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By The Inlander & r & & r & A CLOCKWORK ORANGE


Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film adaptation of the Anthony Burgess novel, A Clockwork Orange, is a grotesque, shockingly violent and fascinating commentary on morality and the meaning of free will set in a dehumanized future society where teenage gangs terrorize urban Brits with seeming impunity. Malcolm McDowell's portrayal of nasty gang-leader Alex is chillingly effective. After he gets nabbed by the coppers for a grisly murder and sent to prison, Alex agrees to undergo experimental aversion therapy in exchange for an early release. But all is not sweetness and light for little Alex once on the outside. Playing at the Garland on Friday and Saturday nights at midnight. (MC) Rated: R





A MIGHTY HEART


The sad story of what happened when Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl (Dan Futterman) was kidnapped by jihadists while on assignment in Pakistan with his pregnant wife Mariane (Angelina Jolie) makes for a riveting film that focuses on her reactions while going through the ordeal, and on the hard-working local and international law enforcement folks who were trying to find him. Director Michael Winterbottom puts us in the middle of the emotional chaos, and though things ended tragically for Pearl, the film leaves us with a ray of hope. (ES) Rated R








EVAN ALMIGHTY


$175 Million? Seriously? In this hyper-expensive "comedy" about a present-day flood and the present-day man present-day God tasks with saving northeastern Virginia, the story blows, the special effects aren't special, and Steve Carrel phones it in. Almost unwatchable. (LB) Rated PG





EVENING


When two daughters (Natasha Richardson and Toni Collette) return home for what will likely be the final days of their ailing mom (Vanessa Redgrave), they become her audience, and are told very surprising stories of what happened to her 50 years earlier. The film flashes back to show us those stories, with mom played by Claire Danes in her younger days. It's a terrifically written, beautifully acted, warm film with universal messages about living life to the fullest, and having no regrets. (ES) Rated PG-13





FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER


One of the worst sequels ever, this debacle picks up where the first awful film left off, now pitting the superhero quartet against a silver surfing dude from outer space. Is he here because he wants to destroy our world, or because someone or something is making him do it? Heck, I don't know! Nothing in this carelessly sloppy script is explained, including the smarmy presence of Dr. Doom, who was killed off in the first one. (ES) Rated PG





1408


1408 is a movie about a hotel room, which makes it unique. It's also a movie based on something written by Stephen King, which makes it a far-from-unique thing in Hollywood. John Cusack stars as a paranormal investigator who checks into a supposedly haunted hotel room, then talks to... something on the telephone. Samuel L. Jackson gets a chance to be creepy and ominous as the hotel manager who doesn't want things to get bad. (MD) Rated PG-13





GRAND CANYON: THE HIDDEN SECRETS


Number of gas tanks to fill on a trip to the Grand Canyon from Spokane: 4. Number of times stopped at McDonald's on the way down: 10. Getting a personalized tour of the Grand Canyon at the nearest IMAX: priceless. Actually, $7.75. But that is a menial fee to see the winner of the 2000 IMAX Hall of Fame award. Not only do you see the grandeur of the canyon itself, but through the oversized screen, the hidden secrets are brought to life from the panoramic landscapes of the crest to the concealed rapids below. (KM) Not Rated





HURRICANE ON THE BAYOU


Katrina can be discussed in human, social and political terms in forums ranging from political roundtables to Spike Lee films. But Hurricane on the Bayou examines the hurricane as an ecological issue. Beginning as a documentary about the Mississippi Delta, the filmmakers end up turning their IMAX cameras on Katrina as an example of a worst-case scenario. (MD) Not Rated; no deaths are depicted





KNOCKED UP


A story about a slacker (of course) who gets an ambitious young entertainment reporter preggers, Knocked Up is a nice commentary on the current state of the family. Writer/director Judd Apatow's male characters are enthralling, especially Pete (Paul Rudd). His women lack multi-dimensionality but the casting choices (Katherine Heigl and Leslie Mann specifically) add depth and warmth. (LB) Rated PG





