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What's Playing for week of Nov. 9

What's Playing for week of Nov. 9

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Movies opening and ongoing in the Bloomington-Normal area for the week of November 9.

OPENING THURSDAY

The Best Years of Our Lives ***1/2 (2 hr. 50 min.) Unrated. William Wyler's powerful post-war meditation on the challenges facing three returning GIs from various social strata trying to re-enter their civilian lives and loves. Dana Andrews, Fredric March and real-life double-amputee Harold Russell are the veterans in for some rude awakenings. Myrna Loy, Virginia Mayo, Teresa Wright and Cathy O'Donnell are the women awaiting them to varying degrees. (Normal Theater, Normal, 7 p.m. Nov. 9-10.)

OPENING FRIDAY

A Good Year (1 hr. 58 min.) Rated PG-13 for language, sexual content. Russell Crowe stars in an adaptation of the Peter Mayle novel about a disillusioned Londoner who inherits a vineyard in Provence from his uncle (Albert Finney) - a claim also made by an American woman (Marion Cotillard), who says she's a fellow cousin, albeit long-lost. (Palace Cinemas, Bloomington; University Cinemas, Normal.)

Harsh Times (1 hr. 55 min.) Rated R for strong violence, language, drug use. Christian Bale as an ex-Army ranger who returns to his civilian life of crime after a job offer from the LAPD evaporates. (University Cinemas, Normal.)

The Return (1 hr. 25 min.) Rated PG-13 for violence, terror and disturbing images. Joanna Mills (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is a determined young businesswoman who makes a stop at a small-town Texas hotel. There, she encounters visions of a murder of another young woman. She investigates the murder. Will the next one be her own? (University Cinemas, Normal.)

Stranger Than Fiction (1 hr. 53 min.) Rated PG-13 for disturbing images, sexuality, brief language, nudity. Will Ferrell as a man who has the existential problem of being an author's (Emma Thompson's) literary creation, a dilemma that sends him to an English professor (Dustin Hoffman) for help. (Palace Cinemas, Bloomington.)

OPENING SATURDAY

To Kill a Mockingbird ***1/2 (2 hr. 9 min.) Unrated; mature themes. Robert Mulligan's perennially beloved 1962 film version of Harper Lee's novel, which adopts a child's-eye view of all-American intolerance in the Depression-era South via the trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman. Gregory Peck sealed his image for all time as Lee's perfect patriarchal role model, Atticus Finch. (Normal Theater, Normal, 7 p.m. Nov. 18-19.)

ONGOING

Borat (1 hr. 22 min.) Rated R for pervasive strong crude/sexual content, graphic nudity, language. The star of HBO's "Da Ali G Show," Sacha Baron Cohen, gets to send his trademark Kazakhtani reporter stateside, all the better to film a documentary on us wild and crazy Yanks. (Palace Cinemas, Bloomington; University Cinemas, Normal; Morton Cinemea, Morton)

Catch a Fire (1 hr. 42 min.) Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving torture/abuse, violence, brief language. Phillip ("A Clear and Present Danger") Noyce directed this true-life tale of a South African family man (Derek Luke) who becomes a freedom fighter during the country's apartheid era. Tim Robbins co-stars. (University Cinemas, Normal.)

The Departed ***1/2 (2 hr. 31 min.) Rated R for strong brutal violence, pervasive language, strong sexual content, drug material. Martin Scorsese's effortlessly dynamic, consistently engaging remake of the Hong Kong crime thriller "Infernal Affairs," relocated to Boston's Irish-American crime turf. Leonardo Di Caprio plays an undercover cop who's infiltrated the mob, while Matt Damon is an undercover mobster who's infiltrated the Boston PD's cadet class. At the center of it all is Jack Nicholson, as an aging crime lord/father figure. (Palace & Parkway Cinemas, Bloomington; University Cinemas, Normal.)

Employee of the Month *1/2 (1 hr. 43 min.) Rated PG-13 crude and sexual humor, language. No blue-light specials here, alas. In his first starring vehicle, Dane Cook is marked down for clearance playing a box boy squared off against a priggy checkout clerk (Dax Shepard) as they battle it out for both the title honor and the favors of a sweater-stretching new employee (Jessica Simpson). (Parkway Cinemas, Bloomington.)

Flags of Our Fathers ***1/2 (2 hr. 12 min.) Rated R for scenes of graphic war violence and carnage, and language. Clint Eastwood's impressive, often haunting re-creation of the Battle of Iwo Jima and its ironic public relations aftermath, based on James Bradley's book about his father's role in the mythic flag-raising moment. Ryan Phillippe, Adam Beach and Jesse Bradford play the three soldiers at the dark heart of it all. (Palace Cinemas, Bloomington.)

