Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Lawrence of Arabia (PG)

Director: David Lean. With Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn. (216 min.)

Sterritt **** See review, page 15.

Moonlight Mile (PG-13)

Director: Brad Silberling. With Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Holly Hunter. (112 min.)

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Sterritt * See review, page 15.

Shanghai Ghetto (Not rated)

Directors: Dana Janklowicz-Mann, Amir Mann. With Alfred (Laco) Kohn, Harold Janklowicz. (95 min.)

Sterritt *** Did you know there was a bustling community of Jewish refugees in China during the Nazi era? This earnest documentary tells its tale, complete with recent visits to the area shot with smuggled-in digital cameras. The account is highly informative, although it would come across more vividly if there were fewer talking heads and longer stretches of archival footage.

Skins (R)

Director: Chris Eyre. With Graham Greene, Eric Schweig, Gary Farmer. (86 min.)

Sterritt ** Outraged by social problems that plague the South Dakota reservation where he lives, a native American sheriff turns to vigilante violence, with results that boomerang on his own conscience and well-being. The story gets off to a slow start after its riveting documentary-style introduction, but heartfelt acting and unexpected plot twists eventually give it solid dramatic impact.

Sweet Home Alabama (PG-13)

Director: Andy Tennant. With Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey, Fred Ward. (102 min.)

Sterritt ** See review, page 15

The Tuxedo (PG-13)

Director: Kevin Donovan. With Jackie Chan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jason Isaacs, Debi Mazar. (99 min.)

DUD One would be hard-pressed to witness a bigger waste of time, talent, money, or popcorn than this latest Jackie Chan vehicle. It's witless, humorless, and pointless. Even the action scenes, always a surefire Chan staple, are murkily shot and confusingly edited. Costar Jennifer Love Hewitt is charmless and shrill as Chan's rookie partner in espionage. The hackneyed "plot" involves a high-tech, gravity-defying tuxedo that transforms shy, klutzy taxi driver James Tong (Chan) into a master secret agent, fabulous dancer, and suave ladies' man. Too bad it couldn't make this turkey disappear. By John Kehe

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (R)

Director: Wych Kaosayananda. With Antonio Banderas, Lucy Liu, Gregg Henry, Ray Park. (91 min.)

Staff * Sever, a beautiful, deadly ex-agent from a shadowy government agency, has kidnapped the son of another shadowy government agent. It's up to Ecks, a retired FBI agent, to stop her and get the child back, while the two of them shoot and blow up everything in their way. Who's working for whom? What are Sever's true motives? The subplots are so complicated, it's difficult to keep up, let alone care. The fight choreography is good, but not nearly good enough to make this mess worthwhile. By Alex Kaloostian

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 20 scenes, including kidnapping, shootings. Profanity: 2 harsh expressions. Drugs: 5 scenes with smoking, drinking.

The Banger Sisters (R)

Director: Bob Dolman. With Susan Sarandon, Goldie Hawn, Geoffrey Rush, Erika Christensen. (97 min.)

Staff **1/2Former rock groupie Suzette (Hawn) wants to reconnect with her friend "Vinny" (Sarandon) in Phoenix. Problem is, it's 20 years later and Vinny isn't a wild woman anymore. Known to family and friends as Lavinia Kingsley, she lives in a big house with her lawyer-husband, two daughters, and a golden retriever. Vinny is wound up as tightly as the curls pinned up in her daughter's hair. Adding another dimension to the film is Geoffrey Rush. He's brilliant as a neurotic writer whom Suzette picks up on her way to Phoenix. This hilarious romp looks like a shallow film, but it addresses family tensions, peer pressure, and the need to just let loose later in life. By Lisa Parney Connors

Staff *** A Goldie-oldie, energetic, star vehicle, funny.

Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes, including implied sex and nude photos. 10 instances innuendo. Violence: 2 scenes. Profanity: 28 harsh expressions. Drugs: 13 scenes with drinking and smoking. 2 scenes with drugs.

Barbershop (PG-13)

Director: Tim Story. With Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve. (102 min.)

