Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Chaos (Not rated)

Director: Coline Serreau. With Catherine Frot, Vincent Lindon, Rachida Brakni, Line Renaud. (109 min.)

Sterritt **** See review.

The Guru (R)

Director: Daisy von Scherler Mayer. With Jimi Mistry, Heather Graham, Marisa Tomei. (95 min.)

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Sterritt * See review.

Lost in La Mancha (R)

Directors: Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe. With Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp, Jean Rochefort, Jeff Bridges. (93 min.)

Sterritt **** Bridges narrates this hugely entertaining documentary about the unmaking of Gilliam's dream project, "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote," which went before the cameras in Spain only to be knocked out of production by problems including a sick star, a flood that washed away sets and scenery, and noise from military planes that flew training runs overhead. This is a sad and funny true-life tale that speaks volumes about the difficulties of independent filmmaking.

The Recruit (PG-13)

Director: Roger Donaldson. With Al Pacino, Colin Farrell, Bridget Moynahan, Gabriel Macht. (105 min.)

Sterritt ** See review.

CURRENTLY in RElease
A Guy Thing (PG-13)

Director: Chris Koch. With Jason Lee, Julia Stiles, Selma Blair, Diana Scarwid. (105 min.)

Sterritt * After his bachelor party, a groom-to-be wakes up in bed with a woman he doesn't know, then finds out she's his fiancée's favorite cousin and a lot more fun than the fiancée herself. The screenplay has a lot of talk about people being "right for each other," but the characters are so shallow and generic it's hard to care who winds up with whom. This may be a "guy thing," but a "good romantic comedy thing" it's not.

Staff * Predictable, painfully bad, overacted.

Sex/Nudity: 1 implied sex scene; 7 instances of innuendo. Violence: 9 scenes of gratuitous violence, including a fight. Profanity: 37 expressions. Drugs: 5 scenes of drinking. 1 scene with illegal drugs.

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 co-writer Jim Taylor haven't lost their ear for the empty aphorisms of middle-class speech.

Staff *** Jack is back, bittersweet, touching.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of partial nudity. Violence: 1 brief tussle. Profanity: 12 expressions. Drugs: 8 scenes with drinking; 1 with prescription drugs.

Amen. (Not rated)

Director: Costa-Gavras. With Mathieu Kassovitz, Ulrich Tukur, Ulrich Mühe, Michel Duchaussoy. (130 min.)

Sterritt ** A repentant German officer and a young Jesuit priest mount a vain effort to alert Pope Pius XII to the Nazi genocide campaign, hoping the pontiff will take a public stand against it. Based on Rolf Hochhuth's play "The Deputy," this ambitious drama contains powerful messages about religious hypocrisy and the moral lassitude that allowed the Holocaust to continue even after its reality began filtering into public consciousness. Regrettably, though, director Costa-Gavras puts more of his storytelling energy into simplistic psychology and suspense-movie action than historical depth and philosophical insight.

Blind Spot - Hitler's Secretary (PG)

Directors: André Heller and Othmar Schmiderer. With Traudl Junge. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** This documentary presents a long interview with a personal assistant to Adolf Hitler who lived in his bunker during his final days. She candidly admits her failure to recognize the profound evil of a man she found personable and even kind during their daily interactions. Her testimony is a salutary reminder that Hitler was a person - not a supernatural monster whose malevolence sprang from unearthly, inexplicable sources - and that the evil he manifested could visit us again if more civilized humans don't remain watchful.

Catch Me If You Can (PG-13)

Director: Steven Spielberg. With Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Nathalie Baye. (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 doesn't have much talent for psychological suspense, but DiCaprio underplays nicely. 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 harsh expressions. Drugs: 17 scenes of smoking, drinking, and illegal drugs.

Chicago (PG-13)

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 dance numbers. Violence: 6 scenes of mild violence. Profanity: 20 expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes of smoking, drinking.

City of God (R)

Director: Fernando Meirelles. With Alexandre Rodrigues, Matheus Nachtergaele, Seu Jorge. (140 min.)

Sterritt ** A young photographer records the terrible events and personalities that surround him in a Rio de Janeiro slum between the late '60s and early '80s, including a psychopath who runs a gang of kids. In its story and characters, this violent Brazilian drama recalls the Cinema Novo movement spawned by Brazil in the '60s and '70s. But its cinematic approach is as flashy as a Hollywood thriller. In Portuguese with English subtitles.

Staff ** Excessively violent, disturbing, compelling.

Sex/Nudity: 9 instances implied sex. Profanity: 137 harsh expressions. Violence: 44 scenes of very graphic violence, including bullet-ridden bodies. Drugs: 2 scenes of smoking; 15 scenes with illegal drugs, mostly cocaine.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (R)

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 experience as "Gong Show" host with his ersatz secret life as a CIA assassin. Clooney shows 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.

