Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
The Cuckoo (PG-13)

Director: Alexander Rogozhkin. With Viktor Bychkov, Anni-Christina Juuso, Ville Haapasalo. (100 min.)

Sterritt ** Isolated from their units in the remote countryside during World War II, two soldiers from the rival Soviet and Finnish armies seek refuge with a Lapp peasant woman, and language problems compound the emotional complications that result. This situation hardly provides a clever or original metaphor for the failures of communication that perennially plague the human race, but the drama's heart is in the right place. In Russian, Finnish, and Sami with English subtitles.

The Holy Land (Not rated)

Director: Eitan Gorlin. With Albert Illouz, Aryeh Moskona, Oren Rehany. (96 min.)

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Sterritt *** Beset by indecision in his personal and religious life, a young Israeli man visits a distant city where he falls in love with a prostitute and sees aspects of Israeli and Palestinian life that he never dreamed of before. The acting and directing are uneven, but many scenes have strong emotional and political power. In English and in Hebrew, Arabic, and Russian with English subtitles.

The Housekeeper (Not rated)

Director: Claude Berri. With Jean-Pierre Bacri, Emilie Dequenne, Catherine Breillat, Brigitte Catillon. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** See full review.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (PG-13)

Director: Stephen Norrington. With Sean Connery, Peta Wilson, Shane West, Jason Flemyng. (112 min.)

Sterritt * See full review.

Madame Satã (Not rated)

Director: Karim Ainouz. With Lázaro Ramos, Marcelia Cartaxo, Felipe Bauraqui, Emiliano Queiroz. (105 min.)

Sterritt ** Rio de Janeiro is the setting for this fact-based story of an all-around social, sexual, and romantic rogue who became a widely renowned female impersonator. No-nonsense critiques of Brazil's endemic poverty and deeply flawed criminal-justice system lend substance to what otherwise might have seemed a flimsy and sensationalistic tale. In Portuguese with English subtitles.

Northfork (PG-13)

Director: Michael Polish. With Nick Nolte, Daryl Hannah, James Woods, Kyle MacLachlan. (103 min.)

Sterritt **** See full review.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (PG-13)

Director: Gore Verbinski. With Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Jonathan Pryce. (136 min.)

Sterritt ** See full review.

Violence: 20 violent scenes, including stabbings, hangings. Drugs: 8 scenes with drinking.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
28 Days Later (R)

Director: Danny Boyle. With Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson. (113 min.)

Sterritt *** An epidemic of medically induced rage has reduced almost everyone in England to a brainless zombie gripped by mindless, murderous hate, and our heroes are a small group of survivors making their way to a military enclave that may offer safety and hope. The story borrows from many well-known sources, including "Night of the Living Dead" and Stephen King's novel "The Stand," but heartfelt acting and imaginative directing raise it a notch above average.

Staff *** Gritty, daring, biting, horror classic.

Sex/Nudity: 4 scenes of male nudity. Violence: Very bloody and graphic throughout, including rapes and mutilation. Profanity: 60 profanities. Drugs: 7 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Bonhoeffer (Not rated)

Director: Martin Doblmeier. With voices of Klaus Maria Brandauer, Adele Schmidt, Richard Mancini. (94 min.)

Sterritt ** This well-meaning documentary is about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian who was executed in a Nazi prison after participating in a conspiracy to kill Hitler. While this account is interesting, what's missing is an exploration of Bonhoeffer's innovative ideas and an examination of the way he reconciled his passion for pacifism with his growing conviction that assassination is justified in some cases. In English and German with English subtitles.

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (PG-13)

Director: McG. With Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Bernie Mac. (111 min.)

Sterritt ** The woman warriors must retrieve two metal rings encoded with secret information about a witness-protection program. Their enemies include an Angel's former boyfriend and a retired member of Charlie's flock who's thrown in her lot with the villains. The spunky cast is the only reason to see this lively but forgettable action farce.

Staff ** Fun cast, scant plot, flashy, cartoonish.

