Director: Dariush Mehrjui. With Ezatollah Entezami, Gohar Kheirandish, Bita Farrahi, Ferdos Kaviani. (113 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Sterritt *** After learning that her husband has taken a second wife, a young Iranian woman seeks spiritual comfort by helping a series of strangers with illnesses and other challenges in their lives. This well-produced Iranian drama has a poignant story and a fascinating theme, but it doesn't scale the emotional heights or plumb the psychological depths that Mehrjui reached in his earlier "Leilah," a richer and more engrossing film. In Farsi with English subtitles
Director: Michael Haneke. With Juliette Binoche, Alexandre Hamidi, Ona Lu Yenke, Luminita Gheorghiu, Thierry Neuvic. (117 min.)
Sterritt *** Two émigrés and a Frenchman have a streetside scuffle in Paris, and this fragmented drama traces the far-reaching ramifications of what might have seemed a fleeting, if unfortunate, encounter. Haneke brings his usual dark sensibility to bear on the multifaceted story, expressing the fractured quality of modern city life through scenes that wander through a labyrinth of missing links and lost connections. The overall effect is sometimes powerful, often puzzling, and generally less robust than single-minded Haneke films such as "The Seventh Continent" and the indelible "Funny Games." Originally titled "Code Inconnu." In French with English subtitles
Director: David Mamet. With Gene Hackman, Rebecca Pidgeon, Delroy Lindo, Patti LuPone, Danny DeVito, Ricky Jay. (107 min.)
Sterritt *** See review page 15.
Director: Rob Morrow. With Rob Morrow, Laura Linney, Robert Hogan, Craig Sheffer, Rose Gregorio. (97 min.)
Sterritt ** Morrow plays the title character, an artist diagnosed with a syndrome that gives him patterns of involuntary speech and movement. His condition doesn't stop him from becoming infatuated with his best friend's lover, touching off a string of unexpected events and raising questions about his capacities for love and loyalty. Although this is a likable comedy-drama, it never quite balances its humanitarian message (disabled people fall in love like everyone else) with its standard-issue romantic angles. Moviegoers interested in how people cope with Maze's syndrome would do better to see the witty 1993 documentary "Twitch and Shout," which included the real-life Lyle Maze among its subjects.
Directors: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly. With Jack Black, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jason Alexander. (110 min.)
Sterritt ** See review, page 15.
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet. With Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Arthus de Penguern. (121 min.)
Sterritt *** Amélie is a waitress who anonymously helps a stranger, observes the happiness this brings him, and becomes an eager do-gooder for people who never asked her to barge into their lives. Jeunet is never happy with a scene until he's directed it half to death with manic camera work and editing. But the lighthearted plot of this romantic French comedy balances his overeager style, and Tautou's acting is amiable enough to shine through any amount of cinematic fuss. In French with
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
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.