Reviews of three new films opening at the Cedar Lee

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Quentin Tarantino’s ballyhooed Inglourious Basterds arrives this weekend but if Nazi films aren’t really your thing, the Cedar Lee Theatre is opening three new films, including the hilarious send-up In the Loop. Here are our reviews.

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Dog Eat Dog This stylish, violent film by Colombian director Carlos Moreno has a stereotypical gangster plot. Crime boss El Orejon (Blas Jaramillo) enlists his personal witch (Paulina Rivas) to put a curse on the asshole who killed his godson. The recipient of said curse is Eusebio (Oscar Borda), a guy who, along with a henchman named Victor (Marlon Moreno), works for one of El Orejon’s underlings. They’re sent out to retrieve a bundle of money owed to El Orejon but when Victor finds it, he stashes it and keeps it for himself. The possibility that Victor has the money isn’t lost on El Orejon, and he goes after Victor’s estragned wife and child in the attempt to get him to give it up. The plot and sub-plot are intertwined in a way that doesn’t really make much sense, but Moreno, who’s been called Tony Scott without the smarts, is more interested in visuals. And the film is a visual treat as Eusebio’s nightmares make for some great scenes and the seedy hotel room in which Victor and Eusebio hole up is distinctly gritty. Still, a better storyline would have helped matters immensely. ** 1/2 (Jeff Niesel)

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In the Loop As The Player was to the movie business, In the Loop is to politics. The mockumentary is about everything that goes wrong in wake of verbal snafu delivered by one Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), a British government minister who declares "war is unforeseeable." Since Simon has suggested the British government supports an impending U.S. intervention in the Middle East, he's flown off to Washington D.C. to participate in a conference. He gets more than he bargained for when he comes up against Linton Barwick (David Rasche), a heavy-hitter who's formed his own secret war committee. There are a number of subplots concerning young aides and assistants who are every bit as misguided as their superiors. But no one is more ruthless than the prime minister's communications chief (Peter Capaldi) who curses out anyone — Brit or American — who stands in his way. Funny from start to finish, In the Loop is a hilarious send-up that never misses a beat. *** (Jeff Niesel)

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Paper Heart In this strange film that's equal parts fact and fiction, comedian and actress Charlyne Yi sets out to find out what makes people fall in love since she's never experienced true love herself. It's often hard to tell when she's seriously exploring the topic and when she's just goofing around with friends like Seth Rogen (who has a cameo). But after a chance meeting with Michael Cera, she begins to wonder if she is indeed capable of love. The movie's focus then shifts to their relationship, and some of the best moments are their awkward dates. But aside from that and the fabulous makeshift puppet scenes that Yi created to illustrate some of the film's scenes, Paper Heart just seems too fabricated. Yi would have been better off making a straight documentary, though that would then exclude the fictional romance with Cera. ** (Niesel)

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