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Weekend Box Office: October 19-21, 2007
30 Days of Night tops the box office with $16.0 million

Daily Box Office: Wednesday, October 24, 2007
30 Days of Night tops Wednesday's box office with $1.0 million

Dan in Real Life / *** (PG-13)
“Dan in Real Life” (PG-13, 95 minutes). Steve Carell (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”) is a widower with three girls, who goes home to Rhode Island for Thanksgiving and meets a woman (Juliette Binoche) in a book store; they fall into the early stages of love, but it turns out she’s the girl friend of his brother (Dane Cook). Makes for an awkward weekend. With John Mahoney and Dianne Wiest as the parents. Sweet, low-key, a good time. Rating: Three stars.

Great World of Sound / *** (R)
“Great World of Sound” (R, 106 minutes). If you’ve ever wondered about how some of those would-be stars get on “American Idol,” here is film about some who don’t. “Great World of Sound” is a movie about an outfit that buys ads in the papers offering free auditions to new talent, and then tries to sell them a “professional recording session. Pat Healy and Kene Holliday play salesmen who sit through the auditions and try to persuade the hopefuls to make “an investment in the future,.” It’s a scam, but with more dimensions than they know. Directorial debut by Craig Zobel; a Sundance success. Rating: Three stars.

Grindhouse / **1/2 (R)
“Grindhouse” (R, 210 minutes). Robert Rodriguez' "Planet Terror” and Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof" seem combined on a double bill under the parentage of the dark sperm of vengeance. Together the two separate feature-length stories combine into a deliberate attempt by the two directors to recreate the experience of a double feature in a sleazy B-house. Scratches and blemishes mar the prints, frames or even whole reels are missing, and the characters have a shallow action-movie simplicity. . From a technical and craft point of view it is first-rate; from its standing in the canon of the two directors, it is minor. “Planet Terror” is rated 2 stars; “Death Proof” is 3 stars. Combined Rating: Two and a half stars.

Control / ***1/2 (R)
“Control” (R, 121 minutes). Ian Curtis (Sam Riley) was an introverted teenager who gazed sadly upon his own destiny. He would become the object of cult veneration as lead singer of the late-1970s band Joy Division, and he would be a suicide at 23. "Control," one of the most perceptive of rock music biopics, has been made by two people who knew him very well. It is based on a memoir by his wife Deborah (Samantha Morton), a teenager when they married, and directed by the photographer Anton Corbijn, whose early photos helped establishes Curtis’s image as young, handsome, and sorrowful.

Slipstream / *** (R)
“Slipstream” (R, 110 minutes). Anthony Hopkins writes, directs and stars in a daringly experimental film about the dying reveries of a screenwriter. Intricate photography, editing and sound create a shifting stream of consciousness, involving both real and movie characters. With Stella Arroyave, Christian Slater, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jeffrey Tambor, S. Epatha Merkerson and John Turtorro a mad-dog Hollywood studio boss. Complex, meant for evolved filmgoers, rewarding. Rating: Three stars.

Bella / *** (PG-13)
“Bella” (PG-13, 91 minutes). The story of two people who fall in love because of an unborn child. Winner of the Audience Award at Toronto 2006, it is a heart-tugger with the confidence not to tug too hard. Starring charismatic newcomer Eduardo Verastegui, who is the chef of his brother’s Mexican restaurant in New York, until his life changes one day when his brother fires a waitress named Nina (Tammy Blanchard) for being late. He discovers she is pregnant, and has good reasons for wanting her to have the child, in a movie sweet, warm and funny. Rating: three stars.

Music Within / **1/2 (R)
"The Music Within" (R, 93 minutes). The story of Vietnam vet Richard Pimental (Ron Livingston) who was deafened in the war, returned to discrimination, and became an activist for disability rights. His pal (Michael Sheen), who has cerebral palsy, eggs him on, in an entertaining and sometimes inspiring movie. But Pimental was far from alone, far from the first, in the disability rights movement, something the movie overlooks in its simplification into a story formula. Rating: Two and half stars.

