Director: Joel Schumacher. With Chris Rock, Anthony Hopkins, Garcelle Beauvais, Brooke Smith. (120 min.)
Sterritt ** See full review, page 15.
Director: Callie Khouri. With Ellen Burstyn, Ashley Judd, Sandra Bullock, Maggie Smith, Shirley Knight. (118 min.)
Sterritt * See full review, page 15.
Director: Zacharias Kunuk. With Natar Ungalaaq, Sylvia Ivalu, Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq, Lucy Tulugarjuk. (172 min.)
Sterritt *** See full review, page 15.
Director: Bernard Rose. With Danny Huston, Peter Weller, Lisa Enos, James Merendino, Valeria Golino. (92 min.)
Sterritt *** The decline and fall of a loose-living Hollywood power broker is based partly on Leo Tolstoy's great novella "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" and partly on real show-business scandals. Evidently inspired by his own disgust with blind commercialism in the film industry, Rose makes good use of video techniques to build a documentary-like mood. The acting is uneven, but Huston's performance gains eerie intensity as the tale moves from sensationalistic melodrama to humanistic tragedy.
About a Boy (PG-13)
Directors: Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz. With Hugh Grant, Toni Collette, Nicholas Hoult. (101 min.)
Sterritt * Grant plays a mischievous bachelor who pretends he has a child so he can hunt wooable women in a single-parents club, then becomes the unexpected friend of a real 12-year-old who needs help to overcome his geekiness and make a hit with his peers. Hoult is excellent as the kid, but there's little he or Grant can do with the movie's most mawkish moments.
Staff *** Wryly humorous, cute, unconventional.
Sex/Nudity: 1 scene, and some innuendo. Violence: About 5 scenes with bullying. Profanity: 44 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 14 scenes with alcohol, 9 with smoking.
Director: Henry Bean. With Ryan Gosling, Summer Phoenix, Billy Zane, Theresa Russell. (92 min.)
Sterritt **** Gosling plays a 20-something Jew with a deadly hatred of Jewish life, faith, and history whose friends range from rage-filled local thugs to a pair of intellectually sophisticated neofascists. Based on a real case history, Bean's screenplay paints an excruciatingly vivid portrait of the most dangerous person a tolerant society can have a zealot who's as mentally agile as he is morally misguided. The result is a stunningly smart, genuinely disturbing drama.
Sex/Nudity: 4 instances, including implied sex and nudity. Profanity: 74 harsh expressions.
Director: Roman Coppola. With Jeremy Davies, Elodie Bouchez, Gérard Depardieu. (100 min.)
Sterritt ** Two filmmakers in Paris about 30 years ago one a documentary director, the other a science-fiction storyteller who can't figure out how to finish his current production head for confusion when they fall for the same glamorous actress. Coppola's satirical debut movie is too ambitious for its own good. The cast is good, though, and ambition isn't the worst fault a fledgling filmmaker can have.
Director: Michael Apted. With Jennifer Lopez, Bill Campbell, Juliette Lewis, Dan Futterman. (111 min.)
Staff *1/2 "Slim" (Lopez) is a hardworking waitress who marries a wealthy stranger she meets while serving burgers and coleslaw. Mitch whisks her away into an ostensibly picture-perfect life but when Slim discovers Mitch is a philanderer and confronts him, he starts beating her. With help, she musters the courage to escape from his possessive grip. This disturbing story highlights major flaws in the legal system and the dire struggles abuse victims face: from a lack of money and housing to a lost sense of security. It's exploitative at times, especially when the victim learns martial arts, then aggressively channels her newfound might against Mitch. The ending may seem justified, but unfortunately it teaches the only way to fight violence is with violence. By Stephanie Cook
Sex/Nudity: 7 scenes, mostly innuendo, 1 with nudity. Violence: 6 scenes. Profanity: 11 expressions. Drugs: 2 scenes with drinking.
Director: Oliver Parker. With Rupert Everett, Frances O'Connor, Reese Witherspoon. (94 min.)
