Director: Mark Steven Johnson. With Ben Affleck, Michael Clarke Duncan, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Garner. (96 min.)
Staff * See review, page 15.
Director: Gus Van Sant. With Matt Damon, Casey Affleck. (103 min.)
Sterritt **** See review, page 16.
Director: Steve Trenbirth. With John Goodman, Haley Joel Osment, Tony Jay. (72 min.)
Staff ** See review, page 15.
Directors: John Henry Davis. With Brendan P. Hines, Elizabeth Banks, Kris Park, A Martinez. (92 min.)
Sterritt * A college love triangle intersects with a murder case and a crisis of conscience for a gay clergyman. This low-budget drama tries very hard to convey messages of tolerance and compassion, but it's too weakly acted and directed to have much impact.
Director: Laetitia Colombani. With Audrey Tautou, Samuel Le Bihan, Isabel Carré, Clément Sibony. (92 min.)
Sterritt **** See review, page 15.
Director: Mark Moskowitz. With Mark Markowitz, Dow Mossman, Leslie Fiedler, Robert Gottlieb. (128 min.)
Sterritt * Documentary about Moskowitz's long, energetic effort to track down and interview Mossman, the now-obscure author of a novel that made a deep impression on him many years earlier. This movie should have been a book-lover's dream, but Markowitz's attitude toward literature seems closer to that of a hobbyist and collector than of a real connoisseur, and Mossman's long-delayed appearance is predictably anticlimactic. The film is a disappointment, and at more than two hours' running time, a very long disappointment.
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.
Director: Reggie Rock Bythewood. With Laurence Fishburne, Larenz Tate, Meagan Good. (111. min.)
Staff ** Smoke Galloway (Fishburn) is "King of Cali" - the best motorcycle street racer in California - and president of the Black Knights club. His mechanic's 18-year-old son, known only as "Kid" (Luke), wants the crown for himself and forms a rival biker club. Footage of the races and amazing stunts break up the sometimes tedious stretches in which Kid relates with his family, girlfriend, and biker pals, trying to live up to Dad's motto: "Burn rubber, not your soul." By M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. 1 implied sex scene. Violence: 7 scenes, including accident, fights. Profanity: 19 strong expressions. Drugs: 9 instances of drinking, smoking.
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.
Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene; mildly provocative dance numbers. Violence: 6 scenes of mild violence. Profanity: 20 expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes of smoking, drinking.
Director: Gary Hardwick. With Gabrielle Union, LL Cool J, Duane Martin, Mel Jackson. (105 min.)
Staff ** Eva (Union) has raised her three younger sisters since the untimely death of their parents. Now they're grown up, and Eva continues to mother them by meddling in their relationships. The sisters' husbands and fiancé hire a ladies' man (LL Cool J), to sweep Eva off her feet and out of their lives. Naturally, the plan backfires. What nearly saves the paint-by-numbers plot is a watchable cast and filmmakers' occasional willingness to paint outside the lines. By M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: 19 instances of innuendo. 1 sex scene. Violence: 3 scenes, including punching. Profanity: 68 expressions. Drugs: 10 scenes of drinking.
Director: David Richard Ellis. With A.J. Cook, Sarah Hattingh, Ali Larter, Tony Todd. (100 min.)
Staff *1/2 Waiting for a red light, young Kimberly (Cook) has a terrifying, gruesome vision of a major freeway pileup. As the lead character did in the original "Destination," Kim acts on her precognition, blocking an on-ramp to keep would-be victims off the highway until the crashes are over. But it's not nice to mess with fate. Horrible accidents overtake survivors, one by one, as they theorize about how they can thwart death's plan. The movie becomes progressively less imaginative but no less grisly as it wears on. By M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: Partial nudity. 1 instance of innuendo. Violence: 20 scenes, some very gory, including bad traffic accident. Profanity: 25 harsh expressions. Drugs: 9 instances of drinking, smoking, and illegal drug use.
Director: Daisy von Scherler Mayer. With Jimi Mistry, Heather Graham, Marisa Tomei. (95 min.)
Sterritt * An Indian immigrant goes to work for a porn-movie outfit and then starts impersonating a new-age mystic, becoming a star on the inspirational circuit. Instead of getting us emotionally involved with the characters, the comedy invites us to sneer at society snobs, giggle at tepid sex jokes, sniffle at sentimental interludes, and congratulate ourselves for being sophisticated enough to watch the unconventional kisses (biracial, gay) that climax the picture. What are talents like Tomei and Graham doing in a wafer-thin fizzle like this?
