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2002 Mega Movie Guide

(Page 16 of 49)

Sterritt *** In place of the cold-war biases that have affected most US treatments of Castro's career, this well-produced documentary offers a sympathetic view of the Cuban leader's aims and ambitions. If anything, Bravo works too hard at extolling Castro, treating some of the issues - such as the case of Cuban boy Elian Gonzales - with sketchy, imprecise strokes that weaken her overall argument.

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Formula 51 (R)

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. 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

Frailty (R)

Director: Bill Paxton. With Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Jeremy Sumpter, Powers Boothe. (100 min.)

Sterritt **** Convinced that God has commanded him to destroy demons disguised as humans living in his town, a man enlists his young sons in a demented, violent crusade. Paxton's debut film as a director is an understated horror movie, relying on spooky moods and startling twists more than grisly gore. Be prepared for a high body count and a few explosively bloody moments, though.

Frida (R)

Director: Julie Taymor. With Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Geoffrey Rush, Ashley Judd. (120 min.)

Sterritt * The legendary Mexican artist Frida Kahlo had a colorful life - great achievements in painting; a turbulent marriage with fabled muralist Diego Rivera; even a close relationship with Leon Trotsky, the communist leader. This biopic gets the facts on screen, but that's about it. Perhaps intimidated by the strength of Kahlo's own artistic personality, Taymor shows isolated flashes of the storytelling inventiveness she brought to "Titus."

Staff **1/2 Imaginative, colorful, passionate.

Sex/Nudity: 18 scenes innuendo, implied sex. Violence: 8 scenes, including brawls. Profanity: 12 expressions. Drugs: 29 scenes of smoking, drinking. 2 scenes morphine abuse.

Friday After Next (R)

Director: Marcus Raboy. With Ice Cube, Mike Epps, John Witherspoon, Don 'D.C.' Curry. (93 min.)

Staff * 'Tis the night before Christmas Eve, and the only creature stirring is the Santa Claus burglar, breaking into Craig (Ice Cube) and Day-Day's (Epps) ghetto apartment and stealing presents and rent money. The frantic hip-hop pace and realistic setting of this third "Friday" movie will help viewers overlook old jokes and sloppy filmmaking. By M.K. Terrell

Staff ** Vulgar, cheesy, vacuous.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes implied sex or nudity. 14 instances of innuendo. Violence: 10 fight scenes, some gory. Attempted rape. Profanity: 150 harsh expressions. Drugs: At least 12 scenes of drinking, smoking, and drug use.

Full Frontal (R)

Director: Steven Soderbergh. With Julia Roberts, Blair Underwood. (101 min.)

Sterritt ** Soderbergh tries a freewheeling experiment in this comedy-drama about people making a film and rehearsing a play; it takes place during 24 hours and unfolds in loosely strung scenes. The focus is on mercurial moods rather than logic-driven causes and effects. It's refreshingly different, even if it's low on energy, and too eager to be quirky at moments when a little old-fashioned storytelling would come in handy.

Staff *1/2 Self-centered, free-form, slow.

Sex/Nudity: 6 sex scenes; 8 with innuendo. Violence: 1 suicide scene. Profanity: 55 expressions. Drugs: 7 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Gangs of New York (R)

Director: Martin Scorsese. With Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, John C. Reilly. (155 min.)