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Film Clips: Recently reviewed movies 

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THE SAVAGES 4 stars (R) Two self-absorbed intellectual siblings (superbly played by Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman) find themselves forced to care for the ailing, demented father (Philip Bosco) who abandoned them years ago. Writer/director Tamara Jenkins' razor-sharp sophomore film (after Slums of Beverly Hills) manages to be at once gentle and merciless, encouraging us to laugh at the characters' childishness while empathizing with their unhappiness. The Savages' mix of comedy, insight and fear of mortality play almost like a subplot to Jonathan Franzen's novel The Corrections. — Holman

SEMI-PRO 3 stars (R) Just how many times can Will Ferrell make the same comedy about a flailing, pasty, self-deluded athlete and/or broadcaster? Following Anchorman et al, this spoof of the 1970s American Basketball Association is Farrell's laziest and most predictable yuck fest. I'm not proud to admit that it provided me with the bare minimum of laughs to be enjoyable, but if the name "Flint Michigan Tropics" or the idea of a team striving for fourth place fail to amuse you, don't even give Semi-Pro a shot. — Holman

SHELTER 3 stars (R) Writer/director Jonah Markowitz bathes this tale of love and surfing in luscious, "golden hour" light. Conflicted, artistic Zach (Trevor Wright) struggles to hold his family together by forfeiting his own dreams, until he unexpectedly finds strength in the arms of his best friend's older brother. Shelter touches on themes of class and commitment, but the palpable chemistry of the film's leads ultimately makes this otherwise sweet summer romance compelling. — Keene

SHINE A LIGHT 3 stars (PG-13) Martin Scorsese's documentary highlights the eternal rock band, the Rolling Stones, who still rock. Their enthusiasm hasn't dwindled, and that in itself is remarkable. A tribute to staying power -- both the Stones' and Scorsese's -- the film is more a fan's-eye view of the band in performance than Scorsese's chance to wow with his auteur chops. — Feaster

SHUTTER (PG-13) After a tragic car accident, photographer Ben (Joshua Jackson) and his new wife, Jane (Rachael Taylor), find disturbing humanlike figures blurring Ben's photos. Jane thinks it could be the spirit of the girl murdered in the car crash, seeking vengeance. From the executive producers of The Grudge and The Ring.

THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES 3 stars (PG) The Grace kids (Sarah Bolger, and Freddie Highmore playing twins) stop worrying about their parents' separation when one of them discovers an ancestor's field guide to magical creatures. Too intense and violent for pretweens, The Spiderwick Chronicles' fast-paced adventure scenes evoke 1980s family adventures such as Gremlins and The Goonies without being quite so obnoxious, and retains the books' more serious themes of broken homes. — Holman

STOP-LOSS 3 stars (R) Kimberly Peirce's film takes its name from the military loophole that orders soldiers back into battle after they've completed their service. Ryan Phillippe stars as a patriotic Texas boy who tries to convince a senator to reverse his stop-loss order. The film cautiously addresses the war, telling its story mostly from the soldier's point of view. It's a film of conciliation that strives to unite its audience in the unquestionable mission of supporting our troops. In that sense, it reflects fairly accurately the neurosis of our times. — Feaster

SUPERHERO MOVIE (PG-13) Writer Craig Mazin (Scary Movie) is back with another spoof on recent films. Superhero Movie pokes fun at flicks such as Spider-Man, X-Men and a multitude of others.

UNDER THE SAME MOON (PG-13) Rosario (Kate del Castillo) works illegally in the United States to provide a better life for her 9-year-old son Carlitos (Adrian Alonso), who lives in Mexico with his grandmother. Both mother and son must journey to find each other again.

VANTAGE POINT 2 stars (PG-13) An assassination attempt on the U.S. president (William Hurt) unfolds from multiple points of view, including a veteran secret service agent (Dennis Quaid), an American tourist with a camcorder (Forest Whitaker) and a cable news producer (Sigourney Weaver). Vantage Point's multiple-eyewitness shtick takes too long to pay off and its minidramas play as painfully hackneyed, including Whitaker protecting a young bystander and the use of improbably identical "doubles." So why did so many Oscar winners and nominees sign on for such a clunky thriller? Maybe it's some kind of conspiracy. — Holman

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