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Dirty Girl (R)

Anchor Bay

Writer-director Abe Sylvia's portrait of a liberatingly slutty high-school girl who doesn't take anyone's shit is a very good movie — for its first half. Dirty Girl starts in 1987 at a school that teaches abstinence and banishes Danielle (Juno Temple) to the special-needs class because of one too many colorful outbursts. In her new environment, she's paired with tortured gay kid Clarke (Jeremy Dozier), whose father wants to send him to military school for singing show tunes. Between Temple's wild abandon and several tongue-in-cheek musical numbers, this high-school portion feels like the kind of show Glee should be. Unfortunately, when Danielle decides to travel with Clarke cross-country (in Clarke's father's car and on his dime) in search of her biological father, the film falls apart. All that remains is sentimental schlock and caricatures. But man, that first half is just exhilarating. — Justin Strout


There Be Dragons (PG-13)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

When faith is outlawed, only outlaws will have faith. That's the moral center of Roland (The Killing Fields) Joffé's latest historical epic. There Be Dragons follows the lives of two men — beloved priest (and founder of Opus Dei) Josemaría Escrivá and his fictional childhood friend (and volatile fascist collaborator) Manolo — as they make their way through the Spanish Civil War. With priests routinely killed in the streets by the communist resistance, Escriva finds a way to stay alive while shepherding his flock to safety. Meanwhile, Manolo spies for the fascists, infiltrating the resistance while trying to control his jealousy, as the woman he's enamored with falls for their leader. Escriva's storyline is moving and inspirational, but Manolo's is fairly unnecessary. Still, that's a minor criticism for such a powerful movie about the ultimate victory of faith and redemption over war and hatred. — Louis Fowler


Saving Private Perez (PG-13)


You've heard of The Expendables? Well, get ready for The Mexpendables! If I had viewed the Mexican-lensed action-comedy Saving Private Perez in 2011, it would have surely made my Top 5 list. In a raucous send-up of heroic rescue movies like the aforementioned Expendables, Miguel Rodarte is narco-cowboy crime-lord Julian Perez, who, in an effort to get back in the good graces of his ailing mother, takes on a mission to rescue his brother, an MIA American soldier captured by terrorists in Iraq. Perez puts together a team of eclectic warriors, including a shamanistic tomato vendor, and rams headfirst into the Middle East's most explosive war zones. Very stylistic, very funny and very action-packed, it's actually most interesting because it allows you to hear subtle commentary from the Mexican people about the Iraq war. It's a side of the argument you almost never hear. — Louis Fowler

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