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The Special Relationship (NR)


This surprisingly minor HBO movie acts as the in-between summation of what writer Peter Morgan began — the rise and fall of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair — with 2003's The Deal and 2006 standout The Queen. It picks up with Michael Sheen's Blair in full PM swagger, the toast of his country but also of Washington, D.C., where Bill Clinton (Dennis Quaid, whose W. facsimile in American Dreamz was weirdly better) shows Blair how to truly peacock it out, so to speak. Between intervention deals in Northern Ireland and Kosovo, Blair goes from starry-eyed sycophant to media hero. The typically stellar Hope Davis gets Hillary all wrong, but the juiciest bit is the Darth Vader-like introduction of Blair's other relationship, with George W. Bush, that'll lead to his downfall in what one hopes will be a Queen-esque follow-up. — Justin Strout


I'm Still Here (R)

Magnolia Home Entertainment

Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck have admitted their documentary, I'm Still Here, was a hoax, an Andy Kaufman-esque inside joke on celebrity backlash. At least that's the party line we've been spewed, which would be all well and good if Phoenix and Affleck had the comedic abilities of Kaufman. Instead, what you get are obnoxious, spoiled hipsters who now seem to be backtracking nonstop — of course everyone knew that it was a joke as it was filming. Who would really believe Phoenix quitting acting to go into rap? But, then again, maybe that's the real joke ...? The only honest segment in the whole thing: when the thick-bearded Phoenix (as seen on Letterman) breaks down crying, realizing that after this no one will take him or his career seriously ever again; if that's true, this is one fascinatingly destructive résumé-killer. — Louis Fowler


The Extra Man (R)

Magnolia Home Entertainment

Forced quirkiness: It's become a cinematic cottage industry that has hopefully reached its peak production output with the gratingly twee The Extra Man, based on the novel by the overrated Jonathan Ames. If viewed from the trailer, this is definitely charming-looking, with Kevin Kline as a mincing low-rent gigolo and the unbearably low-key Paul Dano as his roommate/apprentice. Think of it as Deuce Bigalow, imagined by Wes Anderson. Too bad the final product is a pointless exercise in pseudo-cleverness, guaranteed to have everyone outside the dutiful NYC hipster crowd lamenting that they just blew a dollar on a lame NetFlix rental. Even worse, the directors, Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, the team behind 2003's masterpiece American Splendor, might have just proven themselves one-hit wonders. — Louis Fowler

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