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ROMULUS, MY FATHER (R) Based on Raimond Gaita's memoir, this film tells the story of a young boy, Raimond, his father Romulus, and his depressed mother Christina. Focusing on the family's struggles with mental illness and immigration, Romulus, My Father is about the bond between father and son.
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
THE SIGNAL 3 stars (R) A mysterious signal sends TV viewers and phone users into homicidal fits in this indie success story from Atlanta filmmakers David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry and Dan Bush. The three filmmakers each directed a different third of the movie and the radical shifts in tone, particularly an off-kilter bid for dark satire, undermine the film's effective, economical dread. Definitely see it to support local filmmakers and actors (including Justin Welborn and Anessa Ramsey). -- Holman
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
STEEP Mark Obenhaus' documentary features big mountain skiing in North America and details the skiers who risk their lives to ski mountains considered challenging even just to climb.
STEP UP 2 THE STREETS (PG-13) In this sequel to Step Up, street dancer Andie (Briana Evigan) finds herself at an elite school of the arts. While trying to bridge the gap between her two lives, Andie creates a team of dancers to compete in an underground dance-off. Jamal Sims, Step Up's original choreographer, returns with help from Hi-Hat (How She Move) and Dave Scott (Stomp the Yard).
STRANGE WILDERNESS (R) In an attempt to turn around poor ratings of his wildlife TV show, "Strange Wilderness," Peter (Steve Zahn) and his sidekick Fred (Allen Covert) set out to document Bigfoot.
SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET 5 stars (R) A wrongfully accused barber (Johnny Depp) returns to Victorian London to wreak bloody vengeance on an evil judge (Alan Rickman). And it's a musical! In adapting Stephen Sondheim's Broadway classic, director Tim Burton casts movie stars whose lack of musical experience doesn't interfere with the show's skin-crawling intimacy and grand passions. Sweeney Todd proves lushly operatic, grotesquely violent and at times darkly funny, with one number suggesting a cannibalistic version of "Food, Glorious Food" from Oliver! -- Holman
THERE WILL BE BLOOD 5 stars (R) Drawing from Upton Sinclair's 1927 oil-man opus Oil!, Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) has created a film of stunning sweep and grandeur. In an Oscar-worthy performance, Daniel Day-Lewis plays a dementedly ambitious petroleum titan whose quest for riches comes at the cost of his humanity. A troubling and still-relevant examination of the consuming American dream for wealth turned cancerous, this glorious epic could be the apogee of Anderson's career. -- Feaster
THIS CHRISTMAS 3 stars (PG-13) Preston A. Whitmore writes and directs this dramedy about the holiday reunion of an extended African-American family, which includes an indebted musician (Idris Elba) and an abused wife (Regina King). The plotting's a bit familiar and the first act relies almost entirely on exposition, but the likable cast -- particularly Elba, King and Delroy Lindo -- help make This Christmas low-key but pleasing holiday fare. -- Holman
In the latest 'Emory Looks at Hollywood' episode, Judith Evans Grubbs, Emory Professor of Roman…
"In the movies' worst scene..." should be "movie's"
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I saw this headline before watching the movie yesterday, but this movie was way better…