Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Daddy Day Care (PG)

Director: Steve Carr. With Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin, Anjelica Huston, Steve Zahn. (93 min.)

Sterritt ** See full review.

King of Hearts (Not rated)

Director: Philippe de Broca. With Alan Bates, Geneviève Bujold, Jean-Claude Brialy, Pierre Brasseur. (102 min.)

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Sterritt *** Sojourning in a French town during World War I, a British soldier becomes

the unlikely hero of lunatics in a local asylum, bringing antic adventures and newfound dangers for all of them. This engaging 1966 comedy isn't de Broca's best movie, but it was so popular with American audiences in the late '60s that it's still one of the era's most fondly remembered cult classics. In English, French, and German with English subtitles.

Man on the Train (R)

Director: Patrice Leconte. With Jean Rochefort, Johnny Hallyday, Isabelle Petit-Jacques. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** See full review.

The Shape of Things (R)

Director: Neil LaBute. With Rachel Weisz, Paul Rudd, Gretchen Mol, Frederick Weller. (97 min.)

Sterritt **** See full review.

Washington Heights (R)

Director: Alfredo De Villa. With Tomas Milian, Judy Reyes, Manny Perez, Jaime Tirelli. (80 min.)

Sterritt *** A young Latino man dreams of success as a comic-book artist while working in his father's New York City bodega and coping with the challenges of inner-city poverty and crime. De Villa's debut film is persuasively written and acted, if a tad rougher around the edges than one might wish.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
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 on 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.

Staff *** Quirky, witty, well-acted.

Sex/Nudity: 7 scenes with innuendo. Violence: None. Profanity: None. Drugs: 2 drinking scenes.

Afghan Stories (Not rated)

Director: Taran Davies. With families in New York and Afghanistan. (61 min.)

Sterritt *** A visit with Afghan men, women, and children in the wake of Sept. 11, probing views of everything from the Soviet invasion of 1979 to poverty today. The documentary makes up in humane values what it lacks in sociological depth. In English, Pashto, and Turkmen with English subtitles.

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 an eccentric shrink (Nicholson). The comedy is uneven and sometimes crude, but it's worth seeing for Sandler's minimalist acting and for a few very funny scenes. Nicholson also is 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 women. Violence: 15 scenes of violence, mostly fights. Profanity: 23 harsh profanities. Drugs: 14 scenes with drinking and smoking.

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 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.

City of Ghosts (R)

Director: Matt Dillon. With Dillon, Natascha McElhone, James Caan, Gérard Depardieu. (116 min.)

Sterritt ** Dillon makes his directorial debut with this thriller about a con artist dueling with his accomplice in Bangkok, which is photographed as a tangled web of rich exoticism and decadent sleaze. He also plays the leading role. The film has shortcomings, but it's fun to see Caan back in action.

Confidence (R)

Director: James Foley. With Edward Burns, Rachel Weisz, Andy Garcia, Dustin Hoffman. (98 min.)

Sterritt * A con artist plans his last big scam, motivated by revenge and dogged by mobsters who feel he owes them. The film is as tricky and superficial as its lowlife characters, using visual flimflam to mask its lack of substance. The confidence-game scenes work reasonably well, since they allow characters to interact with a little intensity; the rest is awful.

Staff **1/2 Great twists, flashy, lacks substance.

Sex/Nudity: 6 sex scenes with nudity; 2 scenes of innuendo. Violence: 14 harsh scenes. Drugs: 19 drinking scenes; 18 smoking; 2 with drugs.

The Dancer Upstairs (R)

Director: John Malkovich. With Javier Bardem, Laura Morante, Juan Diego. (135 min.)

Sterritt ** Bardem plays a Latin American police detective who tracks down a revolutionary zealot while mooning over his daughter's dance teacher. Malkovich's directorial debut is intellectually ambitious, but his meandering style dilutes the story's emotional effectiveness, and Nicholas Shakespeare's screenplay deals more in vague qualities of Latin culture than in the specific conditions that drive the plot about revolutionary violence. But Bardem delivers a sensitive performance.

Divine Intervention (Not rated)

Director: Elia Suleiman. With Elia Suleiman, Manal Khader, Nayef Fahoum Daher. (92 min.)

Sterritt *** This is a film about the adventures of a Palestinian man called E.S., based on writer-director Suleiman, as he copes with his ailing father, woos a girlfriend who lives on the other side of an Israeli checkpoint, and gets through daily life in his neighborhood. While much of the material is handled in a spirit of sardonic humor, occasional bursts of bitingly sarcastic material give the movie a controversial ideological edge. In Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles.

Staff **1/2 Slow, severe, political.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 9 scenes, including explosions and gunfire. Profanity: 21 harsh expressions. Drugs: At least 9 scenes with smoking.

Holes (PG)

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

Staff *** This honky-tonk tale hews closely to Louis Sachar's Newbery-winning children's book. LaBeouf plays Stanley Yelnats IV, a teen who's wrongly convicted of stealing a pair of sneakers. He's shipped off to Camp Green Lake, a detention center that, despite its name, lacks foliage and natural water of any sort. Stanley and the other boys are forced to shovel holes in the desert ostensibly "to build character," says the warden, played chillingly by Weaver. Like most children's films, everything wraps up predictably in the end. But overall, "Holes" digs deeper than other movies of its ilk, probing racism, children not fitting in, and the value of friendship. By Stephanie Cook Broadhurst

Staff ***1/2 Adept adaptation, entertaining, 'Hole'-some.

