Director: John Irvin. With Phil Barantini, Andrea Corr, Patrick Bergin, Margi Clarke. (90 min.)
Sterritt *** Brits travel to Ireland in hopes of winning a traditional-music contest. Lots of lively tunes and spirited acting.
Director: Sergio Castellitto. With Sergio Castellitto, Penélope Cruz, Claudia Gerini, Pietro De Silva. (125 min.)
Sterritt ** Cruz transforms her glamorous image remarkably, playing a working-class Italian woman who gets sexually involved with a married physician. The story wants to be a sort of "Last Tango in Paris" redux, but it falls into mere melodrama after a brilliant beginning. In Italian with subtitles.
Director: Florent Siri. With Bruce Willis, Michelle Horn, Kevin Pollak, Serena Scott Thomas (113 min.)
Sterritt ** Newly arrived in the job of a small-town sheriff, a former hostage negotiator faces two awful situations at once. He has to rescue youngsters held by thugs in a fortified house and also save his own family from kidnappers. The action is dynamically filmed and Willis is at his best. Suspense is soon hijacked by outright gore and grisliness, though.
Director: John Boorman. With Samuel L. Jackson, Juliette Binoche, Brendan Gleeson, Menzi "Ngubs" Ngubane. (104 min.)
Sterritt *** Jackson plays a skeptical American journalist covering Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings after the fall of apartheid in South Africa, where he meets a white South African writer (Binoche) who hopes the proceedings will help her country heal. Boorman treats this moving, important subject with restraint, tact, and candid views of horrors suffered by the nation. In English and Afrikaans with subtitles.
Director: Danny Boyle. With Alexander Nathan Etel, Lewis Owen McGibbon, James Nesbitt, Jane Hogarth. (97 min.)
Sterritt *** Two young English boys stumble on a bag crammed with pounds just before Britain switches to the euro, and if they don't decide how to use the cash fast, it'll be worthless. Is it a gift from God, as one believes, or just a chance to win friends and influence people, as the other thinks? Their exploits
swerve among the dreamlike, the mundane, and the inspired. You never know what to expect from Boyle, and that goes triple in this offbeat comedy drama. It's a movie about family that family viewers will find good, quirky fun.
Director: Campbell Scott. With Joan Allen, Sam Elliott, Valentina de Angelis, J.D. Hawkins. (105 min.)
Sterritt **** Domestic eccentricities - some amusing and some troubling - surface when the IRS arrives to audit a New Mexico family that lives in the middle of nowhere. Scott has the courage to let the imaginative story unfold at its own leisurely pace, and it's not surprising that the acting is excellent, considering that he's among the very best American screen actors. Too bad he didn't include himself in the first-rate cast.
Director: Chris Wedge. With voices of Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Mel Brooks, Jennifer Coolidge. (89 min.)
Sterritt ** The animated adventures of a young robot with big ambitions, and an old robot who's been kicked out of his own business by a profit-hungry upstart. The visuals are spectacular at times, but the screenplay is trite, intermittently vulgar, and just not funny.
Director: Daniel Kraus. With Ronald E. Hewett and various North Carolina residents. (76 min.)
Sterritt ** Documentary about a North Carolina sheriff. Some of the material is dramatic, other bits are dull. It takes a Frederick Wiseman to pull off this kind of study with flair.
Director: Mike Binder. With Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, Evan Rachel Wood, Mike Binder. (118 min.)
Sterritt ** See review.
Director: Brian Levant. With Ice Cube, Nia Long, Jay Mohr, Aleisha Allen. (95 min.)
Sterritt ** You may ask yourself that question as you watch a kid-phobic man take a road trip with the kids of a single mom he wants to woo. Cube is cute and Long is lovely, but the youngsters are too smug to bear. At least there's a heartwarming end to the excursion.
Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 14 scenes of comic violence. Profanity: 4 mild profanities. Drugs: 1 scene with alcohol.
Director: Martin Scorsese. With Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale. (170 min.)
Sterritt *** Large-scale epic about the life and times of Howard Hughes, focusing on his experiences as a filmmaker, aircraft designer, and world-class eccentric. DiCaprio is excellent as Hughes and Blanchett is even better as Katharine Hepburn. The film largely lacks the personal, idiosyncratic touches that distinguish Scorsese's greatest work, though.
Director: Kim Ki-duk. With Jo Jae-Hyeon, Seo Won, Choi Duek-mun. (100 min.)