Sex/Nudity: 13 innuendos. Violence: 16 extended scenes, including fights. Profanity: 1 harsh profanity. Drugs: 4 drinking scenes. 2 with smoking.

Finding Nemo (G)

Director: Andrew Stanton. With Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Willem Dafoe, Geoffrey Rush. (101 min.)

Staff *** A grumpy clown fish searches for his missing son after the youngster is scooped up by scuba divers and plopped into the aquarium of an Australian dentist. This exuberant animation is no "Toy Story," but it's the next best thing, with colorful cartooning, imaginative dialogue, and voice performances that mold the finny characters into richly believable figures.

Staff **** Artistic triumph, hilarious, fun.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 5 scenes of cartoonish violence. Some scenes may scare small children. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

The Hard Word (R)

Director: Scott Roberts. With Guy Pearce, Rachel Griffiths, Damien Richardson. (102 min.)

Sterritt ** This film is about three brothers who've built a joint career as robbers and thieves. Sprung from the slammer for one last job, they take on the challenge of stealing millions from the Melbourne Cup racing sweepstakes. If they'd spent enough time out of jail to see a proper ration of caper pictures, they'd know better than to trust new associates they don't really know - anyone named Tarzan is a psycho for sure. The offbeat characters keep the story mildly engrossing, though it's a bit slow-moving at times.

Sex/Nudity: 12 scenes, including innuendo and nudity. Violence: 11 scenes, including several shootings. Profanity: 119 profanities. Drugs: 12 scenes of drinking, smoking, and drug use.

The Heart of Me (R)

Director: Thaddeus O'Sullivan. With Helena Bonham Carter, Paul Bettany, Olivia Williams. (96 min.)

Sterritt *** Carter plays a romantic Englishwoman who has the bad fortune to fall in love with her brother-in-law, embarking on a long-term affair that entails keeping the hapless wife and sister in the dark. The power of this moving and intelligent drama grows from its dark-toned portrayal of the World War II era and from its evocative use of flashbacks as the plot leaps to and fro in time, caring more about the characters' emotional lives than story devices such as surprise and suspense.

Sex/Nudity: 7 scenes, including sex and nudity. Violence: 5 scenes, including rape and suicide attempt. Profanity: 2 mild profanities. Drugs: 14 scenes of drinking and smoking.

Hulk (PG-13)

Director: Ang Lee. With Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott. (137 min.)

Sterritt *** Cerebral scientist Bruce Banner becomes a modern-day Dr. Jekyll after gamma rays wreak havoc on him, morphing him into a hulking green giant. As a character, the Hulk is no more interesting here than in the Marvel Comics that spawned him. Some of his exploits - hopping through the desert like a superfrog, for instance - are as silly as can be. But the movie adds a poignant plot element by making Bruce's father responsible for his predicament, allowing a current of pop-Freudian psychology to run through the yarn.

Staff ** Intense, surprisingly well acted, atrocious screenplay.

Sex/Nudity: 1 brief instance of posterior nudity. Violence: 23 scenes including brutal fights and gunfire. Profanity: 6 mild expressions. Drugs: 1 instance of drug use; 1 instance of drinking.

The Italian Job (PG-13)

Director: F. Gary Gray. With Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton, Charlize Theron, Seth Green. (104 min.)

Staff ** This remake of the 1969 crime caper rounds up all the usual clichés. There's a computer genius, an explosives expert, and a veteran safe cracker (Donald Sutherland at his most venerable). The gang plots to retrieve their gold by recruiting an illegally blond safecracker (Theron). Sadly, "Italian Job" lacks the key ingredients of a great heist. By Stephen Humphries

Staff **1/2 Slick, star vehicle, zippy car chase.

Sex/Nudity: 5 innuendos. 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: 10 extended scenes, including shootings, explosions. Profanity: 17 profanities. Drugs: 10 scenes with smoking and drinking.

Jet Lag (R)

Director: Daniele Thompson. With Juliette Binoche, Jean Reno, Sergi Lopez, Scali Delpeyrat. (91 min.)

