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TAKE THIS WALTZ

Grant Park. 18A

After exploring love among the elderly in Away from Her, writer-director Sarah Polley turns her focus on her own age group with this intense portrait of a married woman (Michelle Williams) who becomes romantically obsessed with the artist (Luke Kirby) who lives across the street. While an intelligent, sensitively rendered dissection of a dissolving marriage, the movie's added value is its rendition of the heated erotic landscape of Toronto in summer. HHHH

Starting today

KATY PERRY: PART OF ME

Grant Park, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G

Part 3D concert film, part behind-the-scenes reality show, this Katy Perry production offers tantalizing glimpses of a big-time music tour, and the heartache the pop songstress suffered as her marriage to Russell Brand collapsed in the process. Given Perry's background (coming from a strict Christian family) and her current travails, this might have made for an interesting doc, but since Perry exercises as much control over the film as she does over her wardrobe, this ultimately feels more of a feature-length electronic press kit for the Katy Perry brand. HH

Starting tomorrow

INDIE GAME: THE MOVIE

Cinematheque. 14A

We all know about indie movies, but in this doc, Winnipeg filmmakers Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky present a parallel realm in the development of video games created from beyond the realm of the big game companies.

SAVAGES

Check theatre listings. 18A

Oliver Stone directs this adaptation of Don Winslow's book about a pair of Southern California dope growers (Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson) obliged to fend off the intrusion of a Mexican drug cartel after their mutual girlfriend (Blake Lively) is kidnapped.

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The following movies have been previously reviewed by Free Press movie critic Randall King, unless otherwise noted.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER

Grant Park, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 18A

Those four words of the title, strung together in that order, sound like a lot of fun, don't they? The ridiculous premise should have provided the basis for a free-wheeling, campy good time, but the filmmakers take this concept entirely too seriously. What ideally might have been playful and knowing is instead uptight and dreary, with a visual scheme that's so fake and cartoony, it depletes the film of any sense of danger. HH (Reviewed by Christy Lemire)

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, Polo Park, Polo Park IMAX, St. Vital, Towne. PG

Director Marc Webb relaunches the Spidey origin story with Mary Jane Watson, J. Jonah Jameson and the Green Goblin nowhere in sight. Webb eschews the more baroque style of director Sam Raimi's recent trilogy for dramatic naturalism in the scenes not involving clashing mutants. This amounts to entertaining summer diversion, to be sure, but Webb's insistence on playing Spider-Man straight results in a movie that comes off as dour and rather joyless by comparison. HHH

THE AVENGERS

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG

Superhero franchises, assemble! This witty, thrilling comic book movie from writer-director Joss Whedon elegantly combines four existing Marvel movie franchises -- Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) -- for an action spectacle that still manages to be smart and savvy. HHHH

BERNIE

Globe. PG

Jack Black gives a delicate and winning performance as Bernie Tiede, a real-life mortician in Carthage, Texas, who commits a terrible crime but is forgiven because everyone loves him. Using actors and real-life townspeople, director Richard Linklater creates a dark and eerily comic piece of the American mosaic. HHH1/2 (Reviewed by Jay Stone)

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

Grant Park. PG

The cream of elder English actors (Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson) play retirees who travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel, only to discover their new home is less luxurious than advertised. This movie would have been little more than an episode of Fantasy Island with English accents, but thanks to great detail work from the cast and a gentle hand from director John Madden, Marigold Hotel proves you're never too old to bloom. HHH (Reviewed by Katherine Monk)

BRAVE

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG

Pixar Animation turns its high technology to the service of an old-fashioned adventure about a Scottish princess whose rebellion against an arranged marriage results in a perilous, magic-infused mission. In so doing, Brave bravely steps away from that kind of boys-and-their-toys material of their past in favour of material that is more nuanced, more beautiful, and decidedly more feminine in its perspective. HHHH

DARK SHADOWS

Portage Place IMAX. 14A

The gothic soap opera of the '60s gets cinematic, courtesy of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, who plays Barnabas Collins, an 18th-century vampire released from entombment to reunite with the Collins clan in the future wonderworld of 1972. The movie's best comedy is purely visual. Blocking actors in soap-opera style gives Burton the opportunity to pose his cast like figures from an Edward Gorey storybook in a perverse blend of gothic with macramé owls, beanbag chairs and shag carpeting: Kitsch relics dwelling among the kitsch relics. HHH

