Outtakes

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LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD (PG-13) Old action movies don't die, they just fade away, and ditto for their stars. Bruce Willis is back as John McClane, now an agent with Homeland Security, but still a magnet for dastardly bad guys and the photogenic explosions caused by enormous vehicles smashing into even larger vehicles. Yippie-kay-ay. Whatever. Also stars Justin Long, Maggie Q, Timothy Olyphant and Jonathan Sadowski. Opens June 29 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

A MIGHTY HEART (R) Bearing a surface resemblance to David Fincher's Zodiac — another police procedural more interested in blind alleys than investigative (or emotional) pay-offs — A Mighty Heart details the search for Daniel Pearl, the American journalist who was famously kidnapped and beheaded by Islamist nut jobs back in 2002. The movie unfolds from the perspective of Pearl's wife, Marianne (Angelina Jolie), a smart strategy that invites us to share her bewildered anxiety, while director Michael Winterbottom shoots the movie in what often feels like panic mode, hand-held cameras madly whirling and few shots lasting longer than a couple of seconds. Jolie is surprisingly credible here in a discreetly altered, dressed-down version of herself that moves among the movie's other characters without seeming too terribly out of place. Winterbottom is rigorously neutral in laying out the highly charged politics implicit in Pearl's story, but while A Mighty Heart touches upon some extremely sensitive ground, it never touches down for long, and the movie's refusal to take a stand begins to feel like a failure of nerve. Also stars Dan Futterman, Archie Panjabi, Irrfan Khan, Will Patton, Denis O'Hare, Adnan Siddiqui and Gary Wilmes. 3.5 stars

MR. BROOKS (R) A portrait of an all-American model citizen who's secretly a BTK Killer-like basket case, Mr. Brooks all but burns the Nuclear Family in effigy. Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner) appears to be an upstanding member of the community, but inside he's wrestling with demons, and soon enough, he'll be putting a bullet in the brain of yet another unfortunate, then rushing home to duly beg God for forgiveness. There are an awful lot of other narrative balls in the air, though — most notably, a kinky photographer (Dane Cook) who discovers Brooks' secret and blackmails the serial killer into letting him tag along on future murder sprees. It's hard to know what to make of most of this, since the film covers some seriously over-the-top ground with barely a trace of irony or self-reflexive subtext. Mr. Brooks recycles key elements from American Psycho and Natural Born Killers without appearing to have fully understood or digested its sources. In absence of being able to laugh at itself, the movie leaves us no choice but to do some snickering ourselves. Also stars Demi Moore and Marg Helgenberger. 2 stars

NANCY DREW (PG) Adorable Emma Roberts, whose aunt is herself an adorable movie star (by the name of Julia), steps into the perfectly shined shoes of the famous tweener detective much loved by female readers of a certain age. Also stars Josh Flitter, Max Thierot, Rachael Leigh Cook and Tate Donovan. Opens June 15 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

OCEAN'S 13 (PG-13) Who says star power is dead? The Ocean's movies may lack the fancy special effects and unadulterated escapism of other summer enterprises, but it's hard to deny the glossy appeal of Messrs. Clooney, Damon, Pitt and company, this time bolstered by the iconic presence of some guy named Pacino. Celine Dion's here too, but don't let that scare you away. Stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, Bernie Mac, Ellen Barkin and Scott Caan. (Not Reviewed)

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END (PG-13) One more go around — and, reportedly clocking in at over two and a half hours, a very long go around — for Johnny Depp and company. The mega-budgeted third part in a swashbuckling franchise of almost Bollywood-like over-abundance (Adventure! Comedy! Horror! Romance!), this latest installment also boasts appearances by Chow Yun-Fat and, as Depp's swaggering, slurring pop, Keith Richards. Also stars Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush and Bill Nighy. (Not reviewed)

RATATOUILLE (G) Pixar's latest contribution to the annals of animation history is a sweetly perverse retooling of Disney's Cinderella, as retold for the Age of Conflicted Foodies — with Cindy reborn as a rat who wants to be Rachael Ray. The rat's name is Remy, and he even has his own fairy godmother — a floating Paul Bocuse figure who cheers him on with the shining motto "Anyone can cook!" — and by the end of this Paris-set rags-to-riches fable, glass slippers are found on all the right feet and rodent-inspired haute cuisine is the hit of the land. The latest creation of genius-boy director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles), Ratatouille is as clever as it is entertaining, although this may well be the first Pixar film to actually connect more powerfully with grown-ups than with their kids (not withstanding that rare 8-year-old who yearns to hear talking animals wax poetic on the glories of saffron and wild mushrooms). Also features the voices of Patton Oswald, Iam Holm, Lou Romano, Brian Dennehy and Janeane Garofalo. 4 stars

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