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by Inlander Staff & r & An Unfinished Life & r & About a Wyoming ranch owner, his crippled ranch hand, his estranged daughter-in-law, his granddaughter and all their baggage, this film seems tailor-made for director Lasse Hallstr & ouml;m. It's just the kind of plot-free character drama he has done so well in the past (What's Eating Gilbert Grape and Chocolat), but not even he, helped along by a couple good performances, can raise the film above its made-for-TV source material. (LB) Rated PG-13





Batman Begins & r & Visionary director Christopher Nolan (Memento) instills a heightened reality to this telling of the Batman tale -- going back to the boyhood horrors that marred Bruce Wayne, taking in the young adult physical training that shaped him and extending his attempt to save Gotham City from villainous ruin. Christian Bale is perfect as Bruce Wayne/Batman, as are Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as a good cop and Cillian Murphy as the demented Scarecrow. (ES) Rated PG-13





The Constant Gardener & r & The John le Carre book about big government and pharmaceutical companies in deadly cahoots makes for an intriguing movie, and both Ralph Fiennes as a grieving husband and Rachel Weisz as his troublemaking and soon murdered wife give great performances. But the film is all over the place in layering mystery upon mystery, and in not providing enough character development. (ES) Rated R





Tim Burton's Corpse Bride & r & Stop-motion animation, smoother, better, more elegant than in Burton's great Henry Selick collaboration, The Nightmare Before Christmas. This time he works with Mike Johnson in a story of a skittish groom-to-be who accidentally marries a dead woman, while his bride-to-be wonders what's going on. It happens to be light, funny, dazzling, and a little scary, and terrifically acted by Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Emily Watson. Good emotional plot twists, witty Danny Elfman songs and an odd ending. A wonderfully odd film. (ES) Rated PG





The Exorcism of Emily Rose & r & It's the first courtroom horror movie since that scene at the beginning of Ghost Busters 2. We think it's been far too long, frankly. The Catholic Church publicly acknowledges a case of demon possession and sends their crack exorcist in to take care of the afflicted young woman. She dies, and the rest of the film is told from the subsequent trial of the priest. The best part, say the film's creators, is that it's based on a true story. Yes, and so was The Amityville Horror. (LB) Rated PG-13





Fighter Pilot & r & As we follow Capt. Jack Stratton, an F-15 eagle pilot, battling 125 pilots from six nations in the world's largest air war games, the relization settles in that Fighter Pilot works neither as you-are-there documentary, Air Force recruiting video nor Top Gun razzle-dazzle. (MB) Not Rated.





Flight Plan & r & Holy Crappola! Jodie Foster, who builds massive jet liners -- possibly by herself, in her spare time -- is on the first flight of her new plane when disaster strikes. Her daughter goes missing. Just one problem, though: no one on board ever saw her daughter -- like, even before she disappeared. So is Jodie crazy or is she so sane that she's blowing all of our minds? More importantly, how many crazy-or-sane plot contrivances can fit into a fall? So far it's like three. Rated PG 13





The 40-Year-Old Virgin & r & Andy Stitzer is a virgin at 40. It's not as if he hasn't tried to get laid, but after a few dismal attempts when he was younger, it became the albatross around his neck. The longer he went without it, the harder it became to pursue it, until, he says, he just gave up. The question preceding this movie has been whether or not Steve Carell can carry his first leading role. Now it seems clear that he can. Rated R (JS)





The Gospel & r & When an up-and-coming R & amp;B singer visits his ailing father -- a pastor -- he begins to question his values. Yolanda Adams, who co-stars, is a legend in gospel circles. Rated PG





The Greatest Game Ever Played & r & Yes, golf on film can be exciting. This Disney production tells the true story of Francis Ouimet, a caddie with dreams of becoming a golf pro, or at least of someday playing on the fancy private club course across from his home. For him to compete in the 1913 U.S. Open would be beyond a dream. Bill Paxton directs with pizzazz. (ES) Rated PG





A History of Violence & r & One of director David Cronenberg's best and most accessible films, this tells what happens when a laid-back small-town fellow (Viggo Mortensen) performs a brave deed and becomes an overnight hero, unfortunately attracting some negative out-of-town attention, and suddenly finding his family life crumbling under the pressure. (ES) Rated R





In Her Shoes & r & From the writer of Erin Brockovich and director Curtis Hanson (LA Confidential) comes a story about several generations of women rediscovering themselves and each other. Cameron Diaz is the pretty sister who tries to get Toni Collette's plain sister to put herself out there. Then something happens that forces Diaz to go live with her grandmother in a retirement home. The point is crying a lot and learning things about inner strength and beauty. Rated PG-13





