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Movie guide

January 10, 2003

El Bola (Not rated)

Director: Achero Mañas. With Juan José Ballesta, Pablo Galán, Alberto Jiménez, Manuel Morón. (88 min.)

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Sterritt *** The poignant yet unsentimental story of a 12-year-old boy - the film's title means "Pellet," his nickname - caught between his abusive father and a grown-up friend who'd like to rescue him from his bad family environment but is afraid of legal reprisals if he does. This drama has won an armload of international prizes, including multiple honors in Spain's equivalent of the Oscar race, marking Mañas as a director with a bright future. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Le Cercle Rouge (Not rated)

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville. With Alain Delon, Yves Montand, Gian Maria Volonté, André Bourvil. (140 min.)

Sterritt **** A glistening gem among caper movies, this impeccably elegant jewel-heist drama takes its title from Buddhist lore, its cast from France's great gallery of leading men, and its style from the unique blend of cinematic savoir-faire and brooding existential angst that Melville polished throughout his rich career. Completed by Melville and legendary cinematographer Henri Decae in 1970, the picture waited more than 30 years to reach American screens. In French with English subtitles (reissue).

Ikiru (Not rated)

Director: Akira Kurosawa. With Takashi Shimura, Haruo Tanaka, Minoru Chiaki, Shinichi Himori. (143 min.)

Sterritt **** Told by a physician that he has only six months to live, an aging Japanese bureaucrat takes a mournful look at the meaning of his life so far, then decides to accomplish something worth doing in the little time he has left. This masterpiece of 1952 is one of the gentlest, subtlest tales from one of Japan's all-time-great filmmakers, combining the sweep of a novel with the intimacy of an elegy. Also known as "To Live." In Japanese with English subtitles (reissue).

Just Married (PG-13)

Director: Shawn Levy. With Ashton Kutcher, Brittany Murphy, Christian Kane, Taran Killam. (95 min.)

Staff * A fairy-tale honeymoon in Europe quickly becomes a nightmare for a young couple (Murphy and Kutchner) through her father's attempted sabotage and the groom's boorish treatment of the locals. The principals try to breathe life into the old gags, and the scenery is magnificent, but the filmmakers are unable to marry these elements into a cohesive motion picture. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 7 instances of innuendo. 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: 8 scenes, including assault. Profanity: 29 instances of profanity. Drugs: 12 scenes with drinking or smoking.

Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time (Not rated)

Director: Thomas Riedelsheimer. With Andy Goldsworthy. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** This documentary features a leisurely visit with a dedicated artist who treks into a variety of natural settings - from the meadows of his native Scotland to the rocks and rivers of Nova Scotia - to create sculptures out of nature. The film would be more informative if it put Goldsworthy into the broader context of modernist art movements. It's visually ravishing from start to finish, though, helped by Fred Frith's music, which puts a crowning touch on the movie as a work of art in its own right.

The Son (Not rated)

Directors: Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne. With Olivier Gourmet, Morgan Marinne. (103 min.)

Sterritt **** See review.

25th Hour (R)

Director: Spike Lee. With Edward Norton, Rosario Dawson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Brian Cox. (134 min.)

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 film is flawed by implausible psychology and moments of weak acting. But it's more than redeemed by Lee's passionate ideas about America, which he sees as plagued by evils of violence and materialism, yet unbounded in its possibilities. He's a unique filmmaker, and this uneven drama is truly one of a kind.

About Schmidt (R)

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. Nicholson's acting is awesome, and Payne and cowriter Jim Taylor haven't lost their ear for the empty aphorisms of middle-class speech.