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No Explosions, Just a Great Movie

Movies: 'Moneyball'
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

Bennett Miller’s “Moneyball” is a solid account of Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball club, and how he used a statistical technique called “sabermetrics” to create a winning team with a payroll roughly one fourth the size of the New York Yankees’. Bill James, inventor of sabermetrics (from the acronym for the Society of American baseball Research), published, back in the 1980s, a yearly book called the Baseball Abstract. As a fan, I used to grab it as soon as it appeared in the bookstores.

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Fine Performances, Muddled Film

Movies: ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

It’s a clichéd, tiresome vehicle, nonetheless,“I Don’t Know How She Does It” allows Sarah Jessica Parker to parade her singular energetic dizziness.
Occasionally charming, frequently tedious and mostly meaningless, the movie tries hard to reproduce Allison Pearson’s gangbuster chick-lit novel of 2002, a sporadically trenchant look at the life of Kate Eddy, a London investment manager.

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Beware Germs and Bloggers

At the Movies

The first hour of “Contagion,” the new movie by Steven Soderburgh, is as taut and terrifying as any horror movie or thriller I’ve ever seen.
After a prologue in which only a few hoarse coughs are heard, it starts with “Day 2” typewritten on the screen, as Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), looking a bit green about the gills, talks on the phone to an unseen lover. Sweaty and pale, she completes her business trip in Hong Kong and heads home, by way of Chicago, to Minneapolis, where her young son and husband await her.

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Taut, Well-Made, And Disappointing

Movies: 'The Debt'

Somewhat inauspiciously named, “The Debt” has nothing to do with that thing our elected officials have been arguing about for the past year.
It does, however, have all the makings of a good, taut thriller. It has an impressive cast with an international pedigree (well, mostly impressive, but more on that later), splendid locations, World War II resonance and plenty of visceral, heart-pounding action.
All it lacks is a plausible plot.

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Horrifying Past, Muddled Present

Movies: ‘Sarah’s Key’

This is two films, “Sarah’s Key.” One is about French collaboration with the Nazis during the Holocaust, the other is a tale of trans-Atlantic yuppie angst.
Julia (Kristin Scott Thomas) is a magazine writer with a hell of a story to tell — how Parisian Jews were rounded up by the French authorities in the summer of 1942, herded into a sports arena, then into camps, and finally shipped east.

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A Few Days Too Many

Movies: ‘One Day’

The day in “One Day” is July 15, when Emma and Dexter, about to graduate from college, tumble into bed, grope awkwardly but venture no further, and declare that they will “just be friends.” From there the date — St. Swithin’s Day, when the English look for signs of what their weather will be for the next 40 days of summer — becomes the film’s conceit: Emma and Dex will meet or talk every July 15.

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From Judy and Mickey To Finn and Rachel

Movies: ‘Glee: The 3D Concert Movie’

Every generation has its singing, dancing teenagers. Judy and Mickey, Frankie and Annette, Vanessa and Zac, seeking love and, often, stardom. For my generation it was the talented students of “Fame.” We wanted to be them, and we certainly tried to be like them, if my memory of dancing on the cafeteria tables while a student banged out “Hot Lunch” on the piano in 10th grade is accurate.

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Apes Misbehavin’

In the original B-movie “Planet of the Apes” of 1968, three astronauts travel far into the future to a planet and time when simians have enslaved people. The big reveal comes when a buff Charlton Heston stumbles upon the ruins of the Statue of Liberty, evidence of a civilization-ending World War III, and realizes he is on Earth.
The original became something of a cult classic, permanently stunted the career of Roddy McDowall, and spawned at least two sequels and a little-noticed 2001 remake.

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Cowboys, Aliens And a Headache

Movies: ‘Cowboys and Aliens’
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

I had high hopes for Jon Favreau’s “Cowboys and Aliens.” Often these genre
combos can be quite entertaining, such as William Beaudine’s 1966
classic “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter,” which was part of a drive-in double bill with “Billy the Kid vs. Dracula.”
Jean Rollin merged the wartime romance with the subaquatic Nazi zombie flick in 1981’s “Zombie Lake,” widely held to be one of the worst and most hilarious films of all time.
Heck, “Star Wars” is basically a Western, with space ships.

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Corny, Patriotic, Terrific

Movies: ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

In “Captain America: The First Avenger” our hero is so determinedly square, so uber-patriotic, that you may yearn for the good old days when the country was united against real enemies, say Nazis, and not fighting itself over debt ceilings and Medicare. It is an unembarrassed throwback to those World War II B movies that favored corniness over irony and made heroes of ordinary soldiers. It is also a terrific film.

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