Staff *** If a dreamy romp and Oscar Wilde don't seem as if they should go together, then British director Oliver Parker has a surprise for fans of one of Wilde's great comedies. This late Victorian-era farce, the first film rendition of this play in 50 years, is based on the slimmest of conceits: that only a man named Earnest is marriage material to two English lasses, played winningly by Witherspoon and O'Connor. On the heels of his successful "An Ideal Husband," this film is a nice addition to the updating of classic British theater works. By Gloria Goodale
Staff ***1/2 Freshly frivolous, witty, well-acted.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: None. Drugs: 11 scenes with drinking and smoking.
Director: Christopher Nolan. With Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank, Maura Tierney. (118 min.)
Sterritt *** The aging detective played by Pacino believes a cop can't sleep if he's stuck on a case or bothered by his conscience, and he has both problems as he hunts the killer of a teenage girl in a small Alaska community. Good acting and slow but steady dramatic rhythms lend moody power to this well-written thriller, which becomes something of a horror movie as the main character's mental disorientation transforms the plot from whodunit mystery to psychological nightmare.
Staff ***Smart, gripping, great cinematography
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 11, including beatings and shooting. Profanity: 30 harsh expressions.
Director: Dover Kosashvili. With Lior Ashkenazi, Ronit Elkabetz, Moni Moshonov. (100 min.)
Sterritt **** After an unpromising start, this unpredictable comedy-drama becomes a dazzlingly funny-sad account of a man's attempt to avoid an arranged marriage despite his family's insistence on keeping old traditions alive in the Republic of Georgia. The acting is superb, the filmmaking is imaginative, and the story never goes where you expect. In Georgian and Hebrew with English subtitles.
Director: Michael Haneke. With Isabelle Huppert, Benoit Magimel, Annie Girardot. (130 min.)
Sterritt *** Huppert is brilliant as a music teacher whose obsessively respectable life masks darker desires that break through the surface when she becomes fixated on a man she's just met. This disrupts the orderly existence she shares with her demanding mother and sparks self-destructive actions that build to the story's bleak conclusion. Haneke probes negative aspects of modern life in all his movies, and this is his most psychologically detailed film. Its grimness is explicit.
Director: Christine Jeffs. With Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki, Marton Scokas, Sarah Peirse. (98 min.)
Sterritt *** This is a psychologically charged story of a 13-year-old girl whose adolescence is complicated by sexual tensions linked with her parents' troubled marriage. Jeffs is an unusually gifted director, but her screenplay never quite gets a firm grip or fresh perspective on its coming-of-age subject.
Staff **1/2 Sleepy drama, dark, thoughtful
Sex/Nudity: 7 scenes, including partial nudity. Violence: 1 scene with drowning. Profanity: None. Drugs: 17 drinking scenes, 10 scenes with smoking.
Director: Samuel Raimi. With Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco. (121 min.)
Staff ***The long-awaited "Spider-Man," finally swings and soars his way across Gotham City, marking the 40th anniversary of the Marvel Comics creation. The teen turned superhero after being bitten by a mutant spider, delivers a visually impressive turn, saving damsels and confronting his own demons in a satisfying high-tech action flick. Parents will appreciate the emphasis on duty and sacrifice while teens will enjoy the coming-of-age struggles of an extra-ordinary kid trying to get the girl and save the world from super-villains. By Gloria Goodale
Staff ***1/2 Best superhero film, exhilarating, action galore.
Sex/Nudity: 1 wet T-shirt scene. Violence: Cartoonish violence in most scenes, but few are graphic. Profanity: 2 harsh expressions. Drugs: 3 scenes with alcohol, 1 with cigar.
Directors: Kelly Asbury, Lorna Cook. With voices of Matt Damon, James Cromwell, Daniel Studi. (84 min.)
