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Movie Guide

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Sterritt * Learning that she has only a few months to live, a 20-something woman keeps this a secret from her husband and daughters, but makes a list of things she wants to do with her remaining time, like record future birthday messages and entice a new man to fall in love with her. It wants to be funny and sad, but it's really a schmaltzy soap opera full of coincidence, sentimentality, and behavior far less life-affirming than we're meant to think.

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Once Upon a Time in Mexico (R)

Director: Robert Rodriguez. With Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Johnny Depp. (101 min.)

Staff ** Now that the "Spy Kids" franchise has run its course, director Rodriguez returns to more grown-up fare with the final installment of his "Desperado" trilogy. Translation: Big guns and blowups. Banderas plays a mariachi player/assassin who's recruited by a corrupt CIA agent (Depp) to take out a drug lord. Depp delivers great lines in a deadpan style. It's entertaining, but if you can't stomach violence, it's best to skip this one. By Lisa Leigh Connors

Staff * Vapid, unoriginal, gratuitously violent.

Sex/Nudity: 4 innuendoes. Violence: 30 gory scenes, including beatings. Profanity: 23 profanities. Drugs: 21 scenes of drinking, smoking.

The Rundown (PG-13)

Director: Peter Berg. With The Rock, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Walken. (105 min.)

Sterritt ** A big-muscled "retrieval expert" visits Brazil to kidnap a mobster's son, then makes a deal with a revolutionary leader to help find an artifact that's also coveted by an American capitalist who runs a slave-labor operation. This is basically a 10th-tier rehash of the Indiana Jones genre, laced with moments that are actually clever and exciting. Dawson is alluring, Scott is smug, Walken is terrific, and The Rock is, well, The Rock.

Sex/Nudity: 4 innuendoes. Violence: 19 scenes, including beatings, shootings. Profanity: 11 profanities. Drugs: At least 11 drinking, smoking scenes.

Secondhand Lions (PG)

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

Sterritt *** Duvall and Caine play two cranky old codgers whose idea of a good time is firing shotguns at the traveling salesmen who dare to approach their ramshackle front porch. They learn to enjoy life better when they take in a 14-year-old relative (Osment) who listens to their tales of bygone adventures. Duvall and Caine are anything but secondhand, and their acting is marvelous - as is McCanlies's screenplay.

Staff *** Uplifting, funny, adventurous.

Sex/Nudity: 1 innuendo. Violence: 14 scenes, including swordfights. Profanity: 28 mild profanities. Drugs: 6 scenes with drinking or tobacco.

Taking Sides (Not rated)

Director: István Szabó. With Harvey Keitel, Stellan Skarsgard, Birgit Minichmayr. (105 min.)

Sterritt *** This is a fictionalized account of the post-World War II effort by US authorities to discredit brilliant German conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler as having been a Hitler supporter during the Nazi period. Ronald Harwood's screenplay brings an impressive range of moral and political issues into play. The acting is also strong.

Under the Tuscan Sun (PG-13)

Director: Audrey Wells. With Diane Lane, Raoul Bova, Sandra Oh, Lindsay Duncan. (113 min.)

Staff *** Lane plays Frances Mayes, a divorced US writer in search of a new start. When her best friends give her a 10-day trip to Tuscany, it turns out to be the right ticket. While touring the Italian countryside, Frances spots a charming villa and buys it. While restoring it, she meets colorful characters, including an eccentric woman and a handsome Italian man who sweeps her off her feet. But thankfully, it's not a by-the-numbers romantic comedy. Lane does a superb job. Kudos also go to director Wells for delivering a delightful script. By Lisa Leigh Connors

Staff **1/2 Picturesque, lively, predictable.

Sex/Nudity: 7 scenes, including innuendo, implied sex. Violence: None. Profanity: 13 profanities. Drugs: 7 scenes of drinking.

Underworld (R)

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

Sterritt *** A young physician gets caught up in a war between vampires and werewolves. At heart, this is an old-fashioned monster flick decked out with Hollywood's battery of high-tech visual effects. It's as goofy as it is gory, 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.

Sex/Nudity: 1 mild scene. Violence: 30 gory scenes, including massacres. Profanity: 10 profanities. Drugs: At least 4 scenes of smoking.

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