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About Captain Sparrow Sailing to the Bank

Movies: ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

After drifting far off course with the execrable “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” Disney has tried to steer it’s multi-film franchise back on course with installment four, “P of C: On Stranger Tides.”
Tossing director Gore Verbinski overboard, Disney hired Rob Marshall — whose career began as a Broadway dancer and choreographer and whose action credits include the musical “Chicago” and the beautiful, slow “Memoirs of a Geisha” — to take the foundering series back to its roots.

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Faith in Times Of Violence

Movies: ‘Of Gods and Men’

I sat alone in The Moviehouse upstairs theater at the late showing of “Of Gods and Men” and wondered what keeps audiences away from serious foreign “art” films.
No doubt throngs were filling the seats for the likes of “Thor” and “Bridesmaids.”
What they were missing was a gripping and probing examination of the meaning of faith amidst violence, free will versus absolute commitment, and whether love can triumph over evil.

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Strictly for the Comic-Book Set

Movies: 'Thor'
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

Kenneth Branagh welds a “shadowy-government- agency-doing-sinister-things-in-the-desert” plot to a sword ’n’ sorcery story to create “Thor,” based on the Marvel Comics character.
And not based much on Norse mythology, in which New Mexico is conspicuously absent as a setting.
Fine.
Thor is played by Chris Hemsworth, who looks like a cross between Brad Pitt and Hulk Hogan. His brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is kind of a weenie, and they both think they ought to be king of the gods once Odin hands in his horned helmet.

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Deneuve, Still Witty, Still Beautiful

Movies: ‘Potiche’

First things first: Catherine Deneuve still looks fabulous. As Suzanne Pujol, the pampered wife of an umbrella factory owner, she is fresh-faced yet age-appropriate, glamorous yet down-to-earth. Gerard Depardieu, however, does not look fabulous. As her one-time lover and present political enemy, labor leader Maurice Babin, he still affects the shambling hang-dog look that was so charming in “The Return of Martin Guerre” and “Green Card,” but now he looks like he has swallowed a giant sea turtle and is queasily about to disgorge it on the dance floor.

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Documenting Norman Mailer

compass@lakevillejournal.com

Norman Mailer confused us all.“The greatest American writer is a bum,” critic Pauline Kael concluded.
And he was. But not always: now brawling, ripped and murderous; then focused, productive and beguiling. Even loving. And generous.
Mailer wrote “The Naked and the Dead,” in 1948, the big World War II novel the country longed for. It made him famous. Everyone read it. He was 26.

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Big and Showy, Yes, But Something’s Definitely Missing

Movies: 'Water For Elephants'
leong@lakevillejournal.com

This is not a bad movie, “Water for Elephants.” It's just dull, often boring, and hugely predictable. You know you're in trouble when teenage girls who have come to worship heartthrob Robert Pattinson turn on their smartphones and begin texting, and you don't even care.

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The World, As We Don’t Know It

Movies: ‘Rio’

The 21st century has resolutely arrived in our cinematic solar system. But are we better off for it?
The newly rechristened Cinerom Digital Entertainment Center in Torrington showed off its wares last Saturday with a 3D opening of the animated picture “Rio.”
They couldn’t have picked a more appropriate debut film for the occasion.

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Once Was Enough, Trust Me

Movies: ‘Arthur’
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

There’s a semi-funny gag near the beginning of Jason Winer’s remake of “Arthur.”
There’s a fundraiser, see? At the Museum of Modern Art. The event is called “Modernism Against Poverty.” Ha ha.
Well, maybe you had to be there, and that would involve paying money to see this film. Never mind.
Somewhere, somebody thought it would be clever to team up Russell Brand and Helen Mirren, and put them in a remake, but “Batman and Robin” was already taken, as was “Oedipus the King” and “Night of the Living Dead.”

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Loved the Movie . . .

Movies: ‘Jane Eyre’

Certain books are incredibly difficult to turn into movies. Readers love the characters so fiercely, and are so protective of them, that no screen depiction could possibly do justice to the way we see and hear the characters in our mind. “Jane Eyre” is such a book.
Yet it’s been filmed perhaps more often than any other novel — 22 times at least. Perhaps it’s because filmmakers are passionate about the plain mousy Jane, the doomed and tormented Mr. Rochester, and the love that nearly consumes them, that they just can’t let them alone.

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About (and for) American Families

Movies: ‘Win Win’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

It has everything, “Win Win,” everything you want in a feel-good movie: a familiar uplifting story, note-perfect dialog, warmth and — important in a sports film — heart. Oh, it also has Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan in terrific, controlled yet intensely human performances.

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