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Director: Gore Verbinski. With Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, Brian Cox, David Dorfman. (109 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Staff ***1/2 Rachel, a no-compromise reporter for a Seattle paper, is asked to investigate the deaths of four teens, all seven days after watching a haunted video tape. Urban legend, or deadly curse? Rachel must watch and find out. But soon, her own family is in danger. Will she solve the mystery in time, or will haunting visions from the tape overcome her? This is one of the most intelligent and genuinely scary ghost stories to come around in a long time. By Alex Kaloostian
Sex/Nudity: 1 instance innuendo. Violence: 12 instances, some quite violent, including killings. Profanity: 9 harsh expressions. Drugs: At least 3 scenes with drinking, smoking.
Director: Corey Yuen. With Jason Statham, Qi Shu, Matt Schulze, François Berléand. (92 min.)
Staff * For those who get their kicks from watching karate kicks, meet Jason Statham, Britain's bald-headed answer to Vin Diesel. In this film, Statham's black BMW is a car-for-hire in Southern France be it for carrying contraband or providing robbery getaway. One day, he discovers that the "package" he is to deliver is a Chinese woman who knows too much about a global slavery ring. And that's the whole plot. The two first flee from the bad guys, then return to beat them up preferably 15 thugs at a time. The choreography and editing are sensational, but the nonstop action soon numbs. The story is little more than a karate contest. By Stephen Humphries
Sex/Nudity: 1 instance implied sex. Violence: 14 scenes, including shootings and explosions. Profanity: 11 expressions. Drugs: 5 scenes.
Director: Jay Russell. With Alexis Bledel, William Hurt, Sissy Spacek, Ben Kingsley, Amy Irving. (90 min.)
Sterritt *** A teen girl is abducted by a backwoods family that fears she's discovered a closely guarded treasure the secret of human immortality, available to anyone who drinks from a spring that flows nearby. Meanwhile, she's sought by her worried parents and an enigmatic stranger. The story is engrossing after a slow start. Kingsley is perfect as the menacing outsider.
Staff **1/2 Good cast, dark, predictable.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 10 scenes, including kidnapping. Profanity: None. Drugs: 1 bar scene.
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 1958 comedy "Big Deal on Madonna Street," which it mimics in many details, the farce is energetically written, breezily acted, and never quite as dumb as the lunkheads it's about.
Director: Peter Kosminsky. With Alison Lohman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Renée Zellweger. (110 min.)
Sterritt ** A 15-year-old shuttles through a series of foster homes after her strong-willed mother is imprisoned for killing her abusive boyfriend. She stays under her mom's sway during their jailhouse visits but eventually realizes she has to chart her own course in life. The acting is heartfelt and Kosminsky directs with quiet assurance. The story is too schematic, though, watching the heroine take on the coloration of each new environment as if she had almost no mind at all, not the unformed but promising mind of a smart, creative youngster.
Staff *** Probing, great cast, crisp, moving.
Sex/Nudity: 8 instances, including implied sex. Violence: 11 scenes, including shootings. Profanity: 4 expressions. Drugs: 13 scenes smoking and drinking.
Director: Majid Majidi. With Hossein Abedini, Mohammad Reza Naji, Zahra Bahrami. (105 min.)
Sterritt **** The setting is an Iranian construction site. The unlikely hero is an Iranian man who falls in love with an Afghan woman after a string of misadventures with an illegal immigrant who works alongside him. Majidi became one of Iran's most internationally famed filmmakers with "Children of Heaven" and "The Color of Paradise," but he far surpasses those melodramas with this expressively filmed story of rivalry, romance, and cultural conflict. In Farsi with English subtitles.