Staff **1/2 Brash, visual pizzazz, lacks insight.

Sex/Nudity: 8 implied sex scenes; 4 scenes of male nudity; 2 scenes of innuendo. Violence: 21 scenes, including shooting. Profanity: 81 harsh expressions. Drugs: 27 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Darkness Falls (PG-13)

Director: Jonathan Liebesman. With Chaney Kley, Emma Caulfield, Lee Cormie.

Staff * The 1850s lynching of an innocent woman has provided a small Maine town, with a "tooth fairy" ghost-in-residence who sometimes attacks children the night they lose their last baby tooth. She also goes after adults who venture out in the dark. The largely Australian cast sounds American (but not Eastern) and does a good job of not breaking up while uttering inanities in one idiotic scene after another. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 25 scenes, including dead bodies and ghost attacks. Profanity: 4 harsh expressions. Drugs: 1 scene of drinking.

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.

Staff ***1/2 Masterly, superb acting, emotionally charged.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 3 scenes of suicide. Profanity: 2 harsh expressions. Drugs: 6 smoking scenes.

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 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 film. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 7 instances of innuendo. 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: 8 scenes, mostly comedic, including assault. Profanity: 29 expressions. Drugs: 17 scenes with drinking or smoking.

Kangaroo Jack (PG)

Director: David McNally. With Jerry O'Connell, Anthony Anderson, Estella Warren, Christopher Walken. (88 min.)

Sterritt * Two lunkheaded Americans fly to Australia on a mission for a mobster, and find themselves chasing after a kangaroo that's carrying an envelope stuffed with cash. Walken has a few good moments, but nobody else does, including the computer-enhanced title character. Hop to a different movie!

Staff *1/2 Go to the zoo instead. Poorly acted, silly, beautiful scenery of the outback.

Sex/Nudity: 5 sexually suggestive scenes. Profanity: 12 expressions. Violence: 29 scenes, including kangaroo kicks and mob threats. Drugs: 3 drinking scenes in bars and some smoking.

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 first because it isn't weighed down with plodding exposition. Its greatest asset is Gollum, almost as creepy as he was in Tolkien's pages.

Staff *** Visually stunning, action-packed.

Sex/Nudity: None. Profanity: None. Violence: Some graphic violence. Drugs: 2 scenes with a pipe.

Love Liza (R)

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 apart. Hoffman's acting is poignant and compassionate, etching a sad character with no trace of compromise, and Bates gives one of her most controlled performances ever. Louiso is a hugely talented new filmmaker.

National Security (PG-13)

Director: Dennis Dugan. With Martin Lawrence, Steve Zahn. (90 min.)

Staff **1/2 Lawrence plays a cadet who flunks out of the L.A. police academy and falsely accuses a white officer (Zahn) after a bystander comes forward with a video that shows a Rodney King-type beating. They must put animosities aside when they wind up as security guards chasing a gang of thieves. Zahn and Lawrence make a good team in this parody of police buddy films while raising issues of racism and the reliability of amateur videos as courtroom evidence. By M.K. Terrell

Staff *1/2 Silly, predictable, dumb.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo and a partial strip. Profanity: 28 expressions. Violence: 16 scenes, including shootouts, slapstick violence. Drugs: 1 drinking scene.

OUT ON VIDEO
The Banger Sisters (R)

Director: Bob Dolman. With Susan Sarandon, Goldie Hawn, Geoffrey Rush, Erika Christensen. (97 min.)

Staff **1/2Former rock groupie Suzette wants to reconnect with her friend "Vinny." The problem is, it's 20 years later and Vinny isn't a wild woman anymore. She lives in a big house with her lawyer-husband, two daughters, and a golden retriever. This hilarious romp looks like a shallow film, but it addresses family tensions, peer pressure, and the need to just let loose later in life. By Lisa Parney Connors

Staff *** A Goldie-oldie, energetic, star vehicle.

Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes, including implied sex. 10 instances innuendo. Violence: 2 scenes. Profanity: 28 expressions. Drugs: 13 scenes of drinking, smoking; 2 scenes of drugs.

The Master of Disguise (PG)

Director: Perry Andelin Blake. With Dana Carvey, Jennifer Esposito. (80 min.)

Staff **1/2 Twentysomething Pistachio Disguisey (Carvey) doesn't realize he's heir to a lineage of disguise masters because his father opted out and opened an Italian restaurant. An old enemy kidnaps mom and dad, and Pistachio's long-lost grandpa shows up to teach him the disguise trade and rescue them. Such is the flimsy framework for nonstop gags that overflow into the credits. It is not as funny as it could be. But Carvey's versatility is astonishing. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance innuendo. Violence: 15 scenes, including slapping. Profanity: 1 mild expression. Drugs: 5 scenes of drinking and smoking.

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