If you squint, the Narnian ruins resemble Middle Earth's Helms Deep after battle. The gallant Pevensie siblings recall the Harry Potter crew. And Reepicheep, a swashbuckling mouse, possesses a giant ego in inverse proportion to his tiny frame - just like Shrek's rakish Puss'n'Boots.
One waves a red flag, banner of communism. The other wears a black shirt, symbol of fascism. The ideological battles of 1960s Italy pits brother against brother in Daniele Luchetti's freewheeling seriocomedy, My Brother Is an Only Child. (Though it shares a similar title and era, the film has no relation to Jack Douglas' off-the-wall humor collection of 1959.)
It's been nearly a decade since Kimberly Peirce made the Oscar-winning Boys Don't Cry. Her newest film, which she cowrote and directed, might well carry the same title. It is about boys, fierce and fervent, who have enlisted to fight in Iraq. They don't cry. They joke, rage, seethe, shoot, sustain injury and complete tours of duty - only to be redeployed again.
Intriguing and obliquely involving, Paranoid Park is Gus Van Sant's film approximation of concrete music. That is, rather than a conventional three-act drama like the director's Finding Forrester or Good Will Hunting, it's composed of real-world sounds and textures that express a teenager's shifting states of mind and dawning conscience.
Philadelphia's most radiant movie star is Lior Liebling, subject of the poignant and profound documentary Praying With Lior. On its surface, Ilana Trachtman's film is a deceptively simple portrait of how a young man's faith illuminates his family and community. On reflection, it is also a complex account of difference and acceptance, of the emotionally fraught journey from grief into joy.
Carrie Rickey was born in L.A. around the time the Jennifer Jones/Laurence Olivier movie Carrie hit screens. Hence her name. Since then she's seen more than 12,000 films without losing her love of movies -- or wordplay. But don't envy her job too much. She has to sit through the likes of Battlefield Earth just so she can warn you not to.