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Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 3 mild scenes. Profanity: 5 profanities. Drugs: None.Skip to next paragraph
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Director: Joel Coen. With George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Bob Thornton. (100 min.)
Sterritt *** A high-powered attorney (Clooney) falls for a gorgeous gold digger (Zeta-Jones) while representing her husband in their divorce proceedings, producing an elaborate web of comic situations sprinkled with one-liners and coincidences. There's enough dark, cynical, and eccentric moments to make this a true Coen brothers satire of modern life and love rather than a standard romantic comedy.
Staff **1/2 Screwball comedy, witty banter, overdone.
Sex/Nudity: At least 4 scenes of implied sex. Innuendo throughout. Violence: 8 scenes, including shooting, comic violence. Profanity: 45 mild profanities. Drugs: 10 scenes of drinking; 1 with smoking.
Director: Quentin Tarantino. With Uma Thurman, Vivica A. Fox, Sonny Chiba, Lucy Liu. (110 min.)
Sterritt *** Talk about pulp fiction. This extremely bloody martial-arts epic has the most straightforward story Tarantino has ever told, following a woman warrior (Thurman) as she takes gory revenge on many enemies. Once again, Tarantino's screenplay doesn't live up to his huge talent as a director. The filmmaking is lively, though, paying homage to the kung fu flicks he loves. Stay miles away if you have a single squeamish bone in your body.
Staff *** Gory, moody, stylish.
Violence: 97 scenes. Extreme violence throughout film, including rape, slaughters. Profanity: 28 profanities. Drugs: 5 scenes of drinking, smoking.
Director: Clint Eastwood. With Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Laura Linney. (137 min.)
Sterritt **** The lives of a cop (Bacon) and a shopkeeper (Penn) intersect for the first time since childhood when the merchant's daughter is murdered and it appears that another boyhood friend (Robbins) may have committed the crime. Robbins is brilliant as a secretly troubled man who was sexually abused as a child, and so is Linney as the shopkeeper's wife, a working-class woman with a streak of Lady Macbeth in her nature. Best of all is Eastwood's decision to probe serious themes through a leisurely style and a lingering sense of ambiguity.
Staff ***1/2 Engrossing, great acting, complex.
Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: 11 scenes, including dead body, child abuse. Profanity: 30 profanities. Drugs: 15 scenes of drinking, smoking.
Director: Carl Franklin. With Denzel Washington, Eva Mendes, Sanaa Lathan, Dean Cain. (114 min.)
Sterritt ** The protagonist is the police chief of a tiny Florida town where a double homicide has occurred and various clues may finger him as the culprit if he can't solve the case in a hurry. Washington gives another fine performance but the thriller has too many contrived escapes and last-minute switcheroos.
Sex/Nudity: 8 scenes of sex, innuendo. Violence: 6 scenes, including shootings. Profanity: 4 profanities. Drugs: 8 scenes of smoking, drinking.
Director: Peter Hedges. With Katie Holmes, Oliver Platt, Patricia Clarkson. (80 min)
Sterritt *** A young woman has amusing mishaps while preparing a Thanksgiving meal for her estranged family, including her seriously ill mother. Hedges's directorial debut doesn't have many laughs despite its mostly comic tone, but the characters are so convincing and the mood so light and flaky that it's hard not to find it a delicious little hors d'oeuvre of a movie.
Director: Gary Fleder. With Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, John Cusack, Rachel Weisz. (123 min.)
Sterritt ** A woman (Weisz) sues the gun manufacturer whose product killed her husband. She's represented by a folksy lawyer (Hoffman), and opposed by a mercenary jury-selection consultant (Hackman) who's willing to sway the verdict by illegal means - and may succeed because a juror (Cusack) has told both he'll manipulate the deliberations for money. The story raises ethical questions, but fails to treat them seriously, putting most of its considerable energy into gimmickry.
Staff **1/2 No objections, jury duty you'll enjoy, suspenseful.