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Director: Roger Michell. With Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Affleck, Amanda Peet, Sidney Pollack. (96 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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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.
Director: John McKay. With Andie MacDowell, Imelda Staunton, Anna Chancellor, Kenny Doughty. (110 min.)
Staff ** Crush begins with a sweeping view of the Cotswolds; for the next two hours, it swoops over stereotypes of femininity, as three lovelorn 40-somethings Kate (MacDowell), Molly (Chancellor), and Janine (Staunton) meet weekly to swap stories of amorous humiliation over gin, chocolate, and gibes. They are, ostensibly, allies in the quest for love, but when Kate gets involved with a former student, Molly spearheads a scheme to end the affair. Though engaging in its banter and its romance, the film's myopic vision of women borders on misogyny. When clumsy, catty Molly brings on disaster with her scheme, the women are softened not just by humiliation, but by a fresh awareness of their distinctly feminine failings. By Christina McCarroll
Staff **1/2 Predictable, silly, gabby, twisted.
Sex/Nudity: 37 instances, including innuendo, partial nudity and implied sex. Violence: 2 scenes. Profanity: 12 expressions. Drugs: 16 scenes with drinking and smoking.
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.
Director: Stephen Herek. With Angelina Jolie, Edward Burns, Stockard Channing, Tony Shalhoub. (103 min.)
Sterritt ** An ambitious TV newswoman takes a fresh look at life and love after a sidewalk psychic tells her she has a week to live. This slickly produced romantic comedy takes its creaky premise down the most predictable, sentimental pathways it can find. If the heroine really had seven days left, she wouldn't waste it watching stuff like this.
Sex/Nudity: 9 instances, including innuendo and 2 scenes implied sex. Violence: 1 shooting scene. Profanity: 13 expressions. Drugs: At least 13 scenes with drinking and smoking.
Director: Barbet Schroeder. With Sandra Bullock, Ryan Gosling, Michael Pitt, Ben Chaplin.
Staff ** Bullock stars as a brilliant, wise-cracking crime-scene investigator whose own dark past is a mystery in itself. She quickly figures out who has committed a horrifying crime (shown with lingering shots of the corpse), but can she prove it? The murderers are daring her to outwit them. Gosling and Pitt shine as her troubled-teen prime suspects, and Chaplin is fine as her low-key partner and potential love interest. Some entertaining plot twists ensue, but it's a must-see only for Bullock fans.
By Gregory M. Lamb
Sex/Nudity: 2 sex scenes, 1 scene with sounds of TV pornography (unseen). No nudity. Violence: 16 scenes, including some with severed body parts. Profanity: 33 expressions. Drugs: At least 16 scenes with alcohol and smoking.
Director: Fabián Bielinsky. With Gastón Pauls, Ricardo Darin, Leticia Brédice. (115 min.)