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Tabloid (R)

Sundance Selects

Just about every critic sees documentarian Errol Morris as the second coming, and who am I to argue? He picks intensely fascinating, outré subjects to expose, hitting high marks with movies like Gates of Heaven and Fast, Cheap and Out of Control. He treads similar exploitative territory with the wacked-out Tabloid, the bizarre story of 1970s British tabloid queen Joyce McKinney. Her story is enthralling: an all-American beauty queen, accused by the press of kidnapping her Mormon ex-boyfriend and trying to intercourse the religion out of him. She sits in front of the camera, answering accusation after accusation, from her alleged career in BDSM modeling to her posing as a nun to escape the U.K. She had her dog cloned in Korea a few years back. Is she a tragic scapegoat or a complete oddball? A desperate attention-seeker or a mentally ill lonely heart? Tabloid offers no answers, but it doesn't need to. — Louis Fowler

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Water for Elephants (PG-13)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Many people faulted the screen adaptation of Water for Elephants for its supposed bastardization of Sara Gruen's popular novel about a Depression-era traveling circus. I never read the book, so I can only criticize the film for its numerous cinematic deficiencies, among them Richard LaGravenese's flabby screenplay and director Francis Lawrence's inability to grasp emotional and narrative nuances. They aren't helped by the flavor-of-the-month casting, especially wispy lead actor Robert Pattinson, who seems slightly embarrassed to be the center of attention here. He plays Jacob Jankoski, a hard-luck medical student who hops a passing circus train after his parents' deaths, and eventually becomes the company's animal doctor. Reese Witherspoon and ringmaster Christoph Waltz play the married couple who respectively seduce and threaten Pattinson's hero, and they act down to his level. — Daniel Barnes


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Mr. Nice (NR)

MPI Home Video

Howard Marks is a celebrated counterculture hero in his native United Kingdom, but only the coolest pop culture know-it-alls have heard of him here in the States. The biopic Mr. Nice seeks to rectify that to the best of its ability, and while for the most part it tells an interesting story about an interesting man, it does it in the blandest way possible. Rhys Ifans becomes Marks, an Oxford scholar who falls prey to easy drugs and easier sex. From that one hash joint he becomes the most notorious drug dealer (and MI6 secret agent) in British history. Irish Republican Army terrorism, identity theft and Crispin Glover all make their way into his life, complicating his easygoing demeanor and sticking him in a United States prison. Mr. Nice should be the English answer to Johnny Depp's Blow, but director Bernard Rose moves the story in such a linear fashion that any anti-hero coolness Marks should exude is watered down. — Louis Fowler

  • Tabloid, Water for Elephants, Mr. Nice

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