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quick flicks

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She wants him to spend their savings on a house. But John long ago promised his trampy, chain-smoking sister (Megan Mullally) and her sweet daughter (Tammy Blanchard) that he'd pay for the girl's college tuition. But big problem, she's been accepted at Harvard! Determined not to let his niece or fiancee down, John turns to his idiot landscaper pal, Duff (Green), for help with raising the funds. Duff, naturally, suggests crime. *



"One Hour Photo" — This is Robin Williams' movie from the opening scene, thanks to his intensely creepy performance that never hits a wrong note, making "One Hour Photo" a disturbing yet mesmerizing psychological thriller. Williams plays Sy Parrish, an employee of a one-hour photo lab who becomes obsessed with the preternaturally photogenic Yorkin family. After processing their family photos through the years, Sy not only believes he's a part of the family, he slowly and insidiously involves himself in their lives. For those who find Williams' usual manic twinkliness kind of creepy to begin with, "One Hour Photo" will be most unnerving. Even his recent "casting-against-type" role as a suspected killer in "Insomnia" falls short when compared to his darker turn here. Directing with an eye to the telling detail, Mark Romanek keeps our interest from flagging as he builds suspense. Unfortunately, he goes for a too-pat ending that offers a too-easy explanation for why Sy is the way he is, but until then Williams' outstanding performance keeps "One Hour Photo" in focus. ****



"Possession" — Handsome, romantic and tersely witty, this film based on A.S. Byatt's 1990 novel is a literal guilty pleasure for the more literary-minded moviegoer. It moves effortlessly between past and present, and we watch as modern-day scholars Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart research evidence of an undocumented affair between a famed Victorian gentleman poet (Jeremy Northam) and an obscure, early-feminist poet (Jennifer Ehle). As Paltrow and Eckhart scour the countryside for more clues, imagining all the while what the 19th-century lovers' lives must have been feeling, they, too, fall in love. Considering its rather predictable plot, the unique aspect of "Possession" is its director — Neil LaBute. Known for his darkly edgy and pointedly misogynistic sense of humor, here LaBute attempts to make nice with hearts and flowers. ***



"The Good Girl" — Jennifer Aniston shines in this beautifully observed, edgy comedy/drama about a depressed 30-something clerk in West Texas discount store. Bored beyond belief with her stoner painter husband (the equally marvelous John C. Reilly), she begins an affair with a much younger colleague (Jake Gyllenhaal). But wouldn't you know it, she soon finds out that he's more trouble than the sweetly clueless lout she's got at home. Despite the hackneyed and predictable plot, the movie's bright spot is its actors. Besides Aniston and Reilly, Zooey Deschanel ("Almost Famous") works wonders, deftly crafting a memorable character from her few lines and fewer scenes. As Aniston's co-worker who's hit upon a crafty way to enjoy her mind-numbing work, she steals the show. ***

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