LOLA VERSUS

Globe. 14A

Daryl Wein's sophomore feature may as well read Lola Versus the Audience. So much of what you think about this movie will depend on how you feel about its central character, Lola (Greta Gerwig), a self-centred college grad who feels her life should have turned out differently. The problem is Lola can't let go, and once we realize just how entrenched she is in her own misery, the movie starts to feel like an ingrown toenail. HH (Reviewed by Katherine Monk)

MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G

An animated film that's vertiginous, explosive, ridiculous, frantic, and anti-Canadian (they joke about our "worth ethic.") Inspired 3-D and non-stop silliness make this the most fun you can have at the movies so far this summer. HHHH (Reviewed by Jay Stone)

MAGIC MIKE

Grant Park, Polo Park, Towne. 14A

Channing Tatum shows off his many talents as a male stripper in this entertaining, if somewhat predictable, romantic drama based on his own life. Mike thought he had it all until he introduced a struggling buddy (Alex Pettyfer) to the world of buff dancing and watched it change him for the worse. Director Steven Soderbergh maps every cliché, and elegantly avoids most, as he offers an entertaining piece of escapism that gently pokes at gender-based hypocrisy. HHH1/2 (Reviewed by Katherine Monk)

MOONRISE KINGDOM

Polo Park. PG

Wes Anderson's latest follows a pair of young teen runaways (Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman) in love, tracing the ripples of their blossoming, forbidden love affair among a scout leader (Edward Norton), a lonesome lawman (Bruce Willis) and the girl's bickering lawyer parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand). In the foreground, the movie is a celebration of youthful passion and purpose, but lurking behind that, the adults in the cast offering a wistful, sad forecast of estrangement, doubt and compromise to come. HHHH

PEOPLE LIKE US

Globe, Polo Park. PG

While putting his deceased father's estate in order, a fast-talking salesman (Chris Pine) is forced to re-evaluate his life when he discovers he has a 30-year-old sister (Elizabeth Banks) he's never known. An example of that increasingly rare kind of film: an adult drama. The filmmakers seem so nervous about this prospect that they fill the movie with action-film editing and a camera that moves so restlessly through domestic life that you'd think it lost its keys. But they also keep it entertaining, rendering a familiar, heart-rending melodrama as a gauzy and mostly pleasant diversion. HHH1/2 (Reviewed by Jake Coyle)

PROMETHEUS

Polo Park. 14A

Director Ridley Scott returns to the sci-fi realm that put him on the map, culture-wise, with this prequel to Alien in which a space crew (including Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender) travel to a distant planet that promises to explain the source of humanity. It may lack Alien's primal terror and no-frills narrative, but it is weirdly rich in biblical imagery and tantalizing subtext, enough to justify a second viewing. HHHH

SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD

Polo Park. 14A

With a cataclysmic, world-ending event about to take place, an unlucky-in-love guy (Steve Carrell) decides to track down the love of his life with an assist from a weird neighbour (Keira Knightley). There are touches of laziness in the script, but in the end, the movie redeems itself with some ironically uplifting moments. Seeking a Friend isn't a film you'd begrudge for stealing 100 minutes of that time, no matter how precious. HHHH (Reviewed by Chris Knight)

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN

St. Vital. PG

The storybook heroine Snow White (Kristen Stewart) gets made over as a kick-ass warrior princess taking arms against an evil queen (Charlize Theron) with the aid of the huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) who has been assigned the task of killing her. The somber Lord of the Rings-meets-The Brothers Grimm tone is preferable to earlier ninny burlesque Mirror Mirror, but the pace is cumbersome and Kristen Stewart lacks both the classical beauty and the gravitas to qualify as the fairest of them all ... although we might accept her as the fairest of the mall. HHH

TED

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 18A

A crude comedy with Mark Wahlberg as a 35-year-old slacker who's being held back by his best friend and roommate, a talking teddy bear (voiced by director Seth MacFarlane). The vulgar jokes push envelopes you didn't know existed, but there's a sweetness to the film, and it's often very funny. HHH1/2 (Reviewed by Jay Stone)

THAT'S MY BOY

Polo Park, St. Vital. 18A

Adam Sandler's new movie is a gross-out comedy of witless penis and poop jokes that nonetheless seems to delight his fans. He plays a wasted man who had a son from an affair with his junior high teacher and now wants to reunite with him. The idea of child abuse is just one of the gags. H (Reviewed by Jay Stone)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 5, 2012 E14

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