Staff *** The quirky romance between Rose, a beautician who wishes her life were more like an American movie, and Felix, a heavily furrowed chef turned frozen-food guru, unfolds within the austere confines of Charles de Gaulle airport and a Hilton hotel. This film's kinetic, almost frenetic, cinematography moves alongside what is essentially a two-person dialogue. Though the takeoff is slow and the destination a bit too neat, the journey is charming. By Teresa Méndez

Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes, including innuendo, brief porn clips. Violence: 3 mild scenes. Profanity: 8 profanities. Drugs: Several drinking scenes.

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (PG-13)

Director: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld. With Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Sally Field. (95 min.)

Sterritt * Elle Woods heads for Washington to push for an animal rights bill with help from a congresswoman who's one of her old sorority sisters. The original "Legally Blonde" asked us to believe that a bubblebrain like Elle could ace Harvard Law School, and that's positively logical compared with the implausible premises served up by the sequel - all the more disappointing when you recall that Witherspoon starred in "Election," one of the all-time-great political satires. She's pretty in pink, but she's not dazzling enough to salvage a second-rate screenplay like this one.

Staff *1/2 Legally bland, fluffy, cute, silly.

Sex/Nudity: At least 5 instances of innuendo; no nudity. Violence: None. Profanity: 8 mild profanities. Drugs: 2 mild drinking scenes.

Love the Hard Way (Not rated)

Director: Peter Sehr. With Adrien Brody, Charlotte Ayanna, Jon Seda, Pam Grier. (104 min.)

Sterritt * For reasons the film never clarifies, a petty criminal and a brilliant biology student fall in love, with awful consequences. Brody has offbeat charisma, but it's no match for the corny dialogue he's given here, not to mention the "Wild at Heart" snakeskin jacket he wears.

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (PG)

Directors: Tim Johnson, Patrick Gilmore. With voices: Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer. (86 min.)

Sterritt ** Prodded by his best friend's fiancée and goaded by the goddess of chaos, our rascally hero sets out to recover the cherished Book of Peace from whoever has stolen it and pinned the blame on him. The animators make the most of the film's traditional 2-D cartoon style, but the adventure rarely becomes as exciting as you'd expect, and the plot may be a tad too complicated for young viewers. But there are memorable moments along the way.

Sex/Nudity: 2 innuendos. Violence: 16 scenes, including sword fights. Profanity: None. Drugs: 2 mild drinking scenes.

Swimming Pool (R)

Director: François Ozon. With Charlotte Rampling, Charles Dance, Ludivine Sagnier, Marc Fayolle. (102 min.)

Sterritt ** Suffering from writer's block, an English mystery novelist moves into a French chateau owned by her publisher, where she enters an increasingly ominous relationship with a woman who's staying there. The suspenseful setup never pays off, but Rampling continues the impressive collaboration with Ozon that began with "Under the Sand" in 2000. In English and French with English subtitles.

Staff **1/2 Understated, superficial, entertaining.

Sex/Nudity: 15 scenes, including nudity, sex, and innuendo. Violence: 3 scenes, including murder scene. Profanity: 9 profanities. Drugs: 20 scenes of drinking, smoking, and drug use.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (R)

Director: Jonathan Mostow. With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kristanna Loken, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes. (109 min.)

Sterritt ** A high-tech Terminator - or Terminatrix, since she's female - is sent from the future to assassinate the late Sarah Connor's son, who has a crucial role to play in a future battle between humans and gizmos. The human resistance movement sends a similar cyborg to protect him, touching off a series of spectacular battles with computer-generated visual effects that will twist your retinas into pretzels. Mostow keeps the action moving at a rapid clip, and Schwarzenegger strides across the screen with a muscle-bound magnetism that makes the Hulk look wimpy. Fans will cheer, detractors will yawn, and the "Terminator" franchise will surely live to fight another day.

Staff *** Relentless pace, witty at times, potent.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes of posterior nudity; 2 scenes with innuendo. Violence: 24 extended scenes, including high-tech fights, shootings. Profanity: 26 profanities. Drugs: 3 scenes of drinking.

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