Staff **1/2 The best part of this movie is the characters. The plot is predictable, but it's rescued by an abundance of boisterous personalities that transcend stereotypes and snappy dialogue that addresses social issues. The barbershop is the center of life for a group of neighborhood guys, although its owner, Calvin, sees the shop as a money drain. When an ATM is stolen from a nearby store by a modern Laurel and Hardy, the shop becomes gossip central. If every barbershop were this much fun, there would be a lot more well-trimmed men. By Katie Nesse

Sex/Nudity: 6 instances innuendo. Violence: 9 scenes, including car crash and punching. Profanity: 66 expressions. Drugs: At least 1 instance smoking.

8 Women (R)

Director: François Ozon. With Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Béart, Fanny Ardant. (113 min.)

Sterritt **** The setting is a fine French country house. The mystery is: which of several excellent suspects murdered the aging gentleman who owned it? Ozon fills the screen with suspense and surprises in this colorful comedy-thriller-musical-romance, helped by a superb cast and a mischievous sense of fun that keeps you guessing whether the next moment will bring a triumph, a tragedy, or a perky little song and dance. Look out for some violence and sexual content, though. In French with English subtitles.

The Four Feathers (PG-13)

Director: Shekhar Kapur. With Heath Ledger, Kate Hudson, Wes Bentley, Djimon Hounsou. (125 min.)

Sterritt *** The friends and fiancée of a young British soldier brand him a coward when he quits the military rather than fight in the Sudan, so he heads for the desert to redeem his honor by assisting his former comrades from the sidelines, helped by an African mercenary. Kapur fills the screen with color, action, and authenticity. What he doesn't do is clarify the psychology of his main character, or ask whether fighting to shore up the British Empire is a good idea in the first place.

Staff **1/2 Beautiful scenery, epic, simplistic.

Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene. No nudity. Violence: Contains graphic violence. Profanity: A few expressions. Drugs: 5 scenes drinking, 4 smoking scenes.

Igby Goes Down (R)

Director: Burr Steers. With Kieran Culkin, Susan Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum, Claire Danes. (98 min.)

Staff **1/2 This alluring and sometimes unsettling comedy traces the coming of age of the blue-blooded yet rebellious Igby (Culkin). The story begins with Igby and his brother trying to poison their mother and then rewinds to explain how they could do such a thing. Igby, who has worn out his welcome at every East Coast prep school, is shipped off to a military academy by his mother. Igby is miserable and manages to escape to New York, where he enters a world of misfit characters. Overall, the film is an entertaining ride with its uncommon blend of seriousness and humor. But in the end, there's not much of a meaningful destination. By Judy Nichols

The Last Kiss (R)

Director: Gabriele Muccino. With Stefano Accorsi, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Stefania Sandrelli. (115 min.)

Staff *** A couple's announcement that they're expecting their first child seems to trigger an upheaval in the lives of family and friends. Giulia's mother (Sandrellli) thinks she needs to leave her husband. Carlo's buddies get the notion that they want to drive a camper the length of Africa. Beneath a farcical surface, abetted by quicksilver editing and snappy dialogue, is a serious exploration of commitment and fidelity, along with a tip of the hat to the great Italian cinematic tradition. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances innuendo. 3 sex scenes with seminudity. Violence: 4 scenes, including a tussle. Profanity: 29 strong expressions. Drugs: 20 scenes of drinking, smoking, and drug use.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (PG)

Director: Joel Zwick. With Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan. (95 min.)

Staff *** A frumpy Greek woman lives with her parents as the black sheep of the family because she can't net a nice Greek husband. But her lackluster life changes abruptly when a handsome schoolteacher sees through her drab disguise. Only problem: He's not Greek. Not since "Muriel's Wedding" has a film about mismatched couples and dysfunctional families tickled the funny bone so deliciously. The dialogue is a little flat, but sparkles at times. The moral is clear and noble, and leaves the audience with the afterglow of a blushing bride. By Gary W. Broadhurst

Sex/Nudity: 12 scenes, including a few with implied sex and innuendo. Violence: 5 mild scenes. Profanity: At least 7 expressions. Drugs: About 22 scenes with alcohol, including drunkenness.

