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PUBLIC ENEMIES 3 stars (R) In 1933, celebrity outlaw John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) robs banks and eludes the pursuit of the FBI's Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale), who grows disenchanted with the investigative techniques championed by an oily J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup). The first hour or so comes on like, well, gangbusters as Heat director Michael Mann sets up compelling scenes of bank theft and manhunt procedures. The film feints at overarching themes, like the idea that neither Dillinger nor Purvis have a place among "modern" mobsters or feds, but the script leaves both men underdeveloped as characters. Public Enemies almost literally starts with a bang and ends with a whimper. - Holman
THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE (PG-13) This documentary profiles Vogue magazine Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and the preparations for the magazine's massive fall fashion issue in 2008.
SHORTS (PG) Sin City director Robert Rodriguez reverts to his Spy Kids family-oriented mode for this suburban fable about a boy who finds a rock that can make wishes come true.
SORORITY ROW (R) A group of sorority girls attempt to cover up a prank turned deadly, only to be stalked by an unknown killer. It's a remake of 1983's The House on Sorority Row, raising the question, are there any slasher films left that haven't been remade?
TAKING WOODSTOCK 2 stars (R) Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee offers a fresh perspective on Woodstock's mythologized "three days of peace and music" by focusing on Elliott Tiechberg (comedian Demetri Martin), a struggling artist who reluctantly works at his parents' dilapidated Catskills motel and plays a small but key role in securing the concert's location. The film's centerpiece sequence that captures the excitement at the outskirts of the festival conveys the timeless quality of Woodstock as a generational touchstone. Unfortunately, Lee never finds the right tone for the film's moments of broad comedy, and while Martin's performance features an appealing lack of obvious theatrical technique, one suspects the real guy wasn't as mousy as the script makes him out to be. - Holman
TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN 1 star (PG-13) The Autobots, those heroic space robots, must protect Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) from the evil Decepticons when the teen journeys from college campus to Egyptian desert to find an Earth-shaking artifact called the Matrix of Leadership. Bay's original Transformers was hardly an exercise in subtlety, but at least it offered a sense of discovery and built some genuine suspense. At once sillier and more pompous, the sequel makes a chaotic hash of things from practically the first scene and draws out for two and a half deafening hours. If only it could transform into a movie that doesn't suck. - Holman
THE UGLY TRUTH (PG-13) In this rom-com from the director of Monster-in-Law, an unmarried morning TV show producer ("Grey's Anatomy's" Katherine Heigl) becomes reluctantly teamed with a boorish on-air personality (300's Gerard Butler) for a series on dating and relationships. I wonder if they'll fall in love?
UP 5 stars (PG) An elderly widower (voiced by Ed Asner) uses zillions of balloons to take his house on airborne adventure, unwittingly bringing a pesky boy scout (Jordan Nagai) along for the ride. Monsters, Inc. director Pete Docter helms Pixar's latest masterpiece, which begins with an achingly lovely montage of a marriage and builds to a rousing adventure story that combines Jules Verne, Indiana Jones and some of the most hilarious dog jokes every put on film. Plus, the instantly-iconic image of the floating house accumulates considerable richness as a metaphor for life and memory. - Holman
WHITEOUT (R) Underworld's Kate Beckinsale plays a U.S. marshall tracking a killer in Antarctica when the sun is about to set for six months. This long-delayed action film is based on Greg Rucka's graphic novel, which has a similarly stark color scheme as Sin City - only white.
WORLD'S GREATEST DAD 3 stars (R) Two former madcap comedians - director Bobcat Goldthwait and star Robin Williams - defy expectations in this strong, controlled dark satire about a would-be author and high school teacher (Williams) saddled by a sullen teenage son (Daryl Sabara, now unrecognizable from the Spy Kids movies). In a high school-set spoof reminiscent of Election and Heathers, the film skewers society's manufactured heroism, and Williams suppresses his usual shtick to offer a compelling portrait of quiet desperation. - Holman
YOO-HOO, MRS. GOLDBERG 2 stars (NR) Aviva Kempner's gushy documentary aims to restore pioneering actor/writer Gertrude Berg to her rightful place alongside early TV entertainers like Milton Berle. Now nearly forgotten, Berg was "the Oprah of her day" (at least according to some of the film's interviewees) as the creator and star of the Bronx-based situation comedy "The Goldbergs" on radio and then television. Named for the show's catchphrase, Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg reveals the chilling effect of the blacklist on a proudly Jewish program, but most of the film's other anecdotes have little dramatic interest, and the droll, drab clips suggest that the show hasn't aged well. - Holman
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