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Movie Guide

August 24, 2001

New Releases The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (PG-13)

Director: Woody Allen. With Woody Allen, Helen Hunt, Dan Aykroyd, Charlize Theron, David Ogden Stiers, Brian Markinson, Elizabeth Berkley, Wallace Shawn. (93 min.)

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Sterritt ** Allen falls back on fast-talking comedy and old-movie nostalgia in this parody of 1940s melodrama, with Woody as an insurance investigator trying to unravel a crime that he committed himself after a session with a sinister nightclub hypnotist. There are lots of plot twists and romantic angles. What's lacking is laughs.

Ghosts of Mars (R)

Director: John Carpenter. With Ice Cube, Natasha Henstridge, Jason Statham, Pam Grier, Clea Duvall, Joanna Cassidy. (98 min.)

Sterritt * Earthlings living in a Martian colony battle hostile forces who resent this alien invasion of their desolate red planet. Carpenter pulls out all the action-adventure stops, but he and coscripter Larry Sulkis forgot to write dialogue the audience could listen to without howling in disbelief. Henstridge is fun to watch as the Martian cop, though, and Ice Cube still has a powerful screen presence, even when he isn't bothering to act.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (R)

Director: Kevin Smith. With Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Shannon Elizabeth, Ben Affleck, Chris Rock, Jason Lee, Matt Damon. (99 min.)

Sterritt * The title characters have appeared regularly in Smith comedies like "Dogma" and "Chasing Amy," and they take over the story here, traveling to Hollywood to register their protest that Miramax is making a movie about them without giving them a cut of the profits. There are enough four-letter words and smarmy sex gags to stock a dozen ordinary movies, but even fans of Jay and Silent Bob may find the story too slender and the jokes too repetitive to be much fun.

Monterey Pop (Not rated)

Director: D.A. Pennebaker. With Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, The Mamas and the Papas, Simon and Garfunkel. (78 min.)

Sterritt *** This nonfiction visit to the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, first released in 1969 to great acclaim, documents high-energy performances by a wide range of top-ranking '60s rock musicians. It captures their magic with a freewheeling spontaneity that became a model for later pop-music movies and made Pennebaker a directorial star of the cinéma-vérité documentary movement.

Summer Catch (PG-13)

Director: Michael Tolin. With Freddie Prinze Jr., Jessica Biel, Bruce Davidson, Brian Dennehy. (108 min.)

Staff ** Blue-collar hometown boy and pro lawn mower Ryan Dunne (Freddie Prince Jr.) has big-league aspirations. It's summertime on Cape Cod, and when he's not mowing the lawn of his rich girlfriend, Tenley Parish (Jessica Biel), he's playing on a Cape League baseball team. Saddled with troubles in his family and a huge lack of belief in himself, Ryan strives to take Tenley's advice, "allow yourself to succeed," and make his dreams come true. This story about falling in love and finding yourself has its share of bad acting. But "Summer Catch" turns out to be a well-meaning, light, and fluffy comedy with plenty of good giggles. By Deborah Henderson

Together (R)

Director: Lukas Moodysson. With Lisa Lindgren, Michael Nyqvist, Gustav Hammarsten, Anja Lundqvist. (106 min.)

Sterritt *** The setting is a commune near Stockholm in the 1970s, the characters are aspiring nonconformists of assorted ages and genders, and the story is a loosely strung series of incidents geared more to conveying an atmosphere than absorbing us in situations. The result is an amiable look at a bygone time and a set of ideas about the world that once held far more power and magic than it does today. In Swedish with English subtitles.

Currently in Release American Outlaws (PG-13)

Director: Les Mayfield. With Colin Farrell, Scott Caan, Ali Larter, Timothy Dalton, Kathy Bates. (90 min.)

Staff DUD This depiction of the rise of notorious outlaw Jesse James wasn't meant to be overly serious, but Colin Farrell and his dastardly gang have all the screen presence of a bunch of frat boys playing cowboys and learning how to ride horses. Comparing the film to "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," as Warner Brothers has done, is like comparing "Rambo" to "Apocalypse Now." This dud will be forgotten by fall. By Matthew MacLean

American Pie 2 (R)