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Movie Guide

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Staff ** Manipulative, bad dialogue, well-paced.

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Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of innuendo. Violence: 8 scenes, including fistfighting. Profanity: 31 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 2 scenes with smoking.

Monsoon Wedding (R)

Director: Mira Nair. With Naseeruddin Shah, Roshan Seth, Lillete Dubey, Shefali Shetty. (111 min.)

Sterritt *** Celebrants gather in Delhi for the Punjabi wedding of an Indian-American groom and an Indian bride who's not sure she's ready for matrimony. Despite its entertaining trappings, this is a thoughtful story, touching on sensitive issues of sexuality and child abuse. Nair hasn't lost her eye for revealing details of personality and environment. In English, Hindi, and Punjabi with English subtitles.

Monster's Ball (R)

Director: Marc Forster. With Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry. (108 min)

Sterritt *** Thornton plays a Southern death-row guard whose father and son share the same profession. His life changes when he falls in love with the widow of a criminal he helped execute. Performances are superb, and the screenplay focuses on engrossing issues like racism, capital punishment, and the ways tragedy can intrude on ordinary lives. Its insights wane when the love story kicks in.

Staff *** Redemptive, intense, well-acted, unnecessarily explicit sex scenes.

Sex/Nudity: 4 sex scenes. Violence: 11 scenes. Profanity: 26 expressions, many harsh Drugs: 12 scenes.

Queen of the Damned (R)

Director: Michael Rymer. With: Stuart Townsend, Aaliyah. (100 min.)

Staff ** Roused from a 200-year sleep by 21st century rock 'n' roll, Anne Rice's vampire Lestat becomes a rocker himself, inviting other vampires to "come out, come out, wherever you are" and co-exist with humans. His fame brings back his mentor, decidedly of the "don't ask, don't tell" school, and wakes the mother of all vampires, Queen Akasha (Aaliyah). Bouncing between campiness and bloodbath, this one's a failed effort, but your only opportunity to see the late Aaliyah in a starring role.

By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances innuendo. Violence: 14 gory scenes. Profanity: 3 mild expressions. Drugs: 5 scenes, 2 with illegal drugs.

Return to Never Land (G)

Director: Robin Budd. With voices of Harriet Owen, Blayne Weaver. (72 min.)

Sterritt *** Fans of the 1953 animated classic "Peter Pan" will find familiar faces in this sequel, which follows Wendy's daughter on an adventure with Captain Hook, magical Tinkerbell, the Lost Boys, and Peter himself. The story lacks the freshness of the original film. But kids will enjoy its action and humor. And in the age of "Monsters, Inc." it's refreshing to see a cartoon that looks like one rather than a conglomeration of computer bits and bytes.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 16 scenes of cartoonish violence. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

Scotland, PA (R)

Director: Billy Morrissette. With: James LeGros, Maura Tierney, Christopher Walken (97 min.)

Staff ** This reworking of Shakespeare's MacBeth is set in a rural Pennsylvania diner in the 1970s. Joe McBeth, an underappreciated cook and his waitress wife, Pat, conspire to eliminate the owner of Duncan's and transform the sleepy diner into a fast-food McDonald's clone. Walken gives a good performance as a Columbo-style, laid-back cop. Some creative adaptions to the Bard include Lady McBeth's guilt manifesting as a deep-fat fryer burn that won't heal. Director Morrissette tries too hard to make the dark comedy feel like "Fargo."

By Seth Stern

Staff **1/2Quirky, low-budget feel, clever, dark.

Sex/Nudity: 8 instances, 2 with nudity. Violence: 10, including several murders. Profanity: At least 53 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 41 scenes with smoking and drinking.

The Son's Room (R)

Director: Nanni Moretti. With Nanni Moretti, Laura Moranti, Giuseppe Sanfelice, Jasmine Trinca. (99 min.)

Sterritt ** In the modest Italian city of Ancona, a gentle psychotherapist and his family face unexpected trauma when his teenage son dies. Don't look for Moretti's comic touch and autobiographical approach in this drama, which relies on straightforward screenwriting for its emotional power. Moretti's acting skills aren't up to the demands of the main role, and his portrait of family life is too simplistic to be credible. In Italian with English subtitles.