Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Bulletproof Monk (PG-13)

Director: Paul Hunter. With Chow Yun-Fat, Seann William Scott, Jamie King. (103 min.)

Staff **1/2 In Tibet in 1943, the "Monk Without a Name" (Yun-Fat) becomes the protector of a sacred scroll that will make its reader the ruler of the world. Naturally, the Nazis want it. Sixty years later, his term of office is nearly over, and the monk comes to the US - Nazis still in pursuit - to find a successor. What he finds is a kung-fu loving pickpocket (Scott) and a mysterious girl (King). The mixture of martial arts, super-hero comic book, and Eastern philosophy doesn't really come together, but it moves quickly. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes with innuendo. Violence: 20 scenes, including kung-fu battles. Profanity: 11 harsh profanities. Drugs: Several scenes with drinking, smoking.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?
Holes (PG)

Director: Andrew Davis. With Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Patricia Arquette, Shia LeBeouf. (111 min.)

Staff *** See review.

Lilya 4-Ever (R)

Director: Lukas Moodysson. With Oksana Akinshina, Artiom Bogucharskij, Elina Benenson. (109 min.)

Sterritt *** Left to fend for herself by an uncaring mother and an impersonal society, a teenage girl sinks into a spiral of abuse by others and misguided decisions of her own. Set mostly in an unnamed part of the former Soviet Union, this grim Danish-Swedish production is socially revealing and artistically creative, both coldly realistic and infused with compassion for its heroine and her youth culture. In Russian and Swedish with English subtitles.

Love & Diane (Not rated)

Director: Jennifer Dworkin. With Love Hinson, Diane Hazzard, Donyaeh Hazzard, Willie Hazzard. (155 min.)

Sterritt **** See review.

Malibu's Most Wanted (PG-13)

Director: John Whitesell. With Jamie Kennedy, Regina Hall, Taye Diggs, Ryan O'Neal. (85 min.)

Sterritt *** The hero (Kennedy) is a white teen who tries so hard to be black that his politically ambitious father (O'Neal) hires two African-American actors to pose as inner-city hoods and scare him back into white-bread behavior. The comedy is often crass and crude, but it makes telling points about how much of "race" is more about the words and gestures we use than the actual colors of our skins.

A Mighty Wind (PG-13)

Director: Christopher Guest. With Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Bob Balaban, Parker Posey. (87 min.)

Sterritt *** Guest follows his amusing "Waiting for Guffman" and "Best in Show" with yet another faux documentary, focusing this time on aging folkies from the '60s era of sentimental ballads and lusty protest songs. The parody would be more memorable if it satirized a broader section of the folk-music scene instead of limiting itself to commercialized acts of the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul & Mary ilk. But it is as accurate as it is funny.

Sex/Nudity: 7 scenes with innuendo. Drugs: 2 drinking scenes.

Winged Migration (G)

Director: Jacques Perrin. With many flying birds. (85 min.)

Staff ** See review.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
A Man Apart (R)

Director: F. Gary Gray. With Vin Diesel, Larenz Tate, Timothy Olyphant, Jacqueline Obradors. (109 min.)

Sterritt * Diesel plays a narcotics cop who prospers by relying on the tricks he learned as a streetwise hustler. When criminals murder his wife, his lust for vengeance brings out a side of him as nasty as the bad guys he wants to bring down. Diesel's unmodulated acting and Gray's heavy-handed directing make this more of a down-and-dirty vigilante yarn than the psychological drama it tries to be.

Staff **1/2 Predictable, exciting, Diesel-icious.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes, including innuendo and topless dancers. Violence: 14 scenes, including shootouts. Profanity: 105 harsh profanities. Drugs: 22 scenes with drinking, smoking, drugs.

Anger Management (PG-13)

Director: Peter Segal. With Jack Nicholson, Adam Sandler, Marisa Tomei, Heather Graham. (100 min.)

Sterritt *** A businessman (Sandler) with an anger problem gets sentenced to live-in therapy sessions with a shrink (Nicholson) who's as eccentric as the cranks he's supposed to cure. The comedy is uneven and sometimes crude, but it's worth seeing for Sandler's minimalist acting and for a few very funny scenes, mostly in the first half. Nicholson is also fine when he isn't overplaying his character's shenanigans.

