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What's new in entertainment

(McClatchy) - A look at what's new in movies, books, music, television, video games and DVDs for the weekend.

MOVIES:

"ABANDONED"

A horror film about an American woman who inherits a house in remote Russia that was left to her by her long-lost birth parents. When she visits the place she encounters a man who claims to be her brother, and the two discover the house holds some pretty grisly secrets. Starring Anastasia Hille, Karel Roden, Paraskeva Djukelova and Carlos Reig. Directed by Nacho Cerda. Released by Lions Gate and AfterDark Films. Rated R.

Official movie site

What the critics say:

This film was not available for review.

"THE ASTRONAUT FARMER"

Billy Bob Thornton stars as a man named Charles Farmer who has the long-held dream of becoming an astronaut. So Farmer builds a homemade rocket to launch himself into space, with his family serving as mission control on the ground. Alarmed at the risks he's taking, the government tries to stop him, but Farmer's determined to somehow achieve liftoff. With Virginia Madsen, Bruce Dern and Tim Blake Nelson. Directed by Michael Polish. Released by Warner Bros. Rated PG.

Official movie site

What the critics say:

"This movie works precisely because it's bereft of modern cinema's cynicism."

-Robert Wilonsky, The Village Voice

"'Astronaut' often is too corny for its own good."

-Sura Wood, The Hollywood Reporter

"THE NUMBER 23"

Jim Carrey takes on a serious role in this supernatural thriller about a man who receives a book that appears to be about his own life, and is even more alarmed to discover that the book describes him committing a murder some time in the near future. With Virginia Madsen, Logan Lerman, Danny Huston and Rhona Mitra. Directed by Joel Schumacher. Released by New Line Cinema. Rated R.

Official movie site

What the critics say:

"There's a mess of things wrong with this suspense thriller. Start with the fact that it's neither suspenseful nor thrilling."

-Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

"Noirish fantasy sequences and red herrings galore fail to enliven this straight-faced but silly exercise."

-Justin Chang, Variety

"RENO 911! MIAMI"

The incompetent cops from Comedy Central's "Reno 911!" hit the big screen as they try to foil a terrorist plot to disrupt a police convention in Miami but, as always, they probably manage to make things even worse. Starring Thomas Lennon, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Niecy Nash, Cedric Yarbrough, Carlos Alazraqui, Mary Birdsong and Wendi McLendon-Covey. Directed by Robert Ben Garant. Released by Paramount. Rated R.

Official movie site

What the critics say:

"Unusual for this misfit crew, the shot pretty much hits its intended target."-Michael Esposito, The Chicago Tribune

"(The movie) will suffice for fans hungry for new material and tired of waiting for the show's fourth season to end or the fifth to start."

-Dan Zak, The Washington Post

OPENING IN LIMITED RELEASE (check local listings):

"AMAZING GRACE"

A historical drama about 18th-century politician William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd), who led the fight in the British parliament to abolish slavery with the help of a motley group of allies that included a remorseful ex-slave ship captain (Albert Finney). With Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones, Rufus Sewell, Romola Garai and Michael Gambon. Directed by Michael Apted. Released by Roadside Attractions/Samuel Goldwyn Films. Rated PG.

What the critics say:

"'Amazing Grace' is a beautifully chiseled blunt instrument. No, it’s not subtle, but how -David Edelstein, New York Magazine

"The movie sings an old tune ... and it leaves the blood unstirred."

-Gregory Kirschling, Entertainment Weekly

"GRAY MATTERS"

This screwball comedy concerns a pair of close siblings (Tom Cavanaugh and Heather Graham) who end up falling for the same woman. Matters get more complicated when the brother impulsively proposes marriage to the woman, sending his sister into a jealous fit. With Bridget Moynahan, Molly Shannon and Sissy Spacek. Directed by Sue Kramer. Released by Yari Film Group. Rated PG-13.

What the critics say:

"Scripter/helmer Sue Kramer's awkward freshman outing eventually coasts on the genuine charm of its leads."

