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Movie Guide

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

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School of Rock (PG-13)

Director: Richard Linklater. With Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, Sarah Silverman. (108 min.)

Sterritt **** Kicked out of his band and desperate for rent money, a washed-up rock singer impersonates a friend, takes a job as a substitute teacher in a snooty private school, and decides to turn his fourth-grade class into a jivin' pop group. Black gives the performance of his career as the hilarious hero. White, who also wrote the sharp-witted screenplay, is perfect as his nebbishy landlord. Cusack is equally terrific as the school's stiff principal. Best of all, the kids are marvelous. Viewers of all musical tastes will find crisp comic pleasures in this amiable tale, which is so likable it doesn't even have a villain. Rock on!

Staff *** One-man show, family film, the next "Spinal Tap."

Sex/Nudity: 3 innuendoes. Violence: 1 minor scene. Profanity: 13 mild profanities. Drugs: 4 scenes of smoking and drinking.

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 salesmen who dare to approach their ramshackle porch. They learn to enjoy life better when they take in a young 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.

Sex/Nudity: 1 innuendo. Violence: 4 scenes, including World War II footage. Profanity: 15 harsh profanities. Drugs: 9 scenes of smoking and drinking.

To Be and to Have (Not rated)

Director: Nicolas Philibert. With Georges Lopez and his pupils. (104 min.)

Sterritt *** This is a gentle documentary about Lopez's work as the sole teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in rural France, where he treats his students with rare delicacy, intelligence, and affection. The film has much quiet charm, although it would be more interesting if we learned about Lopez's private life, the development of his teaching techniques, and what he's planning to do after his imminent retirement. In French with English subtitles.

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 friend gives 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 sex. Violence: None. Profanity: 13 profanities. Drugs: 7 drinking scenes.

Underworld (R)

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

Sterritt *** A 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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