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Digging Into Our Past

Movies: ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’

From the moment the opening strains of its “2001”-style choral music are heard, Werner Herzog’s documentary “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” announces its importance. We are in for something historical.
In 1994, three French explorers discovered a cave in southwestern France with Paleolithic drawings dating back as much as 32,000 years — nearly twice as old as those in the famous caves of Lascaux. Named Chauvet Cave after its lead discoverer, it was immediately sealed off; access has been restricted to researchers and, for a limited time, Herzog and a crew.

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Raucous and Really Funny

Movies: ‘Bridesmaids’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

Be warned: “Bridesmaids” is raunchy, raucous, profane and sometimes gross. It’s also real — characters, story, situations — and really funny. From its Kama Sutra opening to its parodic final send-up of “Sex and the City 2,” this is a neo-Rabelaisian romantic comedy that soars far above dreck like the remake of “Arthur” or the tired bromance of “The Hangover Part II.”

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A Step Sideways for Woody

Movies: 'Midnight in Paris'

This is a love letter to a great city, “Midnight in Paris.” Having finished (for now, anyway) with New York, London and Barcelona, Woody Allen indulges in a tourist’s, and romantic’s, version of Paris.
Shots of every famous landmark in Paris start off the film — pull out your Frommer’s and tick them off. Look, there’s Notre Dame. Hey, it’s Montmartre. Oh, and the Luxembourg Gardens, and the Pont Neuf. They look glorious indeed — even better than the ViewMaster reel of Paris sights I had when I was a kid.

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In Brief, Skip It

Movies: ‘The Hangover Part II’
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

“The Hangover Part II” contains a milestone of sorts — it is the first mainstream film I know to show a full-frontal nude shot of a transsexual.
The movie has the same four knuckleheads as the first installment — relatively smooth Phil (Bradley Cooper), dorky dentist Stu (Ed Helms), straight-arrow Doug (Justin Bartha) — and appalling neurotic and pain in the neck Alan (Zach Galifianakis).

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Maybe . . . Nah

Movies: 'Kung Fu Panda 2'

The climactic battle scene in “Kung Fu Panda 2” begins with an armada of ships armed with super-fireball-shooting cannons sailing out the harbor of fictional Gongmen City to confront Po, the furry action hero of the title.
I imagine (like Claudius daydreaming of the fall of Rome) a ghostly flotilla far out ahead, made up of all the hundreds of animated movie sequels that have come before, and another one in its wake made up of the thousands yet to be born. They just keep on coming, the untold, faceless hordes out of Hollywood’s moneymaking machine.

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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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