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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

my week at the movies: ‘Dark Knight,’ ‘August,’ ‘Death Defying Acts,’ ‘Boy A,’ ‘Felon,’ ‘Meet Dave’

I’m terribly excited to see The Dark Knight [opens wide July 18], but I’m sort of dreading it, too. Because of Heath Ledger, of course. I still can’t believe he’s gone, that we’re never going to see where he was going to take us as a fully mature actor, and I fear that seeing what he does here, considering all the buzz, will only make me even sadder over his loss. I wish I didn’t have to deal with that in a summer popcorn movie.

In August [opens limited July 11], Josh Hartnett plays a dot-com entrepreneur in the summer of 2001 who struggles to keep his company alive amidst the crash of the tech boom. I’m hearing my fellow critics say that Josh Hartnett is great is in this, which always compells me to jump into whatever conversation those critics are having to say, “Who’da thunk we’d ever be saying, ‘Josh Hartnett is great in this’?” Except that seems to actually be true lately.

Guy Pearce as Harry Houdini. Catherine Zeta-Jones as a con artist and Saoirse Ronan as her daughter. Director Gillian Armstrong, who made Charlotte Gray and Oscar and Lucinda, among other great films. And buzz that’s calling it this year’s The Prestige (though I think it sounds more like this year’s The Illusionist). So am I a teeny bit psyched for Death Defying Acts [opens limited July 11]? You bet.

Boy A [opens limited July 23] is a British film about abused and neglected children and the terrible things they do when they lash out, and the damaged adults they become. Sounds like fun.

Stephen Dorff gets thrown in prison with Val Kilmer in Felon [opens limited July 18]. This one is from stuntman-turned-writer/director Ric Roman Waugh, whose prior features are a thriller about a stuntman and a thriller set in a strip club. Oh boy.

Meet Dave [opens wide July 11] won’t screen for critics, but I’ll probably catch it on Friday, when it opens. I kinda feel an obligation to check out any movie I’ve designated as the one I’m officially Dreading.

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