Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Elf (PG)

Director: Jon Favreau. With: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Edward Asner. (92 min)

Sterritt **** See review.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 4 scenes of violence, including a severe beating. Profanity: 2 mild profanities. Drugs: 5 scenes with alcohol, 1 scene with smoking.

Recommended: 'The Godfather': 10 behind-the-scenes stories about the making of the classic films
Gloomy Sunday (Not rated)

Director: Rolf Schübel. With: Stefano Dionisi, Erika Marozsán, Joachim Król, Ben Becker. (112 min)

Sterritt *** In the early Hitler years, a Budapest restaurant pianist and his employer both fall for a beautiful waitress, and the musician composes the melancholy title song to express his longing for her, which doesn't diminish when a Nazi pushes his way into the love triangle. Meanwhile, suicides are proliferating in the city - is the song to blame, or is it the tenor of the times? In German with English subtitles.

In My Skin (Not rated)

Director: Marina de Van. With: Marina de Van, Laurent Lucas, Thibault de Montalembert, Léa Drucker. (93 min)

Sterritt *** After suffering a minor injury, a young woman develops a love-hate relationship with her own skin, taking her inner and outer life in unpredictable directions. The results are unsparingly perverse and oddly spellbinding. In French with English subtitles.

Love Actually (R)

Director: Richard Curtis. With: Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Laura Linney. (128 min)

Sterritt * See review.

The Matrix Revolutions (R)

Directors: The Wachowski Brothers. With: Keanu Reeves, Jada Pinkett Smith, Laurence Fishburne, (129 min)

Sterritt ** See review.

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.

Staff **1/2 Warm, scenic, enthralling storyline.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 8 scenes. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

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 (Thurman) as she takes revenge on many enemies. Stay 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.

The Human Stain (R)

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

Sterritt ** Philip Roth's story of a famous author who befriends a professor, learning of a great secret in his past and an incongruous love affair in his present. Although the cast is excellent, the intelligence and passion of Roth's novel are lost in glossy camera work and well-worn Hollywood mannerisms.

Intolerable Cruelty (PG-13)

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, producing an elaborate web of comic situations. There's enough dark, cynical, and eccentric moments to make this a true Coen brothers satire of modern life and love.

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.

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. 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.

Radio (PG)

Director: Mike Tollin. With: Cuba Gooding, Jr., Ed Harris, Alfre Woodard. (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.

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

Runaway Jury (PG-13)

Director: Gary Fleder. With: Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, John Cusack, Rachel Weisz. (123 min.)

Sterritt ** A woman 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 puts most of its energy into gimmickry.

Staff **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.)

Staff *** Acting? Minimal. Character development? Nil. Plot? Barely: An anchorwoman has seven days to discover the source of a videotape before she is killed. Elsewhere, a farmer wants to know who is planting crop circles in his fields that spell out "ATTACK HERE," while his white brother competes in a 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 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 and the kids are marvelous. Viewers of all musical tastes will find crisp comic pleasures in this amiable tale.

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

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

Shattered Glass (PG-13)

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

Sterritt **** Based on a 1998 article in Vanity Fair, this is a dramatized version of the real-life journalism scandal sparked by Stephen Glass, a New Republic staffer who built a temporarily dazzling career by downright inventing supposed "facts" in many of his articles. Ray's debut film is the most resonant movie about American journalism since "All the President's Men."

The Singing Detective (R)

Director: Keith Gordon. With Robert Downey Jr., Mel Gibson, Robin Wright Penn, Katie Holmes. (109 min.)

Sterritt ** Physical and psychological illness land a mystery writer (Downey) in a hospital where a gifted psychiatrist (Gibson) helps him escape a hallucinatory maze of personal problems. Downey's rambunctious acting competes with Gordon's surrealistic filmmaking in this many-layered melodrama, adapted by the late Dennis Potter from his great 1980s miniseries.

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. More violent and less creepy than the 1974 original, the remake delivers enough gory mayhem to keep horror fans screaming.

Staff * 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
Finding Nemo (G)

Director: Andrew Stanton. With the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen Degeneres, Willem Dafoe. (94 min.)

Staff ***1/2 Darling, it's better, down where it's wetter under the sea - oops, sorry, wrong movie. Pixar scored again with this vibrantly animated story about an overprotective clownfish (Albert Brooks) searching for his son, who was fish-napped and plopped into a dentist's aquarium. Along the way, he encounters vegetarian sharks, surfer turtles, and some single-minded gulls. Not for the smallest - the movie also features the scariest parental exit this side of "Bambi." Standouts among the mostly OK extras include a very funny documentary with Jean-Michel Cousteau and the video commentary, which includes deleted scenes and storyboarding. By Yvonne Zipp

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