The Baltimore Sun

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: **** It starts in 1918, when Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) is born with an old face, dilapidated plumbing and wrinkled skin over an infant body, and ends in 2005, when his true love, Daisy (Cate Blanchett), completes the telling of his story. The movie's emotional completeness leaves you poised between sobbing and applauding - it comes from a full comprehension not just of one man's life, but of the intersection of many lives over the course of the 20th century. The director, David Fincher, working from a robust yet tender script by Eric Roth, weds his painter's eye to a composer's rhythm. His filmmaking has the musical beat, and the heartbeat, of a prime E.L. Doctorow novel rather than the wan F. Scott Fitzgerald story it's based on. PG-13 159 minutes

Marley & Me : *** Based on the autobiographical book by newspaper columnist John Grogan, Marley & Me is about a newly married couple who bring home a puppy. Aspiring journalist Grogan (Owen Wilson) buys the dog for his new wife, Jennifer (Jennifer Aniston). Marley, named for the visionary Jamaican reggae singer, quickly develops into an uncontrollable force of energy. Over the course of their years together, John, Jennifer and Marley have their share of adventures, but that's not really what Marley & Me is about. Instead, it's about the simple act of inviting an animal to share your life and marveling at how dependent you become on each other. PG 120 minutes (Chris Kaltenbach)

Slumdog Millionaire: **** This tinderbox of comedy and drama centers on the unlikeliest epic hero: a ragamuffin in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) who, at age 18, becomes a contender on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Gradually, the scrappy underclass hero comes to stand in for all of us. He teaches, by example, that if you sift through traumas and disappointments and get to the bottom of your own life, you can mine something of value; surrender with humility to destiny, and you may just discover that you've written your destiny yourself. R 120 minutes

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