Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Boat Trip (R)

Director: Mort Nathan. With Cuba Gooding Jr., Vivica A. Fox, Horatio Sanz, Roselyn Sanchez. (93 min.)

Sterritt * Hoping for sexual adventures on a singles cruise, two woman-crazy guys find themselves on a ship full of gay men instead, plus a bevy of bikini models brought on board by a feeble plot twist. This boatload of clichés is strenuously unfunny. Switch your travel reservation to another theater!

Dreamcatcher (R)

Director: Lawrence Kasdan. With Morgan Freeman, Jason Lee, Tom Sizemore, Donnie Wahlberg. (131 min.)

Recommended: Default

Sterritt ** See review.

Fulltime Killer (Not rated)

Directors: Johnnie To, Wai Ka Fai. With Andy Lau, Takashi Sorimachi, Kelly Lin, Simon Yam. (102 min.)

Sterritt ** See review.

Japón (Not rated)

Director: Carlos Reygadas. With Alejandro Ferretis, Magdalena Flores, Carlos Reygadas Barquin. (122 min.)

Sterritt *** See review.

Piglet's Big Movie (G)

With (voices): John Fiedler, Jim Cummings, Ken Sansom. (75 min.)

Staff *** "Piglet's Big Movie" is a lot bigger - and better - than its predecessor, "The Tigger Movie." OK, so a 5-year-old may not see the nuance in the always dear, always pastel Pooh pals in either Disney riff, but parents will recognize a whole new level of plot development. Piglet's kindness is sorely tested by his honey-obsessed friends - until he gets lost and they realize he's a hero who may be small, but in the "biggest, helpfulest way." By Clara Germani

The Trials of Henry Kissinger (Not rated)

Director: Eugene Jarecki. With Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens, Seymour Hersh. (80 min.)

Sterritt **** This documentary is about the controversial statesman's career, emphasizing his involvement in the Vietnam War and the 1973 ouster of Chile's elected president, and building its case along the lines of Hitchens's argument that he should be tried for war crimes. Pungent, opinionated, outspoken.

View from the Top (PG-13)

Director: Bruno Barreto. With: Gwyneth Paltrow, Christina Applegate, Rob Lowe. (88 min.)

Staff **1/2 The movie opens with a red balloon drifting into the sky, setting the tone for the next hour and a half: light and airy, but overall a lot of fun. Paltrow's character, Donna Jensen, is charming, and one can almost buy her act as a small-town girl who aspires to become a flight attendant. Mike Myers is especially funny as Paltrow's teacher, whose dreams of becoming a flight attendant himself were shattered. Overall, this view is clear and uncomplicated - with few clouds and plenty of sunshine. By Sasha Brown

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
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 accepts this illegal scheme when she learns her little houseguest may have come from an abusive home. Miller spins an engrossing story, combining drama, social reflection, and high-octane suspense. In French with English subtitles.

Agent Cody Banks (PG)

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

Sterritt * An ordinary high-schooler becomes a junior James Bond when the CIA recruits him for an assignment only Hollywood could dream up: dating a pretty girl so he can spy on her dad, a scientist whose schemes could destroy the world. The name-brand cast doesn't muster much entertainment value because the repetitious script shows interest in nothing beyond action-centered plot gimmicks and romantic shenanigans. Teenage boys should enjoy it, though.

Sex/Nudity: At least 2 scenes with innuendo. Violence: 12 scenes with violence, including explosions, fighting. Profanity: 10 expressions. Drugs: None noted.

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 just not funny. What's such a talented cast doing in this 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.

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? But the story is a cynical take on serious human failings.

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.

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (Not rated)

Director: Laetitia Colombani. With Audrey Tautou, Samuel Le Bihan, Isabel Carré. (92 min.)

Sterritt **** A bright-eyed art student dreams of a wonderful future with the handsome doctor who's stolen her heart - but halfway through the movie we start seeing things through the doctor's eyes, and they don't look quite the same. Tautou's fame in the popular fantasy "Amélie" lends a deftly ironic underpinning to the anti-Amélie she plays here. Colombani's directorial debut is smart, gripping, and suspenseful. In French with English subtitles.

Staff **1/2 Off-beat, amusing, strange.

Violence: 3 scenes with violence. Profanity: 7 expressions.

The Hunted (R)

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

Sterritt * A former military teacher (Jones) pursues a "killing machine" (Del Toro) who learned his lessons all too well. The chief aim of this ham-fisted chase movie is to stage its story against as many Pacific Northwest backgrounds as possible. There's hardly a pause for breath. Or thought. Or anything besides fights, face-offs, and showdowns mired in the shallowest sort of Hollywood machismo.

Staff **1/2 Predictable, compelling premise, gritty.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 17 graphic scenes, including shootouts and fights. Profanity: 13 expressions. Drugs: 3 scenes with drinking, smoking.

Irréversible (Not rated)

Director: Gaspar Noé. With Vincent Cassell, Monica Bellucci, Albert Dupontel, Jo Prestia. (95 min.)

