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Movie guide

(Page 3 of 3)



Staff *** Stunning sets; Daniel Day-Lewis plays scariest big-screen villain since Hannibal Lecter; starts strong but loses its way.

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Sex/Nudity: 11 scenes, including semi-nudity. Violence: 36 instances of graphic violence of punches, beatings, and battle scenes. Profanity: 4 expressions. Drugs: 35 scenes of smoking, drinking. 1 scene with opium.

The Hours (PG-13)

Director: Stephen Daldry. With Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, Ed Harris. (120 min.)

Sterritt **** Superb adaptation of Michael Cunningham's novel about three women - author Virginia Woolf, a 1949 housewife, and a liberated modern woman - facing emotional crises. David Hare's screenplay ingeniously translates the time-jumping story into cinematic terms, and Daldry's directing subtly orchestrates the motifs (kisses, parties, partings) that smoothly link the episodes.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (PG-13)

Director: Peter Jackson. With Elijah Wood, Liv Tyler, Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee. (179 min.)

Sterritt ** Frodo and Sam head for the dark land of Mordor to destroy the ring of power before evil Sauron can use it to enslave Middle Earth forever. The second installment in Jackson's trilogy of J.R.R. Tolkien's marvelous novels is more effective than "The Fellowship of the Ring" because it isn't weighed down with plodding exposition. Its greatest asset is Gollum, almost as creepy on the screen as he was in Tolkien's pages.

Staff *** Visually stunning, action-packed.

Sex/Nudity: None. Profanity: None. Violence: Relentless graphic violence including hacked limbs. Drugs: 2 scenes with a pipe.

Nicholas Nickleby (PG)

Director: Douglas McGrath. With Charlie Hunnam, Anne Hathaway, Jim Broadbent. (133 min)

Sterritt *** Large-scale adaptation of Charles Dickens's novel about a man who encounters a motley list of friends and foes while trying to rescue his family from poverty. Some portions of the film are a Dickensian delight, especially when Broadbent's slimy Squeers and Tom Courtenay's good-natured Noggs are on the screen. But Hunnam isn't up to the title role. It's uneven, but Dickens admirers shouldn't miss it.

Staff *** Satisfying, miscast, more sugar than spice.

Sex/Nudity: None. Profanity: None. Violence: 10 scenes, including suicide. Drugs: 8 instances of drinking; 1 scene with 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 Wladyslaw Szpilman in Warsaw, where he survived in hiding as Nazis occupied the city after Germany's defeat of Poland in 1939. Polanski has personal links with Polish suffering in the Nazi era, and his movie has a sense of emotional urgency and deep-dwelling grief.

Staff **** Harrowing, detailed, beautifully shot.

Sex/Nudity: None. Profanity: 6 harsh expressions. Violence: 23 scenes of graphic violence. Drugs: 6 scenes of smoking, drinking.

Two Weeks Notice (PG-13)

Director: Marc Lawrence. With Sandra Bullock, Hugh Grant, Dorian Missick, Katheryn Winnick. (100 min)

Sterritt *** She's an idealistic lawyer, he's the devil-may-care businessman who hires her, and you know love sparks will fly before the final credits roll. Bullock is cute. Grant is even cuter. They have the timing and panache of a first-rate comedy team. They should make a million movies together.

Staff ** Cute, a bit contrived, worth a matinee.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: 2 mild expressions. Drugs: 8 scenes with alcohol.

The Wild Thornberrys Movie (PG)

Directors: Cathy Malkasian, Jeff McGrath. With (voices) Ian Abercrombie, Brenda Blethyn. (79 min.)

Sterritt **** Eliza can talk with animals, which is handy in the African wild, where she lives with her eccentric parents, a chimpanzee named Darwin, and a self-absorbed sister. It's less handy when she's sent to a British boarding school where neither she nor Darwin fits in, and worse yet, poachers are threatening her elephant friends back home. Lively characters, snappy dialogue, and snazzy visuals make this an uncommonly fine animation.

Staff *** Most intrepid family this side of the Swiss Family Robinsons, charming, spunky.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 6 scenes, mostly with the poachers. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

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