Director: Shunji Iwai. With Hayato Ichihara, Shûgo Oshinari, Yû Aoi, Ayumi Ito. (146 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Sterritt **** Lily Chou-Chou is a pop star we hardly see, and the main characters are Japanese adolescents who use idealized fantasies of her as respite from the meaningless routines and relentless power games that oppress them at school and play. Iwai's ambitious drama is strikingly shot, poignantly acted by a splendid young cast, and enriched by surprising use of Debussy classics on the soundtrack. It's remarkable for digital video and chat-room messages to look so richly cinematic on the screen. In Japanese with English subtitles.
Director: Ellory Elkayem. With David Arquette, Scarlett Johansson, Doug E. Doug, Kari Wuhrer. (98 min.)
Sterritt * Spiders get humongous after a toxic-waste debacle in a Southwestern town. You can guess the rest. Action freaks may enjoy the chasing and chomping, but there's no hint of human interest or moviemaking imagination. Stick with the 1955 classic "Tarantula," still the best of this creepy-crawly breed.
Director: Timothy Linh Bui. With Don Duong, Patrick Swayze, Forest Whitaker, Hiep Thi Le. (115 min.)
Sterritt ** As the Vietnam war winds to a close, Vietnamese immigrants start preparing for new American lives in a California refugee camp. The movie takes a humane look at an episode in recent history that's received little attention. Its pretty, sentimental style doesn't match the downbeat quality of some story elements, though. Duong makes a strong impression, Swayze shows new maturity, and Whitaker is at his likable best. In English and Vietnamese with English subtitles.
Director: Kathryn Bigelow. With Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, Peter Sarsgaard, Joss Ackland. (138 min.)
Staff *** See review, page 15.
Director: David Jones. With Jeremy Irons, Judi Dench, Margaret Whiting, Harold Pinter. (105 min.)
Sterritt **** It took 24 years for this 1978 drama to reach its theatrical première, which is scandalous, since it's a first-rate achievement. Irons plays a self-centered German working on a scholarly thesis in the countryside near Dublin, and Dench plays a down-to-earth Irishwoman who becomes his ill-suited lover. Pinter's screenplay offers an exciting mixture of psychological suspense and storytelling surprise, and the lead performances are close to flawless.
Director: Rob Minkoff. With Michael J. Fox, Geena Davis, Melanie Griffith, Jonathan Lipnicki. (70 min.)
Staff ***1/2 See review, page 15.
Director: Gregor Schnitzler. With Til Schweiger, Nadia Uhl, Martin Feifel, Klaus Löwitsch. (102 min.)
Sterritt *** A group of scruffy German activists turn to political violence when the Berlin wall is crumbling, and then become average citizens who want to put the past behind them until police find a piece of long-buried evidence that could land them all in jail unless they pull off one last caper to get it back. This energetically acted, creatively directed comedy-drama has every ingredient for success except a satisfying finale. In German with English subtitles.
Director: John Stainton. With Steve Irwin, Terri Irwin, Magda Szubanski, David Wenham. (90 min.)
Staff **1/2 Australian naturalist and "Animal World" TV personalities Steve and Terri Irwin play themselves in this comedy involving a crocodile that swallows a top-secret satellite part. As the Irwins try to relocate the croc away from a shotgun-toting rancher, the CIA thinks they're spies, and they think the agents are poachers. This is not a great movie, but you'll learn much about outback wildlife and marvel at Steve's hands-on capture methods and boyish wonderment. Small children may find the critters and action scary I know I did. By M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: 2 instances innuendo. Violence: 19 scenes, including wrestling with a croc. Profanity: 2 expressions. Drugs: None.
Les Destinées (Not rated)
Director: Olivier Assayas. With Emmanuelle Béart, Charles Berling, Isabelle Huppert. (180 min.)