Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Blood Work (R)

Director: Clint Eastwood. With Clint Eastwood, Anjelica Huston, Jeff Daniels. (115 min.)

Sterritt *** See review.

Caravaggio (Not rated)

Director: Derek Jarman. With Nigel Terry, Tilda Swinton, Sean Bean, Robbie Coltrane. (93 min.)

Recommended: Default

Sterritt *** This color-filled 1986 biopic looks at the legendary 17th-century painter through the eyes of a filmmaker long fascinated by art, cultural history, and sexual adventuring. It's often beautiful to watch, although it's more interested in visual style than philosophical depth. Jarman's most far-reaching ideas are on better display in films like "The Last of England" and "Blue."

The Good Girl (R)

Director: Miguel Arteta. With Jennifer Aniston, John C. Reilly, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tim Blake Nelson. (93 min.)

Sterritt **** What's a well-meaning young woman to do when she's stuck in a miserable marriage, a tedious town, and a boring job, and the only chance for escape is a love affair she can't bring herself to resist? Aniston and Reilly give the best of many excellent performances. A few plotty scenes aside, this quietly directed drama paints a sensitive, sympathetic portrait of modern malaise, and has a smart sense of humor as a bonus.

Secret Ballot (G)

Director: Babak Payami. With Nassim Abdi, Cyrus Abidi, Youssef Habashi, Gholbahar Janghali. (105 min.)

Sterritt **** On a remote island in the Persian Gulf, a young woman combs the countryside for people to cast votes in the ballot box she carries with her, accompanied by a grumpy soldier who – like many of the folks they run across – knows this is all very important but isn't quite certain what elections are for. Payami's gentle comedy captures a subtle range of human feelings through a quietly inventive visual style that embodies the best life-affirming tendencies of modern Iranian film. In Farsi with English subtitles.

Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams (PG)

Director: Robert Rodriguez. With Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara. (100 min.)

Staff *** Rodriguez crafts an imaginative sequel for kids that reflects his own creative urge to play. There are enough nifty gadgets to make 007 drool, like RALPH, a bug robot that can tie a bow tie and crawl his way into secret meetings. There's also a snazzy dragon fly submarine, and lunch boxes that cook up your favorite fast food in flash. The story picks up with the Cortez family as part of a global spy organization. Amid stiff competition, tension, and sibling bickering, a vital mission arises: to find a device that, in the wrong hands, could destroy the world. The trail leads to an island filled with hybrid animals – a genetically re-engineered Jurassic Park of sorts. At times this colorful, fast-paced adventure causes sensory overload. But the film teaches valuable lessons such as the importance of family and integrity. Like its predecessor, it promises to be a crowd pleaser. By Stephanie Cook

24 Hour Party People (R)

Director: Michael Winterbottom. With Steve Coogan, Chris Coghill, Paddy Considine, Shirley Henderson. (115 min.)

Sterritt **** See review.

XXX (PG-13)

Director: Rob Cohen. With Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Samuel L. Jackson, Marton Csokas. (120 min.)

Sterritt * See review.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
Austin Powers in Goldmember (PG-13)

Director: Jay Roach. With Mike Myers, Michael Caine, Beyoncé Knowles, Robert Wagner, Michael York. (98 min.)

Sterritt * Our hero battles Dr. Evil and a villain he's recruited from 1975 to help him destroy the world. The third Powers movie wants to be a flashy, funny satire on the swinging '70s and the science-fiction spy stories that embodied the era's fashions and foibles. What's really on the filmmakers' minds is how much box-office power they can tap into by blitzing moviegoers with even larger doses of repetitive sex jokes and insipid scatological gags than before.

Staff ** Sophomoric, funny, repetitive

Sex/Nudity: 19 instances of innuendo. Violence: 11 scenes, including fighting, but mostly comic violence. Profanity: 32 mostly mild expressions. Drugs: 2 instances drinking.

The Country Bears (G)

Director: Peter Hastings. With Christopher Walken, Stephen Tobolowsky. (88 min.)

