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Movie Guide

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Director: Blair Treu. With Evan Rachel Wood, Michael Angarano, Vivica A. Fox. (100 min.)

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Sterritt ** Emily is a gifted and disciplined adolescent who may succeed as a budding violinist if she doesn't get distracted by the new boy in her neighborhood, and if she can come to terms with an innocent secret she carries bottled up inside her. This easygoing comedy-drama is gentle and wholesome, if not very realistic or convincing in the long run.

Mostly Martha (PG)

Director: Sandra Nettelbeck. With Martina Gedeck, Sergio Castellitto. (107 min.)

Staff ***1/2 Martha is a perfectionist chef in Hamburg who can't quite cope when her 8-year-old niece unexpectedly comes to live with her. There's no recipe for raising Lina, but slowly Martha finds a new rhythm – especially when she gets over feeling threatened by a free-spirited chef who joins the staff at her restaurant, and accepts his help. Not to be seen on an empty stomach, this beautiful film is equal parts drama and humor, seasoned with a hint of romance. By Stacy A. Teicher

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance innuendo. Violence: 1 scene with slapping. Profanity: 5 mild expressions. Drugs: 3 smoking scenes. 9 scenes with drinking or cooking with alcohol.

One Hour Photo (R)

Director: Mark Romanek. With Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen. (98 min.)

Sterritt ** Williams plays a seemingly bland photo-booth clerk who's become dangerously obsessed with a local family whose pictures he's been processing for years. Williams's acting is as chilling as it is restrained, but Romanek's directing damps down the drama's psychological impact, making it look as glossy and two-dimensional as the snapshots that run through the photo man's finely calibrated machines.

Possession (PG-13)

Director: Neil LaBute. With Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jennifer Ehle, Jeremy Northam. (102 min.)

Sterritt * Two scholars (Paltrow, Eckhart) unearth a long-ago love affair between two Victorian poets whose strait-laced morality supposedly ruled out illicit adventures like this. The movie is based on A.S. Byatt's novel, which presents a kaleidoscopic array of Victorian-style prose and poetry alongside lively accounts of modern-day literary sleuthing. LaBute's adaptation extracts the bare bones of her plot for purposes of bland Hollywood romance, filmed and acted with lots of glamour but precious little depth.

Staff ***1/2 Captivating, elegant, romantic.

Sex/Nudity: 6 instances innuendo. 2 sex scenes. No nudity. Violence: 2, including a fistfight and implied suicide. Nothing graphic. Profanity: 6 expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes with alcohol.

Sade (Not rated)

Director: Benoit Jacquot. With Daniel Auteuil, Isild Le Besco, Grégoire Colin, Marianne Denicourt. (100 min.)

Sterritt ** Imprisoned in an asylum at the height of the French Revolution, the aging Marquis de Sade refines his subversive philosophy, plans his latest theatrical production, and works his seductive wiles on an aristocrat's daughter. Auteuil is a superb actor. Still, the real-life Sade would be dismayed to see himself portrayed more as an eccentric old codger than the world-changing firebrand he worked hard to be. In French with subtitles.

Serving Sara (PG-13)

Director: Reginald Hudlin. With Matthew Perry, Elizabeth Hurley, Bruce Campbell. (100 min.)

Sterritt * While trying to serve a subpoena on a winsome wife in a divorce case, an ex-lawyer takes her side against the arrogant spouse who dumps her. Perry and Hurley don't have much chemistry, and the story is so dumb you might want to sue it for stupidity. But it moves at a lively clip, and the actors don't take it more seriously than it deserves.

Sex/Nudity: 6 instances innuendo. Violence: 10 scenes, including shootings. Profanity: 8 harsh expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes drinking, smoking.

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 aliens 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, pretentious camera work, and humor that's never, ever funny. Think "Roswell" meets "Father Knows Best."

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