Director: Mike Leigh. With Timothy Spall, Lesley Manville, Alison Garland, James Corden. (127 min.)
Sterritt *** See review, page 15.
Directors: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering Kofman. With Jacques Derrida, Marguerite Derrida. (85 min.)
Sterritt *** Who would have guessed a documentary about Derrida, the great French philosopher of deconstruction and "différence," would be so entertaining? He emerges as a nice guy as well as a brilliant mind, and he's certainly a master at evading questions he doesn't like. Still, the things he says on camera aren't nearly as profound as the passages quoted from his books.
Director: Julie Taymor. With Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Geoffrey Rush, Ashley Judd. (120 min.)
Sterritt * See review, page 14.
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot. With Louis Jouvet, Suzy Delair, Bernard Blier, Simone Renant. (102 min.)
Sterritt *** A sleazy show-biz entrepreneur is murdered, and a crusty police inspector hunts for the killer, knowing that too many people had excellent reasons for despising him. This pungently filmed 1947 melodrama doesn't rank with Clouzot classics like "Diabolique" and "The Wages of Fear," but it's full of hard-boiled charm and has a musical score that adds extra dimensions to its impact.
Director: Dylan Kidd. With Campbell Scott, Isabella Rossellini, Jesse Eisenberg, Jennifer Beals. (105 min.)
Sterritt **** See review, page 14.
Director: Jonathan Demme. With Thandie Newton, Mark Wahlberg, Tim Robbins, Lisa Gay Hamilton. (104 min.)
Sterritt *** See review, page 14.
Director: Stephen Gaghan. With Katie Holmes, Benjamin Bratt, Charlie Hunnam. (99 min.)
Staff ** A promising college senior (Holmes), under pressure to win a plum job after graduation, is being harassed by a former boyfriend, who has been missing and presumed dead for two years. This first directing effort by screenwriter Gaghan ("Traffic") generates a few suspenseful moments, but its leaps between past, present, and future are more confusing than artful. The student's romance with a much older cop (Bratt) is unconvincing, and the muddled surprise ending lacks much punch. By Gregory M. Lamb
Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes of implied sex and innuendo. Violence: 3 instances, including drowning. Profanity: 7 harsh expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with drugs; 4 with alcohol, 2 with smoking.
Director: Paul Schrader. With Greg Kinnear, Willem Dafoe, Rita Wilson, Ron Leibman. (107 min.)
Sterritt *** This movie documents the rise and fall of Bob Crane, popular star of the '60s TV sitcom "Hogan's Heroes," who ruined his life and career when he befriended a technology wonk and participated in living-room orgies recorded by his sleazy companion with then-innovative video equipment. Kinnear gives a pitch-perfect performance as the self-destructive actor, and Schrader offers one of his most harrowing explorations of the temptations and dangers of sensuality, a theme that has fascinated him throughout his career.
Director: Paul Greengrass. With James Nesbitt, Tim Pigott-Smith, Nicholas Farrell. (107 min.)
Staff *** Demanding civil rights for Northern Irish Catholics interned without trial by the British government on Jan. 30 1972, Protestant member of Parliament Ivan Cooper (Nesbitt) led a peaceful march of his Catholic constituents through Derry's Bogside district. British paratroopers, enforcing a ban on demonstrations, opened fire on the marchers, claiming they were armed. They killed 13 and wounded 14. Investigators found no weapons. In pseudodocumentary style, the film believably gives the marchers' side of the case, arguing that Bloody Sunday was an immense miscarriage of justice. By M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: 1 instance innuendo. Violence: 11 scenes, including bloody shootings. Profanity: 18 harsh expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes smoking.
Director: Michael Moore. With Moore, Charlton Heston, Marilyn Manson. (120 min.)
Sterritt *** Contemporary film's most freewheeling documentarymaker turns his sights on the longtime American love affair with guns, including a living-room confrontation with National Rifle Association leader Heston and a discussion with goth-rocker Manson that's amazingly articulate. Moore turns the camera on himself too often for comfort, but he provides an eye-opening array of revelations.
