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CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR 4 stars. (R) In the early 1980s, a playboy congressman (Tom Hanks) resolves to fund the Afghan rebels against the Soviet invaders, and finds allies including a former Texas beauty queen (Julia Roberts) and a grumpy CIA operations guy (Philip Seymour Hoffman). If you miss "The West Wing," writer Aaron Sorkin's script will provide you with a bracing cocktail of screwball comedy and policy-wonk detail. The film's American point of view keeps it at arm's length from some of the third-act drama, but its witty, wise perspective on foreign policy shows how good intentions can reap short-term triumphs and subsequent disasters. -- Holman
THE DIVING BELL & THE BUTTERFLY (PG-13) Julian Schnabel directs in the remarkable true story of French Elle editor-in-chief Jean-Dominique Bauby whose sudden stroke at age 43 leaves his entire body paralyzed except for his left eye.
ENCHANTED 2 stars. (PG) The certifiably adorable Amy Adams is cartoon princess Giselle who is plunged into the ugly reality of New York City and ends up with a prince. There are some great comic moments, like the swarm of roaches and pigeons that help Giselle clean up an untidy apartment a la Disney's Snow White, but for the most part the film isn't smart enough to deserve the knowing, meta-Disney approach it cops. -- Feaster
FIRST SUNDAY (PG-13) Ice Cube, Katt Williams and Tracy Morgan star in this caper story about two petty criminals who rob their local church. David E. Talber (Love on Layaway) directs.
THE GOLDEN COMPASS 2 stars. (PG-13) On a parallel Earth where human souls manifest as animal companions, plucky young Lyra (terrific newcomer Dakota Blue Richards) uses a magic artifact to guide her to the frozen north and thwart conspiratorial child-snatchers, led by Nicole Kidman. About a Boy director Chris Weitz presents a well-cast, well-intentioned botch of the first book of Philip Pullman's superb fantasy series. Crafty, heroic Lyra and her appealing armored bear bodyguard (voiced by Ian McKellan) can't rescue the film from rushed plotting, fakey special effects and a confusing cosmology. -- Holman
THE GREAT DEBATERS (PG-13) Denzel Washington stars and directs in the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College in Texas. In 1935 Tolson created the school's first debate team, leading them to challenge Harvard in the national championship.
I AM LEGEND 4 stars. (PG-13) Will Smith plays the sole human inhabitant of New York City after a genetically engineered virus wipes out most of mankind and turns the rest into blood-crazed mutants. The film offers nearly unbearable suspense scenes and stunning images of postapocalyptic Manhattan, overrun with wild animals with grass growing up through the streets. Despite some heavy-handed, ineffectual philosophizing in the last act, Smith delivers one of his best performances and I Am Legend turns out to be the best "summer movie" of 2007. -- Holman
I'M NOT THERE 3 stars. (R) Ambitious, smart but decidedly muddled, cerebral superhipster Todd Haynes' biopicture of enigmatic, chameleonlike singer Bob Dylan features six different actors playing Dylan, including a mind-blowing turn by Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere, Christian Bale and a young black kid (Marcus Carl Franklin). The film melds an equally diverse array of styles and film allusions from Fellini to D.A. Pennebaker. The film is often gorgeous and clever, though it may be deep Dylan fans who enjoy Haynes' crazy-quilt film the most. -- Feaster
IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE (PG-13) Uwe Boll (BloodRayne) directs in the story of a man named Farmer who embarks on a quest to rescue his kidnapped wife and avenge the death of his son -- two acts committed by the Krugs, a race of animal warriors, controlled by the evil Gallian (Ray Liotta).
INTO THE WILD 4 stars. (R) Emile Hirsch stars as affluent Emory University grad Chris McCandless, who died at age 24 after deciding to live on his own in the Alaskan wilderness. A surprising amount of transcendence and hopefulness infuses the normally dour Sean Penn's fourth directing effort about McCandless' physical and interior journey based on Jon Krakauer's nonfiction account. Marked by nods to 1960s and '70s cinema, Penn's film also has relevance to our own times as growing eco- and global-awareness have made more people take a McCandless look at the bad path "civilization" is on. (Eddie Vedder's "Guaranteed" won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song.) -- Feaster
JUNO 4 stars. (PG-13) An insanely funny script by Diablo Cody and bone-dry comic timing provided by Ellen Page make Juno feel like the breakout indie of the year. Page is a knocked-up 16-year-old who decides to hand over her child to a couple (Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner) she thinks are desperate for a baby. Things turn out to be more complicated, and much sweeter than this attitudinal comedy initially suggests. -- Feaster