This Week at the Movies

Upcoming Releases

TEN QUESTIONS FOR THE DALAI LAMA (PG) Part travelogue and part how-to guide for the spiritually restless, Rick Ray's not-quite-documentary is nothing if not earnest, but it's also often extremely bland. The 45-minute interview with the Dalai Lama that's sprinkled throughout the film is interesting enough — His Holiness is quite a character, and his words carry an unmistakable weight, even when the substance of his arguments isn't exactly revelatory — but Ray (who serves as interviewer here, as well as cinematographer, writer, director and God knows what else) doesn't hold up his end of the bargain. The filmmaker lobs some pretty insipid questions at his subject ("Why are poor people so much happier than rich people," he queries with a perfectly straight face), and about half of the movie is padded with pedestrian footage of Ray's trip to India, complete with blazing insights about what's being served for breakfast. Ten Questions is worth seeing for its succinct and moving mini-history lesson on China's brutal occupation of Tibet — and any time spent with the thoughtful, giggly, science-loving 14th Dalai Lama is time well spent — but seekers holding out hope here for some life-changing spiritual possibilities are advised to immediately lower all expectations. Opens Sept. 14 at Tampa Theatre. 3 stars


THE 11TH HOUR (PG) Leonardo DiCaprio produced and narrates this environmental documentary that reportedly amplifies the global warming warnings Al Gore laid out in An Inconvenient Truth, tackling a daunting range of interconnected problems facing our planet today. Opens Sept. 14 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

2 DAYS IN PARIS (R) A brief encounter with a mixed Franco-American couple that inevitably evokes the Before Sunset/Before Sunrise projects, 2 Days in Paris stars director/screenwriter Julie Delpy as Marion, a quirky Frenchwoman on vacation with her even quirkier American boyfriend, Jack (Adam Goldberg). As its title suggests, the movie takes place during a quick stopover on Marion's Parisian home turf, where the couple spend their time strolling and engaging in mostly amusing and nearly nonstop chatter as in the Sunset/Sunrise films. 2 Days in Paris doesn't do itself favors by inviting such close comparisons to the movies that inspired it, but the conversation is usually engaging, the scenery pretty and the price of admission a whole lot cheaper than a plane ticket to Paris. Also stars Daniel Bruhl, Marie Pillet, Albert Delpy and Aleksia Landeau. 3 stars

3:10 TO YUMA (PG-13) As in the 1957 film that inspired it, 3:10 to Yuma gives us a tightly wound cowboy cast adrift in an existential wilderness — Dan Evans (Christian Bale), a cash-strapped rancher who agrees to help transport notorious Alpha-male outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to jail. It's a journey that quickly turns tense, then treacherous, laying souls bare and, more often than not, revealing a terrible void where a conscience should be. As Yuma heads toward its big showdown and virtually every one of the movie's heroes reveal themselves as rats deserting a sinking ship, the film drops the ball a bit, but that's almost to be expected. Last act problems aside, 3:10 to Yuma is a solid piece of work, a western respectful of old-school conventions while breathing some new life into the form. Also stars Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol, Ben Foster, Dallas Roberts, Logan Lerman and Alan Tudyk. 3.5 stars

BALLS OF FURY (PG-13) Dan Folger (one of the more supremely unattractive leading men in the entire history of cinema) stars as Randy Daytona, a former table tennis prodigy who, after a legendary defeat two decades ago, has been reduced to an obese, Def Leppard-loving clown doing dinner theater in Reno. Randy's chance at redemption comes when FBI agent George Lopez recruits the poor slob to help bring down a Chinese Triad boss (Christopher Walken), who just happens to be a huge ping-pong fan, and organizes private tournaments that give new meaning to the term "sudden death." Walken hams it up even more than usual here, but carpet chewing will only get you so far. The movie gets by mostly on sheer nerve, clearly delighted with the hilarity of its premise (everybody cracks up at the mere thought of ping pong, right?), but the energy level drops noticeably after less than an hour of jokes that occasionally hit their mark but more often than not feel like rejects from Dodgeball or Naked Gun 4. Also stars George Lopez, Maggie Q, James Hong, Aisha Tyler, Jason Scott Lee and Thomas Lennon. 2 stars

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (PG-13) The third and supposedly final installment of the popular Bourne franchise is by far the best of the batch, a relentless barrage of sheer adrenaline that more than compensates for any shortcomings in the material. The Bourne Ultimatum refines and relies upon all the elements that have made the series so successful and so appealing. Things happen fast, lines blur between the hunter and the hunted, and some of the action is shot and edited in so frenetic a fashion that a second viewing may be required just to figure out what actually went on. Also stars Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Joan Allen, Albert Finney and Scott Glenn. 3.5 stars

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