Director: Christophe Gans. With Jean Yanne, Emilie Dequenne, Vincent Cassel. (142 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Sterritt ** In the time of Louis XV, a French detective and a native American mystic uncover a web of skullduggery as they probe a series of killings thought by local peasants to be the work of a supernatural monster. Gans tries to match "Couching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" with his ambitious mix of action, romance, and mythic overtones, but much of the historical horrorfest is more frenetic than fascinating. Look out for bursts of over-the-top violence. In French with English subtitles.
Director: Stanley Kubrick. With Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood. (156 min.)
Sterritt **** This 1968 masterpiece is nothing less than a speculative biography of the human race, beginning at the dawn of humanity and culminating in a futuristic vision so far beyond commonplace notions of physics and metaphysics that Kubrick doesn't claim to explain it, only to open our minds to the endlessness possibilities. It's an utterly original film, introducing techniques so far ahead of their time that Hollywood hasn't begun to plumb their potential.
Director: Charles Shyer. With Hilary Swank, Jonathan Pryce. (120 min.)
Sterritt ** Check off the ingredients for an old-fashioned historical melodrama: an orphan with noble blood, a secretly sinful churchman, an imperious queen, and jewelry that becomes the center of an 18th-century scandal. The film has almost enough corny appeal to offset its lack of originality.
VS/N: 10 scenes, half innuendo. VV: 8 scenes. VP: 10 mostly mild expressions. VD: 12 scenes with alcohol, 1 with drugs.
Director: Michael Mann. With Will Smith, Giancarlo Esposito, Jamie Foxx, Jeffrey Wright. (140 min.)
Sterritt *** Fast-talking prizefighter Muhammad Ali was a key athletic and cultural figure of the '60s and '70s. This energetic biopic covers key events of his career, including his rise to the heavyweight championship, his role in the Black Muslim movement, and his comeback. Smith lacks the champ's physical presence, but his vocal impersonation is exactly right. Its heart is mainly in the boxing scenes.
Staff *** Riveting, revealing, good history lesson, way too long.
VS/N: Three scenes. VV: 11 scenes, mostly boxing. VP: 19 expressions, some harsh. VD: 13 scenes of smoking or drinking.
Director: Ron Howard. With Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris. (120 min.)
Sterritt ** Howard takes more storytelling risks than usual in this crisply made biopic about John Nash, an economist who began his career with a theoretical breakthrough, then fell prey to psychological problems that hobbled him. Crowe brilliantly portrays this complex character. But the screenplay seems cavalier in assuming mental illness is no match for will power. You won't learn much about economics, despite Nash's devotion to the field.
Staff ***1/2 Amazing acting, turbulent, triumphant, believably real.
VS/N: None. VV: 7 scenes. VP: 4 instances. VD: At least 6 scenes of drinking.
Director: Gillian Armstrong. With Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Michael Gambon. (120 min.)
Sterritt ** Blanchett gives an intermittently forceful performance as a British woman who becomes a spy for the French resistance during World War II, searching for a missing pilot she loves while getting involved with a French family endangered by its Jewish roots. The story has inherent emotional power, but Jeremy Brock's formula-bound screenplay rarely soars beyond cliches.
Director: Guillermo del Toro. With Eduardo Noriega, Marisa Paredes, Federico Luppi. (106 mins.)
Staff *** A remote orphanage during the 1930s Spanish Civil War is haunted by the ghost of a boy who has a story to tell and a score to settle. A new orphan bravely tries to solve the mystery and protect his friends. Top-notch acting by both the adult and child actors is marred somewhat by unnecessary profanity and strong sexual scenes. In Spanish, with subtitles. By Gregory M. Lamb.
VS/N: 2 scenes, 4 with innuendo. VV: 11 scenes. VP: 34 expressions VD: 6 scenes drinking, smoking.