Sterritt ** Bizarre affection blooms between a South Korean thug and a woman forced into prostitution. Certainly offbeat, but not on a level with director Kim's previous work about marginalized people. In Korean with subtitles.
Director: F. Gary Gray. With John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Cedric the Entertainer, Christina Milian. (114 min.)
Sterritt *Sequel to the 1995 hit "Get Shorty," with crook Chili Palmer putting his muscle behind the career of a gifted African-American singer. The overlong comedy has few laughs and flirts far too much with racist, homophobic humor. A waste of a fine cast.
Director: Wayne Wang. With Jeff Daniels, AnnaSophia Robb, Cicely Tyson, Eva Marie Saint. (106 min.)
Sterritt ** New to a small town where her father is the preacher, a young girl makes new friends including a couple of aging women and a friendly pooch she names after the grocery store where she finds him. Bland, amiable, innocuous.
Director: Francis Lawrence. With Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Peter Stormare, Tilda Swinton. (118 min.)
Sterritt ** Reeves plays a James Bond of the supernatural, tracking down demons and helping a mournful woman solve the mystery of her twin sister's suicide. The story is a retread of the old "Exorcist" and "Omen" formats, but it delivers as much action and spectacle as fans of the genre could want.
Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of innuendo.Violence: 34 instances Profanity: 33 instances.Drugs: 12; smoking in almost every scene.
Director: Wes Craven. With Christina Ricci, Shannon Elizabeth, Joshua Jackson, Portia de Rossi. (96 min.)
*1/2 A werewolf in Hollywood has infected several young people and ripped others to pieces. The survivors' struggle to escape the curse of becoming werewolves themselves leads to all manner of confrontation, most notably in a museum filled with wax effigies. Cast changes, reshoots, and reedits cursed this production from the beginning, and it shows. By M. K. Terrell
Director: Darren Grant. With Tyler Perry, Kimberly Elise, Steve Harris, Cicely Tyson. (117 min.)
Sterritt * Angry, vengeful emotions arise when an abused African-American wife is unceremoniously dumped by her awful husband. The movie seesaws between crude comedy and sudsy melodrama, and it's hard to decide which aspect is more ineptly handled. Plenty of mad moviegoers will put this in their diaries as one of the worst pictures in ages.
Directors: Michael Tucker, Petra Epperlein. With American soldiers in Baghdad. (86 min.)
Sterritt **** Documentary giving a grunt's-eye view of the Iraq war. Illuminating, disturbing, evenhanded.
Director: John Maybury. With Adrien Brody, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kris Kristofferson, Keira Knightley. (102 min.)
Sterritt *** Accused of murder, a veteran of the Persian Gulf war with amnesia lands in a hospital for the criminally insane where a psychiatrist subjects him to bizarre experiments. While the time-bending story is offbeat and ambitious, Maybury is more interested in striking images than in top-drawer performances from his talented cast.
Sex/Nudity: 4 scenes, including nudity. Violence: 12 scenes.Profanity: 26 harsh profanities.Drugs: 4 scenes of drinking, 6 scenes with smoking.
Director: Andy Tennant. With Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James, Amber Valletta. (118 min.)
Sterritt ** Smith is terrific as a "date doctor" who teaches klutzy men how to woo the women they fancy. But the screenplay is silly - anything for a laugh - and the comedy is far too long. Nice work from James and Valletta, perhaps inspired by Smith's refusal to let the material drag him down.
Staff ***Witty, sweet, fashionable.
Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes of innuendo. Violence: 6 scenes.Profanity: 31 profanities.Drugs: 8 scenes of drinking.
Director: Clint Eastwood. With Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman. (129 min.)
Sterritt **** Eastwood gives his deepest performance ever as an aging gym owner who reluctantly agrees to train a female prizefighter, played by Swank in excellent form. It's as bold as it is engrossing.
Staff *** Poignant, masterpiece, sad.
Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of innuendo. Violence: 13 fight scenes, often grisly. Profanity: 48 harsh profanities. Drugs: 2 scenes with drinking.
Director: Adam Shankman. With Vin Diesel, Lauren Graham, Brad Garrett. (91 min.)
Staff ** Hardened Navy commando Shane Wolf (Diesel) gets the most challenging assignment of his career: protecting the children of an assassinated scientist from agents seeking the top-secret program he was working on. Fortunately, the combination of the bodyguard's military discipline and hidden soft side give the family children the tough love they need. The Disney-like plotting is too predictable for most adults and teens, and violence puts it off-limits for young children, but 8- to 11-year-olds should find the slapstick amusing. By M.K. Terrell