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Director: Gavin O'Connor. With Kurt Russell, Patrick O'Brien, Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich. (136 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Sterritt ** A hard-driving coach (Russell) trains his hockey team for a difficult match against the Soviet squad in the Winter Olympics of 1980. The climactic game packs an action-filled wallop impossible to resist. But the movie doesn't convincingly meet its goal of turning a sports event - even this tantalizing match between cold-war foes - into an all-embracing metaphor for the American way. Let's face it, a hockey game is ... well, a hockey game.
Staff *** Gripping, inspiring, brings freshness to clichés.
Sex/Nudity: 1 innuendo. Violence: 8 instances. Profanity: 13 mild expressions. Drugs: 2 scenes of drinking.
Director: Siddiq Barmak. With Marina Golbahari, Arif Herati, Zubaida Sahar, Mohamad Haref Harati. (82 min.)
Sterritt **** To evade the poverty imposed by misogynistic Taliban rules, a 12-year-old Afghan girl dresses as a boy and takes a job, only to be plucked from the workplace and installed in a Taliban school where kids taunt "him" for being effeminate, endangering her secret and her life. Based on a true story and photographed with the only 35mm movie camera in Afghanistan, this is downright inspired cinema. In Dari with English subtitles.
Director: Kevin Macdonald. With Joe Simpson, Simon Yates, Brendan Mackey, Nicholas Aaron. (106 min.)
Sterritt **** This is a riveting account of an actual 1985 mountaineering trip that went horribly wrong. Recreating the harrowing events with stunt doubles, Macdonald punctuates the action with on-camera commentary from the men who survived the ordeal. You won't find out why people undertake expeditions like this, but you'll have some idea what it's like to be frozen stiff, hardly able to breathe, and puzzled about why a Boney M pop song won't leave your mind even though you think you're about to expire.
Staff **** Gripping, exhausting, deeply profound.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: 35 instances crammed into three scenes. Drugs: None.
Director: Christopher B. Stokes. With Marques Houston, Lil' Kim, Raz B, Steve Harvey. (93 min.)
Staff ** Hip-hop dance battles take the place of gang warfare in South Central L.A., as rival "crews" fight for choreographic and acrobatic dominance. The eye-popping originality and athleticism are crowd pleasers and almost make up for distracting camera tricks and the insipid "keep away from my sister" subplot. Good, clean fun - and loud. By M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of mild innuendo. Violence: 6 scenes. Profanity: 13 instances. Drugs: 3 scenes.
Director: Audrey Wells. With Diane Lane, Sandra Oh, Lindsay Duncan. (110 min.)
Staff *** In Hollywood, as in the Brothers Grimm, fairy tales usually star a dewy young thing. So, let's hear it for Audrey Wells for crafting a happily ever after - complete with fixer-upper castle - for a middle-aged woman. Loosely based on Frances Mayes's memoir, the film stars Diane Lane as a newly divorced woman who buys a villa in Tuscany on a whim. Lane is lovely, but even she can't compete with the stunning scenery. Extras are strictly de rigueur: a featurette, three deleted scenes, and a commentary by Wells in which we learn that Lane's unseen, sobbing San Francisco neighbor is played by Matthew Laborteaux, best known as Albert Ingalls on "Little House on the Prairie." By Yvonne Zipp