-Ronnie Scheib, Variety

"Sitcommy, forced and forgettable."

-Christy Lemire, The Associated Press





VIDEO:

"Conversations With God"

A drama based on the true story of Donald Walsch (Henry Czerny), a homeless man who pleaded with God for answers about life and underwent an unlikely spiritual conversion. With Ingrid Boulting, Vilma Silva and Bruce Page. Released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Rated PG. Available Feb. 27.

"A Good Year"

Russell Crowe reunites with "Gladiator" director Ridley Scott for this film about a London bonds trader who becomes enchanted with his uncle's Provence estate and realizes life may be about more than money and beating one's rivals. With Marion Cotillard, Abbie Cornish and Albert Finney. Released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13. Available Feb. 27.

"Little Einsteins: The Legend of the Golden Pyramid"Pint-sized explorers Leo, June, Quincy and Annie visit such sites as the Great Wall of China, the Egyptian pyramids and the Golden Gate Bridge in this animated adventure for kids. Released by Walt Disney Video. Available Feb. 27.

"The Return"

Sarah Michelle Gellar stars in this supernatural thriller as a young woman tormented by nightmares about murder. Believing she sees visions of a crime that actually took place, she sets off in search of the victim's hometown, knowing that she may somehow be the killer's next target. With Sam Shepard and Adam Scott. Directed by Asif Kapadia. Released by Universal Home Video. Rated PG-13. Available Feb. 27.

"Secret Agent (AKA Danger Man) - The Complete Collection"

The 30-minute version of the spy series starring Patrick McGoohan that aired in 1961 before being upgraded to a 60-minute program. Released by A&E Home Video. Available Feb. 27.

"Stranger Than Fiction"

Will Ferrell stars in this comic fantasy about an IRS auditor who begins to hear a woman's voice narrating the events in his life, and gradually realizes that he's a fictional character. Even worse than being fictional is that the author (Emma Thompson) has plans to kill him off. With Maggie Gyllenhaal and Dustin Hoffman. Directed by Marc Forster. Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13. Available Feb. 27.

"Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny"

Musical duo Tenacious D, aka Jack Black and Kyle Gass, star in this comedy about how these two guys came together and formed the greatest band in history thanks to a magical guitar pick. With Tim Robbins, Ben Stiller and Amy Poehler. Directed by Liam Lynch. Released by New Line Home Video. Rated R. Available Feb. 27.





VIDEO GAMES:

"Major League Baseball 2K7"

The latest edition of the baseball game offers updated player rosters and promises better animation and character modeling. Published by 2K Sports for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable. Rated E. Available Feb. 26.

"Bullet Witch"

Magic and gunplay mix in this action game that lets players guide a witch into battle against demons who have put mankind on the verge of extinction in the year 2013. Published by Atari for Xbox 360. Rated M. Available Feb. 27.

"Dance Dance Revolution: Universe"

This version of the popular dance game allows players to switch off with team members for long marathon competitions and offers an easy mode for beginners. Published by Konami for Xbox 360. Rated E-10+. Available Feb. 27.

"MLB 07: The Show"

Sony's newest baseball game tries to offer an even more immersive experience for players, with smarter pitchers and catchers whose signals you can follow or ignore. Features a "Road To The Show" mode in which players can be at bat or in the field in a more first-person fashion. Published by Sony Computer Entertainment for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable. Rated E. Available Feb. 26.

"The Sims 2: Seasons"

This edition of "the Sims" offers players the chance to engage in virtual activities that are tied to the seasons - gardening, swimming, ice skating - as well as control the weather and wear spiffy seasonal outfits. Published by Electronic Arts for PC. Rated T. Available Feb. 27.

"Samurai Warriors 2: Empires"

Set in Japan's feudal era when warlords battled each other for supremacy, this tactical game mixes combat, strategy and history. Players can plan ambushes, forge alliances and build armies using captured officers. Published by KOEI for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2. Rated T. Available Feb. 27.