Just Like Heaven & r & A romantic comedy about a workaholic doctor (Reese Witherspoon) who dies -- well, sorta -- then goes to battle (as a spirit) with the sad, lonely guy (Mark Ruffalo) who gets her old apartment. The film is kind of tepid and borrows freely from other similar ones, but the acting is quite good, and it's funnier than the trailer makes it out to be. (ES) Rated PG-13





Lord of War & r & This is a movie about gunrunning, not gunrunners. It's a careful depiction of the process that takes weapons from industrialized nations (especially the former Soviet Union) and puts them in the hands of despots and genocidial maniacs. If only the same care had been taken with the characters, who are flat and lifeless, like cardboard cutouts placed on screen to help diagram the movement of weapons. What a shame. The subject is vitally important -- especially to the people actually being killed by these weapons. But they would have been far better served by a documentary. (LB) Rated R





Magnificent Desolation & r & Only 12 people have walked on the moon, but now IMAX is proclaiming that you'll be number 13. All of you. Don't be fooled! You won't really be on the moon, just leaning back a little in your chair, gazing up at the moon's desolate vistas projected on a massive format screen. This is bound to be good. Tom Hanks produced it, and he doesn't put his name on bad movies. Except The Terminal... and Ladykillers. Unrated





March of the Penguins & r & The emperor penguin's glossy plumage and gently curving beak takes on a regal aspect in Luc Jacquet's lovingly and painstakingly directed documentary. In fact, the penguins become heroes of an epic character: brave, if not fearless, and stalwart fools for love. A film as absorbing and incredible as any man-made phantasmagoria you'll find in the multiplex this summer, and it's all real. Rated G (MI)





Proof & r & Gwyneth Paltrow plays the exhausted daughter of brilliant but disturbed mathematician Anthony Hopkins. When he dies, her world falls apart: Her pushy sister (Hope Davis) tries to control her life, her father's student (Jake Gyllenhaal) wants to look further into her dad's work, and she worries about going crazy, just like dad. Sharply written and acted. (ES) PG-13





Saint Ralph & r & Ralph's a skinny, scrawny kid who knows he's going to rock people's worlds - he just doesn't know how. Then he discovers running, and all of a sudden St. Ralph becomes the unlikely story of a ninth grader who outran everyone -- and their expectations! Rated PG-13 at the Met on Oct. 13-14





Serenity & r & The failed (but excellent) Fox TV show Firefly turns up on the big screen with the rogue spaceship named Serenity on the run from the powerful Alliance. The captain (Nathan Fillion) is a swaggering wiseguy, who won't let them have the mysterious woman (Summer Glau) they seek. Great visuals, plenty of action, good laughs, a couple of shocks. (ES) Rated PG-13





Thumbsucker & r & Justin (Lou Taylor Pucci) is the shy 17-year-old fellow with the title's affliction, who doesn't know how to shake it. His mom (Tilda Swinton) knows he'll figure a way, his dad (Vincent D'Onofrio) is annoyed with it, his dentist (Keanu Reeves) insists on helping by hypnotizing him and the girl he craves (Kelli Garner) can't figure him out. It's a curious and quirky coming-of-age film with seriocomic twists. (ES) Rated R





Two for the money & r & Matthew McConaughey is an ace odds maker. A natural. He's riding his bike to work as some low-rent bookie when an offer comes from the upper echelons of sports gambling. It's Al Pacino with an offer he can't refuse. Question: Is it too good to be true? Rated R





Waiting & r & Jiminy Christmas! Ryan Reynolds is funny as heck! Remember how funny he was in Two Guys and a Girl? Ever wanted to see him be funny in a starring role? Now you can! Waiting is about the stalled lives of restaurant wait staff and the poor tippers they serve. The restaurant is called Shenanigan's. Rated R





Wallace & amp; Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit & r & The Plasticene characters jump from short films to feature length, with tinkerer Wallace still having far fewer brains than his trusty dog Gromit. But the two work nicely together, running a humane pest removal service, ridding gardens of bunnies -- until there's a visit by a large, hungry one. (ES) Rated G





Wedding Crashers & r & Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn make a very good comedy team. Wilson isn't so much an actor as a personality: He offers the same tousle-haired puppy-dog vulnerability in all his movies. In contrast, Vaughn is manic. They're guys who will live, hedonistically, forever. But just when you think that'll be all, it turns out to be a charming romantic comedy. (MB) Rated R

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