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Director: Wang Xiaoshuai. With Cui Lin, Li Bin, Shou Xun, Gao Yuanyuahn, Zhao Yiwel. (113 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Sterritt *** Guei is a country boy filled with enthusiasm over his new job as a big-city courier until his new bike gets stolen before it's even paid for. Jian wants a bike so he can impress a girl, but as soon as he buys one, Guei arrives with the awful news that it's stolen and he's the rightful owner. This quickly paced comedy-drama careens from lowdown humor to anxiety and violence as briskly as the protagonists steer from one crowded avenue to another on their contested bike. The film occasionally meanders from its course. But it's vividly acted and creatively directed. In Mandarin with English subtitles.
Staff **1/2Subtle, touching, ambulant, wry.
Sex/Nudity: 1 brief scene. Violence: 6 scenes. Profanity: 4 expressions. Drugs: 7 scenes smoking.
Director: Jez Butterworth. With: Nicole Kidman, Ben Chaplin, Vincent Cassel. (93 min.)
Staff ** It must have taken Nicole Kidman months to learn this script. For her role as Nadia, a Russian mail-order bride, the actress spends half the movie speaking Russian. Arriving in England, Nadia is met by her intended, John, a lonely bore of a banker wanting to spice up his life. Nadia isn't all she seems; John finds his British reserve punctured as his life spirals out of control. The movie, alas, isn't as lively as Kidman's performance. A quirkier sensibility and fleshed-out plot are missing. By Stephen Humphries
Staff **1/2 Odd, forgettable, edgy, lots of plot twists, ultimately shallow.
Sex/Nudity: 10 scenes. Violence: 17 scenes. Profanity: 19 expression, 10 of which are mild. Drugs: At least 16 scenes of smoking and drinking.
Director: Ridley Scott. With Josh Hartnett, Sam Shepard, Tom Sizemore. (148 min.)
Sterritt * The fact-based story focuses on US troops sent to Mogadishu in 1993 to disable a powerful Somali warlord by kidnapping high lieutenants who've helped him rule by terror. Their obstacles include aggressive enemy soldiers and hostile civilians, and the nightmare grows worse when two helicopters are shot down, sparking a hard-fought battle to rescue crash survivors. The screenplay lauds the resolute spirits of the troops. But the nature of warfare merits more thoughtful examination at this time. Since the filmmakers offer no insights, their motives must be to sensationalize war's horrors and capitalize on its thrills. We deserve better.
Staff *** Gut-wrenching, extremely violent, savage, lacks content, well directed.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: Most of the film is violent with at least 45 battle scenes, many very gory. Profanity: 22 expressions. Drugs: 10 scenes.
Director: Andrew Davis. With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Francesca Neri, John Leguizamo, Cliff Curtis. (110 min.)
Sterritt * Schwarzenegger strikes again, this time as a firefighter who embarks on a vendetta against Colombian terrorists, hunting them in their own country and in Washington after his wife and child are killed in a Los Angeles bombing. The movie paints a strikingly hostile portrait of its Latin American characters and some of its mayhem is vicious, even by the debased standards of today's action-movie genre.
Sex/Nudity: 2 instances innuendo. Violence: 16 scenes. Profanity: 33 expressions, including 21 mild. Drugs: At least 4 scenes with drinking and smoking.
Director: Kevin Reynolds. With Jim Caviezel, Richard Harris, Dagmara Dominczyk, Guy Pearce. (113 min.)
Sterritt *** Edmond Dantes is a French sailor who hits hard times when his best friend steals his girlfriend, a magistrate brands him as a courier for Napoleon, and he's thrown into prison. Things look up when he escapes, finds buried treasure, and sets about revenging himself on his treacherous enemies. The filmmakers focus more on personalities than on action and violence, but there's plenty of flashing steel. It's a nifty comeback for 19th-century novelist Alexandre Dumas.
Staff *** Clever, comic, beautiful scenery.
Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes implied sex. Violence: 14 scenes, mostly swordfighting. Profanity: 1 instance. Drugs: 15 scenes of drinking or smoking.
Director: Robert Altman. With Eileen Atkins, Bob Balaban, Alan Bates, Charles Dance. (137 min.)