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Director: Gary Winick. With Dakota Fanning and the voice of Julia Roberts. (97 min.)
Wilbur the spring pig is the loneliest creature in the barnyard. All the other animals have work to do and no time for fun. Wilbur becomes more despondent when he learns of his winter date with the smokehouse. He finds a new friend in Charlotte the spider, who promises to come up with a plan to save him from becoming Christmas dinner. This adaptation adds some characters and lots of gags, but is really quite faithful to the spirit and story line of E.B. White's touching classic. Grade: B+
– M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 4 mild scenes. Profanity: None. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: None.
Director: Irwin Winkler. With Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Biel, 50 Cent. (105 min.)
As the first major studio movie about US troops returning home from the Iraq war, "Home of the Brave" is a milestone of sorts. But it's a formulaic, overacted piece of work that rarely delves deep. Four returning soldiers from Spokane, Wash., played by Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Biel, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, and Brian Presley, attempt to acclimate themselves to the home front. All are survivors of a bloody street ambush in Iraq. Patterned in part on the classic "Best Years of Our Lives," which told of returning World War II soldiers, "Home of the Brave" represents a missed opportunity. Grade: C
– Peter Rainer
Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes of innuendo. 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: 13 scenes of war, often gory. Profanity: 84 harsh expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 2 scenes with smoking, 7 scenes with drinking.
Director: Roger Michell. With Peter O' Toole, Jodie Whittaker. (95 min.)
Peter O'Toole stars as an aging actor who is given a new lease on life when the grandniece (Jodie Whittaker) of an actor friend suddenly appears on the scene. The May-December pairing is thankfully chaste but it's sort of a romance anyway. O'Toole has such a one-of-a-kind face that at times the director, Roger Michell, is content just to have his camera gaze upon it. That puts a burden on O'Toole, who cannot, and doesn't care to, hide the ravages of time. He's triumphantly desiccated. The screenplay is by Hanif Kureishi, who wrote "The Mother" for Michell and also scripted the classic "My Beautiful Laundrette." He has a feeling for outsiders. Grade: B+
Sex/Nudity: 9 scenes including nudity, innuendo, and sex. Violence: 2 scenes, including a violent tussle. Profanity: 52 harsh expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 5 scenes with smoking, 14 scenes with drinking, 1 scenes with abuse of pharmaceuticals.
• "Eragon" was not screened for critics.
Director: Mel Gibson. With Rudy Youngblood, Dalia Hernandez. (138 min.)
Set during the last gasp of Mayan civilization before the Spaniards arrived, this latest bloodfest from director/co-writer Mel Gibson is one long chase scene: A young man (Youngblood) flees his captors to try to avoid becoming a human sacrifice. The tooth-and-claw action is initially gripping but soon becomes wearisome, and the violence is excruciatingly graphic. It's difficult to imagine the target audience for this film. Gangbangers, perhaps? Grade: C+