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Movie Guide

August 29, 2003

The Backyard (Not rated)

Director: Paul Hough. With enthusiasts of backyard wrestling. (88 min.)

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Sterritt * This is a documentary about backyard wrestling, where opponents thrash each other with barbed wire, heave each other into flaming pits, and the like - most of which turns out to be relatively harmless when the trickery behind it is exposed. More of that trickery comes to light as the film proceeds, and eventually you realize the whole movie has been about young showoffs who think it's uproarious to gross out neighborhood grownups.

American Splendor (R)

Directors: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini. With Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis, Harvey Pekar. (100 min.)

Sterritt **** This movie breaks all the rules, offering a partly fictionalized look at the life and times of Pekar, a writer of underground comic books who earns most of his living as a file clerk and finds an equally idiosyncratic comics fan, Brabner, to be his wife. Pekar and Brabner are played by Giamatti and Davis, but also appear as themselves in interview sequences. It's emotionally poignant, socially revealing, and wildly entertaining.

Staff ***1/2 Wry humor, ode to an antihero, triumphant.

Sex/Nudity: 2 innuendoes. Violence: 1 slap. Profanity: 20 profanities. Drugs: 2 drinking, smoking scenes.

Freaky Friday (PG)

Director: Mark Waters. With Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Harold Gould, Mark Harmon. (93 min.)

Sterritt *** This delicious remake of Disney's popular 1976 comedy stars Curtis and Lohan as a middle-aged mother and teen daughter who inexplicably exchange bodies, causing each to live in the other's shoes (and jeans, dresses, and underwear) for a confusing and amusing 24-hour period. Lohan is winsome, Curtis is even better, and there's hardly a special effect in sight. The only freaky thing about this "Friday" is its delightful difference from the trendy eye candy that's come to dominate family-friendly filmmaking.

Staff **1/2 Funny Friday, childlike, Curtis's show.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: 3 mild expressions. Drugs: 3 drinking scenes.

Freddy vs. Jason (R)

Director: Ronny Yu. With Robert Englund, Monica Keena, Ken Kirzinger, Kelly Rowland.

Staff ** The movie opens with Freddy Krueger of "Nightmare on Elm Street" explaining he's lost the ability to claim his victims because they have forgotten about him. To remedy his situation, he resurrects Jason of "Friday the 13th" to do his dirty work. This works, of course, until Jason starts taking all the credit. And then the fun begins. This is purely a gory, knockdown street fight. One can only imagine what lies in store for Michael Myers of "Halloween." By Adam Weiskind

Madame Satã (Not rated)

Director: Karim Ainouz. With Lázaro Ramos, Marcelia Cartaxo, Felipe Bauraqui. (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.

The Magdalene Sisters (R)

Director: Peter Mullan. With Anne-Marie Duff, Nora-Jane Noone, Dorothy Duffy. (119 min.)

Sterritt **** Four young Irish Catholic women are sent to live in a home for "wayward girls" run by an order of Roman Catholic nuns who discipline their inmates - many of whom have been deemed incorrigibly sinful by fraudulent families that want one fewer mouth to feed - with a regime of celibacy, forced labor, and isolation from the world. Based on realities that persisted into the '90s, Mullan's sensitive screenplay exposes almost medieval misogyny in a supposedly civilized society and provides a vivid reminder that piety without compassion is meaningless.

Staff *** Brutally honest, enraging, uncompromising.

Sex/Nudity: 10 scenes with innuendo, nudity. Violence: 10 scenes, including rapes. Profanity: 22 profanities. Drugs: 4 scenes of drinking; 2 smoking.

Marci X (R)

Director: Richard Benjamin. With Lisa Kudrow, Damon Wayans, Christine Baranski. (84 min.)