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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.Skip to next paragraph
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Director: David Fincher. With Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker, Kristen Stewart. (110 min.)
Sterritt ** A woman and her daughter scurry to a bunkerlike sanctum when crooks invade their Manhattan home to steal a fortune that happens to be locked away in the panic room itself. This is a minimalist thriller, centering the action on five characters in one place. Also present is Fincher's affection for hyperactive camera movements, juicing up any scene where the acting sags. There are many, since the screenplay isn't nearly clever enough to sustain a reasonable degree of suspense on its own.
Staff **1/2Nail-biter, intense, goofy at times.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 9 instances, some quite violent. Profanity: 60 harsh expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes with drinking, smoking, illegal drugs.
Director: Christine Jeffs. With Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki, Marton Scokas, Sarah Peirse. (88 min.)
Sterritt *** The psychologically charged story of a girl whose adolescence is complicated by sexual tensions linked with her parents' troubled marriage. Jeffs is an unusually gifted director, but her screenplay (based on Kirsty Gunn's novel) never quite gets a firm grip or fresh perspective on its coming-of-age subject.
Director: D.J. Caruso. With Val Kilmer, Vincent D'Onofrio, Deborah Kara Unger, Anthony LaPaglia. (100 min.)
Sterritt ** Plot twists proliferate in this gimmicky thriller about a seemingly drug-dazed loser who turns out to be more cool and calculating than he appears. Full-throttle performances by D'Onofrio and Goldberg provide the most memorable moments. Otherwise the film gets less interesting as it goes along, and Tony Gayton's violence-prone screenplay is sometimes as hard to fathom as the salt-smothered California lake it's named after.
Director: Chuck Russell. With Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Kelly Hu, James Purefoy. (90 min.)
Staff **1/2An evil warlord is sweeping across the Near East, and it's up to the last of a long line of assassins to stop him, win the girl, and save Gomorrah (for the time being, of course). Surprisingly, pro wrestler "The Rock" is the best thing about this film, playing the title role like an antediluvian Jackie Chan, even if his dialogue is delivered flatter than a pita. With just a bit more polish, this could have been Indiana Jones Revisited. Can you smell The Rock signing on for a sequel? By Alex Kaloostian
Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes, including innuendo and implied sex. Violence: 18 scenes, including swordfights. Profanity: 1 mild expression. Drugs: 4 instances of drinking.
Director: Laurent Cantet. With Aurélien Recoing, Karin Viard. (132 min.)
Sterritt **** Disillusioned with his life, a businessman stops working and hides this from his family. He hooks up with a small criminal operation, abandoning this when he finds it just as spirit-killing as ordinary work. The story gathers power as he exhausts one option after another, making his future seem more ominous. Cantet's previous film, "Human Resources," also probed social and ideological problems tied to family and work. He offers rich insights, and brings them alive with sensitive acting.
Director: Michael Mann. With Will Smith, Giancarlo Esposito, Jamie Foxx, Jeffrey Wright. (140 min.)
Sterritt *** Fast-talking prizefighter Muhammad Ali was a key athletic and cultural figure of the '60s and '70s. This energetic biopic covers key events of his career, including his rise to the heavyweight championship, his role in the Black Muslim movement, and his comeback. Smith lacks the champ's physical presence, but his vocal impersonation is exactly right. The film's heart is in the boxing scenes.
Staff *** Riveting, revealing, good history lesson.
Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes. Violence: 11 scenes, mostly boxing. Profanity: 19 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 13 scenes with smoking or drinking.