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Staff *** The best playwright in L.A. hasn't had a hit in 10 years. Rehearsals for his latest opus, beset by a willful leading man and a director who wants to be Petula Clark, are going nowhere. Then there's the barking next door, a stalking fan, and his wife, who invites a girl to play at their house hoping to soften his resistance to fatherhood. Curiously, these irritants work together to lift the cynicism darkening his life, his play, and his marriage. By M.K. TerrellSkip to next paragraph
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Sex/Nudity: 9 instances, mostly innuendo. Violence: 3 scenes, including brawls. Profanity: About 60 expressions, many harsh. Drugs: 20 scenes of smoking or drinking.
Director: Chris Wedge. With (voices): Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary. (81 min.)
Staff *** Unlike the characters in "Ice Age," the computer animation that rendered them shows no sign of extinction. The woolly mammoth, sabre-toothed tiger, and sloth in this story look wonderfully realized thanks to the animation technology. If only the story were as three-dimensional. It's a fairly standard tale in which an unlikely gang of animals bond as they rescue a human infant separated from his tribe. What lifts the film is its humor, including a darkly comedic sequence hinting at why the Dodo is doomed to extinction, and hilarious set pieces that recall the late Chuck Jones' "Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunners" 'toons. By Stephen Humphries
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 13 scenes with cartoonish violence. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.
Director: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld. With Heather Juergensen, Jennifer Westfeldt, Tovah Feldshuh. (96 min)
Sterritt *** Itching for affection but disillusioned with the men she meets, a young woman decides to explore what being gay is like, choosing a partner who's not entirely sure what she wants in life, either. While this slightly edgy comedy has moments of offbeat charm, it would carry more conviction if the acting were richer and the characters focused on more sophisticated attitudes and ambitions.
Staff ** Sympathetic, boring, predictable.
Sex/Nudity: 17 instances frank talk, innuendo, implied sex. Violence: None. Profanity: About 21 strong expressions. Drugs: 19 scenes with smoking and drinking.
Director: Fred Schepisi. With Tom Courtenay, Helen Mirren, Michael Caine, David Hemmings. (109 min.)
Sterritt ** After the death of their closest chum, four old friends go for a long drive to dispose of his ashes by the seaside, reminiscing about the past in flashbacks that gradually reveal the complex ways in which their lives have crisscrossed over the years. Good performances by a distinguished cast don't quite overcome the weaknesses of the disappointing, predictable screenplay.
Staff *** Brilliant, creative storytelling, contemplative, superbly cast.
Sex/Nudity: 4 scenes including implied sex and some nudity. Violence: 4, including war scenes and a fistfight. Profanity: At least 12 expressions. Drugs: 20 scenes with smoking and drinking.
Director: Mira Nair. With Naseeruddin Shah, Roshan Seth, Lillete Dubey, Shefali Shetty. (111 min.)
Sterritt *** Celebrants gather in New 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, behavior, and environment. In English, Hindi, and Punjabi with English subtitles.
Staff ***1/2Vital, zesty, mix of comedy, drama.
Sex/Nudity: 10 scenes, mostly innuendo and kissing. A few scenes implied child abuse. Violence: None. Profanity: About 12 expressions. Drugs: At least 8 scenes of drinking and smoking.
Directors: Justine Shapiro, Carlos Bolado. With B.Z. Goldberg and children of the Jerusalem area. (106 min)
Sterritt ** Filmed over four years, this documentary presents a multifaceted portrait
of seven children, Palestinian and Israeli, growing up with strikingly different worldviews despite their physical proximity to one another. The movie views current events in this troubled Middle East area from a useful perspective, if not always a penetrating and thought-provoking one. In English and Arabic with English subtitles.
Staff **** Enlightening, tender, forthright
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: A few expressions. Drugs: At least 1 scene with smoking.
Director: Robin Budd. With voices of Harriet Owen, Blayne Weaver. (72 min.)