
By Roger Ebert In 1938, the world's most famous movie star began to prepare a film about the monster of the 20th century. Charlie Chaplin looked a little like Adolf Hitler, in part because Hitler had chosen the same toothbrush moustache as the Little Tramp. Exploiting that resemblance, Chaplin devised a satire in which the dictator and a Jewish barber from the ghetto would be mistaken for each other. The result, released in 1940, was "The Great Dictator," Chaplin's first talking picture and the highest-grossing of his career, although it would cause him great difficulties and indirectly lead to his long exile from the United States.

Great Movie: Babel (2006)
By Roger Ebert “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” — George Bernard Shaw Even more separated are cultures that do not share languages, values, frames of reference, or physical realities. “Babel” weaves stories from Morocco, America, Mexico and Japan, all connected by the thoughtless act of a child, and demonstrates how each culture works against itself to compound the repercussions. It is the third and most powerful of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s trilogy of films in which the action is connected or influenced in invisible ways. Sometimes these are called “hyperlink films.” After “Amores Perros” (2000) and “21 Grams” (2003), it shows his mastery of the form, and it surprises us by offering human insight rather than obligatory tragedy.

Movie Answer Man: When a sigh is not just a sigh
Q. In your Great Movie review of "Casablanca," you refer to Claude Rains' character as subtly homosexual. I thought that his character was portrayed as a complete, though effete, womanizer. William Dienna, Wayne, Pa. A. He goes through the motions with young women. He feels nothing for Ingrid Bergman. He'd say yes in a flash to Humphrey Bogart.

People: America's Top Pundit
by Maureen O'Donnell Chicago Sun-Times Bill Maher must think it's politically incorrect. Bill O'Reilly must be spinning in that no-spin zone. Roger Ebert, the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times, bested them and others to be named the most influential pundit in America by Forbes magazine.

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