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CHÉRI 2 stars (R) Michelle Pfeiffer reunites with her Dangerous Liaisons screenwriter Christopher Hampton and director Stephen Frears (who found renewed acclaim with The Queen) for another period piece that sets love at odds with sex. Pfeiffer plays Lea, a wealthy, retired French courtesan who falls unexpectedly in love with Chéri (Rupert Friend), the callow son of Lea’s frenemy (Kathy Bates). In this adaptation of two short stories by Colette, Pfeiffer looks great and finds the humor as well as the pathos in her role, but Chéri the character comes across as so spoiled and one-dimensional that he seems unworthy of her attention, let alone having the movie named after him. — Holman
DEPARTURES 3 stars (PG-13) An unemployed cellist (Masahiro Motoki) secretly takes a job at a “casketing firm,” a Japanese profession that entails the ritualistic preparation and display of the deceased before burial. The latest Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film, Departures offers farcical plot points yet maintains a serious tone as the former cellist discovers a new calling and makes peace with his absent parents. The film has plenty of charm and offers a fascinating glimpse at another culture’s way of death, but pales in comparison to such fellow Oscar nominees as The Class and Waltz With Bashir. — Holman
DRAG ME TO HELL (PG-13) Sam Raimi, director of the Spider-Man trilogy, gets back to his Evil Dead horror roots in this promisingly lurid-looking thriller in which Alison Lohman rejects the mortgage extension of a spooky old woman, only to find herself on the receiving end of a demonic curse. It could be The Omen for an age of home foreclosures
ENLIGHTEN UP! 2 stars (NR) Filmmaker Kate Churchill explores the multibillion dollar yoga industry by sending 29-year-old ex-journalist Nick Rosen on an extensive immersion in various yoga disciplines from Manhattan to India. The film begins as a tongue-in-cheek exposé along the lines of a Morgan Spurlock film, but takes a more reverent turn as Nick connects to sensible "gurus." Intriguing tension develops between the filmmaker and subject when Nick fails to experience a spiritual transformation, but the film goals seem misguided from the outset. — Holman
EVERY LITTLE STEP 3 stars (PG-13) This behind-the-scenes documentary about Broadway's recent revival of A Chorus Line captures the spirit of the hit musical far better than Sir Richard Attenborough's misguided 1985 film version. Life imitates art when would-be Broadway stars dance their hearts out in rehearsal rooms and sing A Chorus Line's signature tunes. The film traces A Chorus Line's origins from a late-night marathon conversation involving choreographer Michael Bennett and other dancers, while generating "American Idol"-type suspense as we wait to see who gets cast. — Holman
FADOS 3 stars Focuses on fado, a type of music that can be traced back to 1820s Portugal. Through a series of musical vignettes, we journey through the history of fado, studying its various styles and permutations as it absorbs Brazilian and African influences.
FOOD, INC. 4 stars (PG-13) Director Robert Kenner serves a harrowing sampler’s platter of themes from such recent culinary exposes as Super Size Me, King Corn and the docudrama Fast Food Nation. The film offers a devastating portrait of how the admirable goal of cheap, plentiful foodstuffs has had unintended consequences that can harm the health and employability of the American work force, while forcing small farmers out of business. Despite icky food revelations and grim tales of corporate bullying, Food, Inc. includes enough positive examples to hold out hope for the future. — HolmanTHE HANGOVER 3 stars (R) The morning after a raucous Vegas bachelor party, the hungover groomsmen (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis) woozily retrace their steps to find the mysteriously missing groom. From Old School director Todd Phillips, The Hangover overstays its welcome by about 10 minutes and doesn't quite live up to its own trailer, which gives away some of the best gags. It still offers laughs most of the way through, and while Cooper gets top billing and Galifianakis plays the craziest character, former Atlantan Helms owns the movie as he captures the crumbling composure of a preppie dentist. — Holman
IMAGINE THAT (PG) Eddie Murphy eschews latex makeup for this family comedy in which he plays a workaholic finance executive who discovers that his daughters' imaginary friends may be able to advance his career. It sounds kind of like Adam Sandler's Bedtime Stories, with fewer special effects.
LAND OF THE LOST (PG-13) This big-budget version of the Sid and Marty Krofft cult kid's series from the 1970s stars Will Ferrell, Anna Friel of "Pushing Daisies" and Danny R. McBride (who's in everything these days) as a threesome who hit a time warp and encounter prehistoric monsters and reptilian Sleestaks.
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