Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Alien: The Director's Cut (R)

Director: Ridley Scott. With: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Harry Dean Stanton. (120 min.)

Sterritt ** When it debuted in 1979, this claustrophobic space opera was an ambitious attempt to combine traditional sci-fi with gothic horror. Scott has trimmed a few dull moments and added a handful of effective bits removed from the original cut. The overall effect is about the same - slow start, then escalating suspense and violence. Today's shock-movie fans will enjoy shrieking at it, and others should skip it. In space, no one can hear you ask for your money back.

Girlhood (Not rated)

Director: Liz Garbus. With: Shanae and Megan. (82 min.)

Recommended: 'The Godfather': 10 behind-the-scenes stories about the making of the classic films

Sterritt *** Documentary following the lives of two teenage girls who've been arrested and jailed for grisly crimes, showing experiences during and after incarceration. Detailed, compassionate, humane.

The Human Stain (R)

Director: Robert Benton. With: Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise. (106 min.)

Sterritt ** See full review.

Shattered Glass (PG-13)

Director: Billy Ray. With: Hayden Christensen, Peter Sarsgaard, Chloƫ Sevigny, Steve Zahn. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** See full review.

Suspended Animation (Not rated)

Director: John Hancock. With Alex McArthur, Laura Esterman, Fred Meyers, Sage Allen. (117 min.)

Sterritt *** This suspense-horror movie centers on an animator who gets taken captive by cannibalistic sisters, escapes, and then starts obsessively tracking down estranged members of their family so he can better understand his weird experience and maybe take revenge. Although overlong, the picture has a fair measure of jolts and surprises.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
Brother Bear (G)

Directors: Aaron Blaise, Robert Walker. With voices of Joaquin Phoenix, Joan Copeland, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rick Moranis. (85 min.)

Sterritt ** This old-fashioned animation tells the story of three native American brothers, one of whom is mysteriously turned into a bear as a path to redemption from his human faults. All the old Disney trademarks are here, except the wit and surprise that were once the studio's stock in trade. There's little appeal to grownups, but kids should enjoy it.

Good Boy! (PG)

Director: John Robert Hoffman. With: Liam Aiken, Kevin Nealon, Molly Shannon. (89 min.)

Sterritt * Talking dogs were cute, once. It's a tad disconcerting, however, when a canine starts lip syncing to the voice of Carl Reiner so it can complain about flatulence. That's typical of the dialogue in this ho-hum 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

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 3 mild scenes. Profanity: 5 profanities. Drugs: None.

In the Cut (R)

Director: Jane Campion. With: Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kevin Bacon. (113 min.)

Sterritt *** After a murder victim is found near her apartment, a New York teacher (Ryan) becomes sexually involved with a detective (Ruffalo) who's working on the case and could possibly be the culprit himself. Grim and sordid though it is, this psychological thriller gains power from Campion's creative style and Ryan's willingness to trade her usual Hollywood cuteness for an utterly unglamorous portrayal of an utterly unglamorous role.

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (R)

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.

Sterritt *** Gory, moody, stylish.

Violence: 97 scenes. Extreme violence throughout film, including rape, slaughters. Profanity: 28 profanities. Drugs: 5 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Mystic River (R)

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 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.

Sterritt ***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.

Radio (PG)

Director: Mike Tollin. With: Cuba Gooding, Jr., Ed Harris, Alfre Woodard, Debra Winger. (109 min.)

Sterritt * In a small Southern town, a mentally slow African-American man (Gooding) comes under the wing of a high-school football coach (Harris) who helps him achieve a happier and more trusting relationship with the everyday world. This fact-based drama is very well-meaning but also cloying, sentimental, and simplistic. Gooding's fake-toothed grin deserves an Oscar for best makeup, though.

Sex/Nudity: 0 Violence: 2 mild scenes. Profanity: 14 profanities. Drugs: 2 scenes of tobacco use.

Runaway Jury (PG-13)

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 energy into gimmickry.

Sterritt **1/2 No objections, jury duty you'll enjoy, suspenseful.

Sex/Nudity: 1 mild sex scene. Violence: 8 scenes of violence, including a severe beating. Profanity: 12 mild profanities. Drugs: 6 scenes with alcohol, 1 scene with drugs.

Scary Movie 3 (PG-13)

Director: David Zucker. With: Anna Faris, Charlie Sheen, Denise Richards, Jeremy Piven, Queen Latifah. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** Acting? Minimal. Character development? Nil. Plot? Barely: A young anchorwoman has seven days to discover the source of a mysterious videotape before she is killed. Elsewhere, an Appalachian farmer wants to know who is planting crop circles in his fields that spell out "ATTACK HERE" even as his white brother competes in an inner-city rap contest. Thanks to director Zucker, this is by far the best installment yet - there's less bathroom humor and more "Airplane!"-type lunacy. By Alex Kaloostian

Sex/Nudity: 14 instances of innuendo. Violence: 28 instances. Profanity: 47 profanities. Drugs: 2 scenes of smoking, 1 of alcohol.

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 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. Best of all, the kids are marvelous. Viewers of all musical tastes will find crisp comic pleasures in this amiable tale.

Sterritt *** 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.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (R)

Director: Marcus Nispel. With: Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour, Erica Leerhsen, R. Lee Ermey. (98 min.)

Sterritt ** Far from home, five clueless 20-somethings run into a demented girl, a sinister cop, a cannibal family, and ... the title tells the rest. A lot more violent and a tad less creepy than the 1974 original, the much-changed remake delivers enough gory, belligerent mayhem to keep horror fans screaming.

Sterritt * Pointless, gory, mind-numbing.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes. Violence: 26 instances of beatings, shootings, and torture. Profanity: 46 strong expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with alcohol, 2 with drug use.

OUT ON DVD
Whale Rider (PG-13)

Director: Niki Caro. With: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, Vicky Haughton. (105 min.)

Sterritt *** Closed out of any strong, challenging role in her community because of her gender, a young Maori girl in New Zealand refuses to lose faith in her value as a person. Eventually an unexpected crisis gives her the opportunity to prove her worth even to her tradition-bound grandfather. The engaging story gains resonance from its mythical, even spiritual undertones, and Castle-Hughes gives a shining performance. Extras include a short on the building of a Te Waka canoe, and a making-of documentary that's more heartfelt than typical Hollywood filler.

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