Movie Reviews

Juno

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The Story: A teenage girl finds she's pregnant and makes arrangements to give her baby to a childless couple. The Lowdown: Avoiding the pitfalls of indie hipness, Juno emerges as a warm, witty film with terrific characters and performances.

P.S. I Love You

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The Story: A young widow receives letters from her late husband telling her how to get on with life. The Lowdown: A preposterous concept that's given an even more preposterous -- and amazingly overlong -- treatment, not helped by a miscast lead.

Lust, Caution

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The Story: A young student turned spy seduces a man who is collaborating with the Japanese in 1930s China with the object of having him assassinated. The Lowdown: Ang Lee's new film is a visual masterpiece that's constantly entertaining, but it never becomes profoundly moving.

The Kite Runner

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The Story: An Afghan émigré in California finds his past coming back to haunt him in the form of a childhood debt owed to a friend he betrayed. The Lowdown: Perhaps it's a little too heavily plotted (and maybe too contrived), but Marc Forster's new film is nonetheless a compelling examination of personal guilt and possible redemption, and it's handled in an unusual manner.

I Am Legend

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The Story: Will Smith plays the "last man on earth" in this postapocalyptic zombie yarn. The Lowdown: Uneven special effects, a clunky structure and a lack of any real focus undermine this third attempt at filming this story.

Charlie Wilson’s War

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The Story: Good-time Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson becomes involved in financing a covert war to help Afghanistan drive out the Russian army. The Lowdown: Biting satire, witty lines, brisk direction and beguiling performances from Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman make Mike Nichols' latest film a must-see.

Sleuth

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The Story: A wealthy man convinces his wife's lover to stage a burglary for their mutual benefit. The Lowdown: High-powered performances from Michael Caine and Jude Law, brisk direction from Kenneth Branagh and a viciously barbed script from Harold Pinter make this new version of the Anthony Shaffer play a remarkable experience.

The Golden Compass

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The Story: A young girl is the key to fulfilling a prophecy that threatens the foundations of the ruling faction of her world. The Lowdown: Creative, entertaining and sometimes disturbing (in a good way), this is a fantasy film with more going for it than just elaborate effects.

Awake

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The Story: A young billionaire finds himself awake on the operating table and learns his team of surgeons is planning to kill him. The Lowdown: Unintended humor is the only possible excuse for this utterly absurd thriller.

This Christmas

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The Story: Complications -- comedic and dramatic -- ensue when the Whitfield family gathers for a Christmas reunion. The Lowdown: A generally entertaining, well-made Christmas offering enlivened by likable characterizations and brisk direction.