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Weekend Box Office: October 26-28, 2007
Saw IV tops the box office with $31.8 million

Daily Box Office: Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Saw IV tops Wednesday's box office with $2.8 million

American Gangster / **** (R)
“American Gangster” (R, 157 minutes). Denzel Washington in a story inspired by the real-life Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas, who flew to Cambodia to secure a steady supply, and drove out competition with higher quality and lower prices. Russell Crowe stars as Det. Richie Roberts, who doggedly pursues him for years, despite opposition within his own department. Director Ridley Scott moves the story smoothly and relentlessly, as a collaboration between drug addiction and sound business practices. Rating: Four stars.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead / **** (R)
"Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" (R, 117 minutes). Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke play brothers who conspire on a “victimless crime” with dire consequences, in one of the year’s best thrillers—and films. Co-starring Marisa Tomei, Amy Ryan, Rosemary Harris; one of the best films by the cinematic treasure Sidney Lumet. Rating: Four stars

Bee Movie / ** (PG)
“Bee Movie” (PG, 100 minutes). Jerry Seinfeld does the voice for a rebel bee who refuses to settle down to a lifetime of drudgery before he explores outside the hive. That leads to a lawsuit against the human race for exploiting honey. We learn at the outset of the movie that bees theoretically cannot fly. Unfortunately, in the movie, that applies only to the screenplay. It is really, really, really hard to care much about a platonic romantic relationship between Renee Zellweger and a bee. Rating: Two stars.

Jimmy Carter Man from Plains / *** (PG)
"Jimmy Carter Man from Plains" (PG, 126 minutes). A low-key but insightful documentary about how the former President, now 83, maintains a ceaseless schedule of travel, speeches, talk show appearances and meetings, most devoted to his obsession with peace in the Middle East. His beliefs, both political and religious, seem to reinvigorate him; he avoids partisan politics but found his life on deep values. Inspirational. Directed by Jonathan Demme. Rating: Three stars.

Wristcutters: A Love Story / **1/2 (R)
“Wristcutters” (R, 92 minutes). Patrick Fugit plays a lovelorn lad who kills himself after his girlfriend leaves him, and ends up, not in heaven or hell, but in a dusty, shabby place with all the other suicides. It’s the kind of placed where a dead hippie commune is run by Tom Waits. Not laugh out loud funny, under the circumstances, but bittersweet and sort of wistfully amusing. Rating: Two and a half stars

Martian Child / ** (PG)
“Martian Child’ (PG, 106 minutes). John Cusack plays a widower sci-fi writer who adopts a lonely little biy (Bobby Coleman) who thinks he I from Mars. Sweet, two sweet, until only Joan Cusack’s sass and vinegar lightens the lachrymosity. With Amanda Peet as the best friend, and a role for the usual beloved old dog. Rating: Two stars.

The Gates / *** (No rating)
“The Gates” (Unrated, 98 minutes). Documentary about the struggle of more than 20 years by artists Christo and Jean-Claude to install The Gates, 2,500 metal frames flying orange curtains, in Central Park in 2005. For such a delightful idea, it certainly stirred up the crustaceans among New York bureaucrats, including a Park Board member who didn’t know a painting from a frame. Directed by Antonio Ferrara and Albert Maysles. Rating: Three stars.

Pierrepoint, The Last Hangman / ***1/2 (R)
"Pierrepoint, the Last Hangman" (R, 94 minutes). Timothy Spall plays Albert Pierrepoint, the last official chief hangman for the UK, credited with at least 435 executions. He always follows the same routine, erscorting the prisoner from cell to doom with no time to realize what is happening. With Juliet Stevenson as his faithful wife; a portrait of quiet working-class anonymity with a secret at its center. Sad, unsettling, unflinching, and founded on pitch- perfect performances. Rating: Three and a half stars .

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.

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.

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.

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