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Film Clips: This weekend's movie openings and more May 21 2010

This week brings unconventional to the mainstream as acting becomes less professional and more real in Mid-August Lunch, Bollywood meets Hollywood in Kites, and SNL's much-anticipated MacGuyver spoof joins the final installment of Shrek.

OPENING FRIDAY

HARRY BROWN (R ) Michael Caine stars in this violent crime drama about an English pensioner who takes arms against neighborhood criminals. It sounds comparable to Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino, only with Cockney accents.

KITES (NR) Las Vegas provides the setting of this U.S.-friendly Bollywood musical about two star-crossed lovers (Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori) who struggle to be together.

MACGRUBER 4 stars (R ) “Saturday Night Live’s” “MacGuyver”-esque man of action explodes onto the big screen when oily arms dealer Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) steals a Russian nuclear war-head, bringing MacGruber (Will Forte) out of retirement. Director Jorma Taccone helms a nearly pitch-perfect parody of “24” and Stallone-era shoot ‘em-up clichés, with Ryan Phillipe and Kristen Wiig serving as a terrific foils to Forte’s over-the-top idiocy. Violent, silly and occasionally embarrassing to watch, MacGruber’s arsenal of dumb jokes seldom shoots blanks. — Holman

MID-AUGUST LUNCH Think of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and that is the exact opposite of the relationship between the four women in the Mid-August Lunch. After three years of unpaid electric bills, the 50-something bachelor, Gianni Di Gregorio, strikes a deal with the condo's manager, Luigi: Giani will look after his mother during the Roman Holiday, Ferragosto in exchange for the money. However, the apartment, which houses Giani and his mother, soon becomes a kind of geriatric ward as he shelter's Luigi's mother, her sister, and his doctor's mother as well. And as with any group of females, there is some drama and good food. With a cast of non-professional actors (playing themselves), this film gives a realistic portrayal of sociability among the elderly.

RACING DREAMS 4 stars (PG) With a title that evokes the acclaimed basketball documentary Hoop Dreams, Marshall Curry’s film reveals the NASCAR aspirations of three young champions on the Go-Kart circuit. The racing scenes prove more exciting than you’d expect, but the subjects’ life stories become most compelling, particularly a temperamental competitor with a stormy family life and a girl whose interests broaden to beyond the track as she blossoms to young womanhood. You don’t have to know much about NASCAR for Racing Dreams to rev your motor. — Holman

THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES 3 stars (R ) In this Argentinian winner of Best Foreign Language Film, a retired federal investigator (the reliably superb Ricardo Darin) begins writing a novel about a haunting rape and murder from the mid-1970s, drawing attention both to the case’s unsettling loose ends and his own unrequited love for a colleague (Soledad Villamil). Reminiscent of the gritty American crime dramas of the 1980s, The Secret in Their Eyes features some manipulative twists but also explores the ambiguities of memory and fiction. — Holman

SHREK FOREVER AFTER 2 stars (PG) Overwhelmed by the pressures of family life, Shrek (Mike Myers) strikes a bargain with Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dorhn) for one day as an unencumbered single ogre. The It’s a Wonderful Life style contract a world in which Shrek was never born and is a stranger to his wife (Cameron Diaz) and donkey friend (Eddie Murphy). The fourth Shrek film emphasizes downbeat adventure over funny bodily functions, so it’s less funny than its predecessors. But if you never liked the Shrek brand of humor, you’ll find the film less unfunny, which may be a plus. — Holman