Staff ** When 11-year-old Beary Barrington learns he was adopted by humans, he leaves home to find more of "his kind," members of the long-disbanded Country Bears singing group. Arriving at Country Bears Hall, he finds it threatened by developers. What to do but reunite the band for a benefit concert. Slow stretches and careless editing weigh against wholesomeness and good songs. The clever credits sequence features Willie Nelson and others telling how The Country Bears influence their work. Based on the attraction at Disney's theme parks. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 4 mild scenes. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

Full Frontal (R)

Director: Steven Soderbergh. With Julia Roberts, David Duchovny, Catherine Keener, Blair Underwood. (101 min.)

Sterritt ** Soderbergh tries a freewheeling movie experiment in this comedy-drama about people making a film and rehearsing a play; it takes place during 24 hours and unfolds in loosely strung scenes that often drift in different directions. The focus is on mercurial moods and emotions rather than logic-driven causes and effects. It's refreshingly different, even if it's meandering, low on energy, and too eager to be quirky at moments when a little old-fashioned storytelling would come in handy.

Staff *1/2 Self-centered, free-form, slow, irritating.

Sex/Nudity: 6 instances of sex; 8 scenes with innuendo. Violence: 1 suicide scene. Profanity: 55 expressions. Drugs: 7 scenes drinking, smoking.

K-19: The Widowmaker (PG-13)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow. With Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, Peter Sarsgaard, Joss Ackland. (138 min.)

Staff *** The true story of a near nuclear meltdown aboard a cold-war era Soviet submarine might not seem likely engaging material for 21st-century American audiences. But history and geopolitics provide only a backdrop here. A fine corps of actors, led by Ford as the strong-willed captain and Neeson as his good-hearted executive officer, make this an uplifting tale of survival against a powerful new technology run amok. Bigelow deftly blends gripping action sequences with dramatic moments amid the leaks and groans of a fatally flawed ship. By Gregory M. Lamb

Staff **1/2 Gripping, sobering, realistic.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances innuendo. Violence: 6 scenes, including disturbing scenes of radiation exposure. Profanity: 2 mild expressions. Drugs: At least 6 scenes with drinking and smoking.

The Kid Stays in the Picture (R)

Directors: Brett Morgen, Nanette Burstein. With Robert Evans, various Hollywood figures. (92 min.)

Sterritt ** Documentary about the active life and checkered career of small-time Hollywood actor and big-time Hollywood producer Robert Evans, based on his autobiography and narrated by the celebrity himself. Admirers will enjoy the inside dope on movies like "The Godfather" and "Rosemary's Baby," while detractors will zero in on his unsavory spell as a drug abuser. The overall effect is too self-worshipping to be of lasting interest. The guy sure isn't shy!

The Master of Disguise (PG)

Director: Perry Andelin Blake. With Dana Carvey, Jennifer Esposito, James Brolin. (80 min.)

Staff **1/2 Twentysomething Pistachio Disguisey (Carvey) doesn't realize he's heir to a lineage of disguise masters because his father opted out and opened an Italian restaurant. An old enemy, kidnaps mom and dad, and Pistachio's long-lost grandpa shows up to teach him the disguise trade, and rescue them. Such is the flimsy framework for nonstop gags that overflow into the credits. It is not as funny as it could be, and none of it makes sense, especially Pistachio's ability to mimic any dialect but standard US English. But his versatility is astonishing. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance innuendo. Violence: 15 scenes, including slapping. Profanity: 1 mild expression. Drugs: 5 scenes of drinking and smoking.

Men in Black II (PG-13)

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld. With Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Lara Flynn Boyle, Tony Shalhoub. (88 min.)

Sterritt ** Agent J needs Agent K to help him combat Serleena, a Victoria's Secret model who's really an insidious alien; but K has lost all memory of his top-secret career, and the high-tech gizmo they need to retrieve it is in the hands of a guy who's weird even by MIB standards. That's just the starting point of this moderately amusing sequel, which is best when it relies on dead-pan acting by the stars, worst when it drags in summer-movie stupidities like an incessantly talking dog.

Staff ** Nutty, obvious jokes, OK sequel.

