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Exotic, of Course, and Touching Too

Movies: ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

This has been a good season for feel-good movies. I felt good after watching “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” pretty good after watching the “Five Year Engagement,” and not bad at all after seeing “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” I would have felt better if I hadn’t seen the preview a handful of times. All the best jokes, and there were many, were spoiled by seeing them so many times. Is there anything we can do about that?

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So, What’s Not To Like?

Movies: ‘The Dictator’

Like President Obama, Sacha Baron Cohen is evolving.
The British comic began in the early 2000s with “Da Ali G Show” on TV, using a faux interview format to dupe real-life pooh-bahs and rednecks into making embarrassing candid-camera admissions of foolishness.
From there, he went to the big screen with two of his fake TV characters — “Borat,” the newsman from Kazakhstan, and Brüno, the fey German fashion reporter. The humor became broader, the smashing of sacred cows noisier.
The pointed satire resembled less a skewering than a firing squad execution of easy targets.

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Love, Paisley And the Fanged Life

Movies: 'Dark Shadow'
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows” doesn’t quite make it. Based loosely on the goofy ABC soap (which ran from 1966-1971), the film starts off with a whole bunch of plot and flashback that’s mostly necessary.
Long story short: Johnny Depp is Barnabas Collins, scion of the Collinsport, Maine, fishing baron family, who declines to fall in love with Angelique Bouchard, one of the maids, played with great bosoms, I mean aplomb, by Eva Green).
Barnabas is a bit of a cad. He’s OK with doing the whap-a-dang with the maid, but his heart belongs to another.

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Droll and Spectacular . . .

Movies: ‘The Avengers’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

But Wait, No Character Development?

Director Joss Whedon, who combines cerebral humor (“Buffy, the Vampire Slayer”) with a broad sentimental streak (“Toy Story 1”) and even a sense of parody (“Cabin in the Woods”), was not the first to come to mind for “The Avengers.” Yet in a logistical triumph, he has woven together a hectic story from a wide selection of Marvel Comics superheroes. The movie is like a bag of miniature chocolate bars: Your favorites are mingled with ones you don’t like so much, but you buy the bag anyway for the ones you like.

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Growing Up Is Hard To Do

Movies: ‘The Five-Year Engagement’

I am going to go out on a limb here and say “The Five-Year Engagement” is a worthy heir to “Annie Hall.” It’s a very funny relationship comedy that gently parodies a very specific place and the various subcultures of people who live there; and while the treatment of its female characters verges on
objectionable, it’s rescued by truly terrific actors. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Jason Segel, the co-writer and star, is the next Woody Allen, but that’s OK. One is plenty.

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Mysticism, Romance And Also Great Pecs

Movies: ‘The Lucky One’

In the annals of movies about post-war experience and PTSD, as we now know it, “The Lucky One” will sink into the mire of forgettable films.
It’s a mainly tedious and mushy love story about a Marine, Logan (Zac Efron), returning home from his third tour of duty in Iraq, and the cute owner of a dog kennel in small-town Louisiana, Beth (Taylor Schilling), with whom Logan has a, let’s say, extrasensory connection.

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Deranged Gags for Fans Of Mad Magazine and Their Ilk

Movies: ‘The Three Stooges’
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

Bobby and Peter Farrelly’s “The Three Stooges” is a splendidly sophomoric flick.That’s high school sophomore.
The story begins at a Catholic orphanage in the mid 1970s, to judge by the muscle car — blasting “Roadrunner” by The Modern Lovers — that whizzes by the entrance and dumps a duffel bag containing the infant Stooges on the doorstep.
They immediately assault Sister Mary-Mengele, played by Larry David, who, as co-creator of “Seinfeld,” cannot leave his Jewish schtick behind.

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Fathers and Sons, Truth and Honesty

Movies: ‘Footnote’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

After reading the words “The most difficult day in the life of Professor Shkolnik” on screen, we focus on a frozen-faced older man while a voice-over intones his impressive professorial credits: books, papers, international awards, peer respect.
Gradually — be patient — we learn that we are looking at Eliezer Shkolnik, a Talmudic scholar, who is gloomy because it is his son, Uriel, who is being extolled and inducted into the Israeli National Academy of Science, an honor long denied the father.

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Take a Quirky Idea . . . And Run With It

Movies: ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’

This could have been a sweet, quirky, romantic comedy, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.” It could have been a tart satire of government officials and bungling bureaucracy. It could have been an inspirational tale of faith vs. science. Or it could have been the story of complicated adult relationships and the difficult choices people make to find happiness and avoid hurting people they care about. It tries to be all of these, and a fish tale besides — the kind of story in which people intone, “the fish doesn’t care if I’m brown or white.

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Just Another Day in Middle School

Movies: ‘The Hunger Games’

The popularity of Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games” trilogy is well-deserved. Though aimed at young adults, the dystopic drama is gripping for adults as well, with complex characters, a political backdrop that resonates at many levels and a fearless, go-for-broke plot. (The writing is pretty great too.) It was controversial when it came out, and the film, despite the huge public relations machine that propelled its opening night to new heights, raised hackles.

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