"SSX Blur"

A snowboarding game that lets players be bad and do things like hurl snowballs at other boarders. Features new familiar characters from past SSX games, plus new ones. Published by Electronic Arts for Nintendo Wii. Rated E. Available Feb. 27.





MUSIC:

David Bromberg, "Try Me One More Time": The folk musician returns with a long-awaited album - his first in 16 years - that includes renditions of songs by such artists as Bob Dylan, Rev. Gary Davis and Robert Johnson. Released by Appleseed Records. In stores Feb. 27.

Paul Brown, "White Sand": The jazz guitarist gets help on this third solo album from guest artists such as Al Jarreau, Boney James and Lina. Released by Peak Records. In stores Feb. 27.

Do Make Say Think, "You You're a History in Rust (Dig)": The Canadian instrumental rock band's fifth album has vocals supplied by experimental music group Akron/Family. Released by Constellation. In stores Feb. 27.

Explosions in the Sky, "All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone": The band stubbornly sticks to its purely instrumental, no-vocals style in this new album that relies on propulsive guitar work and contemplative lulls to mesmerize listeners. Released by Bella Union. In stores Feb. 27.

Hayley Westenra, "Treasure": The New Zealand singer performs classical arias, Irish and Maori folk songs and her own original material. Released by Universal. In stores Feb. 27.

TV:

All times are EST/PST.

Sunday, Feb. 25

"The Academy Awards": Ellen DeGeneres hosts the biggest - and usually longest - awards show of the year. 8 p.m., ABC.

"Andes: The Dragon's Back": This program presented by PBS' "Nature" series explores the Andes, the world's longest mountain range that boasts an extraordinary range of extremes - from glaciers to rain forests to the world's driest desert - as it winds down to the tip of South America. 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

"The Simpsons": Monty Python's Eric Idle provides the voice of a documentary filmmaker who's chronicling the lives of some Springfield residents, including Marge and Homer. 8 p.m., Fox.

Monday, Feb. 26

"The Black Donnellys": A new crime show about a set of Irish-American brothers in New York who are mixed up in organized crime. 10 p.m., NBC.

Tuesday, Feb. 27

"American Idol": The top 12 guys perform as the ratings juggernaut eats up two whole hours of prime time. 8 p.m., Fox.

Wednesday, Feb. 28

"Black Sun": A documentary about French painter and filmmaker Hugues de Montalembert, who was blinded during a 1978 a burglar attack in his New York home. After a long struggle he managed to make a new life for himself in Paris and chronicle his experiences in a sightless world. 7 p.m., HBO.

"American Idol": This time the top 12 women perform in another two-hour episode. 8 p.m., Fox.

"America's Next Top Model": Tyra Banks joins a new set of emaciated wannabees as the contest show returns for a new round. 8 p.m., CW.

"Lost": Hurley discovers a wrecked car on the island. Dude! 10 p.m., ABC.





BOOKS:

Sophie Kinsella, "Shopaholic and Baby": The latest entry in the chick-lit series has pregnant Becky Bloomwood suspecting her husband of having an affair and hiring a detective between shopping forays. Published by Dell. In stores Feb. 27.

Sherwin B. Nuland, "The Art of Aging: A Doctor's Prescription for Well-Being": The award-winning author of "How We Die" examines the aging process and offers anecdotes from people stubbornly fighting the decline of their own health. Published by Random House. In stores Feb. 27.

Suze Orman, "Women and Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny": The financial expert looks at women's relationships with money and how many aren't getting the most out of their hard-won lucre. Published by Spiegel & Grau. In stores Feb. 27.

T. Jefferson Parker, "Storm Runners": A broken ex-cop who lost his family takes a job protecting a local celebrity from a stalker, not knowing it's the celebrity's private life that has gotten her such unwelcome attention. Published by HarperCollins. In stores Feb. 27.

Alison Weir, "Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey": Royal biographer Weir takes a stab at historical fiction with this novel about Lady Jane Grey and her short-lived ascension to the English throne. Published by Random House. In stores Feb. 27.

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