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THE STORY OF THE WEEPING CAMEL It sounds a bit calculating, even more so for a foreign import -- a movie about a camel that gives birth to a colt and then immediately rejects her baby, forcing the Mongolian family that owns the animals to devise a way to bond the pair. Yet writer-directors Luigi Falorni and Byambasuren Davaa pull it off, draping a loose narrative around the real-life experiences of a nomadic family living in the Gobi Desert. The film is as much about this clan as about the camels, focusing on the people as they spin established folk tales, tend to their livestock, and rub shoulders with the modern world only when absolutely necessary. But the movie always circles back to the animals, and the touching finale might insure that the camel won't be the only one doing the weeping.
SUPER SIZE ME Morgan Spurlock decided to eat only McDonald's for a whole month, heading to the Golden Arches for his three squares a day. By the end, he had (among other things) gained 25 pounds and watched his cholesterol skyrocket. Despite the obviousness of its conclusions, this is still an outrageously entertaining documentary that presents its material in such a compelling manner, we often feel like we're hearing its nuggets (McNuggets?) of information for the first time. Spurlock documents all aspects of his experiment, yet he also talks with health advocates and explores the reasons why the fast food industry has become such an integral ingredient in the American lifestyle. This is a movie filled with big laughs, yet even the guffaws don't diminish the periodic bouts of anger, depression and horror we personally experience as we watch a nation eating itself into oblivion. 1/2
THE TERMINAL Steven Spielberg's latest is loosely based on the true story of a man who, because of twisting ribbons of red tape, had to live in an airport after being denied access into any country (including his own). Tom Hanks plays the accidental tourist Viktor Navorski, and as we watch him settle into his new "home," we're delighted by the rich vein of humor and moved by Hanks' compassionate performance. But after a wonderful first half, the movie turns shameless and never lets up. Stanley Tucci plays the paper villain of the piece, a rabid airport official who tracks and torments Viktor as if he were Inspector Javert on the hunt for Jean Valjean; meanwhile, Catherine Zeta-Jones gets unconvincingly shoehorned into the plot as Viktor's nitwit love interest. Arguably Spielberg's least subtle movie, it's still worth a quick glance. 1/2
TWO BROTHERS In casting the lead roles for Two Brothers, director Jean-Jacques Annaud (The Bear) came up with a revolutionary idea: He used real tigers to play the parts of tigers! So forget about all those fake CGI critters that have become the norm as of late -- Annaud's approach is so retro that it's practically progressive. His movie's all the better for it: This is a tremendously touching story about two tiger cubs who get separated shortly after birth and are reunited under dire circumstances one year later. There's a complexity involved in some of the characterizations that usually isn't found in this sort of family film -- the man vs. nature theme isn't always painted in simplistic good vs. evil brushstrokes -- and some of Annaud's animal footage is simply remarkable.