LEWIS & amp; CLARK GREAT JOURNEY WEST


The IMAX folks have packed a lot into this vivid account of the two adventurers' travels across the American wilderness. Narrator Jeff Bridges does pretty much all the speaking, while actors play out the scenes. And those scenes are played out in breathtakingly beautiful settings, spellbinding on the giant screen. Much of the story gets into details of important characters -- such as Indian guide Sacagawea -- who were left out of our history books. (ES) Unrated





LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD


It's been a dozen years since Bruce Willis last played Detective John McClane, but the wait was definitely worth it. This time out he's attempting to save America from an attack on the vast computer networks that run it. The gimmick is that he's an analog cop in a digital world, and doesn't understand what he's fighting. But he's ably aided (both story- and acting-wise) by computer aficionado Matt Farrell (Justin Long). The action is spectacular and relentless, and the film carries a terrific sense of humor to go along with all the fist-smashing, bullet-flying, explosive mayhem. (ES) Rated PG-13





NANCY DREW


Emma Roberts, taking on the part of the teen detective, wears a stuck-on smile (and a horrendous wardrobe) as she ignores her friends and any rules from her clueless father. She's been ordered by Dad to "stop sleuthing," so she up and takes on a new case. And though she's always in some sort of "peril," she seems to have been hanging out with MacGyver, because anything she needs to get out of a jam is in one of her pockets. (ES) Rated PG





OCEAN'S THIRTEEN


George Clooney and the rest of the well-dressed criminal crew return to Las Vegas to come to the vengeful aid of their pal Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould), who's had his fiscal posterior handed to him by dirty dealer Willy Bank (Al Pacino). The story becomes a drone of white noise, color and empty spectacle punctuated by dead-end subplots that lead to a predictable backslapping conclusion. (CS) Rated PG-13





PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END


Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley return to argue, do battle, and (this time) star in a film with a story that makes little sense -- something about "nine pirate lords" and hints of them going up against Lord Beckett, who wants to "rule the seas." Visual effects are great, but add nothing to the story; the soundtrack is ear-splittingly bombastic; Keith Richards pops by for five minutes to give "advice" to his son (Depp) and plunk a tune on a pirate guitar. Arrrgh! (ES) Rated PG-13





RATATOUILLE


Brad Bird, the genius behind the animated films The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, returns with a Pixar film about a food-loving rat in Paris who turns out to be a great chef, and becomes the brains behind the new concoctions at a restaurant that's popular, but has seen better days. It has exquisite visuals, superb voice acting, and a lovely story about the importance of friendship and family. It's also a riot for kids and adults. (ES) Rated G





SHREK THE THIRD


We've been primed for the tweaking of fairy tales and the post-ironic spin on myths. We've seen it. We've been around the park twice, bought the T-shirt and the Shrek ears, sent a postcard home. Now we're bored. Shrek the Third is... fine. But I wanted a lot more than "fine." I expected much, much more than "fine." (MJ) Rated PG





SICKO


The best thing about this Michael Moore documentary is that there's less Michael Moore. Holding his ego in check with unbelievable restraint, he takes a back seat and lets a comparison of our f-ed up health system to others around the world take center stage. Many of the Moore-ian pratfalls still exist, though. Rather than presenting and disputing counter arguments, homeboy just ignores them. That won't win him converts, but he's always preferred preaching to the choir. It's probably too much to ask that he lose his ego and gain real rhetorical chops in one film. (LB) Rated PG-13





SURF'S UP


Animated penguins, again. But this film's clever approach is to present them in a faux documentary about competitive surfing penguins. Shia LaBeouf voices young Cody; Zooey Deschanel is the slightly older Lani; and Jeff Bridges (almost as laid-back as he was in The Big Lebowski) is the legendary Big Z. The film is so hip, it even uses scratchy B & amp;W "archival footage" of past penguin surf heroes. (ES) Rated PG





WAITRESS


At the center of this marvel of a movie is a near-perfect performance by Keri Russell as Jenna, the waitress who finds strength enough to get out of a bad, loveless, exploitive marriage and the good sense not to go hopping right into another one. Adrienne Shelly's deceptively sharp script remains steadfast, keeping expectations low then making all the right counterintuitive choices. It's the best, most satisfying film about personal growth I've seen this year. (LB) Rated PG-13

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