Staff *S/N: 1 scene with innuendo. Violence: 12 scenes, including shootings and fights. Profanity: 10 mild profanities. Drugs: None.

Identity (R)

Director: James Mangold. With John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Ray Liotta, Rebecca de Mornay. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** A ramshackle motel hosts a motley crew of stranded travelers on a rain-drenched night - including a mad killer on his way to a hearing just hours before his execution. Soon, corpses start piling up like crazy. The movie has wild mood-swings, from "Psycho" to "Scream" and back again, but it's just loopy enough to be tantalizing, involving, and fun if you're willing to leave your brain at the popcorn counter.

Staff **1/2 Cliché, Cusack is watchable, mystery fans will enjoy.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: 22 scenes, quite gory. Profanity: 23 profanities. Drugs: 3 smoking scenes; 2 with drinking.

It Runs in the Family (PG-13)

Director: Fred Schepisi. With Kirk Douglas, Michael Douglas, Rory Culkin, Bernadette Peters. (109 min.)

Sterritt ** The ailing patriarch of a wealthy New York clan (Kirk D.) copes with emotional issues revolving around a successful son (Michael D.) who's facing his own challenges: problem kids, deaths in the family, and a near miss with an extramarital love affair. The screenplay is ragged around the edges, weaving in more story threads than it's prepared to handle. But the film is worth a visit if you're fond of the terrific Douglas duo.

Sex/Nudity: 10 instances of innuendo; 1 of implied sex. Violence: 3 scenes, including fights. Profanity: 19 harsh expressions. Drugs: 8 drinking scenes; some smoking; 3 scenes with pot.

Japón (Not rated)

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

Sterritt *** A man travels from Mexico City to the rugged countryside, where he plans to commit suicide. Renting a room from a lonely old woman, he builds an emotionally and physically intimate relationship with her, nudging him toward altered views of the world. Reygadas's first feature is more persuasive as visually engaging cinema than as thoughtful philosophy, but it's an engrossing and inventive drama despite its flaws, and many of its leisurely widescreen shots are transfixing. In Spanish with English subtitles.

The Lizzie McGuire Movie (PG)

Director: Jim Fall. With Hilary Duff, Adam Lamberg, Alex Borstein, Clayton Snyder. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** The popular TV character heads for Rome with a gaggle of classmates and a bossy chaperon, looking for adventure and finding more than she bargained for. The action is light and lively all the way, poking inventive fun at everything from nosy little brothers to clueless hotel managers and romantic Romans who aren't as glamorous as they claim to be. Highly recommended.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 1 scene of punching. Profanity: None. Drugs: 1 drinking scene.

Malibu's Most Wanted (PG-13)

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

Sterritt *** Kennedy plays 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, but it makes points about how much of "race" is more about words and gestures than skin color.

Staff *** Inspired silliness, lighthearted, fun.

Sex/Nudity: 9 innuendos. Violence: 16 scenes, including shootouts, explosions. Profanity: 105 profanities. Drugs: 6 drinking scenes.

The Man Without a Past (PG-13)

Director: Aki Kaurismäki. With Markku Peltola, Kati Outinen, Annikki Tähti, Sakari Kousmanen. (97 min.)

Sterritt **** An ordinary man gets beaten and robbed by thugs, develops a walloping case of amnesia, and spends the rest of the film rebuilding his life through the kindness of strangers and with the love of a good woman. Kaurismaki is Finland's greatest filmmaker, and never has he more artfully balanced his patented blend of deadpan humor, low-key melodrama, and toe-tapping music. In Finnish with English subtitles.

Staff *** 1/2 Tender, moving, riveting.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 5 scenes, including 2 gory beatings. Profanity: None. Drugs: 27 smoking scenes; 3 with drinking.

Owning Mahowny (R)

Director: Richard Kwietniowski. With Philip Seymour Hoffman, Minnie Driver, John Hurt. (104 min.)

Sterritt **** Based on true events, this engrossing drama chronicles the implacable decline of a mild-mannered bank clerk (Hoffman) as his gambling addiction drives him so deeply into debt that even his bookies feel bad about it. Hoffman is devastatingly good, as usual, and Hurt is excellent as a money-driven casino manager who wants to milk his obsessive client for all he's worth. Kwietniowski's second feature isn't as flat-out brilliant as his first, "Love and Death on Long Island," but it confirms his promise as an exceptional talent.

X2: X-Men United (PG-13)

Director: Bryan Singer. With Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry. (134 min.)

Staff **1/2Warning: Do not even consider going to this sequel until you've seen the first X-Men film. The sequel picks up as if you just ran to the fridge for a soda. That said, Singer has given this a slightly more serious tone, a broader canvas, and more minutes for your money. There are some great new characters and memorable interchanges between the two main mutants about the age-old question: "Who am I?" By Gloria Goodale

Staff *** X-cellent, superior sequel, overcooked.

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo. 1 brief scene of nudity. Violence: Extreme violence throughout. Profanity: 11 expressions. Drugs: 1 drinking scene; 3 scenes of smoking.

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