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by THE INLANDER & r & & r & 21 & r & & r & A based-on-fact, Hollywoodized story about the fellow (Kevin Spacey) who masterminded, along with a group of MIT students, a plan to take Vegas for large sums of money. They succeed, they get caught, things go awry, then turn bad. Fresh from his lead role in Across the Universe, Jim Sturgess puts on a solid American accent and acts convincingly frightened when casino heavy Laurence Fishburne turns tough. (ES) Rated PG-13





88 MINUTES


Al Pacino has done such a good job playing badass after badass, can he ever play anything but? 88 Minutes is a test. Portraying a psychologist terrorized by a killer, he's a prof -- nothing badass about that. But then he gets his hand on a gun and Al gets his thousand-yard stare back. (LB) Rated R





BABY MAMA


Busy career woman Kate (Tina Fey) decides that, husband or not, it's time to have a baby. When a doctor tells her that her uterus isn't up to snuff, she goes the surrogate-mom route, but chooses white trash Angie (Amy Poehler) to do the job. Poehler overdoes the cutesy/stupid business and Fey's character isn't nearly as smart as she's supposed to be. Embarrassingly bad. (ES) Rated PG-13





CARAMEL


Five women gossip at the local beauty shop, then go out and enjoy sweet, sticky things: There's the beauty having an affair, the not-so-much-a-virgin about to be married, the responsible one who has cared for others and now has a love of her own, the repressed lesbian and the would-be movie star. If this weren't set in Beirut and shown with subtitles in Arabic, it'd be an Oprah-power chick-flick box office smash. What does that say about our viewing habits? (MB) Rated PG-13





THE COUNTERFEITERS


Arrested in Berlin in 1936 for forgery, Salomon Sorowitsch spends years in a work camp before being sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp to lead a team of (mostly Jewish) printers in an attempt to counterfeit the Dollar and the British Pound. The choice between complicity and death is exacerbated by the fact that choosing to conspire may ultimately lead to German victory and thus death. A beautiful film about impossible choices. (LB) Rated R





EXPELLED: NO INTELLIGENCE ALLOWED


In this documentary, Ben Stein weighs in on the intelligent design side of the evolution-vs.-intelligent design debate. Or rather, he weighs in on the wolf-in-sheep's-clothing/snake-in-the-grass side, arguing that the scientific method requires that we follow the evidence where it leads. Like, uh, right to intelligent design. It's "teach the controversy" all over again. (LB) Rated PG





FORBIDDEN KINGDOM


An American wire-fu epic starring Jet Li and Jackie Chan, Forbidden Kingdom is long on wu-xia (a kind of Chinese martial arts soap opera) stereotypes (a drunken master, a taciturn warrior, an immortal weapon). Only time will tell if it's long on fantasy action as well. (LB) Rated PG-13





FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL


Boy meets girl, loses girl, gets girl. Sad Peter (Jason Segel) loses his girlfriend Sarah (Kristen Bell) to a ridiculous Brit rock star (Russell Brand), then goes to Hawaii to forget her -- only to find the happy couple staying at the same hotel. Judd Apatow produced, so there's plenty of raunchy humor and a real sweetness. I'm not sure if it's a good date movie, but it sure made me laugh. (ES) Rated R





HAROLD AND KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY


No, it ain't brain surgery, but this story of two weed-smoking but upstanding guys who are mistaken for terrorists and sent to Guantanamo Bay is a stoner flick with enough of a social conscience to recommend. (LB) Rated R





IRON MAN


Robert Downey Jr. gets the role of his career and steps right up to it, while Jon Favreau does the same in the director spot. The Marvel comic springs vibrantly to life with action and comedy in the story of a weapons maker who sees the light and wants to change his life, right around the same time he develops a "heart problem" and invents a metal suit that lets him blow away the bad guys. Great fun, and no doubt the start of a new franchise. (ES) Rated PG-13





MADE OF HONOR


Tom (Patrick Dempsey) and Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) are best friends. Near Hannah's wedding, for which Tom has been asked to be a bridesmaid, he realizes he loves her. That's when the trouble starts. What had been a charming if undaring story about two friends who might be able to fall in love stops trusting itself. Slapstick rears its ugly head out of nowhere. Colin, Hannah's fianc & eacute; is Scottish, which leads to a whole "aren't foreigners funny?" thing. Then come the fat jokes. Blah. (MAJ) Rated PG-13





NIM'S ISLAND


Jodie Foster in a kids' movie! She plays an adventure writer who's afraid of having adventures. At least Gerard Butler and cute little Abigail Breslin (stranded on a remote island) will be able to teach Foster one valuable lesson: Leaving your apartment can be way scarier than dealing with Travis Bickle or Hannibal Lecter. (MB) Rated PG





REDBELT


I've had my ups and downs with David Mamet as a filmmaker: If I loved his last film, it seems I must hate the next one, and vice versa. I loved State and Main, his satire on Hollywood; and then I hated Heist, which sounds like what it is. Then I loved Spartan, his challenging action movie; so now I must hate Redbelt -- Mamet's ambitious but flawed examination of human corruption through the lens of mixed martial arts -- and I do. (MAJ) Rated R





SPEED RACER


The Wachowski brothers score again. After imagining an unworldly world in their Matrix series, they go back to their youth and reinvent the TV cartoon Speed Racer, which now exists as an impossible-to-make, great-fun-to-watch live-action film. Speed (Emile Hirsch) must put up with nasty villains galore and "some of the most dangerous drivers in the world" as he tries to win absurdly presented road races that fly up into the sky. These are sights and sounds you've never seen or heard before. In terms of visual style, it's a dandy follow-up to Tron and itself a groundbreaker. Buckle up, hang on and go for a ride. (ES) Rated PG





UNDER THE SAME MOON


This is about both sides of the immigration fence, with scenes in Los Angeles and Mexico, and how one family walks the line for love and money. Critics say director Patricia Riggen handled potentially sentimental stuff with style, telling a family story rather than creating a diatribe. America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) makes an appearance in a taut border crossing scene. (TSM) Rated PG-13





WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS


Ashton and Cameron (I'm not using their last names because the trailers/marketing materials don't) go to Vegas separately and for different reasons. They get drunk, meet, presumably have sex and end up getting married. No prob, quick annulment time, everyone's happy. Except Ashton won three million bucks at slots with a quarter Cameron gave him, and now they need to stay together until a judge will let them part, each with his/her piece of the pie. (LB) Rated PG-13

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