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Also opening: 'W.,' 'Max Payne,' 'Sex Drive'

Oliver Stone movies have speculated about a dead U.S. president (JFK) and a disgraced one (Nixon). Now the Academy Award-winning filmmaker focuses upon a lame duck chief executive in W. (PG-13), doubtlessly an unauthorized biography of President George W. Bush.

Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men) plays Bush from his early years raising hell to his recent months catching it. Stone makes no bones about disliking Bush's administration, so W. might be subtitled Natural Born Republicans. Such ax-grinding is what conservative critics expected from Nixon, which turned out as a sympathetic portrait of a flawed political icon.

All the president's men and women are in W., from Vice President Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss) and former senior adviser Karl Rove (Toby Jones) to Barbara Bush (Ellen Burstyn) and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (Thandie Newton). Stone claims his movie is based on exhaustive research and plans to launch a Web site with footnotes for what's onscreen.

A review of W. will be published Friday on Etc, Page 2B, and a look at Stone's political leanings throughout his career will appear Sunday in Floridian.

Mark Wahlberg recently promised fans that he's through with nice-guy roles for a while, after The Happening flopped. He's trying hard with Max Payne (PG-13), an action flick based on a violent, popular video game.

The film's producers are more interested in raising cash than Wahlberg's tough image. Max Payne was originally rated R before 13 minutes of mayhem were cut to gain a PG-13 rating, allowing children to buy tickets. (The movie is now only 86 minutes long.) The studio can later sell fans an unrated, uncut DVD version.

Wahlberg plays the aptly named title character, a DEA agent who seeks revenge after his family is murdered. He'll need backup, arriving in the shapely form of Mila Kunis (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) as Mona Sax, a professional assassin whose sister was killed by the same villains.

A review of Max Payne will be published Saturday on Etc, Page 2B.

Sex Drive (R) delivers what the title promises, a teenage road trip so a nerd can lose his virginity to someone he met on the Internet. The Motion Picture Association's rating is due to "strong crude and sexual content, nudity, language, some drug and alcohol use — all involving teens." Where is Dateline NBC's predator-catcher Chris Hansen when you need him?

Also opening: 'W.,' 'Max Payne,' 'Sex Drive' 10/15/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 4:30am]
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