Lake of Fire / ***1/2 (Not rated)
"Lake of Fire" (Unrated, for mature audiences, 152 minutes). A harrowing, unflinching documentary about the abortion debate in America, filmed over 17 years. We see disturbing footage of abortions, we follow the trials of two men convicted of murdering doctors, we hear strident voices, and we can never tell which side the director, Tony Kaye, is on. Those who care deeply about the issue, no matter what position they take, may complain that this film takes the other side. Forces us to think. Rating: Three and a half stars.

Rendition / **** (R)
“Rendition” (R, 120 minutes). Gavin Hood’s terrifying, intelligent thriller tells the story of an Egyptian-born American, who is “disappeared” from a flight by the CIA, and held without good cause for torture and interrogation. Reese Witherspoon plays his pregnant wife, who turns to an old boyfriend (Peter Saarsgard) to intervene with his boss, a senator (Alan Arkin). Meryl Streep chillingly plays the U.S. head of intelligence, and Jake Gyllenhaal is the troubled CIA bureau chief in the country that is hired to torture the man. A big, confident, effective film with its politics seamlessly a part of its story. Hood won an Oscar in 2005 for his “Tsotsi.” Rating” Four stars.

Gone Baby Gone / ***1/2 (R)
“Gone Baby Gone” (R, 115 minutes). Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan) play lovers and business partners, who are private investigators specializing in tracking down deadbeats. Approached by clients to help find a missing child, they protest that they’re just garden-variety PIs, don’t carry guns, aren’t looking for heavy lifting. But maybe they’ll see something the cps miss. Impressive directing debut by Ben Affleck, with a top-drawer supporting cast: Morgan Freeman, Amy Madigan, Ed Harris, Amy Ryan. Rating: Three and a half stars.

Sleuth / *** (R)
“Sleuth” (R, 86 minutes). Do not make the mistake of thinking that if you’ve seen the earlier play or film, you’ve got this one covered. Kenneth Branagh directs a new screenplay by Harold Pinter that only uses one line of the Anthony Shaffer original. Michael Caine plays a wealthy novelist, whose isolated country house is visited one night by Jude Law, playing the man who is having an affair with his wife. The two engage in a Pinteresque conversation, and their verbal duel, not the wife, may be the whole point. Banish all thoughts of wives, adultery, disguises, accents, ploys, surprises and denouements, and simply listen to the words and watch Caine and Law at work. Then try to decide when the characters (not the actors) are acting, and when they are not. Rating: Three stars.

Lars and the Real Girl / ***1/2 (PG-13)
“Lars and the Real Girl” (PG-13, 106 minutes). Ryan Gosling plays Lars Lindstrom, a painfully shy young man who can barely stand the touch of another human being. One day he orders a life-sized love doll through the internet, using “Bianca” not for sex but for companionship. He expects everyone else to treat the doll the same way, including his brother (Paul Schneider), sister-in-law (Emily Mortimer) and therapist (Patricia Clarkson). Only after the movie is over do you realize what a balancing act it was, what risks it took, what rewards is contains. Directed by Craig Gillespie, written by Nancy Oliver (“Six Feet Under”). Rating: Three and a half stars.

Things We Lost in the Fire / *** (R)
"Things We Lost in the Fire" (R, 112 minutes). A new widow (Halle Berry) is moved to invite her late husband’s best friend (Benecio Del Toro) to live in a room in her family’s garage—an improvement from his life as a recovering heroin addict. No, not a love story, but the portrait of two damaged people who loved the same man more than anyone else did. A perceptive view of how grief affects us, and an accurate look at Del Toro’s experiences in a 12-step program. American debut of Danish director Susanne Bier (“Open Hearts,” “Brothers”). Rating: Three stars.

My Kid Could Paint That / *** (PG-13)
"My Kid Could Paint That" (PG-13, 83 minutes). Documentary about Marla Olmstead, a 4-year-old girl from Binghamton, N.Y. who got a lot of publicity because at her age she was producing abstract paintings that sold for hundreds and then thousands of dollars. Was she painting them herself? This fascinating documentary leaves it for you to decide. Rating: Three stars

30 Days of Night / **1/2 (R)
By Roger Ebert A gaunt stranger haunts the streets of Barrow, Alaska, warning: "That cold ain't the weather. That's Death approaching." Since Barrow is said to be the northernmost town in America, 300 miles of roadless wilderness from its closest neighbor, and 30 days of continuous sunless night are commencing, I expected someone to reply, "You could have fooled me. I thought it was the weather."

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