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Robin Hood

There have been at least 22 English-language movies in the last 100 years that have used the Robin Hood legend in one way or another. Sir Ridley Scott’s new Robin Hood is the 23rd film iteration of this basic adventure yarn of social injustice resisted and defeated. The gold standard for all such efforts, and maybe for all swashbuckling extravaganzas, is Michael Curtiz and William Keighley’s 1938 Adventures of Robin Hood, whose 72nd release anniversary was yesterday. It reinvigorated the brand after a 16-year hiatus with its stylishly brassy charm and vigorous simplicity.

The Secret of Kells

There weren’t many surprises on the list of Academy Award nominees a few months back, but the one that made everyone sit back and go, “Huh?” was this unknown title in the category of Best Animated Feature, on a list with the box office hits Coraline, Up, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Princess and the Frog. It didn’t win, but it is nonetheless the most singular animated feature to hit American screens since The Triplets of Belleville. Set in medieval Ireland, The Secret of Kells has a plot that isn’t terribly different from How to Train Your Dragon: A young boy named Brendan becomes a man by confronting his fears on a journey outside of his safety zone. He lives in the monastery at Kells with his uncle, the Abbott (voice of Brendan Gleeson). The Abbott used to work with other monks on illustrating manuscripts, but now is only concerned with fortifying his walls against the barbarian hordes from the north that have been terrorizing the land. Still, when an elderly monk arrives with a book he has saved from just such an attack, Brendan becomes enchanted with it and determines to help the old man complete it, even if it means venturing into the mysterious forest to gather supplies for ink.

Just Wright

Suspense is not the point of a romantic comedy. We know the genre when we see it, and once the film has established who our stars are we understand that they will be in each other’s arms as the final credits roll. What we do expect is an entertaining journey to that predetermined end, with our putative lovers encountering and conquering unexpected hurdles in witty and plausible fashion.

Mid-August Lunch

Veteran screenwriter Italian Gianni Di Gregorio (most recently of the hit Gomorrah) based this comedy on an incident in his own life. A decade ago, behind on the rent for the apartment he shared with his elderly mother, he was offered a deal by the building manager: The debt’s erased if he watched the manager’s mother during the August holiday break. Di Gregorio turned the offer down, but used it as the basis for this screenplay which he also directed and stars in. The movie’s Gianni, middle-aged and a borderline alcoholic, spends his days caring for his 93-yaer-old mother. For the Ferragosto holiday, he finds himself coerced into caring for three other old ladies, the mother of his doctor and the mother and aunt of his landlord.

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