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VS/N: None. VV: 8 scenes, quite intense for small children. VP: 1 mild expression. VD: 1 scene with alcohol.Skip to next paragraph
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Director: David Mamet. With Gene Hackman, Rebecca Pidgeon, Delroy Lindo, Danny DeVito. (107 min.)
Sterritt *** An aging thief (Hackman) assembles his accomplices and wife for an ambitious crime. It's fun watching the master criminal turn his worst mistakes into crafty comebacks, just as Mamet turns the most familiar ingredients into unpredictable jolts and reverse-twist surprises.
Staff **1/2 Inscrutable, crisply directed, tired plot.
VS/N: 1 scene of implied sex. VV: 2 scenes. VP: 92 harsh expressions. VD: 15 scenes with cigarettes, 3 scenes with alcohol.
Director: Irwin Winkler. With Kevin Kline, Kristen Scott Thomas, Hayden Christensen. (124 min.)
Sterritt *** 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 and the help of his ex-wife. Building the house becomes a metaphor for a life rebuilt and relationships restored. The lead actors give credible, real, meaningful performances. By Steven Savides
Staff *** Enriching, sad but inspiring, preachy.
VS/N: 9 scenes of sex and graphic innuendo. VV: 2 scenes. VP: 31 harsh expressions. VD: 1 scene of alcohol, 4 scenes with cigarettes, 4 scenes with substance abuse.
Director: Joel Coen. With Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, James Gandolfini. (116 min.)
Sterritt **** Thornton gives an Oscar-worthy performance as a 1940s barber who's unhappy about the affair his wife is having. The plot thickens when he arranges a blackmail scheme to take revenge. This is an affectionate homage to the "film noir" genre, acted to near-perfection by a choice cast.
Staff ***1/2 Sustained tension, well-paced, impeccable acting, atmospheric.
VS/N: None. VV: 3 scenes, including graphic violence. VP: 38 mostly mild expressions. VD: 5 scenes with alcohol, 32 scenes with cigarettes.
Director: Pete Docter. With voices of John Goodman, Jennifer Tilly, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi. (90 min.)
Sterritt *** The setting is a monster-populated city where the monsters are more scared of kids than kids are of them. The characters are as sweet as they are ridiculous, and the story is told with gentleness and tact. But many of the story's grownup touches - a monster love affair, references to old movies - are more calculated than clever.
Staff ***1/2 Warm and fuzzy, Not as good as "Toy Story," inventive, well-voiced.
VS/N: None. VV: 10 scenes, of comic violence. VP: None. VD: None.
Director: David Atkins. With Steve Martin, Laura Dern. Helena Bonham Carter. (95 min.)
Staff **1/2 There is comedy in "Novocaine," a film-noir tale about a dentist who becomes a murder suspect, but it's pitch black. One immediately empathizes with him during his plight as he runs from both cops and the real murderer. This is an unconventional film, but director Atkins manages to get the difficult tone right. By Stephen Humphries
Director: Penny Marshall. With Drew Barrymore, Steve Zahn, Brittany Murphy. (132 min.)
Staff **1/2 Barrymore plays an ordinary teenager who becomes pregnant at 15 and reluctantly marries her young lover. The 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 of innuendo. VV: 4 scenes, including a mild fight. VP: 15 expressions. VD: 7 scenes with alcohol, 7 scenes with cigarettes, 3 scenes with drugs.
Directors: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly. With Jack Black, Gwyneth Paltrow. (110 min.)
Staff ** The main character judges women by their physical beauty, until a self-help guru makes him blind to everything but a person's inner worth. Under this spell, Hal thinks overweight Rosemary is gorgeous until reality kicks in again. Usually we view her through Hal's idealizing eyes, contradicting the movie's effort to convey an enlightened message. In all, this comedy is sheer compromise, only half as funny and constructive as it wants to be.