Friday movie roundup – July 18

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Holy posthumous Oscar, Batman! Get a load of Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight,” a groundbreaking and all-around excellent superhero flick that happens to feature one of the most fascinating, most unnerving villain performances ever. I use this term facetiously now and then, but I mean it when I say that this Joker is good old-fashioned nightmare fuel.

For that reason and others — the film’s length, its overall darkness, the gruesome and awful things that happen to people in it — I want to emphasize that it is NOT a movie for children. Teenagers, sure. But young kids? No way. Take that PG-13 rating seriously for once.

Also opening wide today is “Mamma Mia!,” a terrible musical! with a stupid plot! draped around some great ABBA songs! The continued success of the stage version mystifies me, although I suspect it’s a lot more energetic and fun in person than it is on film.

“Space Chimps” (reviewed at Film.com) is a pretty good animated comedy for the kiddies and their parents. It’s gonna make about $3 at the box office this weekend, but if you’ve already taken the tykes to see “WALL-E” and “Kung Fu Panda,” this is a good Plan C.

Finally, in limited release is a comedy called “Kabluey” that’s well worth checking out. It was the opening-night film at the Oxford (Mississippi) Film Festival that I attended back in February (my account of the weekend is here), and I’m delighted that it’s getting some kind of theatrical release, albeit not a very big one. You can visit the film’s website to keep an eye on when/if it’s coming to a theater near you.

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