Director: Spike Lee. With Edward Norton, Rosario Dawson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Brian Cox. (134 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Sterritt **** A young drug dealer tries to come to terms with his past on the day before he leaves for a seven-year prison term. The movie is flawed by implausible psychology and moments of weak acting. But it's more than redeemed by Lee's passionate ideas about America today, which he sees as plagued by evils of violence and materialism, yet unbounded in its possibilities and unquenchable in its spirit. He's a unique filmmaker, and this uneven drama is truly one of a kind.
Director: Denzel Washington. With Derek Luke, Joy Bryant, Washington. (117 min.)
Sterritt ** This is a fact-based drama about a Navy psychiatrist (Washington) who treats a violence-prone sailor (Luke) by encouraging him to probe the abusive childhood that he has long repressed. Although it's touching and sincere, Washington's directorial debut is weakened by a too-slow pace and a story that offers few real surprises.
Director: Steven Spielberg. With Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Nathalie Baye, Christopher Walken. (140 min.)
Sterritt *** See review, page 14.
Director: Rob Marshall. With Renée Zellweger, Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Queen Latifah. (113 min.)
Sterritt ** See review, page 14
Director: Stephen Daldry. With Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, Ed Harris. (120 min.)
Sterritt **** See review, page 14.
Director: Todd Louiso. With Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Jack Kehler, Sarah Koskoff. (93 min.)
Sterritt **** A desperately unstable man copes with his wife's suicide by doping himself up and letting his life fall to pieces. Hoffman's acting is poignant and compassionate, etching a profoundly sad character with no trace of compromise, and Bates gives one of her most controlled performances ever. Louiso is a hugely talented new filmmaker.
Director: Douglas McGrath. With Charlie Hunnam, Anne Hathaway, Jim Broadbent. (133 min)
Sterritt *** See review, page 15.
Director: Alexander Payne. With Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney, Kathy Bates. (125 min.)
Sterritt *** After his wife's unexpected death, a retired man rethinks his future and reevaluates his past while traveling across the Midwest to his daughter's wedding, where his discontents grow greater than ever. Nicholson's acting is awesome, and Payne and cowriter Jim Taylor haven't lost their ear for the empty aphorisms of middle-class speech.
Staff *** Jack truly is back, bittersweet, touching.
Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of partial nudity. Violence: 1 instance of a brief tussle. Profanity: 12 expressions, sometimes harsh. Drugs: 8 scenes with drinking; 1 with prescription drugs.
Director: Spike Jonze. With Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Brian Cox. (114 min.)
Sterritt *** A fictional doppelganger of real-life screenwriter Charlie Kaufman struggles to write the screenplay of this film, dogged by the success of his (totally fictional) twin brother and spurred by his bashful admiration for the journalist who wrote the nonfiction book he's trying to adapt, about a man who's obsessed with tracking down rare orchids. The film is less confusing than it sounds, and it's great mazelike fun until it bogs down in familiar chase-picture conventions near the end.
Director: Lee Tamahori. With Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, John Cleese, Judi Dench. (132 min.)
Sterritt ** The suave British agent starts his 20th screen adventure by falling into enemy hands and getting kicked out of Her Majesty's Secret Service. But don't fret - he wows everyone with fast escapes, jaunty wisecracks, and amorous escapades. Brosnan is in top form, making the 007 role more his own than anyone since Sean Connery.
Staff **1/2 Predictable but entertaining, Berry is a tough match, action galore.