Director: Tom Tykwer. With Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi, Remo Girone, Stefania Rocca. (96 min.)
Sterritt *** Blanchett plays a British teacher who turns vigilante after her Italian husband dies in a drug-related crime scheme. She ends up running from the law, accompanied by an Italian police officer (Ribisi) who sympathizes with her plight. Tykwer doesn't aim for the heights of excitement and invention he reached in "Run Lola Run," but he blends an impressively varied palette of moods into an intriguingly unpredictable story that's never short of ideas. The late Krzysztof Kieslowski, one of Europe's great modern filmmakers, wrote the morally centered screenplay.
Director: Brett Rattner. With Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson. (125 min.)
Sterritt *** See review, page 15
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo. With William H. Macy, George Clooney, Jennifer Esposito. (96 min.)
Sterritt *** Small-time crooks decide to pull off a big-time heist in their Cleveland neighborhood, with predictably chaotic results. Inspired by Mario Monicelli's internationally popular 1958 comedy "Big Deal on Madonna Street," which it mimics in numerous details, the farce is energetically written, breezily acted, and never quite as dumb as the lunkheads it's about.
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.
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.
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.
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: 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.
Staff **1/2 Bizarre, creative, lush, stage-like at times.
Sex/Nudity: Mostly innuendo. Violence: 11 scenes, including suicide. Profanity: None. Drugs: 7 scenes of drinking and smoking.
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.
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
Violence: 6 scenes, including aided suicide, beatings. Drugs: 12 scenes with smoking, 10 with drinking, 8 with drugs.
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.
Director: Bruce Neibaur. Narrator: Jeff Bridges. (42 min.)
Staff *** This historical documentary takes full advantage of the large-screen format to tell the story of the first American expedition to cross North American: 8,000 miles over 28 months. The explorers encountered hazardous weather and daunting terrain, but were aided at key points by native Americans. They brought back important new information on just what lay between the Mississippi River and the Pacific. Gorgeous aerial views of landscapes and huge buffalo herds are interspersed with dramatically reenacted scenes of running rapids or being chased by a grizzly, as a band of brothers (and a 16-year-old native American girl named Sacagawea) heads West. By Gregory M. Lamb
Director: Brad Silberling. With Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Holly Hunter. (112 min.)
Sterritt * After his fianceé is tragically killed, a young man moves into her parents' home, where he gets caught between the conflicting goals of pleasing needy friends or being true to his own needs and desires. This fuzzy-minded drama fails to build much emotional power, and its '70s time period is evoked so wanly you'll hardly recognize it. What's a superstar like Hoffman doing in a meandering soap opera like this?
Director: Steven Shainberg. With James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Patrick Bauchau. (111 min.)
Sterritt ** A woman with a self-punishing streak takes a job with a lawyer who spanks her for spelling mistakes. The movie works hard to be naughty, but its sub-David Lynch style doesn't quite click. Gyllenhaal is excellent and Spader effectively adds to his roster of creepy characters.
Staff *** Sassy, quirky, disturbing.
Sex/Nudity: 12 scenes, including bondage and full nudity. Violence: 14 instances, including self mutilation. Profanity: 7 instances profanity. Drugs: 5 drinking scenes. 1 with smoking.
Director: Roy Andersson. With Lars Nordh, Stefan Larsson, Hanna Eriksson, Torbjorn Fahlstrom. (98 min.)
Sterritt **** In place of a conventional plot, this utterly unique Swedish movie offers a series of related episodes about a business tycoon on the skids, a magician whose tricks go wrong, and a motley crew of other characters. Some are funny, some are tragic, all are dreamlike and unpredictable, suggesting that the 21st century will be a lot weirder and wackier than we expect. In Swedish with English subtitles.
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. Dubbed in English at most theaters. In Japanese with English subtitles at some theaters.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 10 scenes cartoon violence, including animal attacks and fighting. Profanity: None. Drugs: 4 scenes drinking, smoking.
Director: Andy Tennant. With Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey, Fred Ward. (102 min.)
Sterritt ** A young New York fashion designer visits her Southern hometown to divorce her husband, sparking bittersweet reunions and a chance to rediscover her roots. This glossy romantic comedy doesn't have a speck of authentic heart or soul you can bet its Hollywood creators wouldn't move to Alabama if their lives depended on it but it provides a colorful setting for Witherspoon's charm.
Staff *** Funny, light-hearted, dreamy.
Sex/Nudity: Some innuendo. Violence: 2 mild scenes. Drugs: 7 scenes with alcohol.
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
Sex/Nudity: 3 instances innuendo. Violence: 14 scenes, including drowning and fighting. Profanity: 15 mild expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes smoking, drinking
Director: Christophe Gans. With Jean Yanne, Emilie Dequenne, Vincent Cassel. (142 min.)
Sterritt ** In the time of Louis XV, a French detective and a native American mystic uncover a web of skulduggery as they probe a series of killings thought by local peasants to be the work of a supernatural monster. Gans tries to match "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" with a mix of action, romance, and mythic overtones, but much of the horrorfest is more frenetic than fascinating. In French with English subtitles.
Staff *** Good monster movie, dark, mystical.
Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes. Violence: 18 scenes, some quite gory. Profanity: None. Drugs: 8 scenes with drinking, smoking; 2 with drugs.
Director: Eric Rohmer. With Lucy Russell, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, François Marthouret. (129 min.)
Sterritt **** A courtly account of the skittish friendship between an Englishwoman living in France during the French Revolution and a curmudgeonly French aristocrat who confronts his tumultuous era with an unsteady set of divided loyalties. An old master with young ideas, Rohmer shot the movie with digital video, lending a sense of exquisitely crafted artifice that enhances the tale's historical atmosphere. It's deliciously acted, too. Originally titled "L'Anglaise et le duc." In French with English subtitles.