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Movie Guide

September 19, 2003

Anything Else (R)

Director: Woody Allen. With Allen, Jason Biggs, Stockard Channing, Christina Ricci. (108 min.)

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Sterritt ** A rising young comedy writer (Biggs) has oddball conversations with an older colleague (Allen) while dealing with a girlfriend (Ricci) who's almost as eccentric as both of them put together. This is a quintessential Allen comedy: squirmy relationships, dark Jewish humor, an assumption that everybody in Manhattan has money and a touch of glamour, and - as with most of Allen's movies since the first few years of his career - not nearly as many laughs as it gamely tries for.

Cold Creek Manor (R)

Director: Mike Figgis. With Sharon Stone, Dennis Quaid, Stephen Dorff, Juliette Lewis. (117 min.)

Sterritt ** A family from the big city moves to a rural home and is menaced by a psychopath whose family used to own the place. After two highly experimental movies in a row, "Time Code" and "Hotel," the gifted director of "Leaving Las Vegas" apparently felt he needed another box-office hit. Unfortunately, this isn't it. Figgis brings strong visual imagination to the first hour, but he can't rescue Richard Jefferies's screenplay from plot holes bigger than the manor itself.

Demonlover (Not rated)

Director: Olivier Assayas. With Connie Nielsen, Charles Berling, Chloë Sevigny, Gina Gershon. (120 min.)

Sterritt ** A nosy businesswoman (Nielsen) runs into formidable and sometimes inscrutable foes as she traces the connections between a multinational company and a website worthy of "Videodrome" for nastiness. Assayas has directed some fine French films, but while this ambitious epic takes a finely cynical attitude toward the excesses of our media-saturated age, it never quite jells into a coherent statement. Or a coherent film. In French and English with English subtitles.

Emerald Cowboy (Not rated)

Director: Andrew Molina. With Eishy Hayata, Eve Hayata. (117 min.)

Sterritt ** Hayata's real-life exploits inspired this rough-and-tough drama about a Japanese-born businessman who goes to Los Angeles and then settles in Colombia, where he wheels, deals, and sometimes shoots his way to the top in the ruthlessly competitive world of mining and selling emeralds. The acting is weak, largely because many of the performers seem uncomfortable speaking English. The last half-hour works up a fair amount of action and suspense, though. In English and Spanish with English subtitles.

Secondhand Lions (PG)

Director: Tim McCanlies. With Robert Duvall, Michael Caine, Haley Joel Osment, Kyra Sedgwick. (110 min.)

Sterritt *** See review.

Underworld (R)

Director: Len Wiseman. With Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen. (121 min.)

Sterritt *** A bewildered young physician gets caught up in a centuries-old war between vampires and werewolves, or lycans, as Danny McBride's screenplay renames lycanthropes for a target audience that doesn't like long words. At heart, this is an old-fashioned monster flick decked out with Hollywood's full battery of high-tech visual effects. It's as goofy as it is gory - stay away if you don't like in-your-face mayhem - but Tony Pierce-Roberts's moody camera work and Martin Hunter's rat-a-tat-tat editing give it an electricity that horror buffs will enjoy. Beckinsale looks swell in medieval spandex, too.

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.

Cabin Fever (R)

Director: Eli Roth. With Jordan Ladd, Rider Strong, James DeBello, Cerina Vincent. (94 min.)