Director: José Padilha. With Yvonne Bezerra de Mello, Luiz Eduardo Soares, Sandro do Nascimento. (122 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Sterritt *** An up-close and personal documentary about the 2000 hijacking of a commuter bus by a homeless man in Rio de Janeiro, exploring aspects of Brazilian life that contributed to the crime. A fascinating account, if less urgently compelling than it might have been. In Portuguese with English subtitles.
Director: Claude Chabrol. With Nathalie Baye, Benoît Magimel, Suzanne Flon, Bernard Lecoq. (104 min.)
Sterritt **** Borrowing his title from French poet Charles Baudelaire, the venerable Chabrol has crafted a subdued thriller about young love, marital deception, and the dark side of France's history in the Nazi era, explored in the meticulously groomed household of a woman running for political office. Chabrol's filmmaking has rarely seemed more assured, elegant, and intelligent. In French with English subtitles.
Director: John Robert Hoffman. With Liam Aiken, Kevin Nealon, Molly Shannon, and the voices of Matthew Broderick, Brittany Murphy, Carl Reiner. (89 min.)
Staff * Talking dogs were cute, once. It's a wonder that the genre, started by the marvelous "Babe," has any currency left after "Cats and Dogs" and "Snow Dogs." In "Good Boy," the dogs themselves are worthy of show at Crufts. It's a tad disconcerting, however, when a shepherd dog starts lip syncing to the voice of Carl Reiner so it can complain about flatulence. That's typical of the dialogue in this story about a lonely boy (Aiken) who discovers a UFO with a dog who comes from a planet ruled by mutts. The canine visitor is astonished to find that earth dogs are subservient to humans instead of ruling the planet. Given the intelligence level of "Good Boy," he might have a point. By Stephen Humphries
Director: Joel Coen. With George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Bob Thornton, Cedric the Entertainer. (100 min.)
Sterritt *** See review and interview, page 15.
Director: Quentin Tarantino. With Uma Thurman, Vivica A. Fox, Sonny Chiba, Lucy Liu. (110 min.)
Sterritt *** See review, page 15.
Director: Clint Eastwood. With Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Laura Linney. (137 min.)
Sterritt **** See review, page 16.
Director: John Sayles. With Maggie Gyllenhaal, Daryl Hannah, Susan Lynch, Rita Moreno, Lili Taylor. (95 min.)
Staff *** At first glance, Casa is about the lives of six American women with little in common apart from their journey to South America to adopt. As they are forced by corruption and bureaucratic hangups to stay on for months waiting for babies, though, Sayles's multilayered film deals as intimately with another cast of characters: a hotel maid who gave up her baby, a 15-year-old being pressured to give up hers, a boy living on the streets, and a manipulative hotel owner. Sayles deftly draws their stories together in a film you'll be sorry to see end. By Mary Wiltenburg
Staff **1/2 Minimal, tender, poorly edited.
Sex/Nudity: 2 innuendoes. Violence: None. Profanity: 15 profanities. Drugs: At least 10 scenes of drinking, smoking, drug use.
Director: Danny DeVito. With Ben Stiller, Drew Barrymore, Eileen Essel, Harvey Fierstein. (97 min.)
Staff ** Newlyweds Alex and Nancy can't believe the gem of a townhouse they find. It even has an income-generating unit upstairs. But the sweet little tenant turns out to be such a nuisance that the new owners plot her demise. This is not the tribute to "The Ladykillers" it wants to be, but the leads are likable. By M.K. Terrell
Director: Jonathan Lynn. With Cuba Gooding Jr., Beyoncé Knowles, Mike Epps, Wanda Williams. (123 min.)
Staff ** The Music Man goes gospel in this tale of a New York con man returning to his Georgia roots. Cuba Gooding, Jr. stars as an unemployed advertiser scheming to win an inheritance from his small-town aunt. When he spots sultry jazz singer Lilly in a local club, he decides the sadder but wiser girl is for him. To win her, though, he has to lose his lying ways - and lead their gospel choir to glory. No 76 trombone-calibre acting here, but the music will make you want to stand up and say "Amen." By Mary Wiltenburg