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‘The Legend Continues’ an ‘improv’-ment over the first

The blow-dried hair, the polyester suits and ‘70s-style political incorrectness and facial hair are back in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” The buffoonery goes epic in this sillier-than-silly sequel, a broad, down and dirty comedy overfilled with funny people trying to one-up one another on the set in the classic “best line wins” school of comic improvisation.

‘Saving Mr. Banks’ dishes the dirt behind ‘Mary Poppins’

It’s a Hollywood legend that Walt Disney felt some sort of malevolent glee in killing Bambi’s mom, and what that animated death would do to the children who saw it. But that’s only a legend. P.L. Travers, the woman who wrote the glorious “Mary Poppins,” was a brittle, snobbish martinet and a humorless control freak. And that’s a fact. Stay through the credits of “Saving Mr. Banks” and hear for yourself.
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On the 12 days before Christmas, some movies came to be

The holiday movie season has already begun, but dozens of other goodies await under the tree, and some of them are sure to surprise us. This year’s catalog is so crowded with potentially good movies that at least two presumed award contenders — George Clooney’s “Monuments Men” and Nicole Kidman as “Grace of Monaco” — are taking a powder until spring.
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Jackson rediscovers hobbits can be funny in ‘Desolation of Smaug’

Bilbo turns tougher and more cunning and “The Hobbit” turns altogether more entertaining in “The Desolation of Smaug,” Peter Jackson’s livelier, funnier and action-packed middle film in his trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s slight delight of a novel.
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Sequel to ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ could come to screen in 2015

LOS ANGELES — Nothing unites the people of the Internet quite like hatin’ on something together. So the recent press release announcing a sequel to the beloved holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” was met with the sort of overwhelming derision that really brings people together.
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‘Out of the Furnace’ and into the fire

“Out of the Furnace” takes place in a small Pennsylvania town where generations of men have followed their fathers into grueling, thankless jobs at steel mills. The work is hard and unsatisfying, but it’s steady and reliable and it pays just enough to cover the bills.
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Disney’s ‘Frozen’ not quite a classic

Forget the eight forgettable tunes and Disney’s “Frozen” finds a pleasant home in the ranks of Disney’s animated “princess” musicals. The songs may place it closer to “Tangled” than “The Little Mermaid,” but there’s wit and whimsy in this 53rd Disney cartoon, a distant cousin of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale, “The Snow Queen.”
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‘Catching Fire’ doesn’t leave us hungering for more ‘Games’

It begins with a 90-minute fashion show masquerading as a sci-fi epic, and ends abruptly. Because “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is the most female-friendly/runway ready sci-fi franchise ever, and the latest film in the four-film trilogy is meant to be a cliffhanger, after all. But once things get going, FINALLY, this humorless chatterbox of intrigues, rebellion and a love triangle that seems “Twilighty” in its lovelessness packs in some real pathos. And while it may leave fans begging for more, and right away, the rest of the universe can ...

NCW show times Nov. 22-26

Friday, Nov. 22 through Tuesday, Nov. 26. Show times for Wednesday and Thursday at Gateway and Liberty will be published as they become available.
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‘12 Years a Slave’: the story of a soul, bought and sold

Late in Steve McQueen’s astonishing “12 Years a Slave,” we get a long, still close-up on Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a formerly free black man in upstate New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the 1840s American South. What followed were years of unthinkable abuse, backbreaking labor, fading dreams of his unreal-seeming former happy life with his wife and children. That pause in the movie, coming at a time when neither we nor Solomon can bear much more, lets us just look at his face — and ...