Director: Barry Levinson. With Bruce Willis, Cate Blanchett, Billy Bob Thornton, Troy Garity. (109 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Staff ** Mildly amusing is probably not what veteran director Barry Levinson was going for when he teamed macho-man Bruce Willis with chatterbox-hypochondriac Billy Bob Thornton as odd-couple bank robbers in this quirky caper. The talented Cate Blanchett adds spice to the proceedings in her role as a runaway wife who falls for both men at once. But the Billy Bob hypochondriac jokes and Willis's omnipresent wry grins wear thin pretty fast, and the film runs out of gas. Newcomer Troy Garity, who plays the getaway driver and master of pyrotechnics, is a delight, but ultimately it's an offbeat comedy that's a few beats off. By John Kehe
Director: Catherine Breillat. With Anais Reboux, Roxane Mesquida, Libero de Rienzo. (93 min.)
Sterritt *** During a family vacation, an attractive 15-year-old falls in love with a seductive older man, sparking complicated feelings in her younger sister, an overweight girl whose ability to cope with sibling rivalry may eventually reach its limits. Breillat has probed issues of youthful sexuality before, most notably in her excellent "36 Fillette," and she's an expert at coaxing strong performances from actors with little experience. This disturbing drama has many telling moments, but it ends with an out-of-the-blue shock episode that raises more questions than it answers about the story's overall psychological perspective. Originally titled "A Ma soeur!" In French with English subtitles
Director: David Lynch. With Laura Herring, Justin Theroux, Naomi Watts, Robert Forster, Ann Miller. (147 min.)
Sterritt *** After losing her memory in a Los Angeles car crash, a young woman comes under the care of a wannabe actress who agrees to help her discover who she is and figure out why her purse is crammed with cash. That's just the bare bones of the plot, which also includes a cynical cop, a hit man who can't shoot straight, and others too numerous to mention. The movie is closer to a delirious dream than a conventional thriller. It will frustrate viewers who like stories to make instant sense, but fans of provocative puzzles will have mind-teasing fun if they can stomach Lynch's trademarked outbursts of sex and violence.
Director: Béla Tarr. With Lars Rudolph, Hanna Schygulla, Peter Fitz. (145 min.)
Sterritt **** Apocalypse is in the air as the residents of a poor Hungarian town cope with their unhappy lives, engage in petty disputes, and await the arrival of an enigmatic prince who travels with a wandering circus and may have a redeeming message to reveal. Tarr wants to stir the imagination and awaken the conscience of his audience rather than divert us with easy entertainment, so be ready for another of his dense, meditative parables filmed in long, slow-moving shots. This is as challenging as movies come, alluding to everything from philosopher Thomas Hobbes to the history of Western music. But compared with Tarr's legendary "Sátantángo," which clocks in at seven hours, it's almost a quickie. In Hungarian with English subtitles
Director: Gary Fleder. With Michael Douglas, Brittany Murphy, Sean Bean, Famke Janssen. (110 min.)
Sterritt ** Douglas plays a New York psychiatrist treating a troubled teenager who's been faking most of her afflictions for years; then his daughter gets kidnapped by a twisted criminal who's after a crucial number buried in the teen's memory. The movie has promise as a psychological thriller, but the filmmakers show far more interest in chases and shoot-outs than characters and ideas.
Director: Daniel M. Cohen. With Robert Forster, Donnie Wahlberg, Bess Armstrong, Jasmine Guy. (100 min.)
Sterritt ** An aging diamond dealer (Forster) goes on the road with a protégé (Wahlberg), who insists on behaving like the hero of a sleazy traveling-salesman joke. This modest comedy-drama begins as a mildly engaging tale of two conflicting but basically decent personalities, then loses its way in a crime-movie subplot and a less-than-believable love affair. Forster is always a pleasure to watch, though.