Flicka *** (1 hr. 35 min.) Rated PG for mild language. In this intelligently maneuvered remake/revision of Mary O'Hara's classic 1941 novel, "My Friend Flicka," the book's young boy hero becomes Alison Lohman's 16-year-old teen heroine, with the wild mustang she tries to tame still at the heart of the story's potent metaphors. Maria Bello and country singer Tim McGraw play her parents. (Parkway Cinemas, Bloomington; Morton Cinemas, Morton; Lincoln Cinemas, Lincoln.)

Flushed Away (1 hr. 26 min.) Rated PG for crude humor, language. From the "Chicken Run"/"Wallace and Gromit" crew comes this tale of a well-heeled rat accidentally flushed down a toilet into the lowdown sewers of London, where life is no piece of cheese. Vocals by Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen and Jean Reno. (Palace & Parkway Cinemas, Bloomington; Lincoln Cinemas, Lincoln; Morton Cinemas, Morton.)

The Grudge 2 ** (1 hr. 35 min.) Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, disturbing images/terror/violence, sensuality. The begrudging supernatural curse with long shelf life returns in this stale sequel to the 2003 remake of the Japanese hit. All the familiar, increasingly J-horror tropes are trotted out again with vastly diminished returns. (Parkway Cinemas, Bloomington.)

The Guardian (2 hr. 6 min.) Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action/peril, brief strong language, sensuality. A familiar-sounding generational showdown about a veteran Coast Guard Rescue swimmer (Kevin Costner) who teaches an arrogant young buck (Ashton Kutcher) the true meaning of being a hero. (Parkway Cinemas, Bloomington.)

The Illusionist *** (1 hr. 50 min.) Rated PG-13 for sexuality, violence. Edward Norton plays a magician in turn-of-the-century Vienna who uses his skills to woo a woman (Jessica Biel) betrothed to a power-mongering prince (Rufus Sewell). Paul Giamatti is the police inspector investigating the illusionist's enigmatic trajectory through various layers of reality and unreality. A slight but seductive entertainment. (Castle Theater, Bloomington.)

Man of the Year ** (1 hr. 55 min.) Rated PG-13 for language, crude sexual references, drug-related material, brief violence. Robin Williams stars as a Jon Stewart-esque TV talk show host who runs a presidential campaign as a joke, only to see himself elected. It starts well, with Williams recouping some of his old screen form, but then takes a detour down some trite conspiracy-thriller byways. Laura Linney, Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum and Lewis Black co-star. (Palace Cinemas, Bloomington; University Cinemas, Normal; Morton Cinemas, Morton.)

Marie Antoinette (2 hr. 2 min.) Rated PG-13 for sexual content, partial nudity, innuendo. Kirsten Dunst plays the role of the Austrian adolescent who became France's ruler at a tender age and was fated to lose her head over the job. Jason Schwartzman (as hubby Louis XVI), Molly Shannon, Rip Torn, Marianne Faithfull, Asia Argento and Judy Davis co-star. (Palace Cinemas, Bloomington.)

Open Season *** (1 hr. 26 min.) Rated PG for rude humor, mild action, brief language. Computer-animated critter time again, slightly above the recent computer-animated critter par, as a domesticated grizzly (Martin Lawrence) and a fast-talking wild mule deer (Ashton Kutcher) try to elude a deranged hunter (Gary Sinise). (Castle Theater, Bloomington; Palace & Parkway Cinemas, Bloomington; Morton Cinemas, Morton.)

The Prestige ***1/2 (2 hr. 10 min.) Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images. Director Christopher Nolan reunites with his "Batman Begins" star, Christian Bale, cast as a magician in turn-of-the-century London who crosses wands with a rival magician, played by Hugh Jackman. The resulting blood feud, from Christopher Priest's novel, makes for a provocative and engrossing meditation on the art of illusion. Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson and David Bowie co-star. (Parkway Cinemas, Bloomington; University Cinemas, Normal; Morton Cinemas, Morton.)

Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (1 hr. 38 min.) Rated G. Tim Allen is back as the suburban family man who would be Santa Claus, and is. Now living at the North Pole with son Charlie, he finds he has a nemesis in the form of icy Jack Frost (Martin Short), out to put the big chill on the holiday by claiming it for himself. Wendy Crewson, Spencer Breslin, Elizabeth Mitchell, Ann-Margret, Alan Arkin and Judge Reinhold star. (Palace & Parkway Cinemas, Bloomington; Lincoln Cinemas, Lincoln; Morton Cinemas, Morton.)

Saw III (1 hr. 47 min.) Rated R for strong grisly violence/gore, sequences of terror/torture, nudity, language. The irrepressible Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is back, cutting a new swath through human flesh and appendages in this third go-round for the torturous franchise. This time, Jigs is on the verge of death, and a kidnapped doctor must keep him alive to keep herself alive. (Palace Cinemas, Bloomington; University Cinemas, Normal; Lincoln Cinemas, Lincoln; Morton Cinemas, Morton.)

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