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Cowboys & Aliens Review

With such a blatant B-movie title, this well-made film really should be more fun to watch. Actually, this is an entertaining Western that sticks very close to the genre and only incidentally features bad guys from another planet.

Jake (Craig) wakes up in the desert with no memory of who he is or why he has a strange metal bracelet clamped onto his arm. He staggers into a dusty town, where the sheriff (Carradine) helps him until he clashes with local bully Percy (Dano), the son of power-mad landowner Dolarhyde (Ford), who has a history with Jake. But when strange airborne "demons" attack the town, Jake discovers that his bracelet is a weapon that can fight them. So Dolarhyde drafts him into a posse to hunt them down.

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Iron Man Review

The summer movie season arrives with a clang as Iron Man, a second-tier superhero from the mighty Marvel Comics universe, receives a first-rate film adaptation courtesy of director Jon Favreau (Elf, Zathura) and his perfectly-cast leading man, Robert Downey Jr.

A standard origin story, Iron Man stays faithful to its comic-book roots while making necessary upgrades that enhance the characters rich history. Favreau and his screenwriters follow shortcuts instituted by the superior Batman Begins and the inferior Spider-Man. The first half establishes our hero outside of his costume. The second half ramps up the action as it confronts a central villain and lays groundwork for potential sequels.

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First Snow Review

What is it about Guy Pearce that makes him so attractively insular, even when he's playing an obnoxious halfwit who sells bargain basement linoleum? Last year, he started strong with his brooding performance in John Hillcoat's brutal The Proposition and ended as the only graceful note as Andy Warhol in the otherwise abysmal Factory Girl. Though it premiered at last year's Tribeca Film Festival, it's taken close to a year for someone to pick up First Snow, along with both Lonely Hearts and Comedy of Power, which also premiered at Tribeca last year. With the 2007 edition of the festival a paltry month away, a look at one of its more well-attended and well-received pieces is apt.

Pearce plays Jimmy Starks, a walking grease bucket of a salesman who is waiting for his car to get fixed when we first meet him (as if the name left any room for ethical clarity). Jimmy is trying to sell everyone: He attempts to sell a jukebox to a bar owner (he already has one), tries to sell his intellectual cynicism to a fortune teller (J.K. Simmons, playing it surprisingly low key), and tries to sell his respect to his colleagues and coworkers (William Fichtner and Rick Gonzalez, respectively). When the fortune teller tells him that he will go tits-up when the first snow hits, Starks responds with impervious flaunting and jittery paranoia. Self-aware and gaunt with confusion and doubt, Starks begins to take action to ensure he won't die. Not an easy charge with a vexed ex-partner (Shea Whigham), sneering and prodding through late night phone calls.

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Consequence Review

First the bad news: Armand Assante.

Good news: Lesbian shower scene.

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