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On Demand movie highlights

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

(Showtime on Comcast) Lemony Snicket has sold out — and his movie is better for it. The Hollywood version of Daniel Handler’s gloomy-funny books has sentimental moments and — gasp! — a happy ending, and there’s Jim Carrey as antic Count Olaf. But the film looks beautiful, has inspired performances by Emily Browning (as Violet), Liam Aiken (Klaus), and Meryl Streep (Aunt Josephine), and is made with wit and craft. (PG; runs through Oct. 31)

Much Ado About Nothing

(Comcast Movie Collections: Just In) Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson, in the high noon of their careers, are ideal as Shakespeare’s strong, witty adult lovers, Beatrice and Benedick. Branagh’s setting of the film in a Tuscan villa bathes the comedy in heady, summery sensuality. (PG-13; runs through Dec. 23)

The Purge½

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(Comcast Movie Collections: Just In) What might have been a promising concept falls flat as the film resorts to a pastiche of hackneyed thriller motifs. Sometime in the future unemployment and crime have been eradicated by means of an annual “Purge” during which crime is unpunished. Writer-director James DeMonaco could have made some points about class and violence but chooses instead to demonstrate his ineptitude at duplicating genre clichés. (R; runs through Feb. 26)

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