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Film Clips: Dec. 12

Dec. 11, 2013
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The Armstrong Lie R

“I didn’t live a lot of lies, but I lived one big one,” Lance Armstrong tells documentarian Alex Gibney, but even that admission is probably untrue. The Armstrong Lie is an unflinching look at the career of cycling’s former superman by a director who had begun to make a sympathetic documentary of the Tour de France champion. The picture of Armstrong that emerges is of a man for whom winning is everything and losing is death. Of course, doping was already happening by the time Armstrong embarked on his first Tour, perhaps the world’s most grueling athletic competition, but the persistence and viciousness of his denials—his desperate efforts to maintain his own legend—rendered unsatisfying even his public confession before Oprah. Ironically, Armstrong might have evaded the consequences of his deception but was brought down by hubris when he tried for a Tour de France “comeback” in 2009. (David Luhrssen)


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug PG-13

Mining J.R.R. Tolkien’s extensive appendices, Director and Co-Writer Peter Jackson manages to expand The Hobbit, a book of less than 300 pages, into three movies roughly totaling nine hours. In this, the second installment, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and a band of merry dwarves battle orcs and continue their quest to reclaim their homeland Erebor from Smaug the dragon, described by Tolkien as “a most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm.” Help is obtained from elven archer Legolas (Orlando Bloom), along with female archer Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), a character invented by Jackson. Deep inside a mountain, slumbering Smaug guards his treasure of gold and gems. When Gandalf is called away on other business, it falls to Bilbo, a mere hobbit, to identify Smaug’s fatal weakness. (Lisa Miller)


Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas PG-13

Loudmouth, pistol-packing granny Madea, a character created, written and portrayed by Tyler Perry in numerous stage plays, returns for her eighth film—in yet another adaptation of a Perry play. This time, Madea is persuaded by a friend’s cash offer, to accompany that friend for a surprise holiday visit to the friend’s daughter’s home. It seems the daughter, set to marry into a family of rednecks, has lost her moral compass. Never fear! Righter of wrongs, Madea is here! At Rotten Tomatoes, Perry’s seven previous Madea films have a low average approval rating, but thanks to Perry’s loyal fan base, these inexpensively made offerings are extremely profitable. (L.M.)


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