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by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 10/8/07 1:21am

IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH

Years from now, when Americans shamefully survey the emotional and physical wreckage of the Iraq War, many will look back on "In the Valley of Elah" as the first film to successfully articulate our nation's anguish. The story is deceptively simple; a father goes looking for his lost son, who has disappeared after returning home from a tour of duty in Iraq. But if the plot of the film is sparse, the layers of silent pain beneath it are limitless and deep. -- A.J. Fox

EASTERN PROMISES

In spite of its flaws, there's something hypnotically compelling about "Eastern Promises." With its proclivity for garish violence, the film can hardly be called easy to watch, yet I found myself unable to turn away. Even as the story crumbles in his hands, Cronenberg's meticulous attention to mood and atmosphere sees the movie through. "Eastern Promises" plunges you deep into a world of dark and dirty beauty -- so much so that once the lights come up, you'll probably want a shower. -- A.J. Fox

3:10 TO YUMA

Director James Mangold ("Walk the Line") constructs "3:10 to Yuma" like the Westerns of film generations past, but with the addition of fantastic performances by Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Brutal and gritty, it hearkens back to times of true honor, loyalty and no-nonsense savagery between fellow 'Mericans. Also an asset to the film's succes is man-boy villain Charlie Prince played by Ben Foster, whose icy eyes say "crazy cowboy" in the creepiest of ways. --Meredith Fraser