Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Bad Boys II (R)

Director: Michael Bay. With Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Gabrielle Union. (87 min.)

Staff ** Miami PD's mismatched partners, family man Marcus (Lawrence) and bachelor Mike (Smith), return to find themselves in the middle of a Russian-Cuban-Haitian drug war and in a contest between Miami's finest and the feds to bring down the combatants. Their captain is into meditation, enabling him to rationalize putting them back on the street after every gun battle and destruction derby car chase. Clever ideas and hilarious moments drown in a flood of violence and profanity. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 10 scenes, including innuendo, implied sex. Violence: 19 scenes, including explosions, shootings. Profanity: 236 profanities. Drugs: 9 scenes of drinking, smoking, and drug use.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?
The Embalmer (Not rated)

Director: Matteo Garrone. With Ernesto Mahieux, Valerio Foglia Manzillo, Elisabetta Rocchetti. (104 min.)

Sterritt *** A middle-aged taxidermist, as energetic in spirit as he is short in stature, gets a crush on a young man he's taken as an apprentice, with results that grow emotionally complex when the helper falls in love with a feisty woman. Mahieux gives a bravura performance as the title character. Director Garrone keeps the story involving even though it doesn't quite live up to the star's strong talents. In Italian with English subtitles.

How To Deal (PG-13)

Director: Clare Kilner. With Mandy Moore, Allison Janney, Peter Gallagher, Nina Foch. (109 min.)

Sterritt ** See full review.

I Capture the Castle (R)

Director: Tim Fywell. With Romola Garai, Henry Thomas, Rose Byrne, Bill Nighy. (113 min.)

Sterritt *** See full review.

Johnny English (PG)

Director: Peter Howitt. With Rowan Atkinson, John Malkovich, Natalie Imbruglia, Ben Miller. (87 min.)

Sterritt ** See full review.

September 11 (Not rated)

Directors: Sean Penn, Mira Nair, Ken Loach, Claude Lelouch, Samira Makhmalbaf, Shohei Imamura, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Amos Gitai, Idrissa Ouedrago, Youssef Chahine, Danis Tanovid. (135 min.)

Sterritt *** Originally titled "11'09"01," this is a collection of international movies responding to the Sept. 11 attacks, each lasting 11 minutes, nine seconds, and one extra frame to match Sept. 11, 2001, in the European calendar system. They vary enormously in style, quality, and ideas, but the best of them - by Gitai, Chahine, and Iñárritu, among others - pack an enormous emotional and intellectual punch. In English and various other languages with English subtitles.

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 pacifism with his conviction that assassination is justified in some cases. In English and German with English subtitles.

Staff *** Insightful, grave but inspiring.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: Discussions about Nazi violence. Profanity: None.

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.

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

The Cuckoo (PG-13)

Director: Alexander Rogozhkin. With Viktor Bychkov, Anni-Christina Juuso. (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 Lappland peasant woman, and language problems compound the emotional complications that result. The situation hardly provides an original metaphor for the communication failures that plague the human race, but the drama's heart is in the right place. In Russian, Finnish, and Sami with English subtitles.

Finding Nemo (G)

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

Staff *** A grumpy clownfish searches for his missing son after the youngster is scooped up 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 League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (PG-13)

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

Sterritt * A band of 19th-century adventurers familiar from other yarns - submariner Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, vampire huntress Mina Harker, and so on - agree to help the British Empire by thwarting the villainous Fantom's plan to blow up a conclave of world leaders. The mighty Nautilus surging through the sea is an impressive sight to behold, but most of the picture is standard action-movie stuff. Extraordinary? Balderdash!

Sex/Nudity: 2 innuendoes. Violence: 23 scenes, including shootings and fights. Profanity: 5 profanities. Drugs: At least 4 drinking and smoking 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.

Northfork (PG-13)

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

Sterritt **** A hydroelectric project is about to put a Great Plains town underwater, and an evacuation committee is assigned to ensure no family gets left in harm's way. Meanwhile a sick little boy, too weak to move, has an elaborate fever dream about angels as ineffectual and good-hearted as he is. This offbeat fable elegantly mingles drama, comedy, fantasy, and low-key spiritual resonance. Nolte's final soliloquy provides a crowning touch.

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 ** Avrst, mateys! This swashbuckling yarn centers on an endangered woman, a mysterious pendant, and a crew of cursed pirates who want to get their hands on both so they can undo the malediction that's turned them into undead versions of the Flying Dutchman. The story is silly, but the cinematography is handsome and Cap'n Depp shines as a fey buccaneer whose dandified demeanor is more fun to watch than the rest of the spectacle.

Staff *** Depp steals the show, swashbuckling fun, a little long.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 18 violent scenes, including stabbings, hangings. Drugs: 10 scenes with drinking. Profanity: 6 mild profanities.

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (PG)

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

Sterritt ** 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 mild 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. (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. Violence: 3 scenes. Profanity: 9 profanities. Drugs: 20 scenes of drinking, smoking, 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 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 spectacular battles with computer-generated visual effects. Mostow keeps the action moving at a rapid clip. 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.

OUT ON VIDEO
Laurel Canyon (R)

Director: Lisa Cholodenko. With Frances McDormand, Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale. (103 min.)

Sterritt *** Fresh from medical school, a conscientious young man and his fiancée move into the southern California home of his mother, an aging flower child whose domicile does extra duty as recording studio for her young lover's rock band. The story doesn't ultimately live up to its technical polish, but it paints a vivid picture of emotional vibes emanating from the Hollywood Hills.

Staff *** Evocative setting, shocking, quirky.

Sex/Nudity: 9 scenes, including 3 with nudity and 6 of sex. Violence: 1 scene. Profanity: 50 profanities. Drugs: 20 scenes of smoking, drinking.

Shanghai Knights (PG-13)

Director: David Dobkin. With Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Fann Wong. (114 min.)

Staff *** Watching the Buster Keatonesque action in this superior sequel one wonders whether Kung Fu maestro Jackie Chan was a Looney 'toon in his previous life. Just as animated is Owen Wilson, the other member of the odd couple, whose surf-dude persona offers up plenty of laughs as the duo venture to Victorian London. The mechanical plot entails avenging a murder and preventing an aristocrat from assassinating the royal family. The journey is more important than the destination. By Stephen Humphries

Staff ***Hilarious, amazing stunts, colorful.

Sex/Nudity: 12 sexually suggestive scenes. Violence: 17 scenes, including karate fights. Profanity: 23 profanities. Drugs: 9 scenes of smoking, drinking.

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