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Passengers

This intelligent supernatural drama stars Anne Hathaway as a grief counselor who, assigned to work with a group of plane-crash survivors, becomes attracted to one of them (Patrick Wilson). Director Rodrigo Garcia moves the story along gradually, which helps to mitigate some of the more formulaic elements; the first half plays like a quirky romantic […]

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The Girl by the Lake

When a beautiful young woman is found murdered in a provincial town in northern Italy, a surly police veteran (Toni Servillo in a nicely understated performance) is called in from a nearby city to investigate. He quickly assembles a list of suspects, including the dim-witted villager who discovered the body, a neighbor who’s disarmingly cooperative, […]

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Chicago International Film Festival

VENUES Chase Auditorium, 10 S. Dearborn (Black Perspectives Tribute); Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph (opening night); River East 21, 322 E. Illinois; 600 N. Michigan. ADMISSION $12 ($9 for Cinema/Chicago members), $10 students or seniors, $7 matinees; $110 for a 10-admission pass, $210 for a 20-admission pass, and $385 for a […]

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A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

In this low-key drama (2007) by Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club), an elderly Chinese man (Henry O) comes to stay with his daughter in the U.S. (Faye Yu) and tries to strike a balance between unobtrusiveness and paternal involvement. They maintain a cool civility, but the daughter’s long-standing resentment toward him begins to intrude, […]

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Battle in Seattle

This absorbing docudrama credibly shows how the street protests surrounding the 1999 World Trade Organization conference disintegrated into random acts of violence, but it’s somewhat scattershot as it focuses on various individuals caught up in the five days of rioting. Actor Stuart Townsend, making his debut as writer-director, also stacks the deck a little too […]

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Nights in Rodanthe

Richard Gere and Diane Lane, each at a vulnerable point in life, meet at a beachside inn in North Carolina and come together, in both senses of the phrase, during a violent storm. This romantic stinker is one of those films in which every plot development becomes a life lesson and every gesture is weighted […]

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Last Stop for Paul

Director Neil Mandt and videographer Marc Carter star as bathroom supply salesmen who decide to travel around the world, scattering the ashes of a deceased friend as they make their way to the notorious Full Moon beach party in Thailand. Stopping in Jamaica, Santiago, and Athens, they lack the funds for lodging but scam their […]

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Hounddog

In this second feature by Deborah Kampmeier (Virgin), Dakota Fanning plays a young girl who’s infatuated with Elvis Presley in the rural south of the late 1950s. Fanning’s participation in a rape scene generated a rush of controversy even before this debuted at the Sundance film festival in January 2007, and since then the movie […]

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Johnny Dodgeball

In this charming video mockumentary, written and directed by D.P. Carlson, a scruffy group of high school-age dodgeball players from Chicago prepare for the sport’s second annual tournament. Carlson adeptly creates a spontaneous cinema verite quality, and the young cast—many of whom are nonprofessionals—deliver nicely understated performances, improvising dialogue in keeping with the basic story […]

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Righteous Kill

Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, working together for the first time since Heat (1995), are veteran New York City cops trying to track down a vigilante serial killer. Watching these old pros play longtime buddies is a pleasure, especially since they’re together in most scenes. But this thriller by Jon Avnet (88 Minutes) is […]

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Bangkok Dangerous

Nicolas Cage stars as a well-paid assassin who travels to Thailand to kill four people in this loose remake by the Pang brothers of their 1999 film. While Cage is appropriately laconic and surly as a loner whose only ties are to the people who hire him, his performance is unusually flaccid. The story includes […]

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Subtle Seduction

Chris Nolen’s locally produced debut feature is an over-the-top crime thriller about a buppie woman who gets cheated on once too often. The tone is set by an unintentionally farcical montage in which the woman has an emotional meltdown in her car after catching her boyfriend in flagrante delicto with another woman and beating the […]

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Baghead

Using handheld digital video cameras and partly improvised dialogue, indie writer-directors Mark and Jay Duplass (The Puffy Chair) have crafted a raw, wickedly clever comedy that also includes moments of genuine terror. Four underemployed actors, two men and two women, decide to hole up in a remote cabin to hash out ideas for a movie […]