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HAMLET 2 2 stars (R) Failed actor turned failing high school teacher Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan) faces the closing of the drama department unless his misguided, autobiographical musical sequel to Hamlet turns out to be a hit. Although the comedy offers an overt spoof of inspirational-teacher films like Dangerous Minds, it's more reminiscent of Christopher Guest's portraits of American losers like Waiting for Guffman, only Coogan's overplayed characterization makes the jokes resemble shooting fish in a barrel. The show's opening night, with the musical number "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" is a hoot, but not enough to redeem the rest of the film. -- Holman
HENRY POOLE IS HERE (PG) Luke Wilson plays Henry Poole, a disillusioned man attempting to live his life as a recluse in a suburban society that just won't leave him alone.
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL 3 stars (PG-13) The latest Indy flick embraces the franchise's nostalgia for itself, but the sentimental streak seems justifiable given the 19-year interim between chapters. It isn't exactly a fresh film adventure -- an automotive chase through the jungle feels like an undisguised retread of Raiders of the Lost Ark's truck chase. But Crystal Skull comes across not as lazy, but laid-back, as though the filmmakers have too much confidence to panic about trying to top the earlier films, or compete with their younger selves. -- Holman
THE LAST MISTRESS 3 stars (NR) Asia Argento of the wacko Argento filmmaking family (Mother of Tears), is Vellini, the title's fading courtesan. She discards her older wealthy husband for a younger lover, Ryno de Marigny (Fu'ad Aît Aattou), in an affair that lasts a decade. As soon as we know the game and its players, director Catherine Breillat (Fat Girl, Romance) switches gears from a drama to a tragic love story. It makes the film both unpredictable and revealing, even while flirting with conventions, but also reaffirms Breillat's unique place in cinematic feminism. -- Simmons
MAMMA MIA! 3 stars (PG-13) The songs of 1970s Swedish supergroup ABBA inspire this musical, which trades sequins and disco for the sun and sand of a gorgeous Greek isle. A bride-to-be (Amanda Seyfried) invites the three men who may be her father (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård) to her wedding, without the knowledge of her single mother (Meryl Streep). The dads can't sing at all, and choreography is practically nonexistent, but the catchy melodies and Streep's upbeat portrayal should give the film plenty of appeal to women of a certain age. Christine Baranski steals the show with a saucy rendition of "Does Your Mother Know." -- Holman
MAN ON WIRE 4 stars (PG-13) Director James Marsh emulates the heist genre with effective precision in this documentary about Parisian street performer Phillippe Petit and his illegal 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The film emphasizes the nuts-and-bolts details of the stunt over the personalities of the participants, but tells an enormously compelling story despite our knowledge of how it ends. Plus, it serves as a touching tribute to the World Trade Center as a symbol of human aspiration without breathing a word about September 11. -- Holman
MEET DAVE (PG) Eddie Murphy and Norbit director Brian Robbins come together again in this sci-fi comedy in which a crew of tiny aliens travels to Earth inside Dave (Murphy), their human spacecraft.
MIRRORS (R) Kiefer Sutherland stars as Ben Carson, an ex-cop working as a museum security guard, who discovers evil lurking in the mirrors at the museum and in his home.
MONGOL 4 stars (R) Russian director Sergei Bodrov traces the rise of Temudgin (Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano), better known to history as Genghis Khan, in this sweeping, exciting period piece nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. Not a particularly complex story (it slightly resembles the plot of Conan the Barbarian), Mongol presents the kind of old-school, epic cinema virtues you almost never get to see any more, including starkly beautiful scenery and panoramic battle scenes with hundreds of actors and horses. As he pursues his beloved wife Boorte (Khulan Chuluun) Temudgin displays progressive attitudes toward love and law that make him a Mongol ahead of his time, as well as an ass kicker with a sword. -- Holman
THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR 3 stars (PG-13) In post-WWII China, retired treasure hunters Rick and Evelyn O'Connell (Brendan Fraser and Maria Bello) must stop resurrected Chinese Emperor Han (Jet Li) from finding Shangri-la, becoming immortal and raising an unstoppable army of terra-cotta warriors. -- Holman
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