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No Reservations

(Opens July 27th, Warner)
Starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin

Catherine Zeta-Jones has always struck me as a little smug, perhaps even calculating and cold. Yet in her new vehicle
No Reservations, she miraculously rights these personal prejudices I’ve held against her for all these years, which is an admirable feat. Based on the German remake,
Mostly Martha, Zeta-Jones plays Kate Armstrong, an exacting, ‘Type A’ New York chef who runs her efficient kitchen with an iron fist. Yet her highly ordered universe is soon thrown into chaos after her sister dies in a car accident and Kate is forced to become guardian to her niece Zoe — (remarkably played by the talented Abigail Breslin of
Little Miss Sunshine fame.) To make matters worse, Kate’s boss hires a charming new sous chef (the sizzling Aaron Eckhart), whose larger-than-life attitude and love for opera creates sparks in and out of the kitchen. It may be a dish we’ve tasted before, but with a fine cast of characters, loving preparation and fresh dialogue,
No Reservations is a surprisingly tasty treat.

The Bourne Ultimatum
(Opens August 3rd, Universal)
Starring Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Joan Allen, David Strathairn

Some may enjoy the cavalier charm of James Bond, where tuxedos, martinis and steamy sunsets abound. Others prefer the strong, silent type in their cinematic spy hero. Brooding, angst-ridden and strictly a one-woman man, Matt Damon reprises his role as Jason Bourne, the rogue, amnesiac assassin from Robert Ludlum’s highly successful series. With nary a tux in sight, in this latest showdown directed by Paul Greengrass, (The Bourne Supremacy, United 93) we see an even more determined Bourne, undeterred by Federal agents and a new wave of uber-killers all on the hunt to find him first. This time around, Bourne scours the globe, combing the gritty streets of Moscow, London, Madrid, Tangier and New York in his quest to reclaim his past. Moving at breakneck speed, The Bourne Ultimatum shows no signs of getting soft in its third outing, proving to be as exciting and action-packed as its predecessors, and arguably, the most satisfying of the series.

Becoming Jane
(Opens wide August 10th, Alliance Atlantis)
Starring Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, Maggie Smith, James Cromwell

In a world riddled with trashy headlines brought to you by the likes of Lindsay, Paris and Britney, Becoming Jane is a sweet respite that offers up a tale of a young woman that doesn’t revolve around DUI’s, jail time and indecent public exposure. Based on the great, untold romance that inspired a 20-year-old Jane Austen, this well-crafted bio-pic speculates on how a relationship with a charismatic rake — Irish lawyer Tom Lefroy (think Ewan McGregor meets Bam Margera) — had a significant impact on her life’s work. The Princess Diaries star Anne Hathaway, overshadowed by Meryl Streep in last year’s The Devil Wears Prada, finally gets to shine as an entirely convincing Austen, complete with flawless accent. Directed by Julian Jarrold (Kinky Boots) lovely, headstrong Jane is an uncompromising woman of less than promising circumstances who ultimately chooses love over wealth. For those who enjoy period pieces in the spirit of Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma and Kiera Knightley in Pride and Prejudice, Becoming Jane is delightful in revealing the woman behind these stories who went on to become one of the world’s most beloved romantic writers.

Images courtesy of (from top to bottom) Warner Bros., Universal, Alliance Atlantis.

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