Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Hellboy (PG-13)

Director: Guillermo Del Toro. With Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, John Hurt, Jeffrey Tambor. (122 min.)

Sterritt *** Yet another troubled superhero fights the forces of darkness, and he's just right for the job, since humans snatched him from an evil dimension when he was a baby. The first half is high-tech action; the second hour has marvelous moments, especially when the lumbering hero moons over his ambivalent girlfriend and undertakes a dangerous mission with a government agent who doesn't like him one bit. The screenplay has flashes of real wit, and Perlman is perfect in the title role.

Home on the Range (PG)

Directors: Will Finn, John Sanford. With voices of Judi Dench, Roseanne Barr, Cuba Gooding Jr. (76 min.)

Recommended: Default

Sterritt *** A money-hungry villain wants to take over an old-fashioned dairy farm, and a nervy cow organizes fellow animals to save the day. Old-style animation slows down after a snappy start, but it's lively enough to keep kids from fidgeting too much.

Marathon (Not rated)

Director: Amir Naderi. With Sara Paul, Trevor Moore, Rebecca Nelson. (90 min.)

Sterritt ** Naderi completes his "New York City Trilogy" with a look at the life of a crossword-puzzle guru trying to break her record for the most squares filled in during a single day, working mostly on the subway while her concerned mom checks in by phone. The drama is as obsessive as its heroine. Crossword mavens may enjoy it, but it's too monomaniacal for comfort.

The Prince & Me (PG)

Director: Martha Coolidge. With Julia Stiles, Luke Mably, Miranda Richardson, James Fox. (111 min.)

Sterritt *** See review.

Son Frère (Not rated)

Director: Patrice Chéreau. With Bruno Todeschini, Eric Caravaca, Nathalie Boutefeu, Maurice Garrel. (89 min.)

Sterritt **** A young gay man and his disabled brother renew their old affection as the medical situation gets progressively worse. Beneath its surface of chronic suffering and hospital details, Chereau's best drama etches a humane, sensitive, and richly moving portrait of fraternal love struggling to mitigate human frailty. In French with English subtitles.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring (Not rated)

Director: Kim Ki-duk. With Kim Ki-duk, Oh Young-soo, Kim Young-min, Kim Jong-ho. (103 min.)

Sterritt **** Set mainly at a Korean monastery floating in a lake, the five episodes in this seasonal drama show an aging monk tutoring a child in fundamental moral values, losing him to the temptations of the world, and giving up his earthly existence when he feels the time has come. Kim's movie conjures a sense of spiritual discipline as suspenseful as it is stunning to watch and exhilarating to contemplate. In Korean with English subtitles.

The United States of Leland (R)

Director: Matthew Ryan Hoge. With Ryan Gosling, Jena Malone, Kevin Spacey, Don Cheadle. (105 min.)

Sterritt ** This psychological mystery involves a murdered child, a troubled young man, and his father - a renowned but cantankerous author. The screenplay aims high in terms of humanity and complexity, but director Hoge drains it of energy with listless meanderings that provide more yawns than insights.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
Dawn of the Dead (R)

Director: Zack Snyder. With Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burell. (100 min.)

Sterritt ** Remake of George Romero's sardonic 1978 horror movie about terrorized humans hiding in a shopping mall from swarming zombies. The updated version is somewhat lighter on social satire, but even heavier on blood and gore than the grisly original. .

Staff ** Grisly, nightmarish, intense.

Sex/Nudity: 4 instances. Violence: 30 instances, unnecessarily gory. Profanity: 52 instances of strong language. Drugs: 5 scenes.

Dogville (R)

Director: Lars von Trier. With Nicole Kidman, Paul Bettany, Patricia Clarkson. (173 min.)

Sterritt **** A woman running from criminals arrives in a small American village of the 1930s, where the townsfolk shelter her and make her a dehumanized servant. Von Trier sets the action on a theatrical stage, spotlighting the existential isolation that weighs on those who don't seek larger visions of life, individuality, and community. Challenging, dramatic, provocative.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (R)

Director: Michel Gondry. With Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Kirsten Dunst. (108 min.)

Sterritt **** A lonely man (Carrey) falls in love with a mercurial woman (Winslet), who has a psychologist erase her memories of him. He decides to do the same, but regrets it during the procedure, resulting in a cerebral cat-and-mouse game in which he hides his mental concept of her in ever-deeper layers of his mind. The story is wise and the filmmaking is witty. Standouts include Carrey in his best performance to date, Wilkinson as a not-so-mad scientist, Mark Ruffalo as his assistant, and the British Winslet doing an American better than most Americans can do.

