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Now showing 3/16-3/22

Daily Staff Report

THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND “The Last King of Scotland” is not based on a true story. It was inspired by “true” events, which leaves more room for invention. Based on the 1998 novel by Giles Foden, it’s the story of a young Scottish doctor who in 1971 signs up with the British Ministry of Health to work in a remote Ugandan village and winds up living the high life in Kampala, clutched to the turbulent bosom of Gen. Idi Amin. Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker plunges deep into the psychology of the role, portraying Amin as an erratic personality whose charisma and sociability – first-rate survival mechanisms – mask a deep-seated insecurity, searing resentment of foreigners and a galloping paranoia.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News ServiceEPIC MOVIESpoof of blockbuster movies that parodies all the best bits from “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “Harry Potter” and “The Chronicles of Narnia,” among others. With Kal Penn, Adam Campbell and Jennifer Coolidge. Written and directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language and some comic violence.- Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

PREMONITIONSandra Bullock plays a woman with a seemingly perfect life until she gets a vision from the future that says her husband (Julian McMahon) will die in a car wreck. With Nia Long, Kate Nelligan, Amber Valletta and Peter Stormare. Written by Bill Kelly. Directed by Mennan Yapo. PG-13 for some violent content, disturbing images, thematic material and brief language.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News ServiceNOTES ON SCANDALBarbara Covett (Dame Judi Dench) is a veteran and cynical schoolteacher who is close to retirement. She is barely tolerated by her less brilliant and acerbic colleagues who know nothing about her private life which consists mainly of taking care of Portia, her aging cat, and spending countless hours alone. The only means she has found to take the edge off her desperate loneliness is writing in her journal. When Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett), a younger, attractive woman, joins the faculty as an art teacher, Barbara watches her from afar and has nothing but caustic things to say in her diary about her clothing and her care-free manner. Despite her disdain for this woman, Barbara finds herself reaching out to her. Sheba responds by inviting her to dinner at her house to meet Sheba’s lecturer husband (Bill Nighy), who is twenty years her senior, and their two children, a sexy and rebellious 16-year-old daughter and a younger boy with Downs Syndrome. Instead of opening herself to these people, Barbara immediately sees them as competition to be beaten in the battle for Sheba’s attention. Later, when Barbara discovers her new friend in a classroom having sex with Steven (Andrew Simpson), a 15-year-old from the school who has artistic talent; she realizes that knowledge of this secret gives her power over Sheba which she can use for her own purposes. – L.A. Times-Washington Post News Service

