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by THE INLANDER & r & & r & ACROSS THE UNIVERSE & r & & r & Julie Taymor's phantasmagorical musical takes almost three dozen Beatles songs, shapes a story from their lyrics to present a spin through the '60s, complete with an anti-war stance and lotsa drugs. (ES) Rated PG-13





AMERICAN GANGSTER


Denzel Washington is the New York drug kingpin who does lots of business under the radar of the Italian Mob in the late 1960s. Russell Crowe is the clean cop who's out to clean up the streets. By interweaving multiple storylines about family relationships, good and bad cops, and powerful opposites bumping heads, director Ridley Scott and writer Steve Zaillian have created a tight, tough, gripping, nasty movie. (ES) Rated R





BEE MOVIE


Jerry Seinfeld (in his first -- and maybe only -- feature role) stars as a honeybee who escapes the hive, discovers that humans are stealing the world's honey, sues, then has to save the planet and its dying plant life. (JS) Rated PG





THE COMEBACKS


Washed-up coach takes over the football program at Heartland State. His team's hopeless and populated by stereotypes. Naturally, they hone their skills, win games and get to play in the Toilet Bowl. (MB) Rated PG-13





DAN IN REAL LIFE


Dan (Steve Carell) is a sad widower who, during a family get-together, finally finds another woman who interests him (Juliette Binoche), only to discover that she's the new girlfriend of his brother (Dane Cook). It's a great idea, but it falters, then runs out of steam, then tries a little too hard to pick up the beat again. (ES) Rated PG-13





THE DARJEELING LIMITED


The story of three estranged brothers coerced by the oldest into a spiritual journey of reconciliation, Darjeeling is a picturesque film, shot in Wes Anderson's inimitable style. It's cold, though, more cynical than his previous works and almost humorless. (LB) Rated R





FRED CLAUS


A classic Vince Vaughn performance, cleaned up for a PG rating, turns out to be not so funny. Paul Giamatti plays a Santa Claus who may be forced to abandon Christmas because of Fred's negligence. Kevin Spacey plays the Scrooge-like villain who threatens to move Christmas to the South Pole. The movie has childish humor that may or may not make the kids laugh, but with appearances by Chris "Ludacris" Bridges as the North Pole's Elf DJ, the film fails to bring comedic relief to the rest of us. (AM) Rated PG





THE GAMEPLAN


When you're the world's best football player and a perennial playboy bachelor something's bound to sneak up on you. That's exactly what happens when Joseph Kingman (the Rock) answers a doorbell one day to find he has a daughter. (LB) Rated PG





GONE BABY GONE


Ben Affleck makes a solid directing debut in this gritty thriller about the kidnapping of a 4-year-old girl. It stars little bro Casey Affleck (in a terrific performance) and Michelle Monaghan as a private detective couple. With Ed Harris, and featuring a breakout role by Amy Ryan as the mom. (ES) Rated R.





INTO THE WILD


Sean Penn adapts Jon Krakauer's 1996 nonfiction story about a screwed-up, brilliant, naive idealist who gives up all worldly possessions for a two-year tramp across America, ending in an ascetic retreat to the Alaskan wilderness. The gorgeous Alaskan scenery and the finely portrayed characters he meets along the way make this a deeply affecting road movie. (JS) Rated R





LIONS FOR LAMBS


A conservative senator (Tom Cruise) tries to convince a liberal reporter (Meryl Streep) about his plan to salvage Iraq by winning in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, an Army helicopter crashes and the Taliban closes in. And a professor (Robert Redford) wonders why his students have tuned out. (ES) Rated R





MARTIAN CHILD


Grieving widower John Cusack decides to adopt a quirky 6-year-old boy. Kid lives in a cardboard box and thinks he's from Mars. Heartwarming connections between misfit father and son ensue. (MB) Rated PG





MICHAEL CLAYTON


George Clooney plays a "fixer" in a Manhattan law firm. He's the guy who cleans up the messes the bosses don't want to deal with. But one call involves a litigator in his own office (Tom Wilkinson) who has decided to work against instead of for his clienty. A nail-biter with classy performances and a tight, twisting script. (ES) Rated R





P2


We'll sum up P2 -- a film about a workaholic lawyer who works late on Christmas Eve and falls victim to a murderous stalker -- in one word: "irredeemable." Security guard Thomas (Wes Bentley) starts killing people who have wronged Attorney Angela (Rachel Nichols), to woo her and show how humanizing certain people lead us to objectify others. But when Thomas begins killing indiscriminately, there's no point, and P2 becomes a dumb-as-hell splat-fest. (LB) Rated R





SAW IV


There's nothing surprising in the Saw IV trailer. It's looks to have the same dank corridors, arcane, flesh-shredding traps and clueless victims that have populated the previous three flicks. (LB) Rated R





SEA MONSTERS


The IMAX folks spent so much on CG animation that they had to scrimp on cast. Still, the story of a family of dolichorynchops making their way in the world is compelling. And the graphics are, occasionally, stunning. (JS)





30 DAYS OF NIGHT


A small Alaskan town, going through its annual month of darkness, is visited by a gang of vampires who, of course, thrive in the dark and, in this case, don't have to worry about any sunlight for a long time. (ES) Rated R





THIS IS ENGLAND


This raw and wrenching movie by writer-director Shane Meadows, set in 1983, tells how a lonely, basically gentle kid (Thomas Turgoose) ends up in room full of skinheads -- and why he doesn't get up and leave. (JR) Not Rated





TRADE


When his sister is kidnapped. Jorge (Cesar Ramos) decides to strike out from Mexico City to find her. Eventually bumping into a Texas cop played by Kevin Kline, the pair eventually locate the girl, online, about to be auctioned off. If they can't get to her, her next stop will be the sex trade. The narrative acts as a vehicle to raise awareness for a global epidemic, like Traffic with people. (LB) Rated R





WE OWN THE NIGHT


The Russian Mafia is making lots of inroads in New York of the 1980s. Among those cops working to contain them are a father and son (Robert Duvall, Mark Wahlberg). But another son (Joaquin Phoenix) is on the payroll of the bad guys. (ES) Rated R

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