Director: John Fawcett. With Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Mimi Rogers, Kris Lemche. (108 min.)
Sterritt *** See review, page 15.
Director: Patrice Chereau. With Kerry Fox, Mark Rylance, Timothy Spall, Clare Wayland. (119 min.)
Sterritt ** A man and woman meet every Wednesday in London for quick sessions of impersonal sex, and this murky drama explores the effects these escapades have on their otherwise separate lives. Based on fiction by Hanif Kureishi, the movie plays like a warmed-over "Last Tango in Paris," with more explicit sex but a lower level of originality and acting skill.
Directors: Diane Doniol-Valcroze, Arthur Flam. With Emmanuel Salinger, Christopher Zach. (85 min.)
Sterritt ** Fascinated by women and the art of measuring them for clothes, a troubled young tailor escalates from bizarre behavior to outright murder. This dark psychological story falls short in terms of filmmaking and acting, but it's original enough to stand out from the crowd.
Director: Iain Softley. With Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Alfre Woodard, Mary McCormack. (120 min.)
Sterritt * (See full review)
Director: Irwin Winkler. With Kevin Kline, Kristen Scott Thomas, Hayden Christiansen. (124 min.)
Staff *** "Life as a House" has a predictable story line, yet the telling is compelling with fresh twists. A lonely, eccentric architect (Kevin Kline) is diagnosed with terminal cancer. To atone for a lifetime of mistakes, he builds his dream home, enlisting his estranged and rebellious teenage son (Christiansen), and the help of his ex-wife (Scott Thomas). Building the house becomes a metaphor for a life rebuilt and relationships restored. The lead actors give credible, real, meaningful performances, and moments of delightful humor offset the drama. The subject matter, sexual content, and language probably make this film better suited to a more mature audience. By Steven Savides
Director: Charles Laughton. With Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, James Gleason. (93 min.)
Sterritt **** Mitchum gives one of cinema's greatest performances as a demented man who's one part preacher, one part murderer, and totally determined to track down a stash of stolen loot in the possession of two kids. First released in 1955, this is the only film Laughton ever directed, and he packed it with a mixture of eerie chills, ingenious suspense, and absurdist humor. It's a genuine classic.
Director: Steve Beck. With Tony Shalhoub, Embeth Davitz, F. Murray Abraham, Shannon Elizabeth. (90 min.)
Sterritt * (See full review)
Director: Barry Levinson. With Bruce Willis, Cate Blanchett, Billy Bob Thornton, Troy Garity. (109 min.)
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. Cate Blanchett adds spice in her role as a runaway wife who falls for both men at once. Ultimately, it's an offbeat comedy that's a few beats off. By John Kehe
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 in characters and ideas.
Director: Neal Slavin. With William H. Macy, Laura Dern, David Paymer, Meat Loaf Aday. (100 min.)
Sterritt *** Macy plays a 1940s businessman who doesn't worry much about anti-Semitism until some people get the idea that he looks sort of Jewish himself, sparking events that cause him to lose his job. Slavin treats the tale as a philosophical fable about the never-ending struggle between good and evil. The result would be an important drama if the screenplay (based on an early Arthur Miller novel) didn't lapse into preachiness.
Directors: The Hughes Brothers. With Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane. (137 min.)
Sterritt *** Depp plays a 19th-century police inspector whose hunt for Jack the Ripper smokes out an enormous number of complications. The movie works well as a straight-out horror yarn, proving that the Hughes Brothers are more versatile than their previous "ghetto pictures" suggest. But it lacks far more interesting speculations on mysteries of myth and history, space and time, good and evil, life and death.
VS/N: 7 scenes including sex and nudity. VV: 26 highly gory scenes. VP: 24 harsh expressions. VD: 15 scenes with alcohol, 7 scenes with cigarettes, 5 scenes with drugs.
Director: John Dahl. With Steve Zahn, Leelee Sobieski, Paul Walker, Walt Goggins. (97 min.)
Staff ** A stylish but ultimately cheap thrill, "Joy Ride" is a skillful production in the service of nothing better than your average teen fright-flick experience. Two brothers play a practical joke on a truck driver, who turns out to be Freddy Kreuger on 10 wheels as he pursues his revenge to its noisy, gory conclusion (and, of course, beyond). By Gloria Goodale
Director: Rod Lurie. With Robert Redford, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo, Delroy Lindo. (120 min.)
Staff ** Film critic-turned-director Rod Lurie seems to be trying to create a prison drama that recalls "The Shawshank Redemption." The prisoners this time are soldiers, including a legendary three-star general (Redford), serving a 10-year sentence. He soon finds himself rallying the men to oppose the ruthless colonel who runs the military prison. The film is often entertaining, but it's hampered by an unmerited sense of self-importance. By Stephen Humphries
Director: David Lynch. With Laura Herring, Justin Theroux, Naomi Watts, Robert Forster. (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 - the movie is closer to a delirious dream than a conventional thriller.
VS/N: 7 scenes of explicit sex and innuendo. VV: 9 instances, often disturbing. VP: 9 harsh expressions. VD: 2 scenes with alcohol, 2 scenes with cigarettes.
Director: Christine Lahti. With Albert Brooks, Leelee Sobieski, Desmond Harrington, Carol Kane. (109 min.)