BRIDGE TO TERABITHIAThere’s something endearingly quaint about the images and ideas presented here, the notion that the most troubling force in a kid’s life could be the fear of a bully on the school bus. The special effects in this coming-of-age fantasy tale, though, are extremely high-tech – yet feel distractingly clunky. (They come from Weta Digital, the same company that designed the visuals for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.) Effortless performances from the two young stars ultimately make this movie worthwhile, regardless of the age of the kids watching. Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb star as the outcasts of Katherine Paterson’s book, who form a friendship based on loneliness and a shared love of imagination. They merge his artistic skills with her talent for storytelling to create a magical land where they rule as king and queen. Robert Patrick plays Hutcherson’s gruff, hardworking dad, with Zooey Deschanel (lovely as always) as the kids’ supportive music teacher. If you’ve never read the book, here’s a bit of advice: Bring Kleenex. PG for thematic elements including bullying, some peril and mild language. 95 min. Two and a half stars out of four.- Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic300This ultraviolent action extravaganza is based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel, but did it have to be so cartoonish? Director and co-writer Zack Snyder (the “Dawn of the Dead” remake) painstakingly recreated the comic-book panels by placing actors in front of virtual backgrounds, similar to the technique used in the superior film version of Miller’s “Sin City” in 2005. Clearly he’s not aiming to reflect reality on any level. But Snyder’s depiction of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae, in which 300 Spartans fought off a much larger Persian army, is so over-the-top it’s laughable – so self-serious, it’s hard to take seriously. The effects are extremely cool at first; Snyder has very much created his own unique world – dark, dramatic and visually gripping, with increasingly imaginative foes along the way. But the gimmick wears off quickly and ultimately becomes overbearing. Gerard Butler, who’s buffed up significantly since starring in the film version of “The Phantom of the Opera,” comes off as a poor-man’s Mel Gibson in “Braveheart.” As King Leonidas, he leads his meager but muscular troops into battle with repeated roars of “This is where we fight! This is where we die!” and such, ad nauseam. Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro and Dominic West co-star. R for graphic battle sequences throughout, some sexuality and nudity. 117 min. Two stars out of four.- Christy Lemire, AP Movie CriticMUSIC &LYRICSA weird little hybrid of a romantic comedy that’s simultaneously too fluffy and not whimsical enough. Writer-director Marc Lawrence is definitely aiming for a retro ’40s feel, with his bustling New York setting and witty characters who repeatedly burst into song. But he’s infused the movie with a forced contemporary flavoring, including a Britney Spears-style pop diva and references to performers like Shakira and Justin Timberlake, and he gets too bogged down with industry types and their business meetings. The songs are catchy, though – especially “Way Back Into Love,” the tune Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore’s characters craft together, which will be stuck in your head like a psychotic episode for days if not weeks to come. And it’s nice to see Grant aging gracefully. Yes, he’s only 46, but he’s learned to wear his years well. As washed-up ’80s singer Alex Fletcher – formerly part of a band called PoP that’s clearly and hilariously modeled after Wham! – Grant is self-deprecating but he’s also not afraid to look pathetic, lonely and a little sad. It actually makes him more attractive. PG-13 for some sexual content. 95 min. Two and a half stars out of four.- Christy Lemire, AP Movie CriticWILD HOGSBiker buddies Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy are not all that wild, and more importantly, not all that funny. The road romp from director Walt Becker is like his “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder” on Maalox, the humor and hijinks tame and tranquil as though it were a middle-aged epilogue to that raunchy campus comedy. The filmmakers simply fashion an excuse to send their weekend motorcyclists onto a cross-country road trip, then string together uninspired encounters with some fellow travelers and a hardcore biker gang headed by Ray Liotta, whose enthusiastic bad-boy performance is wasted in a woefully underwritten role. Marisa Tomei, Jill Hennessy and Tichina Arnold barely register as wives or lovers of our heroes. Most of the jokes and gags are boring or outright annoying, but the movie does have a surprise guest appearance that will amuse biker-film fans. PG-13 for crude and sexual content and some violence. 99 min. Two stars out of four.- David Germain, AP Movie WriterSHOOTER”Shooter” is an action-thriller starring Mark Wahlberg as Bob Lee Swagger, ex-Army marksman fighting for justice, and his life. The film also stars Danny Glover and Michael Pena, and was directed by “Training Day”‘s Antoine Fuqua.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News Service

NORBITEddie Murphy costars with himself again in this story of a hapless nice guy (Murphy) raised by an old Chinese man (Murphy) and forced to marry a monster of a woman (Murphy) but who pines for his childhood love (nope, Thandie Newton). Screenplay by Eddie Murphy, Charles Murphy, Jay Scherick and David Ronn. Directed by Brian Robbins. R for some sex-related humor.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News ServiceWILD HOGSBRIDGE TO TERABITHABREACHThe true story of the U.S. government’s investigation into FBI operative Robert Hanssen’s work as a double agent is viewed through the eyes of a young agent (Ryan Phillippe) who is asked to gain the trust of Hanssen (Chris Cooper). With Laura Linney, Dennis Haysbert, Caroline Dhavernas, Gary Cole and Kathleen Quinlan. Screenplay by Adam Mazer and William Rotko. Story by Mazer, Rotko and Billy Ray. Directed by Ray. PG-13 for violence, sexual content and language.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News ServiceTHE NUMBER 23Jim Carrey stars as a man who becomes obsessed with a book that leads him to believe the number 23 plays an eerie significance in his life. It’s a Stephen King-like scenario and if handled with a little nuance might have made for a nice, scary ride. Instead, the filmmakers get it all wrong from the get-go. Everyone seems to be approaching the material from a different direction with unintentional humor seeping in from all angles. The story is maddeningly convoluted, and for the little narrative logic that eventually emerges, it might as well have been improvised. Every twist and turn — none of which really add up in the end — appear to exist strictly for the sake of plot with no thought given to character motivation. Carrey has never looked so uncomfortable on-screen. (1:35) R for violence, disturbing images, sexuality and language.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News Service


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