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Daily Staff ReportVail, Co, Colorado
Special to the Daily "Volver," starring Penelope Cruz, is playing at the Cascade Theatre in West Vail.

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESSCast: Will Smith, Thandie Newton.A down-on-his-luck salesman (Will Smith) assumes custody of his 5-year-old son (Smith’s real-life son, Jaden) and must struggle with hardship, including homelessness, in the hopes of securing a better life in their future. With Thandie Newton. Written by Steven Conrad. Directed by Gabriele Muccino. PG-13 for some language.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News ServiceNIGHT AT THE MUSEUMCast: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams.”Night at the Museum” – Someone had a terrific idea to make a movie from the Milan Trenc children’s book “The Night at the Museum,” in which the displays at a Natural History Museum come to life at night. But at 32 pages, it would require some imaginative fleshing out. Unfortunately, the resulting film, a tedious family comedy starring Ben Stiller as a luckless dreamer named Larry Daley, tacks on an uninspired back story and a ton of special effects but never engages. Directed by Shawn Levy with an emphasis on mayhem over anything resembling an interesting story, the movie was adapted by screenwriters Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon. Cavemen and dinosaurs, cowboys and Roman soldiers, lions and zebras all running amok sounds like more fun than it is. With Dick Van Dyke and Robin Williams. PG for mild action, language and brief rude humor.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News ServiceTHE GOOD SHEPHERDCast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Judi Dench.It has taken a dozen years for Eric Roth’s smart, thoughtful, psychologically complicated script about the origins of the CIA to reach the screen under Robert De Niro’s careful and methodical direction, and it is easy to see why. When Hollywood thinks spies, it doesn’t want to deal with a thoughtful and complex work – even if it does star Matt Damon- that not only quietly presents this quicksand world but makes us feel what it would be like to be in it. (2:37) R for some violence, sexuality and language.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News ServiceNow showing at Cascade Theatre

VOLVERRaimunda lives in Madrid with her daughter Paula and her husband Paco, who is always drunk. Her sister, Sole, is separated and works clandestinely as a hairstylist for women. The two sisters lost their parents in a fire in La Mancha, their birth village, years ago. Their aunt, Paula, still lives in the village and continues to speak about her sister Irene, mother of the two sisters, as if she were still alive. When the old aunt dies the situation changes and the past returns(volver) in a twist of mystery and suspense.DREAMGIRLS As directed by Bill Condon, who also wrote the adaptation of the multiple Tony Award-winning play, this film tells a familiar story of the rags-to-riches rising of a Supremes-like girl group with conviction and pizazz. It’s a smartly entertaining example of updated traditionalism, of using modern energy and techniques to galvanize a story that was old-fashioned when director Michael Bennett dazzled Broadway with it in 1981. It’s a love song two times over, a tribute to a vibrant period of American popular music as well as a style of filmmaking we don’t get to see enough of, the big-budget Hollywood musical. PG-13 for language, some sexuality and drug content.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News Service

