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The Cricket
Sean P. Means
Sean is the movie critic and columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @moviecricket.

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Meryl Streep plays the matriarch of a dysfunctional Oklahoma family in "August: Osage County," an adaptation of Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Courtesy The Weinstein Company
Friday movie roundup: A future-perfect romance

It’s a fascinating choice at the movie theaters this weekend: The frontiers of love, the battle lines of a fractured family, or the confusion of combat.

Spike Jonze’s romance "Her" is nearly a perfect movie, a beautifully rendered and heartfelt near-future story of a lonely writer (Joaquin Phoenix) who develops a relationship with his computer operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). The movie is more than just a romance, but an examination of what it means to fall in love and to grow in a relationship.

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The weekend’s potential awards magnet is "August: Osage County," a star-filled adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play. The story tells of three daughters (Julia Roberts, Julianna Nicholson, Juliette Lewis) called home to deal with their pill-popping and tart-tongued mother (Meryl Streep). The performances vary from the understated to the over-the-top, with Streep chewing the most scenery.

"Lone Survivor" is a "based on a true story" drama about a Navy SEAL mission going wrong in Afghanistan in 2005. The combat sequences, showing four SEALs (Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch and Taylor Kitsch) defending their position and each other, have a visceral impact. Other parts of the film, though, feel forced and sentimentalized.

The last studio movie is "The Legend of Hercules," a loud and idiotic look at the Greek muscleman’s origins — starring hunky Kellan Lutz as Herc. The movie was screened for critics late, and a full review will be posted online later today.

Lastly, the Broadway has the luminously gorgeous Italian comedy-drama "The Great Beauty," which follows an aging novelist (Toni Servillo) who starts to fight back against the shallowness of the Rome party scene he’s been enjoying for decades. The movie is an offbeat commentary on the glitterati, and a sumptuous travelogue of the Eternal City.

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