Sterritt ** The adventures of a wild stallion who wants to stay wild, the young Indian who befriends him, and a mean-tempered cavalry captain who wants to break his will and hold him in captivity. The proudly traditional style of this kid-friendly animation seems rather tame in the age of "Shrek" and "Monsters, Inc.," but the action is mild enough for fairly young children, and grownups may enjoy its old-fashioned spirit.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 11 scenes, none graphic. Profanity: None. Drugs: 1 instance cigar smoking.
Director: George Lucas. With Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman Samuel L. Jackson. (136 min.)
Sterritt ** Anakin Skywalker is now a fledgling Jedi knight who helps Senator Padmé, his former Tatooine playmate, hide from assassins while Obi-Wan Kenobi probes a threat from Dark Side enemies. The film has a broader range of emotions and visual effects than any "Star Wars" installment since "The Empire Strikes Back," but the writing and acting are as stiff as R2-D2's metal torso. If clones are so scary, why does Lucas keep cloning pop-culture clichés he's latched onto from other films, including his own?
Staff **1/2 Cheezy dialogue, uninspired acting, technologically dazzling, Yoda is fantastic!
Sex/Nudity: None. Some mild innuendo. Violence: 12 scenes, some long. Profanity: None. Drugs: 2 scenes with alcohol-like drinks.
Director: Phil Alden Robinson. With Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell, Liev Schreiber.
Staff **1/2 The fourth in Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series to make it to the screen, this film imagines the US after a terrorist nuclear blast destroys Baltimore. The film arrived amid much speculation about America's readiness to see terrorism as entertainment, but the director chose to show little actual damage. More chilling may be the US President's calm willingness to deploy top government agents to assassinate the bad guys, rather than bring them to face the rule of law. By Gloria Goodale
Director: Jill Sprecher. With Alan Arkin, Matthew McConaughey, Amy Irving, John Turturro. (94 min.)
Staff ***1/2 A series of interrelated vignettes in the lives of several New Yorkers begins with a successful prosecutor who is haunted by his own hidden crime. Arkin is especially poignant as an aging middle manager who finds his life crumbling around him. Some viewers may decide the film is about whether fortune or luck exists. Others may decide it shows love and good deeds are the only things that give life meaning. The stories are both frustratingly and satisfyingly open-ended. By Gregory M. Lamb
Sex/Nudity: None. Drugs: 3 scenes with drinking, 2 with smoking and 1 with illegal drugs.
Director: Malcolm Lee. With Eddie Griffin, Chris Kattan, Denise Richards. (88 min.)
Staff * "Undercover Brother" should have stayed undercover, brother. Imagine "Shaft" meets "Austin Powers," but not as cool or as funny. Our jive-talking hero, played by Eddie Griffin, is recruited by a group of vigilantes trying to bring down "the Man" after discovering that he is distributing mind-controlling drugs through a fried chicken fast-food chain. After infiltrating the "whitey" world, Brother is seduced by White She-Devil, (Richards) and forgets his mission. Thankfully, the vigilantes help him remember Roots both the TV series and his own. Unfortunately, you quickly realize you've heard all these jokes before. By Stuart S. Cox Jr.
Director: Adrian Lyne. With Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Olivier Martinez, Erik Per Sullivan.
Staff ** This movie is based on the 1968 French film "La Femme Infidèle." Lane and Gere play an affluent couple living in a New York suburb with their son and dog. Their lifestyle is as comfortable as the V-neck sweaters that Gere sports daily. But the mood changes when Lane falls for a sexy French book dealer in SoHo. The movie's flaw lies in the screenplay it fails to shed light on why she wants to have an affair. OK, she's bored, he's great-looking, but that doesn't seem to be enough in this story. What works is Lane's performance. She moves from being happy to sad and confused without saying a word.By Lisa Leigh Parney
Staff **1/2 Lacks depth, suspenseful, tragic.
Sex/Nudity: 9 scenes with graphic sex. Violence: 2 scenes, 1 is bloody. Profanity: 28 expressions. Drugs: 7 scenes with alcohol, 3 with smoking.