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Sterritt * Schwarzenegger strikes again, this time as a firefighter who embarks on a vendetta against Colombian terrorists, hunting them in their country and in Washington after his wife and child are killed in a Los Angeles bombing. The film 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.Skip to next paragraph
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Sex/Nudity: 2 instances innuendo. Violence: 16 scenes. Profanity: 33 expressions, including 21 mild. Drugs: At least 4 scenes with drinking and smoking.
Director: Tamra Davis. With Britney Spears, Dan Aykroyd, Zoe Saldana, Taryn Manning, Anson Mount. (92 min.)
Staff * Britney and her pals take off from a Georgia town on a road trip, in a convertible driven by a musician with an ambiguous past. To top it off, one girl is pregnant. Britney's on a quest to visit her estranged mom; the others plan to compete in a music contest in California. Between blasting pop tunes and singing at the top of their lungs, serious issues emerge: date rape, love, teen sex, and parental abandonment. But only superficial dialogue on these topics occurs. Still, it's not quite as lewd as other teen flicks, and Britney fans will enjoy. The ending, like the rest of the film, is boilerplate. And the singing and acting seem as manufactured as the glossy magazines Britney's picture often appears in. By Stephanie Cook
Sex/Nudity: 13 scenes, including innuendo, suggestive dancing, implied sex. Violence: 4 scenes. Profanity: 7 expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes drinking.
Director: Robert Altman. With Eileen Atkins, Bob Balaban, Alan Bates, Charles Dance. (137 min.)
Sterritt **** Altman visits England for the first time in this peek at the British class system about 70 years ago, focusing on masters and servants at a rural estate during a shooting-party weekend roiled by a murder. This is familiar territory if you recall BBC miniseries "Upstairs Downstairs," but this great US filmmaker gives it new twists with an incisively satirical approach.
Staff **1/2 Too many characters, predictable, well-composed, witty, suspenseful.
Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes with implied sex. Violence: 2 scenes. Profanity: 7 harsh expressions. Drugs: 34 scenes with smoking, 14 with drinking.
Director: Jessie Nelson. With Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laura Dern. (124 min.)
Sterritt * Penn's bravura performance is the only reason to watch this wildly sentimental comedy-drama about a mentally retarded man trying to regain custody of his daughter after social workers decide she needs a better home. The film means well, but scenes get clobbered by sappy screenwriting.
Staff **1/2 Creaky, mostly well-acted, trite.
Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes implied sex. Violence: None. Profanity: 8 expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with drinking.
Director: Todd Field. With Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek, Nick Stahl, Marisa Tomei. (138 min.)
Sterritt *** A town doctor and his wife aren't sure how to take their college-age son's romance with an unhappily married woman. The climax suggests drastic measures may be needed in drastic circumstances and that the lines between "moral" and "immoral" people may be more slender than we'd like to believe. The acting is mostly excellent.
Staff *** Humanistic, dark, absorbing.
Sex/Nudity: 8 scenes, mostly innuendo. Violence: 7 scenes, 1 graphic. Profanity: 20 expressions. Drugs: 12 scenes with drinking or smoking.
Director: Richard Eyre. With Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent, Kate Winslet, Hugh Bonneville, Eleanor Bron. (90 min.)
Sterritt *** In alternating scenes, Winslet and Dench play novelist Iris Murdoch at two very different periods in her life. Some episodes show her early years as a writer, when she flirted with everyone in sight and decided to marry fellow author John Bayley; others paint a sad portrait of the mental and physical decline that eventually burdened her. Dench and Winslet give strong and creative performances, and Broadbent is positively brilliant as old Bayley, reconfirming his status as one of the greatest actors anywhere.
Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene. Violence: None. Drugs: At least 8 scenes with smoking, drinking.
Director: Nick Cassavetes. With Denzel Washington, Anne Heche, Robert Duvall. (116 min.)