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Weekend Box Office: October 5-7, 2007
The Game Plan tops the box office with $16.6 million

Daily Box Office: Wednesday, October 10, 2007
The Heartbreak Kid tops Wednesday's box office with $1.0 million

We Own the Night / *** (R)
"We Own the Night" (R, 117 minutes). Joaquin Phoenix plays a Brooklyn nightclub manager who has changed his name to conceal his relationship with his father, the district police chief (Robert Duvall), and his brother, a top cop (Mark Wahlberg). But now a war is starting between the cops and the Russian gangsters who own the club and control the dug trade. Which side is Phoenix on? Eva Mendes supplies an interesting dimension as a girlfriend who really loves and cares for him, and isn’t just another bimbo turncoat. The material isn’t original and the plot has some holes in it, but it’s atmospheric and well-acted. Written and directed by James Gray (“Little Odessa,” “The Yards”). Rating: Three stars

Elizabeth: The Golden Age / **1/2 (PG-13)
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (PG-13, 114 minutes). Weighed down by its splendor. There are scenes where the costumes are so sumptuous, the sets so vast, the music so insistent, that we lose sight of the humans behind the dazzle of the production. But Cate Blanchett is magnificently regal in the title role, and Clive Owen plays a romantic, swashbuckling, if historically inaccurate, Sir Walter Raleigh. Directed by Shekhar Kapur, who also made the much better "Elizabeth" (1998). Rating: Two and a half stars.

Canvas / *** (PG-13)
"Canvas" (PG-13, 100 minutes). Told largely through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy (Devon Gearhart), the story of his schizophrenic mother (Marcia Gay Hardin) and his loving but hard-pressed father (Joe Pantoliano). Succeeds in being both heartwarming and serious at the same time. One of the rare sensitive and accurate film treatments of mental illness. Written and directed by Joseph Greco, who says it is inspired by his own childhood with a schizophrenic mother. Rating: Three stars.

Away from her / **** ()
"Away from Her" (PG-13, 109 minutes). Fiona and Grant Anderson (Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent) have been married more than 40 years, mostly happily, when they are told she has Alzheimer's disease. Sarah Polley's great film is a heartbreaking masterpiece, one that doesn't bend the material into a comforting story but has the courage to simply observe the devastation of the disease. Rating: Four stars.

Michael Clayton / **** (R)
“Michael Clayton” (R, 119 minutes) George Clooney plays a slick, efficient but weary fixer for a big law firm, Sydney Pollack is the head of he firm, Tom Wilkinson is the partner who has just stripped naked during a deposition hearing in Milwaukee, and Tilda Swinton represents the corporate client that is horrified to find such a man leading their defense. A near-perfect example of the legal/ business thriller, with the usual undercurrents of guilt and shame.

The Heartbreak Kid / ** (R)
“Heartbreak Kid” (R, 108 minutes). Farrelly Brothers; remake of Elaine May’s splendid 1972 comedy, sunk by vulgarity that breaks the fabric of the characters. Ben Stiller and Malin Akerman play newlyweds, who turn out spectacularly incompatible, while he falls in love with a babe (Michelle Monaghan) he meets on the beach. The transgressive material is badly judged; the characters become unpleasant not only to each other, but to us. Rating: Two stars.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford / ***1/2 (R)
"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (R, 160 minutes). One of the founders of the cult of celebrity, the ruthless outlaw Jesse James (Brad Pit) attracts a young hero-worshipper (Casey Affleck) whose adoration shades into dangerous obsession. A big- canvas Western with an epic scope, sensationally photographed by Roger Deakins in the tradition of "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" and "Days of Heaven. Directed by Andrew Dominik ("Chopper"), who depicts the criminal and the coward in a dance of death. Rating: Three and a half stars.

The Darjeeling Limited / ***1/2 (R)
“The Darjeeling Limited” (R, 91 minutes.) Three brothers have a reunion in India and take a strange and eccentric train journey in search of themselves, enlightenment, their mother, and certain obscure over-the-counter remedies guaranteed to cure sobriety. Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman star in a laid-back human comedy that meanders so persuasively, it gets us meandering right along, With Amara Karan as a seductive train stewardess and Wally Wolodarsky as Wilson’s employee, who issues laminated daily schedules from his office in the baggage car. Directed by Wes Anderson (“Rushmore,” “The Royal Tenenbaums.” Rating; Three and a half stars.

Lust, Caution / *** (NC-17)
“Lust, Caution” (NC-17, 158 minutes). Covers the years 1938-1942 in the love affair between a Chinese official (Tony Leung) who is collaborating with his country’s Japanese occupiers, and a young woman (Tang Wei) who poses as a rich merchant’s wife but is actually part of a group plotting to assassinate him. As their sexual lives grow more extreme, both are drawn away from their everyday reality and into a private world. Directed by Ang Lee; winner of the Golden Lion at Venice 2007. Rating: Three stars.

I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With / *** (No rating)
"I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With" (Unrated, 80 minutes.) Jeff Garlin, who plays the sidekick on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” co- produces, writes, directs and stars, as an overweight 39-year-old Second City actor who lives at home with his mom (Mina Kolb). Surrounded by other Second City alums, the character drifts along the Old Town-Wrigley Field axis, finding whimsical affection (with Bonnie Hunt) and alarming lust (with Sarah Silverman). Charming, rueful, funny, bittersweet, conversational, a small but persuasive human comedy. Rating: Three stars.

Children of Men / **** (R)
“Children of Men” (R, 108 minutes). Set in 2027, when assorted natural disasters, wars and terrorist acts have rendered most of the world ungovernable, uninhabitable, or anarchic. Britain stands as an island of relative order, held in line by a fearsome police state. It has been 18 years since earth has seen the birth of a human child. Starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine and Chiwetel Ejiofor in the story of a struggle in defense of life and against the state. Rating; Four stars.

Great Movie: El Topo (1970)
By Roger Ebert A man in black rides the desert vastness of Mexico with a naked child in front of him on the saddle. Three hee-hawing gunmen appear from out of hiding, laughing that they have been sent to kill him. The man carefully places the child behind him on the saddle.

Movie Answer Man: The traffic in trafficking
Q: In your review of "Trade," about child sexual trafficking, you raise the issue of how or why such a serious subject should be made "entertaining." I believe you answered that question in your last line when you stated that "the movie seems to have an unwholesome determination to show us the victims being terrified and threatened. When I left the screening, I just didn't feel right." As an adult survivor of these atrocities, I felt that this movie gave a realistic expose of human trafficking. Do you think that a movie like "Trade" needs to try even harder to be entertaining so that viewers can move beyond indifference and allow themselves to be emphatically disturbed as you were, yet find enough relief in the lighter entertaining moments to actually leave feeling moved in a sad but wholesome way? Nancy F., Chicago A. It's complicated. My friend Gene Siskel had a real issue about movies showing children in danger. I think it all depends on the danger and how it shows the children. Certainly it should not linger on the elements that are most exploitative.

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