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by THE INLANDER & r & & r & ACROSS THE UNIVERSE & r & Julie Taymor's phantasmagorical musical takes almost three dozen Beatles songs, shapes a story from their lyrics, and puts characters together to present a spin through the '60s, complete with an anti-war stance and lotsa drugs. The Beatles don't exist in this world. Instead, the familiar songs seem to come right from the hearts of Lucy, Jude, Max, Prudence and Dr. Robert. (ES) Rated PG-13





THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD


Casey Affleck is mesmerizing as the coward -- a 20-year old who's been obsessed with the James brothers since childhood. The title gives away the ending, but the journey is viscerally suspenseful, as Jesse James (played by a typically insane Brad Pitt) loses his mind and sinks into paranoia, mysticism and pointless revenge. (JS) Rated R





THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM


The second sequel in the series takes everything up a couple of notches. Matt Damon returns as the amnesia-suffering former CIA agent, regularly chased and shot at for reasons that are revealed. But there's also trouble between members of the CIA camp. (ES) Rated PG-13





THE COMEBACKS


Washed-up coach takes over the football program at Heartland State. His team's hopeless and populated by stereotypes: the klutz, the egomaniac, the runt, the nerd, the girl. Naturally, they hone their skills, win games improbably and get to play in a big postseason game: the Toilet Bowl. Which tells you all you need to know about the humor quotient in The Comebacks. (MB) Rated PG-13





ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE


Director Shekhar Kapur squanders the potential for contemporary parallels -- and even for historical accuracy -- in his over-romanticized treatment of personal and political events in the 1580s. Cate Blanchett is regal as Elizabeth I, Clive Owen is asked to swash too many buckles as Sir Walter Raleigh, and Abbie Cornish steals soap-opera thunder as the queen's lady-in-waiting. (MB) Rated PG-13





THE FINAL SEASON


Sean Astin encourages the residents of a small town in Iowa to rally behind the high school baseball team and its coach one last time before their school gets merged into another. (MB) Rated PG





THE GAMEPLAN


Joseph Kingman should consider a vasectomy. Seriously. 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 Kingman (the Rock) answers a doorbell one day to find he has a daughter. One part Any Given Sunday, one part Adventures in Babysitting and ten parts Big Daddy. (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. Based on the Dennis Lehane (Mystic River) novel, 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





THE HEARTBREAK KID


Ben Stiller suffers at the hands of a series of hollow, one-dimensional harpies in the Farrelly Brothers' remake of Neil Simon's 1972 original. The old one hit No. 91 on AFI's list of the funniest movies ever. This version misses the mark. (MJ) Rated R.





THE HUNTING PARTY


There isn't much that astounds in The Hunting Party. It's essentially a three-man buddy film flecked with black social satire. As cameraman and reporter, Terrence Howard and Richard Gere return to Bosnia, scene of Gere's character's nervous breakdown five years ago. But now Gere's on the trail of a genocidal dictator. Jesse Eisenberg provides comic relief in support. (LB) Rated R





HURRICANE ON THE BAYOU


Hurricane on the Bayou examines the Hurricane Katrina as an ecological issue. Beginning as a documentary about the Mississippi Delta, the filmmakers end up turning their IMAX cameras on Katrina. (MD) Not Rated; no deaths are depicted





INTO THE WILD


Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) has lived a normal, unhappy suburban life. When he takes off to hitchhike across America -- destination Alaska -- he, you know, learns stuff about himself. Sean Penn writes and directs. Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener and Kristen Stewart make appearances. (LB) Rated R.





THE KINGDOM


When an FBI team (Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman) is sent to Saudi Arabia to investigate a horrific terrorist bombing, they find that local politics and traditions get in the way of everything they're trying to do. Part character study, part extremely intense action film. (ES) Rated R





LA VIE EN ROSE


This inscrutably told biopic of Edith Piaf's brief, sad life is lifted considerably by Marion Cotillard's performance. Director Olivier Dahan's frequent time shifting, though, obscures the march of tragedy, trying to connect past causes with future effects but never pausing long enough on one event to capture the full weight of either the traumas or their disastrous results. (LB) Rated PG-13





MICHAEL CLAYTON


George Clooney, looking ragged, plays a "fixer" in a Manhattan law firm. He's the guy who cleans up the nasty 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 client when he realizes that a mega-corporation is guilty. A nail-biter with classy performances and a tight, twisting script. (ES) Rated R





MR. WOODCOCK


An interesting premise -- fat kid (Seann William Scott) gets tormented by his P.E. teacher (Billy Bob Thornton), matures into a self-help author, looks on horrified as Mom (Susan Sarandon) marries Mr. Woodcock -- gets ruined by a descent into junior-high sight gags. (MB) Rated PG-13





RENDITION


When an Egyptian-born American is taken into custody at an American airport, he vanishes, leaving his wife (Reese Witherspoon) confused, frightened and angry. An old friend in the State Department (Peter Sarsgaard) tries to help. A CIA analyst (Jake Gyllenhaal), upon seeing the torture the man is put through, begins to question everything. A tense, riveting film. With Meryl Streep and Alan Arkin. (ES) Rated R





RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION


Is this the worst film of all time? Not quite, but leaving behind its videogame roots only to hop in bed with every crappy zombie clich & eacute; certainly puts it in the running for worst videogame adaptation ever. At least you could laugh at Dead or Alive. (LB) Rated R





SARAH LANDON AND THE PARANORMAL HOUR


Rissa Walters stars as a teen in a small town who "finds herself in the middle of a haunting mystery that involves two brothers, the local psychic and an evil spirit" in what's billed as "the first in a series." Who Sarah Landon is or where they'll get the money for a sequel is the more haunting mystery. (JS) Rated PG





SEA MONSTERS


The trailer for this IMAX film shows a whole lot of boring scientists in deserts brushing dirt away from huge skeletons. Promos promise they'll also indulge us with some spectacular deep-sea, 3-D, CG behemoths, though, including "Dolly," a playful dolichorhynchops. (JS)





THE TEN COMMANDMENTS


Charlton Heston kept it secret for nearly 50 years that his was the voice of God in the Cecil B. DeMille epic. In this new animated version, we know that Yahweh will sound a lot like ... Elliott Gould. With the voices of Christian Slater as Moses, Alfred Molina as Ramses and Ben Kingsley as the narrator. (MB) Rated PG





THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE


When Steven, the husband of Audrey Burke (Halle Berry), is killed, she forms a close bond with Jerry Sunborne (Benicio Del Toro), the childhood friend with whom Steven had recently reconnected. She eventually asks Jerry to move in with her and her two children, and the four create an odd family unit. (LB) Rated R





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. In other words, a double-fortnight feast! Josh Hartnett plays the local sheriff, and Ben Foster takes the "Renfield" role. Vicious and bloody, but not disgustingly so. (ES) Rated R





3:10 TO YUMA


This remake of the 50-year-old Glenn Ford Western about a murderous bad guy being taken to the titular train gives Russell Crowe something to crow about: He's terrific as cold-hearted bad guy Ben Wade. The still-underrated Christian Bale takes on the down-on-his-luck but heroic Dan Evans part. This is a classic Western done up in style by director James Mangold. (ES) Rated R





TYLER PERRY'S WHY DID I GET MARRIED


Four African-American couples with various problems take an annual trip to some ski resort and are dumped on by an unrelenting blizzard of Tyler Perry's populist folksiness. (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. Dysfunctional family business unfolds, but the story starts to drag early on, and the acting is lackluster. (ES) Rated R

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