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Movie Guide

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Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 8 violent scenes, including shootings.

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House of 1,000 Corpses (R)

Director: Rob Zombie. With Chris Hardwick, Karen Black, Jennifer Jostyn, Sid Haig. (88 min.)

Staff **1/2 Originally slated for release in 2000, this movie - written and directed by former White Zombie frontman and horror buff Rob Zombie - was unable to find a distributor because of its violence and gore. The plot pays homage to 1970s horror flicks: Four friends are out driving on a rainy night. They become stranded and seek shelter in a sadistic family's farm house. The movie is not just frightening but disorienting with its splices of old horror flicks and Betty Page shorts throughout. While it delivers the goods to horror fans, it may prove too disturbing for the unsuspecting audience member. By Sasha Brown

Staff *1/2 Sadistic, creepy, depraved.

Sex/Nudity: 15 scenes, including innuendo, nudity. Violence: 26 grisly scenes. Profanity: 65 profanities. Drugs: Few scenes of drinking, smoking.

Levity (R)

Director: Ed Solomon. With Billy Bob Thornton, Kirsten Dunst, Morgan Freeman, Holly Hunter. (100 min.)

Sterritt *** Leaving jail after serving 23 years for a murder he committed as a teenager, a lonely man (Thornton) takes a job in a forlorn community center run by an enigmatic preacher (Freeman). He strikes up hesitant relationships with a troubled young woman (Dunst) and the sister of the man he killed. Solomon keeps the drama generally clear and interesting, though some touches make the film-noir plot seem too pretentious.

Staff *** Creative, absorbing, well acted, slow.

Sex/Nudity: 1 implied sex scene; 1 instance of innuendo. Violence: 5 scenes; 1 violent act is central to the theme. Profanity: 26 profanities. Drugs: 10 scenes with drinking, smoking, and drugs.

Phone Booth (R)

Director: Joel Schumacher. With Colin Farrell, Katie Holmes, Kiefer Sutherland. (81 min.)

Sterritt *** A self-centered yuppie (Farrell) answers a ringing pay phone on a Manhattan street, and discovers he's talking with an unseen psychopath (Sutherland) who threatens to shoot him if he dares to hang up. Farrell solidly holds the screen while allowing enough emotional space for other characters, and Schumacher has directed the high-voltage story without a wasted move.

Staff *** Riveting, fast-paced, scary.

Sex/Nudity: Mild innuendo. Violence: 6 scenes, including sniper shootings; guns drawn throughout. Profanity: 97 profanities. Drugs: 4 smoking scenes.

Raising Victor Vargas (R)

Director: Peter Sollett. With Victor Rasuk, Judy Marte, Melonie Diaz, Altagracia Guzman. (87 min.)

Sterritt *** This is a likable comedy-drama about a Latino teenager in New York who romances a pretty girl who's both standoffish and insecure, like him, and faces domestic difficulties with a grandma who hasn't figured out the modern world her family lives in. Sympathetic and unsentimental, this is a nice example of low-budget filmmaking on a human scale.

Stevie (Not rated)

Director: Steve James. With Stephen Fielding, Steve James, Verna Hagler, Tonya Gregory. (140 min.)

Sterritt **** This engrossing documentary began to develop when filmmaker James discovered that an Illinois youngster he'd mentored several years earlier (Fielding) had gotten entangled in a lot of family and legal problems. He decided to spend time with the young man by making a documentary about him, and the project acquired new dimensions when Fielding was charged with a new and startling crime. In some ways, this is an intimate visit with a uniquely troubled individual, and in other ways it's a sociological study of the uneducated working-class milieu he hails from. Its fascination also comes from James's reflections on his own responsibilities as a person, a friend, and a filmmaker.

What a Girl Wants (PG)

Director: Dennie Gordon. With Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth, Eileen Atkins. (103 min.)

Sterritt * Longing to meet her father, an English aristocrat who sired her in a romantic fling, a New York teenager (Bynes) flies to London and barges into his life. Bynes buffs may never have a better chance to bask in her perky presence. Others may draw some entertainment value from the high-profile supporting cast, but that's all this warmed-over comic trifle has to offer.

Staff **1/2 Light-hearted, goofy, standard fare.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes with innuendo. Violence: 3 scenes. Profanity: 8 profanities. Drugs: 5 drinking scenes.