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Movie Guide

July 30, 2004

Daughters of the Sun (Not rated)

Director: Maryam Shahriar. With Altinay Ghelich Taghani, Soghra Karimi, Habib Haddad, Zahra Mohammadi.(100 min.)

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Sterritt **** A young Iranian woman dresses as a man and finds work as apprentice to an insensitive weaver. Acted as a drama, paced like a ritual, filmed as a slice of rural Iranian life. In Persian with subtitles

Donnie Darko (R)

Director: Richard Kelly. With Jake Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Patrick Swayze. (114 min.)

Sterritt **** The title character believes the end of the world is near, which may be an intellectual insight, a spiritual revelation, an insane delusion, or all three. The director's cut of this 2001 cult fantasy is a deliriously subtle exploration of storytelling possibilities, and a deliciously wry teen-pic to boot. Brilliant.

Festival Express (R)

Director: Bob Smeaton. With Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, The Band, Buddy Guy. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** Documentary about a 1970 train tour that brought mini-Woodstocks to Canadian locales. Full of bright colors, offbeat people, tuneful sounds.

Free Radicals (Not rated)

Director: Barbara Albert. With Kathrin Resetarits, Georg Friedrich, Ursula Strauss, Martin Brambach. (110 min.)

Sterritt *** Ties of family and friendship are tested in the aftermath of two awful accidents. The parallel stories don't always dovetail with each other smoothly, but the acting is strong and the atmosphere is powerful. In German with subtitles

Garden State (R)

Director: Zach Braff. With Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Ian Holm, Jean Smart. (118 min.)

Sterritt *** A young actor returns to his New Jersey hometown for his mother's funeral, renewing old ties and learning to recognize the depths as well as the surfaces of his emotions. Braff makes a striking directorial debut while leading a superb ensemble cast.

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (R)

Director: Danny Leiner. With John Cho, Kal Penn, Brooke D'Orsay, Neil Patrick Harris. (88 min.)

Sterritt ** And along the way they have many adventures, mostly centered on drugs and sex. The multicultural cast gives a shred of substance to what's otherwise a standard adolescent gross-out flick.

Intimate Strangers (R)

Director: Patrice Leconte. With Sandrine Bonnaire, Fabrice Luchini, Anne Brochet, Michel Duchaussoy. (104 min.)

Sterritt *** A woman spills her soul to a new psychoanalyst, then learns he's really an accountant whose office she entered by mistake. Leconte justifies his vaunted reputation by lending freshness and feeling to what could have been a gimmicky tragicomedy. In French with subtitles

Los Angeles Plays Itself (Not rated)

Director: Thom Andersen. With clips from Los Angeles movies. (169 min.)

Sterritt **** The history of Los Angeles as a movie character, focusing on the political implications as well as the entertainment values of the film scenes the director explores. Smart, funny, stimulating.

The Manchurian Candidate (R)

Director: Jonathan Demme. With Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber, Jeffrey Wright. (130 min.)

Sterritt *** See review at right.

She Hate Me (R)

Director: Spike Lee. With Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington, Woody Harrelson, Monica Bellucci. (139 min.)

Sterritt *** Fired from his job, a businessman starts earning money by impregnating would-be single mothers. This intensely topical satire tackles a wide range of important issues, from corporate whistle-blowing to the toll sexual license takes on stable family structures. It would be better if Lee had made it 50 minutes shorter, though, trimming the unneeded (and explicit) sex scenes.

Tasuma, the Fighter (Not rated)