THE QUEEN Cast: Helen Mirren, James Cromwell.”The Queen” is an intimate behind the scenes glimpse at the interaction between HM Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Tony Blair during their struggle, following the death of Princess Diana, to reach a compromise bwtwenn what was a private tragedy for the Royal family and the public’s demand for an overt display of mourning. Rated PG-13 (for brief strong language).CATCH AND RELEASECast: Jennifer Garner, Timothy Olyphant, Juliette Lewis, Kevin Smith.After the death of her fiance, a woman (Jennifer Garner) seeks comfort in his circle of friends – the goofball (Kevin Smith), the responsible one (Sam Jaeger) and the playboy (Timothy Olyphant), whom she finds herself attracted to despite her better judgment. With Fiona Shaw and Juliette Lewis. Written and directed by Susannah Grant. PG-13 for sexual content, language and some drug use. – L.A. Times-Washington Post News ServiceBLOOD DIAMONDThis ambitious film, viewable as either half empty or half full, attempts something difficult. Set in Sierra Leone and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly, it wants to be an action thriller with serious political overtones, to be as much a position paper as “Zulu Dawn.” It can be pulled apart or appreciated, depending on your mood, but it should be recognized that movies like this have become as rare as the stone that sets its plot in motion. (2:19) R for strong violence and language.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News ServiceARTHUR AND THE INVISIBLES Voices: Freddie Highmore, Mia Farrow, Madonna, David Bowie, Snoop Dogg.While trying to save his family’s home from real estate developers, a young boy stumbles into a fantasy world of people so small they are considered invisible, where he must help a princess stop an evil wizard in this live-action and CGI adventure from director Luc Besson. With Mia Farrow, Freddie Highmore and the voices of Madonna, David Bowie and Snoop Dogg. Screenplay by Besson, based on his children’s book.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News ServiceCHILDREN OF MEN Cast: Clive Owen, Jullianne Moore, Michael Caine The best science fiction talks about the future to talk about the now, and this Alfonso Cuaron-directed film starring Clive Owen very much belongs in that class. Made with palpable energy, intensity and excitement, it compellingly creates a world gone mad that is uncomfortably close to the one we live in. It is a “Blade Runner” for the 21st century, a worthy successor to that epic of dystopian decay. It brings so much urgency to the possibility of the world ending that we feel the kind of terror we would if the scenario were taking place tomorrow instead of 20 years in the future. A cynical government employee (Owen) must become a protector when he discovers that the life of the world’s last pregnant woman (newcomer Clare-Hope Ashitey) is at risk. R for strong violence, language, some drug use and brief nudity.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News Service

BABEL Cast: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal.In “Babel,” a tragic incident involving an American couple in Morocco sparks a chain of events for four families in different countries throughout the world. In the struggle to overcome isolation, fear and displacement, each character discovers that it is family that ultimately provides solace. In the remote sands of the Moroccan desert, a rifle shot rings out — detonating a chain of events that will link an American tourist couple’s frantic struggle to survive, a nanny illegally crossing into Mexico with two American children and a Japanese teen rebel whose father is sought by the police in Tokyo. Separated by clashing cultures and sprawling distances, these four disparate groups of people are nevertheless hurtling toward a shared destiny of isolation and grief. Rated R (for violence, some graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use).- L.A. Times-Washington Post News ServiceBECAUSE I SAID SODiane Keaton plays the overprotective mother of three very different women – a stable psychologist (Lauren Graham), a sexpot (Piper Perabo) and an insecure wallflower with love troubles (Mandy Moore), whom she decides to fix up with men from online personals. Written by Karen Leigh Hopkins and Jessie Nelson. Directed by Michael Lehmann. PG-13 for sexual content including dialogue, some mature thematic material and partial nudity.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News ServiceHAPPILY N’EVER AFTERAn animated comedy in which an alliance of evil-doers looks to take over Fairy Tale Land but a young woman rebels against her stepmother to lead the resistance. With the voices of Sigourney Weaver, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr. and George Carlin. Directed by Paul J. Bolger. PG for some mild action and rude humor.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News ServiceTHE HITCHERThe 1986 horror flick about a sinister hitchhiker who terrorizes those unwitting enough to give him a ride gets remade courtesy of producer Michael Bay. Sean Bean replaces Rutger Hauer as the hitcher. With Zachary Knighton, Sophia Bush and Neal McDonough. Screenplay by Eric Red and Jake Wade Wall, and by Eric Bernt, based on the film by Red. Directed by Dave Meyers. R for strong bloody violence, terror and language.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News ServiceFREEDOM WRITERS Cast: Hilary Swank, Patrick Dempsey, Scott Glenn.Among the lessons to be learned from this inspiring, feel-good drama is to never underestimate the persuasive powers of Hilary Swank. Even in writer-director Richard LaGravenese’s rather inevitable adaptation of “The Freedom Writers Diary,” a compilation of journal entries written by Long Beach, Calif., high school students, Swank brings to bear the full weight of her talent. Set in the aftermath of the L.A. riots, it is the account of a diverse group of high school students who get turned on to literature, history and the sharing of their own narratives through the passion and tenacity of a first-time teacher. Dramatically, the movie never veers from its predictable course, but the convincing nature of Swank’s performance renders the point moot. With Patrick Dempsey, Imelda Staunton and April Lee Hernandez. (2:03) PG-13 for violent content, some thematic material and language.- L.A. Times-Washington Post News Service

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