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NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (R) Much has been made of No Country for Old Men being some sort of contemporary Western, but when the filmmakers are Joel and Ethan Coen, you can bet the "Western" in question is going to scream for quotation marks. An expertly crafted nail-biter steeped in the beloved noir the filmmakers have repeatedly tinkered with, the Coen Brothers' new film takes place in a dusty Texas wasteland as redolent with alienation as a vintage Antonioni landscape. Enter Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a certified piece of trailer trash who happens upon a drug deal gone south and winds up fleeing the scene of the crime with a briefcase filled with cash. This inevitably puts some very bad people on Llewelyn's trail — chief among them a soulless super-psycho named Anton Chigurh (an exquisitely chilling Javier Bardem) — and right behind is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a small-town lawman resigned to the nasty ways of the world. No Country is a beautifully modulated film, folding intense bursts of periodic violence into a carefully orchestrated atmosphere of mounting tension that is both eerily poetic and a bit melancholy. In its elegantly world-weary way, this is as iconic a chase film as The Night of the Hunter, as deeply mysterious as the Coens' masterpiece, Barton Fink, and not without perverse grace notes all its own. Also stars Kelly Macdonald, Tess Harper and Woody Harrelson. 4.5 stars

THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL (PG-13) Sex and sibling rivalry juice up this historical drama about two sisters competing for the attentions of Henry XIII. Stars Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Jim Sturgess, Mark Rylance and Kristin Scott Thomas. (Not Reviewed)

OVER HER DEAD BODY (PG-13) The biggest dose of star power (and the titular dead body of this bland, cookie-cutter comedy) is supplied by Eva Longoria, who turns in a basic variation on her Desperate Housewives shtick, playing a spoiled, over-accessorized bitch who winds up crushed to death by an ice sculpture on her wedding day. One year later, fiancée Paul Rudd still hasn't moved on, so he sees psychic Lake Bell in order to achieve some closure but winds up falling for her — causing Longoria's jealous ghost (who could use a bit of closure herself) to do whatever it takes to come between them. Despite the intriguing prospect of some human-poltergeist catfight materializing, Over Her Dead Body simply bubbles along in its own little hectare of romantic comedy hell, a Ghost-meets-Mr. Woodcock gene-splice in which two competing characters (one living, one dead) squabble over a mutual object of desire. The requisite secondary characters abound, and the whole thing feels considerably closer to a TV sitcom than a big screen production. And with no end in sight for the writers' strike, maybe Over Her Dead Body will turn out to be just what the doctor ordered for all those increasingly frustrated viewers jonesing for a disposable TV-styled fix. Also stars Jason Biggs, Lindsay Sloane and Stephen Root. 2 stars

PENELOPE (PG) Christina Ricci stars as a poor little rich girl born with a big heart and a snout for a nose. Penelope is more candy-colored cartoon fantasy than Elephant Man journey into darkness, but both are essentially ugly duckling fairy tales about uncovering the beautiful swan within. There's much to enjoy here, but the problem with Penelope is that it can't quite seem to decide if it wants to be a lighthearted romance or something meatier and more disturbing. The film wraps itself in an actively quirky sensibility and a semi-edgy visual style that, appealing though they can be, are often at odds with the gentle romantic comedy Penelope seems to be on its most basic level. Ricci's Prince Charming turns out to be a down-on-his-luck scoundrel (James McAvoy), and both are transformed by true love, but the movie's symmetry is upset by too many uneven scenes and a truly awful last act that seems to come out of nowhere. The performances are generally very good, but the movie itself feels unfocused, often rambling so noticeably that it seems to rely on Ricci's voiceover narration to hold it all together. Also stars Catherine O'Hara, Simon Woods, Reese Witherspoon, Peter Dinklage and Richard E. Grant. 3 stars

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