Flick picks and pans
See the movie listings in this Arts & Entertainment section for theaters and show times. Go to http://www.aspentimes.com for detailed film reviews.ATONEMENT: An event on the lawn of an English country house is misinterpreted by a 13-year-old girl and leads her to a wicked lie that destroys all possibility of happiness for herself, her older sister (Keira Knightley) and her sisters lover (James McAvoy). Begins in sheer happiness, ventures through the horror of the war in France and London, ends in darkest irony. One of the years best films, a certain best picture nominee. Classified: R. Running time: 122 minutes. Rating: Four stars. (Ebert, Universal Press Syndicate).THE BUCKET LIST: Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman play geezers who Meet Cute in a hospital room, where theyre both given a year to live. Freeman keeps a list of things he means to do before kicking the bucket, and Nicholson, a billionaire, gleefully insists they use his private jet to circle the globe, see the pyramids, the Himalayas, the Taj Mahal, etc. (none of which are on Freemans list). The premise is absurd, and the excecution is painful. Classified: PG-13. Running time: 97 minutes. Rating: One star. (Ebert, Universal Press Syndicate). CHARLIE WILSONS WAR: Based on a true story. Tom Hanks as a hard-drinking Texas congressman who, at the urging of a Houston socialite (Julia Roberts), uses his congressional subcommittee to arrange a secret $1 billion arms deal between Israel and Afghan freedom fighters, with Pakistan as the intermediary. That results in the defeat of the Russians, and the beginning of the end of the Cold War. Philip Seymour Hoffman is droll and funny as a rogue CIA man who becomes Charlie’s partner in deception. A smart, funny, wicked political comedy by Mike Nichols, written by Aaron (West Wing) Sorkin. Classified: R. Running time: 97 minutes. Rating: Three stars. (Ebert, Universal Press Syndicate). CLOVERFIELD: Six yuppies flee from a towering monster that is destroying Manhattan; one of them carries a video camera, and the entire movie is shot queasy-cam style. Undeniably scary, especially in the first 45 minutes when we dont know quite what is causing the crisis. Produced by J.J. Abrams, creator of TVs Lost. Classified: PG-13. Running time: 80 minutes. Rating: Three stars. (Ebert, Universal Press Syndicate). JUNO: Very smart, very funny and then very touching; it begins with the pacing of a screwball comedy and ends as a portrait of characters we have come to love. Ellen Page in an Oscar-worthy performance as a pregnant 16-year-old who decides to keep the child. With J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney wonderful as her parents, older and wiser than most parents in teenage comedies. And Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman as the would-be adoptive parents, and Michael Cera, shyly winning as Junos boyfriend. Screenplay by Diablo Cody, directed by Jason Reitman; the best movie of 2007. Classified: PG-13. Running time: 92 minutes. Rating: Four stars. (Ebert, Universal Press Syndicate).MAD MONEY: Curiously casual caper starring Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes and Ted Danson. The women are service workers at a Federal Reserve Bank who find a way to smuggle a fortune out of the building. Their plan is simple, the complications are few, and they dont get excited much beyond some high-fives and hugs and giggles. La-di-da. Classified: PG-13. Running time: 104 minutes. Rating: One and a half stars. (Ebert, Universal Press Syndicate). NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS: Without a doubt the most absurd and fevered plot since “National Treasure” (2004). What do I mean by fevered? What would you say if I told you that Mount Rushmore was carved only in order to erase landmarks pointing to a fabled City of Gold built inside the mountain? Starring Nicolas Cage, Helen Mirren, Ed Harris, Jon Voight, Diane Kruger, Harvey Keitel and Justin Bartha, who were all but one in the first adventure, but never once mention it. I’d just about forgotten it, too. Rating: Two stars. Classified: PG. Running time: 104 minutes. Rating: Two stars. (Ebert, Universal Press Syndicate). b>P.S. I LOVE YOU: A young widow gets some unexpected assistance in coping with her husbands untimely death. With Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Gina Gershon and Lisa Kudrow. Written by Richard LaGravenese and Steven Rogers, based upon the novel by Cecelia Ahern. Directed by LaGravenese. PG-13 for sexual references and brief nudity. (Los Angeles Times) THERE WILL BE BLOOD: Daniel Day-Lewis in a virtuoso performance as an obsessed loner, starting with nothing and becoming a California oil tycoon in a life dominated by greed, duplicity, hatred and loneliness. Paul Thomas Andersons epic is ambitious and relentless as the study of a human monster. Magnificent visuals created by cinematographer Robert Elswit and set designer Jack Fisk. A debatable ending, and the films reach exceeds its grasp, which is not a dishonorable thing. Classified: R. Running time: 158 minutes. Rating: Three and a half stars. (Ebert, Universal Press Syndicate).27 DRESSES: Katherine Heigl stars as a woman who reevaluates her perennial bridesmaid status when her little sister wins the heart of the man Jane has had a secret crush on in this romantic comedy. With James Marsden, Edward Burns and Malin Akerman. Directed by Anne Fletcher. PG-13 for language, some innuendo and sexuality. (Los Angeles Times) THE WATER HORSE: An enchanting family film, set in wartime Scotland, where a 12-year-old finds an egg that hatches into an amphibian that grows so large it has to be moved to the nearest large body of water, which is, you guessed it, Loch Ness. Based on a book by the author of Babe, made by the director of My Dog Skip, starring Alex Etel, star of Millions and lives up to this heritage. A great choice for the holiday season. Classified: PG. Running time: 111 minutes. Rating: Three and a half stars. (Ebert, Universal Press Syndicate).THE WILLOW TREE: Blind since childhood, Youssef has a devoted wife, loving daughter, and successful university career, but his affliction fills him with secret torment. As if in answer to his prayers, a Paris clinic restores his sight, a miracle that is double-edged. Although this new world of sight and color floods Youssef with ecstasy, it also plunges him into a labyrinth of confusions and temptations. A powerful parable of sight and insight, using Youssefs condition both as a resonant metaphor for lifes second chances and as a source of breathtaking images seen through his reawakened eyes. Running time: 96 minutes (New Yorker Films, Islamic Propagation)
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While China needed to be effectively confronted over its trade policies toward the U.S., the way the Trump Administration did it was antiquated, counter-productive and overly negative.