Spirited Away (PG)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki. With voices of Daveigh Chase, David Ogden Stiers, Suzanne Pleshette. (125 min.)

Sterritt *** A little girl finds herself living in a bizarre bathhouse where ghosts, gods, and spirits go for a break from the everyday routine; the only way she can escape is to remember her name, which they've stolen from her. Echoing the dreamlike logic and weird transformations of "Alice in Wonderland," this ambitious Japanese animation is an allegory on individuality and a glimpse into contemporary Japanese culture, as well as an imaginatively told fantasy.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 10 scenes cartoon violence, including animal attacks and fighting. Profanity: None. Drugs: 4 scenes drinking, smoking.

Stealing Harvard (PG-13)

Director: Bruce McCulloch. With Tom Green, Jason Lee, Megan Mullally. (83 min.)

Staff *** John has a great fiancée, a decent job, and has saved enough money to buy a house and get married. Everything seems perfect – until his niece is accepted at Harvard and reminds him of a pledge he made to pay her tuition. Running out of time and options, he turns to an ill-fated career in crime, along with his mentally unstable friend. Zany antics ensue. At first glance, this seems to be a cookie-cutter gross-out film, but it surprises by being low on gross-out and big on heart. By Alex Kaloostian

Staff * Boring, strange, shameful, juvenile.

Sex/Nudity: Several suggestive scenes with innuendo. No nudity. Violence: 40 instances slapstick violence. Profanity: 66 harsh expressions. Drugs: 25 scenes of smoking and drinking.

Swimfan (PG-13)

Director: John Polson. With Jesse Bradford, Erika Christensen, Kate Burton, Shiri Appleby. (85 min.)

Sterritt ** "Fatal Attraction" goes to high school, as a pretty psychopath stalks a swimming-team hunk with deadly results. Polson's well-filmed thriller swims down the usual lanes for this genre, and everyone looks way too old for senior year. But many of the suspense scenes work fine, and Bradford is terrific as the endangered hero.

Sex/Nudity: 4 instances sex and innuendo. Violence: 10 scenes. Profanity: 16 mostly mild expressions. Drugs: 1 party scene with drinking and smoking.

Tosca (Not rated)

Director: Benoît Jacquot. With Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna.(119 min.)

Sterritt *** Imaginative adaptation of Giacomo Puccini's great opera. Most of this French production aims at dramatic realism, skillfully etching the love-struck painter Cavaradossi, the wicked police chief Scarpia, and the fatally deceived title character. Jacquot adds modernist touches, though, as when he shows real Roman locations in home-movie-style footage. The result is a fine opera production given cinematic interest by the director's fresh treatment. In Italian with English subtitles.

Trapped (R)

Director: Luis Mandoki. With Kevin Bacon, Courtney Love. (110 min.)

Staff ** Joe Hickey (Bacon) has the perfect kidnap-for-ransom scheme. He knows it's foolproof, because he's tried it already. But success breeds carelessness. On what is to be the fifth and last caper, he overlooks the child's medical condition and underestimates the power of parental love. The director has assembled a fairly efficient thriller, discounting the overblown climax, but are fictional child abductions really what we need right now? By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes innuendo. Violence: 17 instances, including kidnapping, attempted rape. Profanity: 59 strong expressions. Drugs: 4 instances drinking.

OUT ON VIDEO
Enigma (R)

Director: Michael Apted. With Dougray Scott, Kate Winslet, Jeremy Northam. (117 min.)

Staff ***1/2 "A Beautiful Mind" meets "The Longest Day" as a brilliant mathematician leads a team of British scientists desperately trying to break the Nazis' Enigma code and stop their U-boats before they cut off the North Atlantic shipping routes. But the mathematician's sanity is close to breaking: Is the beautiful blonde he's in love with a spy? And is the dapper British secret agent shadowing him a friend or foe? There's romance and suspense aplenty before several puzzles are solved – and the war won. By Gregory M. Lamb

Staff ***Intelligent thriller,riveting, multifaceted.

Sex/Nudity: Sex scenes with nudity. Violence: 9 scenes, including mass graves. Profanity: 13 expressions. Drugs: 26 scenes with smoking, drinking.

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