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Movie Guide

April 19, 2002

Karmen Geé¯ (Not rated)

Director: Joseph Gaé¯ Ramaka. With Djeé¯naba Diop Gaé¯, Magaye Niang, Stéphanie Biddle, Thierno Ndiaye Dos. (84 min.)

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Sterritt *** You won't hear the familiar strains of Georges Bizet's opera, but you'll recognize the classic story of a proud seductress, able to mesmerize anyone she fancies with her sensual beauty, and the soundtrack pulse with the music of Senegal, where this energetic movie was filmed. Directors as different as Otto Preminger and Jean-Luc Godard have taken a crack at "Carmen" and Ramaka's version is a colorful addition to the list. In French and Wolof with English subtitles.

Nine Queens (R)

Director: Fabié¡n Bielinsky. With Gasté³n Pauls, Ricardo Darin, Leticia Brédice. (115 min.)

Sterritt *** The nine queens are a set of artfully forged postage stamps that draw a couple of petty swindlers into a money-making scheme that may prove far too tricky for them to successfully pull off. This cleverly structured Argentine heist movie isn't as original or ingenious as it tries to be, but it's fun watching the chicanery veer down one unexpected pathway after another. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Changing Lanes (R)

Director: Roger Michell. With Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Affleck, Amanda Peet, Sidney Pollack. (96 min.)

Sterritt *** A corporate lawyer and an insurance salesman become adversaries after a highway fender-bender, sparking a day-long ordeal of threats and counter-threats. The filmmakers meant to whip up a high-tension thriller. What they ended up with is a psychological satire that's quite engrossing if you regard it as an absurdist morality tale rather than a straight-ahead suspense yarn. It loses its bite in a last-minute happy ending that's even less plausible than the rest of the picture, but much of the way it's a refreshingly novel ride.

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances innuendo. Violence: 5 scenes, including assault. Profanity: 13 strong expressions. Drugs: 3 instances drinking.

Clockstoppers (PG)

Director: Jonathan Frakes. With: Jesse Bradford, French Stewart, Paula Garcés. (90 min.)

Staff ** Zak Gibbs, a physics professor's son, accidentally gets hold of an experimental wristwatch that almost stops the world around him. Evil forces kidnap the prof, hoping to turn this invention into a weapon for sale to the highest bidder. Zak and two friends set out to stop them. A fresh cast and delightful effects early on promise something special, but the script quickly shifts out of hypertime into plodding formula. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: A few instances of innuendo. Violence: 9 scenes, including shootings. Profanity: 3 mild expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with drinking.

Death to Smoochy (R)

Director Danny DeVito. With Robin Williams, Edward Norton, DeVito. (100 min.)

Sterritt *** Producers replace a bribe-taking TV clown (Williams) with a straight-arrow entertainer (Norton) who's shocked by the onslaughts of greed, corruption, and violence he gets from his agent (DeVito) and everyone in the kiddie-media world. This pitch-dark satire marks a surprising career step for Williams, who plays the vengeful clown with surprising ferocity. It's also an impressive achievement for DeVito, who turns the wildly cynical screenplay into a kinetic cartoon. Stay away if you treasure the lovable image of Williams, and don't take the kids!

Staff *** Demented, amusing, inventive.

Sex/Nudity: Innuendo in every scene. 1 scene implied sex, 3 with nudity. Violence: 12 scenes, including fights. Profanity: 87 harsh expressions. Drugs: 11 scenes of smoking, drinking.

High Crimes (PG-13)

Director: Carl Franklin. With Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Amanda Peet, Jim Cavaziel. (115 min.)

Sterritt ** When her husband is charged with a wartime atrocity he never told her about and says he never committed, an attorney (Judd) teams with an old-time military lawyer to clear his name, soon encountering threats from forces that want to hush up the affair. The story has potential, but you'll spot the plot twists long before they happen, and the acting by Judd and Cavaziel is strictly by the numbers. Ditto for the filmmaking.

Staff ** Vacuous, likable cast, gripping, formulaic.

Sex/Nudity: 7 instances of innuendo, including a few scenes implied sex. Violence: 13 instances. Profanity: 29 harsh expressions. Drugs: 16 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Human Nature (R)