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Staff *** Jack truly is back, bittersweet, touching.Skip to next paragraph
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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 doppelgänger 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. 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.
Staff *** Original, clever, disappointing third act.
Sex/Nudity: 9 scenes with sexual activity, including partial nudity. Violence: 2 car crashes, gator attack, and gunshots. Profanity: 30 instances of profanity. Drugs: 19 scenes with smoking, alcohol.
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 his abusive childhood. Although it's touching and sincere, Washington's directorial debut is weakened by too slow a pace and a story that offers few real surprises.
Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes of implied sex. 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 10 scenes, including fighting and shootings. Profanity: 41 expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes of drinking and smoking.
Director: George Clooney. With Sam Rockwell, Julia Roberts, Clooney, Drew Barrymore. (113 min.)
Sterritt *** An apocryphal memoir by Chuck Barris inspired this partly true story, which blends his real experiences as TV producer and "Gong Show" host with his ersatz secret life as a CIA assassin. Clooney shows strong filmmaking imagination in his directorial debut, but the movie's driving force is Charlie Kaufman's screenplay, a genre-bending romp that blurs all boundaries between the factual and the fantastical. The picture would be better if it took a less jokey tone, though, allowing its style to be as surreal as its story.
Director: Steven Spielberg. With Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Nathalie Baye, Christopher Walken. (140 min.)
Sterritt *** The mostly true story of a master impostor (DiCaprio) who passes himself off as everything from a Pan Am copilot to a Harvard-trained physician, cashing bad checks along the way - to the consternation of an FBI agent (Hanks) who spends years tracking him down. Spielberg's directing is less tricky than usual, but he doesn't have much talent for psychological suspense, which is the heart of the story. DiCaprio underplays nicely and Walken is superb as the con artist's downtrodden dad.
Staff *** Leo shines, zip and verve, stylish.
Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes with implied sex; 2 scenes of innuendo. Violence: Several scenes in which guns are pulled but not fired. Profanity: 7 instances of harsh profanity. Drugs: 17 scenes of smoking, drinking, and illegal drugs.
Director: Rob Marshall. With Renée Zellweger, Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Queen Latifah. (113 min.)
Sterritt ** Two women of the Roaring '20s land on death row after killing men who've wronged them, and their friendship turns to rivalry when they go after the same money-minded lawyer to defend them. The music is irresistible, and who would have guessed Zellweger, Zeta-Jones, and Gere could hoof and croon with the best of them?
Staff ***1/2 Visual razzle-dazzle, clever choreography, strong acting.
Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene; mildly provocative costumes and lyrics in dance numbers. Violence: 6 scenes of mild violence. Profanity: 20 expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes of smoking, drinking.
Director: Martin Scorsese. With Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz. (155 min.)
Sterritt *** Scorsese depicts the physical and psychological mayhem that poisoned relations between European immigrants and American bigots in New York City during the Civil War era. The film offers a wide-ranging portrait of this bitter period, showing how the evils of ethnic bigotry, political corruption, and blind personal ambition helped shape US society. The film is strong in sound and fury, weak in nuance and insight.