Staff ***1/22 Leelee Sobieski and Albert Brooks play odd-couple opposites in this unconventional romantic comedy. While there are significant taboos in this pairing - she's underage at 17, and he's her boss - the movie ultimately displays that true love is about positive transgressions. By Ben Arnoldy
Staff *** Touching, modest, tear-jerking
VS/N: 6 scenes of implied sex and innuendo. VV: 4 instances of self-inflicted wounds. VP: 64 expressions. VD: 2 scenes with alcohol, 1 scene with marijuana.
Director: Penny Marshall. With Drew Barrymore, Steve Zahn, Brittany Murphy, Adam Garcia. (132 min.)
Staff **1/2 Beverly Donofrio (Drew Barrymore) is an ordinary teenager with an extraordinary sense of destiny. When she becomes pregnant at the age of 15 and reluctantly marries her young lover (Steve Zahn), she embarks on a 20-year quest to be a good mother and assert herself as a formidable writer. Based on the 1990 memoir of Beverly Donofrio, this film is a touching look at the relationships and events that shaped one woman's life. By Steven Savides
Staff *** Full of pathos, satisfying, well-acted.
VS/N: 2 scenes innuendo. VV: 4 scenes, including a mild fight. VP: 15 expressions. VD: 7 scenes with alcohol, 7 scenes with cigarettes, 3 scenes with drugs.
Director: Peter Chelsom. With John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, Molly Shannon, Eugene Levy. (100 min.)
Sterritt ** A young man meets the woman of his dreams, but she wants a sign that destiny means them to be together, and destiny doesn't quite come through. This exceedingly romantic comedy begins with flair, but lapses into clichés before the sentimental finale.
Staff *** Great chemistry, stylish, no depth.
VS/N: 1 scene of implied sex, 2 instances of innuendo. VV: 1 mild instance. VP: 21 expressions. VD: 6 scenes of alcohol, 2 scenes with cigarettes.
Director: Antoine Fuqua. With Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Macy Gray. (120 min.)
Staff *** Nothing can prepare ordinary cop Jake Hoyt for what he endures on his "training day" as he shadows a veteran narcotics cop in Los Angeles. Aided by superb performers, director Fuqua has fashioned a gripping thriller in which both moral and immoral actions have consequences. By Stephen Humphries
Staff *** Sweaty, disturbing, a moral struggle.
VS/N: 3 scenes of implied sex, 1 scene with nudity. VV: 12 often gory scenes. VP: 268 harsh expressions. VD: 4 scenes of alcohol, 9 scenes with cigarettes, 2 scenes with drugs.
Director: Richard Linklater. With Wiley Wiggins, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Steven Soderbergh. (99 min.)
Sterritt *** This offbeat animation centers on a young man who's having the most vivid dream you can imagine - and possibly a permanent one, since every time he wakes up, this turns out to be part of the dream. Will he ever find his way back to waking life? The screenplay is crammed with conversations, often invoking philosophy and theology. Linklater is better at playing with concepts than synthesizing them.
Director: Ben Stiller. With Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Christine Taylor, Will Ferrell, Jerry Stiller. (95 min.)
Staff ** The loose plot - it's more of a concept, actually - has Ben Stiller starring as the world's most famous supermodel, who becomes unwittingly embroiled in a plot to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Like a "Saturday Night Live" sketch, it's a mixture of hit and miss. By Stephen Humphries
Staff **1/2 Zany, juvenile, uneven.
VS/N: 2 scenes of implied sex, 1 scene with innuendo. VV: 13 scenes of cartoonish violence. VP: 19 expressions, sometimes harsh. VD: 6 scenes with drinking, 1 scene with smoking, 2 scenes with drugs.
After running in theaters, foreign and independent films may be available on home video. Good sources include Facets Multimedia at www.facets.org; Kino International at www.kino.com; and www.Reel.com.
Director: Luke Greenfield. With Rob Schneider, Colleen Haskell, Edward Asner, Cloris Leachman. (77 min.)
Staff * After a car crash, a mad doctor patches up a bumbling young man with spare parts from animals, and the patient starts reacting to situations with beastly behavior. This comic fantasy has amusing bits of social satire, but they're crowded out of the stable by lots of bathroom humor.
Staff * Lazy humor, featherweight, base.
Director: Dominic Sena. With John Travolta. Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle. (97 min.)
Staff * "Swordfish" is an action-thriller of the car-chase/gunplay/misogynistic variety. Travolta plays the head of an organization of ruthless terrorists set up by the US government to fight international terrorists. (Huh?) Only a computer hacker (Jackman) can stop them from robbing a bank to fund their "international peacekeeping." (Huh?) And it all ends with a bus dangling precariously from a helicopter. (Don't ask!) By Stephen Humphries
Director: John Singleton. With Tyrese Gibson, Ving Rhames, Taraji P. Henson, Snoop Dogg. (132 min.)
Serritt *** This melodrama centers on a young African-American named Jody who lives with his 36-year-old mother and her new boyfriend. The movie begins on an intellectual note, stating a psychologist's theory that years of racism have made many black men see themselves as overgrown children. Singleton still has a keen eye for harrowing details of urban life.
Staff **1/2 Insightful, compassionate, grave.