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Movie Guide

May 14, 2004

Carandiru (R)

Director: Hector Babenco. With Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos, Ivan de Almeida, Milhem Cortaz. (146 min.)

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Sterritt *** The inventive though uneven Brazilian filmmaker turns a fictionalized spotlight on an overcrowded São Paulo prison where more than 100 inmates were killed by police during a 1992 riot, picturing events that led up to the slaughter through the eyes of a sympathetic physician. Harrowing, realistic, humanistic. In Portuguese with subtitles

Coffee and Cigarettes (R)

Director: Jim Jarmusch. With Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Joie Lee, Steve Buscemi. (96 min.)

Sterritt *** A series of vignettes, starting with a "Saturday Night Live" sketch from 1986, about conversations taking place as people consume (or reject) the title substances. Some are weak, some are superb - there's a priceless one with Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan as Brits with different feelings about learning they're cousins - but they get better as they go along, ending with the most understated and touching of all, featuring Taylor Mead and Bill Rice as cultural rebels who've outlived their rebellions.

A Slipping Down Life (R)

Director: Toni Kalem. With Lili Taylor, Guy Pearce, Sara Rue, John Hawkes. (109 min.)

Sterritt *** A modestly filmed drama about a small-town girl who goes crazy (literally) over a local rock singer with more pretensions than talent. Taylor is utterly believable even when the screenplay (from an Anne Tyler novel) is too self-consciously quirky, and Pearce nicely portrays the guy she obsesses over.

Strayed (Not rated)

Director: André Téchiné. With Emmanuelle Béart, Gaspard Ulliel, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet. (95 min.)

Sterritt *** Béart plays a Parisian widow who rescues her children from the Nazi occupation and becomes unexpectedly close to a young stranger who helps them survive in the French wilderness. The story is dramatic and Béart gives one of her best performances, even if Téchiné's style has its usual sense of distance. Originally titled "Les Égarés." In French with subtitles

Troy (R)

Director: Wolfgang Petersen. With Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Eric Bana, Peter O'Toole. (162 min.)

Sterritt *** See review, page 13.

"With All Deliberate Speed" (Not rated)

Director: Peter Gilbert. With Julian Bond, Barbara Johns, Vernon Jordan, Thurgood Marshall Jr. (101 min)

Sterritt *** A documentary about the Supreme Court's history-changing decision in the Brown v. Board of Education case of 1954, contending that the phrase quoted in the title seriously delayed the hoped-for end of segregation in Southern schools. Straightforward and informative, but overlong and repetitious.

Currently in RELEASE
Laws of Attraction (PG-13)

Director: Peter Howitt. With Julianne Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Parker Posey, Michael Sheen. (87 min.)

Sterritt * Two top-notch divorce attorneys (Moore and Brosnan) fall for each other while battling in the courtroom. This sort of legal-eagle premise worked beautifully in the bygone Tracy and Hepburn days, declined when the Coen brothers made "Intolerable Cruelty," and hits rock bottom here. Poor writing and directing.

Sex/Nudity: 4 instances of innuendo, 2 of implied sex. Violence: Only threats. Profanity: 21 instances, nearly all mild. Drugs: At least 10 instances of drinking.

Man on Fire (R)