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  • The Switch

    A Bateman-Aniston farce based on a Jeffrey Eugenides short story — and it works, mostly
      Stars Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston lack serious romantic chemistry, but they do create mild comedic sparks together and make for a believably warm pair of best pals. Aniston’s perpetually single gal Kassie is smart, gorgeous, loving, and — due to fractured-mirror rom-com logic — she’s totally unable to score the right man. Meanwhile, Bateman’s Wally is a bottomless pit of kvetching and neurosis. Devoid of ethnic identity or physical impediments, we’re left to infer that Wally isn’t mate material because he’s an uptight fussbudget. Tired of waiting for Prince Charming, Kassie wises up and hires a dim but handsome sperm donor and throws an “insemination” party where all her friends get shitfaced, while the donor makes a special deposit in the bathroom. This is all too much for sensitive Wally, and in a drunken stumble, he spills out the sample and replaces it with his own. I know — gross. Cringe-worthy humor ensues.
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  • Real Women Have Curves

      What happens when you take a savvy, first-generation Mexican-American high school graduate and force her to work in a factory on the east side of LA with no pay and no air conditioning? You end up with a sweaty combination of spoiled brat and fresh perspective.
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  • 4 months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days

      A film about abortion set in 1987 Romania. Director Christian Mungiu re-creates those days with a bleak, washed-out look. The story unfolds in a 24-hour period. Two young women, college roommates, are forced through the treacherous machinery of the country’s medical underground. Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) is a sunny-eyed realist, faced with arranging an illegal abortion for her pretty, naïve friend Gabita (Laura Vasiliu), who continues to hide from the facts at every step of the process. The climax is as wrenching as any thriller, but never breaks rules that’ve been established here, never breaking trust or taking us out of the story. Yet by the film’s finish, escape is very welcome, since we know what the characters don’t — that dictator Nicolea Ceausescu’s regime was coming to an abrupt end, and some better days are ahead.
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  • The Cell

      Indian-born director Tarsem Singh’s grisly and shocking images tap directly into our collective dreamscape. It’s cinema as a kind of vicarious acid trip, where we can commune with the unconscious from a safe distance — with Vincent D’Onofrio, Jennifer Lop
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  • Way hot West

    Bareback, er, Brokeback Mountain: Where good guys get it in the end
      Although the film starts out hot, it will disappoint some and comfort others to know that this film isn’t all about gay sex. As the decades pass, the two cowboy lovers' mustaches and clothing become more garish, but their romance settles into a pensive, intimate rhythm. Struggling to enjoy all of the things that straight people take for granted, the two seem, by the end, like an old married couple. In a way, the film argues, that’s exactly what they are.
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  • Hot and trembling

    Almodóvar's sly, passionate masterpiece revels in melodrama. Almodóvar's sly, passionate masterpiece revels in melodrama.
  • Cowboys and Angels

      In this coming-of-age tale, a young Irish lad moves to the big city and is swayed from an ordinary life by his gay roommate and drug-dealing neighbor. However, the story is presented in the off-handed manner of a mildly ambitious after-school special, leaving the ho-hum factor pretty high. It’s not that the film necessarily needed to be grittier, just a little smarter.
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  • Butt-kickin' time

    Aaron Johnson's the first real millennial superhero, a twerp with the ego of a titan
      Dave Lisewski (Aaron Johnson) is a sweetly gawky teen who lives in a dinky little Brooklyn bungalow not unlike the one Peter Parker grew up in, who hangs around the comic-book store day-dreaming with nerdy pals. All that four-color ink goes to his head, and with nothing more than some clubs, a catalog-ordered wetsuit, and a huge pair of juevos, and he sets out on a crime-fighting career.
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  • Swimming

      This simple yet subtle coming-of-age drama avoids tear-jerking while taking its time making its emotional way between the commonplace perils of its heroine (Lauren Ambrose of HBO’s "Six Feet Under") and the fine shades of often amusing irony that saturate her environment.
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  • Elizabeth: The Golden Age

      Scrumptious but shallow, this glittering second chapter in the Queen Elizabeth franchise is unlikely to inspire the same level of Oscar enthusiasm. It’s 30 years after Elizabeth’s (Blanchett) ascendancy to the throne and every Catholic in England is considered a potential assassin. The Pope has declared a holy war against the Protestant queen and England’s enemy Spain has started building an unstoppable armada. Meanwhile, the queen, single and required to maintain her virginal status until wed, struggles to check a sudden infatuation with dashing Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen) while her main lady in waiting, Beth Throckmorton (Abbie Cornish), goes positively ga-ga over the adventurer. But amid these romance novel distractions, nefarious plots are afoot and the ever-faithful Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush) is on hand to outflank those who would do his highness harm. From a purely visual standpoint, the film is extravagant eye candy. Unfortunately, director Karpur is a kitschy stylist more concerned with sensual images than historical or political perspective. If you’re looking for a meaningful examination of a powerful and complex woman in a complex time, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a flick that will send you out of theater humming its costumes, you’ve come to the right place.
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  • Distant

      A sympathetic tale about two people in Istanbul who can’t connect to each other — or anyone else for that matter. Beautifully filmed in a pensive navel-gazing style that will either drive you mad with boredom or suck you into its meditative groove.
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  • Invictus

    Clint Eastwood presents Morgan Freeman's Nelson Mandela (and rugby) in neutral if not florid tones
  • Spider-man

      Even with a great cast, director Sam Raimi's adaptation is only adequate. Maybe having such a big budget and being able to afford so many computer effects (which aren't so hot anyway) crippled his creativity — with Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and Willem Dafoe.
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  • Rescue Dawn

      This Vietnam era P.O.W. tale has all the elements of a big-budget action yarn, expect that it’s all true. Protagonist Dieter was a weird dude, a German immigrant inspired to become a flier by the Americans he saw bomb his town as a small boy. This indefatigable passion for flight is what sustains him, after he’s shot down on an early secret mission over Laos, and keeps him alive through months of starvation, torture and filth in a ramshackle Viet Cong prison camp. This eternal optimism is met with confusion by his dispirited fellow captives, a trio of South Vietnamese and two Americans. Withered in body and spirit, these gaunt specters faintly cling to the hope that the war will be over soon. They can’t even conceive of freedom, until crafty Dieter crafts a lock pick from a stray nail, and concocts a plan of escape.
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