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Sterritt ** Deciding not to spend Christmas alone, a spoiled yuppie pays a fortune to a family for pretending to be his own loving relatives during the yuletide season. There are a few amusing moments, helped by subdued performances from Affleck and Gandolfini, but this is no "Bad Santa" despite its obvious ambition to play similar holiday tricks.Skip to next paragraph
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Director: David Gordon Green. With Jamie Bell, Josh Lucas, Dermot Mulroney, Devon Alan. (107 min.)
Sterritt *** A young rural man flees his dysfunctional household but is followed by a dangerous uncle who'd be happy to kill him. Taking great artistic chances in storytelling and performance style, Green finally fulfills the promise he showed in his fine 2000 drama "George Washington" as a terrific builder of mood, atmosphere, and psychological suspense.
Director: Joseph Ruben. With Julianne Moore, Dominic West. (91 min.)
Staff ** Telly Paretta's grief over her 8-year old son, who passed away a little over a year ago, is replaced by angry despair as she learns that even those closest to her deny her child ever existed. Telly's unrelenting search for the truth delivers a few good jumps and allows Julianne Moore to display her acting prowess once again. By Gabino Villanueva
Sex/Nudity: 2 mild innuendos. Violence: 14 instances. Profanity: 20 expressions. Drugs: 4 instances of drinking.
Director: Peter Berg. With Billy Bob Thornton, Garrett Hedlund. (117 min.)
Staff ***1/2 Every fall west Texans' fancy turns from the boom and bust oil economy to high-school football. Friday night's game makes a coach the town hero or a whipping boy. Thornton, in a sympathetic role, is Coach Gaines of the Odessa-Permian Panthers, whose tough love and character-building pep talks mitigate the fanaticism pouring from the stands. Director Berg treats the sports-movie conventions with freshness. By M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: 4 instances. Violence: 11 instances. Profanity: 34, mostly mild expressions. Drugs: 7 instances of drinking and smoking.
Director: Jay Russell. With Joaquin Phoenix, John Travolta, Morris Chestnut. (115 min.)
Staff *** As firefighter Jack Morrison (Phoenix) waits for his buddies to evacuate him from a collapsing warehouse, he relives his 10 years with the department. The clunky flashback storytelling doesn't detract from the believable vignettes of fire fighting and the job's pressures on home life. By M.K. Terrell
Director: Walter Salles. With Gael García Bernal, Rodrigo de la Serna, Mía Maestro, Mercedes Morán. (126 min.)
Sterritt **** Fictionalized version of the freewheeling travels around Latin America that gave young Ernesto "Che" Guevara, still a middle-class medical student, a glimpse of his future calling as a revolutionary fighter. A fascinating study of an energetic personality. Superbly acted. In Spanish with subtitles.
Director: Peter Chelsom. With Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Jennifer Lopez. (106 min.)
Sterritt * For inexplicable reasons, a middle-aged man decides to take dancing lessons but keep this secret from his wife. The cast is promising, but this remake of the popular Japanese movie falls flat, with more "sound design" than delicious music, more slick film editing than graceful ballroom gliding.