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2002 Mega Movie Guide

(Page 33 of 49)

Director: Charles Stone III. With Wood Harris, Mekhi Phifer, Kevin Carroll, Esai Morales. (93 min.)

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Staff *** Ace (Harris) is unhappy behind the counter of his uncle's dry-cleaning business, but holds out against friends' enticements to deal drugs with them. Finally, the lure of fancy cars and promise of a better life are too great, and he succumbs. The story, based on real-life dealer A.Z. Alpo, barely touches on drug users, concentrating rather on the trade's devastating effect on the pushers themselves. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo, sex. Violence: 17 scenes, including beating, shootings. Profanity: 212 expressions. Drugs: 27 instances of smoking, drinking, and drug use.

Panic Room (R)

Director: David Fincher. With Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker. (110 min.)

Sterritt ** A woman and her daughter scurry to a bunkerlike sanctum when crooks invade their Manhattan home to steal a fortune that happens to be locked away in the panic room itself. This minimalist thriller relies on hyperactive camera movements to juice up any scene where the acting sags. There are many, since the screenplay isn't nearly clever enough to sustain a reasonable degree of suspense.

Staff **1/2Nail-biter, intense.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 9 instances, some quite violent. Profanity: 60 harsh expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes with drinking, smoking, illegal drugs.

Pauline & Paulette (PG)

Director: Lieven Debrauwer. With Dora Van Der Groen, Ann Petersen, Rosemarie Berghmans. (78 min.)

Sterritt *** Three aging Belgian women face big decisions when the care of a mentally backward sister falls into their hands. Debrauwer brings crisp conviction to what might have been an overly sentimental tale, filming it with a good-natured sincerity that rings consistently true. In Flemish and French with English subtitles.

Personal Velocity (R)

Director: Rebecca Miller. With Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey, Fairuza Balk, Leo Fitzpatrick. (85 min.)

Sterritt **** This movie looks at three separate tales of troubled young women: one on the run from an abusive husband, one sorting through mixed emotions as her professional fortunes rise, and one a pregnant runaway with a horrific past. The episodes don't give as much insight into their subjects as one would hope, but Miller shows talent as a director with a sharp eye for images, a keen ear for dialogue, and a refreshing willingness to take risks.

Sex/Nudity: 8 scenes, including implied sex and innuendo. Violence: 9 scenes, including fights. Profanity: 18 harsh expressions. Drugs: 13 scenes of drinking, smoking.

The Pianist (R)

Director: Roman Polanski. With Adrien Brody, Maureen Lipman, Frank Finlay, Emilia Fox. (148 min)

Sterritt *** Fact-based drama about the experiences of concert pianist Wladislaw Szpilman in Warsaw after Germany's defeat of Poland in 1939, where he survived in hiding as Nazis occupied the city. Polanski has personal links with Polish suffering in the Nazi era, and his movie has a sense of emotional urgency and deep-dwelling grief.

The Piano Teacher (Not rated)

Director: Michael Haneke. With Isabelle Huppert, Benoit Magimel, Annie Girardot. (130 min.)

Sterritt *** Huppert is brilliant as a music teacher whose obsessively respectable life masks deeper, darker desires that break through the surface when she becomes fixated on a man she's just met, disrupting the orderly existence she shares with her demanding mother and sparking self-destructive actions that build to the story's bleak conclusion. Its grimness is explicit, so approach it with caution.

Possession (PG-13)

Director: Neil LaBute. With Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jennifer Ehle, Jeremy Northam. (102 min.)