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Movie Guide

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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.

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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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