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Staff ** Overdone, twisted, unnecessarily violent, creepy and vacuous.Skip to next paragraph
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Sex/Nudity: 6 instances, including innuendo, photos of sex, graphic sex scene. Violence: 3 instances, 1 graphic. Profanity: 17 strong expressions. Drugs: 2 scenes with alcohol.
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.
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 folks 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.
Director: Andrew Niccol. With Al Pacino, Catherine Keener, Winona Ryder, Evan Rachel Wood. (117 min.)
Sterritt * A has-been director tries to restart his career by creating a computer-generated cyberstar and passing her off as an elusive flesh-and-blood actress. This might have been a savvy satire on today's celebrity-struck media culture, but Niccol unfolds the story at a lumbering pace, peppered with not-funny gags and dramatic scenes that build little emotional power. The deliberately bogus sets of "The Truman Show," which Niccol wrote, look like cinéma-vérité next to the ersatz Hollywood he's cooked up here. In all, it's a sadly missed opportunity.
Staff *** Inventive but falls short of potential, witty, predictable, shallow in parts.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 4 instances, nothing severe. Profanity: 2 mild expressions. Drugs: 13 scenes of drinking or smoking.
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 into secret meetings. The story picks up with the Cortez family as part of a global spy organization. Amid stiff competition and sibling bickering, a vital mission arises: to find a device that may destroy the world. The trail leads to an island filled with hybrid animals. At times this colorful adventure causes sensory overload. But it teaches valuable lessons, like the importance of family and integrity. By Stephanie Cook