Staff ***1/2Biting, intelligent, relevant, polemic.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 38 scenes, nearly all are brief news clips of violence. Profanity: 8 harsh expressions. Drugs: 1 scene smoking.
Director: Rick Famuyiwa. With Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Mos Def, Nicole Ari Parker, Queen Latifah.
Staff ** She's an editor at a music magazine. He's a record-company executive. Dre and Sidney have been friends since childhood. They share a love of hip-hop and know every detail about each other's lives, but they have never been romantically involved. Dre ends up getting married and Sidney gets engaged, but did they make a mistake? It gets tiresome when Sidney uses hip-hop as an endless metaphor for her love for Dre. The movie has some funny moments, but it ultimately never crystallizes. By Lisa Parney Connors
Staff *** Mild, fresh, good characters.
Sex/Nudity: 6 instances, including implied sex and innuendo. Violence: 1 boxing scene. Profanity: 13 expressions. Drugs: 11 scenes drinking, smoking.
Director: Ronny Yu. With Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Carlyle, Emily Mortimer, Rhys Ifans. (92 min.)
Staff ** Elmo McElroy has concocted the next great drug: cheaper, safer, and stronger than anything on the street. He flees his boss and goes to England to sell the formula. The American-hating Felix, meanwhile, is stuck keeping an eye on him, a job that becomes difficult when people try to kill him left and right. Add too many fight scenes, too many car chases, an assassin ex-girlfriend, and some skinheads, and you get an entertaining but muddled rehash of Trainspotting. Flashy, profane, and pointless. By Alex Kaloostian
Director: Mike Nawrocki, Phil Vischer. With (voices): Vischer, Nawrocki, Tim Hodge, Lisa Vischer. (83 min.)
Staff *** Squabbling families run their van off a road and wind up in a seafood cafe, where strangers teach them about compassion and mercy through a delightfully updated telling of the Jonah story. Aimed at children, but filled with gags for adults, this is the first theatrical film based on the popular VeggieTales video series. Especially engaging are the angelic choir's Gospel number inside the whale, and "The Credits Song," about music that has nothing to do with the movie you just saw. Oh, and almost all the characters are vegetables. By M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 5 scenes cartoonish violence. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson. With Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman. (95 min.)
Sterritt *** A small-time businessman copes with a nagging family, eludes a con artist, woos a woman who's as kooky as he is, and wonders how he can attain a happy life when he knows he's nerdy and whiny to his bones. Anderson's filmmaking is quirky and original, but his biggest creative coup is drawing on submerged aspects of Sandler's usual screen persona a wounded insecurity, a sense of repression that's almost violent in its emotional effects to give the comedy an edgy undertone that's one of a kind.
Staff *** Quirky, light, original, spicy.
Sex/Nudity: 2, including phone sex. Violence: 9 scenes, including car crash. Profanity: 28 strong expressions. Drugs: 3 drinking scenes.
Director: Brett Ratner. With Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson. (125 min.)
Sterritt *** Hopkins makes his third appearance as Hannibal Lecter, psychiatrist and cannibal, joined by Norton and Keitel as FBI agents tracking down a new serial killer (Fiennes) with Lecter's grudging help. The story is a rehash of "The Silence of the Lambs" featuring Norton in the Jodie Foster role, with solid acting and hardly a special effect in sight. The violence level is a lot lower than in "Hannibal," but don't expect a gentle ride.
Staff **1/2Good thriller, better than "Hannibal," disturbing.
Sex/Nudity: 4 scenes with nudity, including full male nudity. 1 scene implied sex. Violence: 14 scenes, including stabbings, shootings. Profanity: 26 expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes with drinking; 2 scenes smoking.
Director: Gore Verbinski. With Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, Brian Cox, David Dorfman. (109 min.)
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.