Staff **1/2 Promising start, too slapstick, predictable.

Sex/Nudity: Innuendo throughout; heavy kissing between 2 women. Violence: 15 scenes with violence, mostly fights. Profanity: 23 harsh profanities. Drugs: 14 scenes with drinking and smoking.

Assassination Tango (R)

Director: Robert Duvall. With Duvall, Luciana Pedraza. (114 min.)

Sterritt *** Duvall is terrific as an American hit man who learns to tango in Argentina while waiting for the return of a general he's been hired to murder. As usual in the films he writes and directs, Duvall blends a fictional story with authentic background details and performances by cast members who aren't trained actors. There's plenty to please the eye and the ear, but Pedraza's acting skills don't equal her excellence as a dancer.

Staff *** Intelligent, elegant dancing, engaging.

Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene; 12 scenes with innuendo related to tango. Violence: 8 scenes, including shootings. Profanity: 24 harsh profanities.

Bend It Like Beckham (PG-13)

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

Sterritt ** The heroine is a soccer-loving Indian teen living in London with her highly traditional family; they believe nice young women shouldn't chase after balls, and their conservatism may prevent her from fashioning her future on her own terms. The film probes territory already explored in pictures like "East Is East," but its look at cultural clashes is always well-meaning and good-humored.

Staff **1/2 Joyous, innocent, predictable.

Sex/Nudity: 1 mild sex scene. Violence: Mild violence on the soccer field. Profanity: 7 instances of profanity. Drugs: 8 scenes of drinking; 1 with smoking.

Better Luck Tomorrow (R)

Director: Justin Lin. With Parry Shen, Sung Kang, Jason Tobin, Roger Fan. (99 min.)

Sterritt *** A small circle of Asian-American friends scramble for good grades, plan for college, and pull off petty crimes for fun. The filmmaking is gimmicky, aimed at young moviegoers with a taste for rowdy teen comedy and music-video aesthetics. What helps Lin's feature-directing debut is his insight into the dark side of living up to "model minority" stereotypes in a materialistic culture.

Ghosts of the Abyss (G)

Director: James Cameron. With Bill Paxton, John Lynch, Charles Pellegrino, Lori Johnston. (60 min.)

Sterritt *** Filmed in the Imax 3-D format, this eye-filling documentary visits the wreck of the Titanic with a crew of scientists, historians, and observers as they explore the tragic marvel with lighting from an underwater chandelier and videography by two remote-controlled robots that become the movie's mascots, a sort of R2D2 and C3PO of the briny deep. The spectacle would be more stunning if Cameron didn't throw in extras like superimpositions, split-scene sequences, animations, and reenactments. But at least it clocks in shorter than Cameron's "Titanic."

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: A few scenes recreating panic as ship goes down. Profanity: 6 profanities. Drugs: Several drinking and smoking scenes.

The Good Thief (R)

Director: Neil Jordan. With Nick Nolte, Tchéky Karyo, Emir Kusturica. (110 min.)

Sterritt ** Nolte plays a gambler on the French Riviera who stakes his future on a scheme to pull off two heists - a real one and a decoy - helped by a motley crew of collaborators. This caper is a duded-up remake of Jean-Pierre Melville's classic "Bob le Flambeur," with an added subplot about forged paintings that dovetails with the story's interest in illusion and reality. Jordan miscalculates by substituting noise and bustle for the moody atmosphere of the 1955 original.

Staff **1/2 Retro, mediocre, witty.

Sex/Nudity: 9 scenes, including innuendo and sex. Violence: 9 scenes, including beating. Profanity: 39 harsh profanities. Drugs: 25 scenes with drinking, smoking, or drug use.

Head of State (PG-13)

Director: Chris Rock. With Rock, Bernie Mac, Robin Givens. (95 min.)

Sterritt ** Rock plays a black alderman who's coaxed into running for president by an underhanded politico who really wants him to lose. You can guess the rest - he speaks his mind, charms average citizens, and sweeps in from behind. But along with painfully predictable gags the film has moments of sharp social satire, and Rock makes a promising directorial debut. Chris Rock 4 President.

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

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.

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