The American

George Clooney, Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten | R |

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Imagine George Clooney. Now take away his wit and his charm-dull those classic Hollywood looks for good measure. And that hint of mystery that keeps us enthralled? Twist it into sheer inscrutability. Now you've met Jack. Clooney's Jack is also a ruthlessly efficient killer, a gunsmith and, for some reason, a butterfly enthusiast. After a nasty encounter with Swedish assassins, Jack seeks refuge in Italy, where he befriends a knowing priest (Paolo Bonacelli), makes a gun for a wily client (Reuten) and falls for a local prostitute (Placido) of the heart-of-gold variety. But Jack can't shake the killers aiming for him-and a good thing too, otherwise nothing would ever happen in The American. While stylish, the film bores, robs Clooney of his appeal and never truly reveals his character, making the issue of whether he'll live or love fairly moot. By the end all we've really learned is that we don't know Jack.

The Tillman Story | R |

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"It's a horrible thing to lie," says Mary Tillman, mother of Pat, the former NFL safety who died an Army Ranger in Afghanistan in 2004. One could almost ask: Which lie does she mean? The one the Tillmans say they were told about how Pat died, hiding the truth that he fell to friendly fire? Or the fictions spun about Pat's life in the wake of his death, perhaps used to sell the war? The Tillman Story is the family's powerful attempt to right many wrongs, not only revealing the awful truth behind Pat's death but sharing more about his life and his views on the war itself. Their loss is profoundly sad, but it's their continuing inability to find justice that will enrage you.

Going the Distance

Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Christina Applegate |R|

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Distance is about uniting two very different factions-no, not Barrymore and Long, who go together like peas and carrots. This is about pairing fans of Barrymore's girl-power romantic comedies with folks who dug The Hangover. Predictably, the results are a tad awkward. (But hey, when a real-life on-and-off-again couple shoot a rom-com, they pretty much sign up for awkward.)

Barrymore plays Erin, a struggling journalist who falls for Long's record-label flunkie, Garrett. She lives in San Francisco, he in New York. Despite the miles and terrible advice from sidekicks like the amiably odd Charlie Day, their love grows (and yes, it does feel like spying on the actors' real courtship). So far, so cute. But then Erin gets carried drunk out of a bar, screaming something vulgar at a man, and it's clear that this film is desperate not to be dismissed as too "girlie." Cue the carpet f-bombing, toilet humor, and generally doing anything and everything to avoid looking like a chick flick-never mind that it's a pretty decent one. Oh well. Whatever it takes to get dudes in the seats, I guess.

The flirtation between movies and Italy is the romance of the season.


This tale about a rich, lonely wife (Tilda Swinton) in Milan is a poem on perfection. The food, the clothes-even the walls look sumptuous.


Rome is as lovely as Julia Roberts, but you'll want to rip the luscious-looking pizza out of her hand when she hits Naples.


Postcard-pretty Verona and Tuscany are pure romance as Amanda Seyfried helps Vanessa Redgrave find a lost love.


Dad's a rock legend, but the 19-year-old is striking a chord in movies: She plays a fan who befriends rocker Sean Penn in This Must Be the Place, now filming.

Dust off the DeLorean, crank up the Huey Lewis and hightail it to the clock tower. Everyone's favorite time-travel adventure turns 25.

Fire up the flux capacitor! Here's a blast from the past: It's been 25 years since Michael J. Fox drove a souped-up DeLorean back to 1955, met up with a younger version of the time machine's creator, Emmett Brown (the wild-eyed Christopher Lloyd), and attended high school with his parents in what director Robert Zemeckis considers his most "really out there" movie. It all started, says screenwriter Bob Gale, when he looked at his father's high school yearbook and wondered, "If I knew my dad back then, would I have been friends with him?" The rest was history. Then starring on TV's Family Ties, Fox stepped into the role of Marty McFly, replacing Eric Stoltz, who shot for a few weeks but didn't work out. Zemeckis recalls admiring Fox's comedic sense and tireless work ethic: "He would always say, 'I'll do better next time,' even when he did great." The movie grossed $381 million worldwide and led to two sequels, comic books and a cartoon series (25th-anniversary Blu-Ray and DVD versions are due out Oct. 26). Lea Thompson, who played teenage and age-progressed versions of Fox's mom, recalls cracking up "in that scene where [Fox] wakes up and I say, 'That's your name, isn't it? Calvin Klein? It's written all over your underwear,' and he trips on his pants and falls when my mom comes in. We had to do that in a few takes." She also misses removing her makeup (as the 30-years-older Lorraine) and looking 17. Now, at 49, she jokes, "I can't take it off anymore!"

Marty McFly's nemesis, Thomas F. Wilson, is now a multitasking 51-year-old father of four. He's a stand-up comedian, painter, photographer, writer, musician and Christian speaker. He has also done voice-overs in Spider-Man and Batman cartoons-and Spongebob Squarepants!