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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Film Clips: Mar. 14

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The Gatekeepers PG-13

The Israeli secret service is justifiably known for its James Bond gadgets as well as its long reach. In the Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers, six former chiefs of Shin Bet are interviewed and discuss the frustrations of their job. After 1967, when Israel overran the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel's internal security was under constant threat from a sullen enemy within. The six chiefs speak of their commitment to defending Israel, even if their methods sometimes involve suspending both law and morality, but are unhappy with politicians who refuse to consider a meaningful settlement with the Palestinians. As one puts it, there "is no strategy, just tactics." While Shin Bet has frustrated terrorism from Islamists and Zionists alike, it was unable to predict the Intifada or prevent the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Like firemen in a tinder-dry land populated by arsonists, their task is ultimately impossible. (David Luhrssen)

Opens Friday, March 15, Downer Theatre
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The Incredible Burt Wonderstone PG-13

Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and childhood best friend Anton (Steve Buscemi) are outcasts until they discover the power of magic tricks. Fast-forward 30-some years when the boys are Las Vegas headliners, performing the same act year after year. Falling attendance and street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) make the duo's sequined stage act seem outdated. After getting fired by Bally's casino boss (James Gandolfini), Wonderstone vows to outdo Gray, at any cost. But how do you take on a man willing to publicly hold his water for 12 days, or determined to spend the night lying atop a hot bed of coals? Alan Arkin appears as an aging iconic magician, while Olivia Wilde plays Wonderstone's assistant. The cast is a comedy writer's dream, but the film's loud jokes fall flat, and the plot is riddled with gratuitous life lessons that dissipate all the magic. (Lisa Miller)
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