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, emotional.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 3 scenes of suicide. Profanity: 2 harsh expressions. Drugs: 6 smoking scenes.
Director: Donald Petrie. With Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, Adam Goldberg. (114 min.)
Staff *1/2 The title of this film would more accurately read: "How to Lose an Audience in 10 Minutes." Some scenes will make you laugh out loud, but the movie's formula for comedy gets old faster than you can say, "Let's just be friends." Andie (Hudson) is the "how to" girl for a women's magazine who writes a feature on how to ditch a clingy guy. But her subject has his own agenda. Ben (McConaughey) bets his friends that he can make a woman fall in love with him in 10 days. The setup conveniently allows filmmakers stage all sorts of slapstick scenarios. By Stephanie Cook Broadhurst
Staff **1/2 Silly, biting, insipid, funny at times.
Sex/Nudity: 2 suggestive scenes. Innuendo throughout. Profanity: 39 expressions. Drugs: 7 scenes with alcohol. 1 scene of smoking.
Director: Martina Kudlacek. With Jonas Mekas, Judith Malina, Amos and Marcia Vogel. (103 min.)
Sterritt **** In the movie world, the late Maya Deren is the equivalent of a legendary poet who blazes new trails in language while remaining unknown to readers who stick to bestseller lists. Spiced with quotations from her lectures, interviews with her associates, and excerpts from classic Deren works like "Meshes of the Afternoon," this documentary is an eloquent memorial to her achievements as an avant-garde filmmaker and her status as one of the very few women to enter the pantheon of major screen artists.
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 suggestive scenes. Profanity: 12 expressions. Violence: 29 scenes, including kangaroo kicks. Drugs: 3 bar scenes; some smoking.
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: Graphic violence. Drugs: 2 scenes with pipe smoking.
Directors: Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe. With Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp, 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 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.
Director: Roger Donaldson. With Al Pacino, Colin Farrell, Bridget Moynahan, Gabriel Macht. (105 min.)
Sterritt ** "Nothing is what it seems," says CIA boss Pacino before putting new recruit Farrell onto the trail of fellow trainee Moynahan, who may be a double agent but is otherwise the woman of his dreams. The first half comes up with nifty surprises, but suspense ebbs as the story sinks into standard-issue shootout and car-chase scenes. In the end, this tricky thriller is exactly what it seems - the umpteenth failed attempt to outdo "Three Days of the Condor," which flew higher in every way.
Staff *1/2 Unoriginal, well-cast, recycled.
Sex/Nudity: Several instances of innuendo. 2 scenes of implied sex. Violence: 7 scenes, including a kidnapping. Profanity: 26 expressions. Drugs: 7 scenes of drinking, smoking.
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, though, helped by Fred Frith's music, which puts a crowning touch on the film as a work of art in its own right.
Staff ***1/2 Lyrical, enriching, unique.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: 2 harsh expressions. Drugs: None.
Director: David Dobkin. With Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Fann Wong. (114 min.)
Staff *** Watching the Buster Keatonesque action in this superior sequel to "Shanghai Noon," one wonders whether Kung Fu maestro Jackie Chan was a Looney 'toon in his previous life. Just as animated is Owen Wilson, the other member of the odd couple, whose naive surf-dude persona offers up plenty of laughs as the duo venture into Victorian London. Suffice to say that the mechanical plot entails avenging a murder and preventing an aristocrat from assassinating the royal family. The journey is more important than the destination - as long as there are fight sequences along the way. By Stephen Humphries
Staff ***Hilarious, amazing stunts, colorful.
Sex/Nudity: At least 12 scenes with innuendo or suggestive behavior. Violence: 17 scenes, including karate and swordfights. Profanity: 23 expressions. Drugs: 9 scenes with smoking or drinking.
Director: Paula van der Oest. With Monic Hendrickx, Sylvia Poorta, Anneke Blok, Jacob Derwig. (100 min.)
Sterritt ** Three sisters investigate when their gay brother announces his impending marriage, fearing it's a ploy to obtain an inheritance they all covet. The characters of this Dutch comedy aren't very interesting or original, but it has a stylish look and spirited performances. In Dutch with English subtitles.