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The only excuse for remaking a good foreign movie for the American market is to make it better; otherwise it's an exercise in cynicism. Two of the cynics in this case are producers George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh (Soderbergh also worked on the script pseudonymously). Last time around they squeezed most of the good stuff out of Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris, and this time they're adapting Nine Queens (2000), Fabian Bielinsky's very entertaining Argentinean thriller about two con artists that anticipated the country's economic collapse. The filmmakers have lovingly retained and expanded on that film's only flaws, some implausible plot details. But even without the same cultural significance, it's still a good story, and the interesting cast—John C. Reilly, Diego Luna, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathan Tucker, and Peter Mullan—helps us overlook some of its holes. R, 87 min.

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