Sterritt *** This is a story about a brutal murder, a horrifying rape, and the events leading up to them, all revealed in reverse chronology and eye-churning camera work. Noé's despairing view of human nature is as thoughtful as it is grim, limning the most appalling aspects of earthly experience in terms recalling Dante and Bosch, among other apocalyptic artists. Only moviegoers who can tolerate extreme violence should venture near this film. In French with English subtitles.

Staff *1/2 Sickening, depressing, unnecessarily violent, almost impossible to watch.

Sex/Nudity: 12 sex scenes, including 5 with male and female nudity. Violence: 8 scenes, including an extended brutal rape scene and a graphic beating. Profanity: 350 expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes of smoking, drinking. 2 with drugs.

Nowhere in Africa (Not rated)

Director: Caroline Link. With Karoline Eckertz, Merab Ninidze, Juliane Köhler, Regine Zimmermann. (141 min.)

Sterritt *** The story begins in 1938, when a Jewish refugee from Germany's growing Nazi violence moves to a lonely farm in Kenya, then sends for his wife and daughter to join him, resulting in major adjustment problems for them. The film focuses on the girl as she grows into adolescence, and it also shows the difficulties her parents face in their new environment. If lush landscapes and exotic wildlife are what you're after, this isn't the safari for you. But many viewers will respond to its understated mixture of family drama and Holocaust-era history.

The Quiet American (R)

Director: Phillip Noyce. With Michael Caine, Brendan Fraser, Do Thi Hai Yen. (101 min.)

Sterritt **** Caine plays a jaded British journalist covering the French Indochina War in the '50s. Fraser plays an American who says he's on a charity mission but is really scheming to help a Vietnamese general gain control. Based on Graham Greene's 1955 novel, this thoughtful drama deals with a host of timely issues, including terrorism, international strife, and the use and abuse of US power. Caine and Fraser are superb.

Staff ***1/2 Intricate, well acted, suspenseful.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes of implied sex and several scenes with prostitutes and innuendo. Violence: 8 scenes, including battles, bloody bombings, and dead bodies. Profanity: 14 expressions. Drugs: 12 scenes with smoking and drinking.

Spider (R)

Director: David Cronenberg. With Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, Gabriel Byrne. (98 min.)

Sterritt **** A mentally troubled man tries to understand his tormented past as he is flooded by delusions and memories of his abused childhood while wandering through his old London neighborhood. Cronenberg doesn't draw clear boundary lines between illusion and reality, depicting the main character's experiences as a complex web of memories, fantasies, and dreads. Honors also go to first-rate acting by Fiennes as the protagonist and Richardson in many roles.

Staff ***1/2 Harrowing, metaphorical, lonely.

Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes. Violence: 3 scenes of violence, including self-mutilation. Profanity: 7 expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes with drinking, smoking.

Tears of the Sun (R)

Director: Antoine Fuqua. With Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser, Tom Skerritt. (105 min.)

Sterritt ** American soldiers led by a hard-boiled lieutenant (Willis) penetrate the Nigerian jungle to rescue an endangered Italian physician (Bellucci) who refuses to leave for safety unless she can bring a group of refugees with her. Dark-toned camera work and moody music give this slowly paced war movie an effectively chilling atmosphere until the final scenes, when US missiles and flaming Columbia Pictures fireballs turn the climax into a reunion of combat-movie clichés.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of partial nudity. Violence: 10 scenes of extreme war violence, including torture. Profanity: 38 expressions.

Willard (PG-13)

Director: Glen Morgan. With: Crispin Glover, Laura Elena Harring, David Parker. (100 min.)

Staff **1/2 With his spindly fingers and erratic eyes, Glover was a perfect choice to play Willard, the repressed antihero of this remake of the 1971 horror flick. Glover is surprisingly likable as Willard, despite bearing a resemblance to Norman Bates. Beneath Willard's milquetoast exterior lies a deep rage. Life has been hard on him: no friends, an abusive boss, and a mom who berates him. When he discovers that the rats in the basement are his friends, he uses them to wreak havoc. Creepy, gross, and sad, this film will keep you out of your basement for a while. By Sasha Brown

Staff **1/2 Chilling, atmospheric.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes. Violence: 11 scenes, including killing rats. Profanity: 6 expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with drinking.

OUT ON VIDEO
8 Mile (R)

Director: Curtis Hanson. With Eminem, Kim Basinger. (111 min.)

Sterritt ** A rapper called Rabbit lives an unhappy life in a trailer with his amoral mom, spending his time with a racially mixed group of friends and learning to express his anger in rhythmic rhymes. Eminem plays his film-debut role with a sullen naiveté that's not interesting, and Hanson's directing has little vigor apart from kinetic camerawork and large amounts of yelling on the soundtrack.

Staff *** Gritty, compelling story, sympathetic.

Sex/Nudity: 3 graphic sex scenes. Innuendo in rap songs. Violence: 9 scenes, including fights. Profanity: 240 expressions. Drugs: 3 drinking scenes, 12 with smoking. 1 with drugs.

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