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Movie Guide

March 14, 2003

Agent Cody Banks (PG)

Director: Harald Zwart. With Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff, Keith David, Angie Harmon. (110 min.)

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Sterritt * See review, page 15.

Bend It Like Beckham (PG-13)

Director: Gurinder Chadha. With Parminder K. Nagra, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Keira Knightley. (112 min.)

Sterritt ** See review, page 15.

The Hunted (R)

Director: William Friedkin. With Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro, Connie Nielsen, Jenna Boyd. (94 min.)

Sterritt * See review, page 15.

Platform (Not rated)

Director: Zhang Ke Jia. With Hong Wei Wang, Jing Dong Liang, Tao Zhao, Tian Yi Yang. (155 min.)

Sterritt *** The setting is provincial China in the late '70s and '80s, and the main characters are members of a theater troupe that has to change its subjects and styles as the nation shifts from Maoist orthodoxy to new, more progressive attitudes. The movie makes up in sweep and splendor what it lacks in psychological depth and dramatic impact. In Mandarin with English subtitles.

Under the Skin of the City (Not rated)

Director: Rakshan Bani-Etemad. With Golab Adineh, Baran Kosari, Mohammad Reza Forutan. (92 min.)

Sterritt *** Various challenges loom for members of an ordinary Tehran family, including the worried old matriarch and an ambitious son who wants to leave Iran for greener pastures in Japan and will do anything to get the money and papers he needs. This gritty drama doesn't rank with the greatest Iranian films, but its urban characters offer an interesting change from the nation's best-known productions, which generally center on rural subjects. In Farsi with English subtitles.

Alias Betty (Not rated)

Director: Claude Miller. With Sandrine Kiberlain, Nicole Garcia, Mathilde Seigner, Edouard Baer. (101 min.)

Sterritt *** After a novelist's child dies, her neurotic mother kidnaps a child for her to raise. The grief-stricken woman decides to accept this illegal scheme when she learns her little houseguest may have come from an abusive home. Miller spins an engrossing story combining psychological drama, sociological reflection, and high-octane suspense. In French with English subtitles.

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 inexplicable sources - and that the evil he manifested could visit us again if more civilized humans don't remain watchful.

Staff **** Candid, intimate, sparse, riveting.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None shown, but some description of violence. Profanity: None. Drugs: At least three scenes in which interviewee is smoking.

Bringing Down the House (PG-13)

Director: Adam Shankman. With Steve Martin, Queen Latifah, Eugene Levy, Joan Plowright. (105 min.)

Sterritt * Likable white lawyer (Martin) meets earthy black exconvict (Latifah) who won't stop pestering him until he helps her clear her name. Parts of this boisterous comedy are in remarkably poor taste - a female fistfight, a scene where Martin dudes himself up in ghetto-style gear - and the rest is plain old not funny. What's such a talented cast doing in such a brain-dead farce?

Staff ** Slapstick, funny at times, racially tense.

Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes with innuendo, strong at times. Violence: 7 scenes, including fights. Profanity: 7 harsh expressions; 42 mild. Drugs: 13 scenes of drinking, smoking. 1 scene of drugs.

Cradle 2 The Grave (R)

Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak. With Jet Li, DMX, Mark Dacascos. (100 min.)

Staff * DMX plays Tony Fait, the leader of a gang of thieves who enlists the help of Taiwanese intelligence agent Jet Li when his daughter is kidnapped by thugs seeking his latest booty. Perhaps paying homage to DMX's rap style, the film plays like a music video with bright colors, pounding music, and dizzying camera moves. But even a father's love for his daughter can't justify the relentless violence. If the gore does not make you look away, then the "been there, done that" plot will. By Sasha Brown