Staff *** Trip down the rabbit hole, hilarious, believable.

Sex/Nudity: 4 instances of implied sex. Violence: 3 instances. Profanity: 16 instances, mostly mild. Drugs: 12 instances.

Jersey Girl (PG-13)

Director: Kevin Smith. With Ben Affleck, George Carlin, Liv Tyler, Raquel Castro, Jennifer Lopez. (102 min.)

Staff ** Ollie Trinke (Affleck), a public-relations executive in Manhattan, has a child on the way. But when his beautiful wife (Lopez) dies in the delivery room, Ollie is forced to move in with his father (Carlin) in New Jersey. He takes up a job as a street sweeper but longs to return to the big city. Comical scenes include a Matt Damon cameo and a school performance of "Sweeney Todd." It's no life-changing movie, but it serves up some tender moments. By Lisa Connors

Staff **1/2 Funny, well acted, predictable.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instance of innuendo. Violence: 1 scene of a mother's death during labor. Profanity: 12 instances. Drugs: 18 scenes with drinking or smoking.

The Ladykillers (R)

Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen. With Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans, J.K. Simmons. (104 min.)

Sterritt ** This remake of the classic 1955 comedy focuses on a criminal who rents a room in a sleepy Mississippi town and assembles a team to steal a stash of cash from a local casino - unless his feisty landlady catches on. Hanks and Hall are excellent, but all characters are crude stereotypes - insulting to the audience when the savvy Coen brothers expect us to laugh at coarse and unoriginal caricatures.

Staff **1/2 Well casted, amusing, long.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instance of innuendo. Violence: 12 instances. Profanity: 110 instances of strong language. Drugs: 16 scenes with drinking or smoking.

The Passion of the Christ (R)

Director: Mel Gibson. With Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Sergio Rubini, Maia Morgenstern. (127 min.)

Sterritt ** An excruciatingly violent reenactment of Jesus' crucifixion. Gibson pays morbid attention to every gory detail, as if the suffering of the earthly Jesus were of central importance. He also allows for anti-Semitic interpretations of the Jewish role in the death sentence, though Gibson disavows such interpretations. Technically, the picture is strong, thanks to Caleb Deschanel's camera work and Caviezel's relentlessly focused acting. In Aramaic, Hebrew, and Latin with English subtitles.

Staff **1/2 Brutal, excruciatingly detailed violence.

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of nudity. Violence: 24 scenes of intense violence that are inappropriate for children. Profanity: No instances. Drugs: 4 scenes with drinking wine.

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (PG)

Director: Raja Gosnell. With Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard. (88 min.)

Staff *1/2 A demented mastermind resuscitates monsters from the first film and the gang from Mystery Inc. must put them all down again. Lively performances and special effects add to the nostalgia, but it's much ado about very little. By M. K. Terrell

Staff ** Loud, fast, inappropriate for small children.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 14 instances, mostly mild. Profanity: 1 instances. Drugs: 2 scenes with smoking and drinking, 1 scene with inhaling gas.

Taking Lives (R)

Director: D.J. Caruso. With Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Gena Rowlands, Kiefer Sutherland. (101 min.)

Sterritt ** A female FBI agent (Jolie) hunts a serial killer (you have to guess) who takes over the identities of the victims, inhabiting them one after another like a human hermit crab. While not much is new is this umpteenth variation on a nasty theme, the Montreal locations are atmospherically filmed and Philip Glass's music score packs an occasional punch.

OUT ON DVD
Ripley's Game (R)

Director: Liliana Cavani. With John Malkovich, Dougray Scott, Ray Winstone, Lena Headey. (110 min.)

Staff ***1/2 The talented Tom Ripley (Malkovich) returns, this time older, wiser, and in possession of a breathtaking Italian villa. Ever hungry for control, Mr. Ripley turns a neighbor's snub at a party into a deadly game, forcing him to reconsider the value of money, mercy, and devotion. Even if Matt Damon's earlier handling of the protagonist in "The Talented Mr. Ripley" left you uninspired, and even though special features are limited to a trailer, this eerily seductive tale of love and redemption is a must-see perfected by Malkovich's sly disdain for mediocrity. Why it never hit theaters remains a mystery. By Elizabeth Armstrong

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