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Opening Films 

by Inlander Staff

Being Julia -- Why is it when excellent actresses of a certain age don't work very often, directors just want to swoop them up in epics of plus-size personality instead of playing to their quiet strengths? Istvan Szabo clutches Annette Bening's potential for diva-dom to his big Hungarian bosom in Being Julia, a celebration of the 1930s London theater scene based on the novel Theatre by Somerset Maugham. Julia's star is fading, and plot machinations are on the horizons, but Bening keeps Julia's vanities and quirks on the happy side. The tip-top cast includes Jeremy Irons as her vain husband, as well as Rosemary Harris, Juliet Stevenson and Michael Gambon, stealing the show in a small, lovely role. (RP) Rated: R

Closer -- All the things you've thought and felt but never put into precise and profane language at the moment you're most wounded: That's the black heart of the scarring, scarily funny language of Patrick Marber's play. Earning their acting chops and the R rating in a game of sexual musical chairs are brash dermatologist Clive Owen, self-pitying obits writer Jude Law, photographer Julia Roberts and unformed life force Natalie Portman. Directed by Mike Nichols. (RP) Rated: R

La Dolce Vita -- Ah, the fervent, life-affirming, inventive, celebratory, skeptical art of Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life) is fresh even after 40 years. It's standard to say that our 21st-century world long ago caught up with Fellini's celeb-glam fever dream. Three glorious hours in gleaming black-and-white, with Nino Rota's diverse, antic, carnivalesque score pushing events ahead: na & iuml;ve Roman gossip columnist Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni, all wide and thirsty eyes) rubs shoulders with the rich and decadent, and the procession is unceasing. If you have not seen La Dolce Vita, you are missing one of the great adult pleasures in the history of movies. (RP) Not Rated

Publication date: 12/02/04

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