Sex/Nudity: 7 instances, mostly innuendo. Violence: 11 scenes, including attempted rape. Profanity: 17 mild expressions. Drugs: At least 3 scenes with drinking and smoking.

Pépé le Moko (Not rated)

Director: Julien Duvivier. With Jean Gabin, Mireille Balin, Marcel Dalio, Gabriel Gabrio. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** Pépé is a gifted French criminal who's moved his operation to the Casbah, where he lords it over friends and foes until a slinky French temptress leads him into a romantic muddle that proves his downfall. Made in 1937, this masterpiece of poetic realism features one of Gabin's most renowned performances, a smart subtext about French colonialism, and enough exotic atmosphere to keep your head in the clouds. In French with English subtitles.

Read My Lips (Not rated)

Director: Jacques Audiard. With Emmanuelle Devos, Vincent Cassel, Olivier Gourmet. (115 min.)

Sterritt ** A young woman with a hearing disorder strikes up an uneasy friendship with a recently released convict who takes a low-level job at the office where she works and then starts slipping back toward crime. The first half is a well-acted psychological drama, but the second half is standard thriller fare. In French with English subtitles.

Sex and Lucía (Not rated)

Director: Julio Medem. With Paz Vega, Tristan Ulloa, Najwa Nimri, Daniel Freire. (128 min.)

Staff **1/2 An obsessive young woman barges into the life of a novelist, giving him motivation to overcome his writer's block. Adding fuel to the fire is his meeting a daughter he didn't know he had and the daughter's sexy nanny, whose mother is an ex-porn star. We see his life as it unfolds and as he adapts it in his book. This surrealistic blend of life and fantasy works well most of the way, giving us insight to the characters' passions and fears. But beware – the film more than lives up to its title. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 21 scenes, including graphic sex and much nudity. Violence: 5 scenes, including a dog attack. Profanity: 12 harsh expressions. Drugs: At least 9 scenes of smoking and drinking.

Signs (PG-13)

Director: M. Night Shyamalan. With Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin. (106 min.)

Sterritt * A clergyman who's lost his faith regains it while undergoing an attack by extraterrestrials in the farmhouse he shares with his brother and kids. The film raises important issues of religion and the meaning of life, but every time it promises to get thoughtful, Shyamalan douses it with overwrought emotion, family-values clichés, tepid space-monster suspense, and humor that's never, ever funny. Think "Roswell Meets Father Knows Best."

Staff *** Suspenseful, scary, pseudo-philosophical.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: At least four violent scenes, including animal brutality. Profanity: 11 mild expressions. Drugs: None.

Stuart Little 2 (PG)

Director: Rob Minkoff. With Michael J. Fox, Geena Davis, Melanie Griffith, Jonathan Lipnicki. (70 min.)

Staff ***1/2 America's unlikeliest action hero is a five-inch mouse with a heart as big as Central Park. As voiced by the incomparable Michael J. Fox, Stuart Little – now the middle Little in a family of five – is struggling with fitting in at school and his mom's suffocating over-protectedness. Just as Stuart is wishing for a friend, an adorable canary falls from the sky into his lap – and his heart. Nathan Lane is again hilarious as the cat Snowbell. The character design, digital animation, and action sequences are all stunning, and the love that grows between the two new friends is convincing and touching. A winner for kids and parents alike. By John Kehe

Staff *** Top animation, lively, Stuart charms

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: About 8 scenes with cartoonish violence. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

Tadpole (PG-13)

Director: Gary Winick. With: Sigourney Weaver, John Ritter, Bebe Neuwirth, Aaron Stanford. (78 min.)

Staff **1/2 Oscar is an intellectual prep-school sophomore, bored with girls his age and infatuated with his 40-year-old stepmother (Weaver). Without intending to, he manages to sleep with her best friend. This coming-of-age comedy is quite enjoyable on its own terms, no doubt intended as an homage to French culture (particularly Louis Malle's 1971 "Murmur of the Heart.") But almost everything in it derives from Malle's classic film, chopped into a salad that leaves you hungry for the main course. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 7 instances, including innuendo, implied sex. Violence: None. Profanity: 11 mostly mild expressions. Drugs: 5 scenes of drinking, smoking.

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