Director: Young Man Kang. With Susan Petry, Everardo Gil, Toya Cho, Ken Yasuda, Young Man Kang. (70 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Sterritt * Los Angeles lovers pair off with one another on the rebound in this contemporary version of the old "La Ronde" idea. The acting is uneven and most of the romancing seems so mismatched that it's not surprising when things fall apart time after time. But there are appealing moments along the way, and the director gets impressive mileage with a budget that can only be called minuscule.
Director: Hassan Yektapanah. With Rashid Akbari, Valiollah Beta, Mahbobeh Khalili. (94 min.)
Sterritt **** The title character is an Afghani immigrant who works at a small Iranian dairy farm, where he shares his memories and hopes with his sympathetic boss. Their relationship grows more complicated when Djomeh falls in love with an Iranian woman and needs help winning her affection - no easy matter, given the strictness of Iranian courtship customs and the fact that he doesn't fit the local profile for a desirable catch. The performances of this quiet Iranian drama are utterly genuine, and the story is a delicate blend of slice-of-life realism and soft-spoken social commentary. In short, it's as smart and entertaining as they come. In Farsi with English subtitles
Director: Victor Salva. With Gina Philips, Justin Long, Jonathan Breck, Eileen Breenan.
Staff * Trish (Philips) and her brother, Darry (Long) are heading home from college. But this is no ordinary road trip. Instead of taking a shortcut, the siblings opt for the scenic route - on a never-ending country road. The first half is pretty intense, as Darry and his sister investigate an abandoned church. But then it just turns silly. They soon encounter a hideous and evil creature that's part bird, who likes to sniff laundry, spread his huge wings, and eat people. There's also a psychic who sings "Jeepers creepers, where'd you get those peepers?" Many scenes caused this reviewer to laugh out loud. The filmmakers seem to be making fun of the horror genre itself. By Lisa Leigh Parney
VS/N: 1 scene of naked dead bodies. VV: 10, including bloody scenes of eating flesh, bodies torn apart, and head decapitations. VP: 40 expressions, sometimes harsh. VD: None.
Director: Tim Blake Nelson. With Julia Stiles, Josh Hartnett, Mekhi Phifer, Martin Sheen, Rain Phoenix. (91 min.)
Staff *** Adapting Shakespeare's "Othello" into a modern-day high-school tragedy sounds gimmicky on paper. Thankfully, though, "O" has deeper concerns. A chain of tragic events is set in motion by the duplicitous conniving of high-schooler Hugo (Hartnett). Envious of the attention his father (Sheen), a basketball coach, bestows on African-American basketball star Odin (Phifer), Hugo deceives Odin into believing that his girlfriend (Stiles) has been unfaithful to him. In a time when school violence is often explained away in the media by superficial pop psychology, the deft script and top-rate cast invite audiences to reexamine the complexity of teenage behavior.
By Stephen Humphries
Director: J.B. Rogers. With Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Chris Klein, Alyson Hannigan. (104 min.)
Sterritt ** It's summer vacation, the "American Pie" alumni are now college kids, and all they can think of is still - you guessed it - sex, sex, sex. This energetic sequel moves from one gross-out set piece to another, with occasional moments of teen-pic sentimentality to cleanse the palate.
VS/N: 19 scenes of graphic innuendo or implied sex, 1 sex scene with nudity. VV: 2 scenes of comic violence. VP: 124 very harsh expressions. VD: 20 scenes with alcohol, 1 with smoking.
Director: Blair Hayes. With Jake Gyllenhaal, Swoosie Kurtz, Marley Shelton, John Lynch. (84 min.)
Staff * You've probably heard the controversy. Protesters say that "Bubble Boy," a tale of an immunity deficient boy quarantined for life inside his home, makes fun of the disabled. They're wrong. The boy is portrayed as a resourceful role-model. It's racial minorities who ought to be offended by their portrayal. When the boy builds a hermetically sealed bubble so he can leave the home to find the girl of his dreams, everyone he encounters on his road trip is a freak. The story would have been more interesting if the main character had emerged into something approximating the real world. By Stephen Humphries