Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Daughters of the Sun (Not rated)

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

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.)

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

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)

Director: Kollo Daniel Sanou. With Mamadou Zerbo, Raoul Bessani, Ai Keita, Noufou Quédraogo. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** Tasuma is a Burkina Faso war veteran who's determined to get the pension he's earned, especially after he pays for a new mill to help out his neighbors. A feisty treat. In French with subtitles

Thunderbirds (PG)

Director: Jonathan Frakes. With Brady Corbet, Ben Kingsley, Sophia Miles, Bill Paxton. (94 min)

Sterritt * An eager adolescent gets to join his family's super-high-tech rescue team. The action is snappy and quick, but why does this youth-targeted adventure pit white male heroes against a trio of villains comprising a black man, an Asian man, and an ugly woman?

Transfixed (Not rated)

Director: François Girod. With Robinson Stévenin, Richard Bohringer, Stéphane Metzger. (106 min.)

Sterritt * Murder mystery centered on a transvestite prostitute. Dull despite its suspense-driven story. Originally titled "Mauvais Genres." In French with subtitles

The Village (PG-13)

Director: M. Night Shyamalan. With Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, Sigourney Weaver, Bryce Dallas Howard, William Hurt. (106 min.)

Sterritt ** Hardships beset an isolated town that lives in fear of sinister creatures in the surrounding woods. Shyamalan remains a stilted screenwriter, but Roger Deakins's cinematography is spooky, creepy, eerie all the way.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
The Bourne Supremacy (PG-13)

Director: Paul Greengrass. With Matt Damon, Joan Allen, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles. (110 min.)

Sterritt ** Sequel to "The Bourne Identity," which at least had some psychological tension as the hero learns his identity - namely, a CIA assassin with amnesia. This time it's just chasing and shooting. A disappointment from the director of "Bloody Sunday."

Staff *** Intriguing, riveting, colorful.

Sex/Nudity: 9 scenes. Violence: 11 scenes. Profanity: 10 expressions. Drugs: 7 instances of drinking, 1 of smoking.

Catwoman (PG-13)

Director: Pitof. With Halle Berry, Benjamin Bratt, Sharon Stone, Lambert Wilson. (97 min.)

Sterritt * Sassy superheroine battles criminal cosmetics king. Cartoonish effects and overacting make this more corn than catnip.

Staff ** Stylish, simplistic, sassy.

Sex/Nudity: 9 scenes, innuendo. Violence: 16 scenes. Profanity: 4 mild expressions. Drugs: 11 instances of drinking.

A Cinderella Story (PG)

Director: Mark Rosman. With Hilary Duff, Jennifer Coolidge, Chad Michael Murray, Regina King. (97 min.)

Sterritt * The timeless fairy tale is updated into a cookie- cutter specimen of the teen-girl comedy about a mistreated high-schooler who goes to a dance despite her stepmother's wishes and lands the handsome boy. Even the delightful Duff disappoints.

Staff *1/2 juvenile, clean, well-intentioned.

Sex/Nudity: 1 innuendo. Violence: 2 scenes. Profanity: 5 mild expressions. Drugs: none.

The Door in the Floor (R)

Director: Tod Williams. With Jeff Bridges, Kim Basinger, Elle Fanning, Mimi Rogers. (111 min.)

Sterritt *** The marriage of a writer (Bridges) and his beautiful wife (Basinger) falls apart under pressure from his philandering and her mourning for their sons, killed in a car accident. The screenplay is based on the first section of John Irving's, "A Widow for One Year," resulting in an oddly arbitrary film, since this part of the book sets the stage for later events. Bridges is fun to watch.

Staff *** Ambitious, realistic,comical, probing.

Sex/Nudity: 24 instances. Violence: 5 scenes. Profanity: 27 expressions. Drugs: 13 scenes of drinking, smoking.

A Home at the End of the World (R)

Director: Michael Mayer. With Colin Farrell, Robin Wright Penn, Dallas Roberts, Sissy Spacek. (97 min.)

Sterritt **** A gay cook discovers he's straight, a gay journalist stays gay, and both strive to form a stable family with an eccentric woman they've befriended. Michael Cunningham's screenplay is less complex and touching than his novel, but it is compassionate, and Roberts's acting is excellent.

Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (Not rated)

Directors: Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller. With Howard Zinn, Matt Damon, Alice Walker, Ray Mungo. (78 min.)

Sterritt **** Documentary celebrating the life and career of a longtime Boston University professor who feels intellectuals should be active, engaged citizens rather than repeaters of textbook truisms. Thoughtful, exciting, moving.

I, Robot (PG-13)

Director: Alex Proyas. With Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, James Cromwell, Chi McBride. (115 min.)

Sterritt *** In a future when robots have become standard equipment, a cop investigates a possible murder committed by a robot, even though the "laws of robotics" makes it seemingly impossible. Inspired by Isaac Asimov, the movie has a few ideas on its mind, but it's far more interested in action. Still, science-fiction fans may find it an instant classic of its kind.

Staff *** Thoughtful, classy, engaging.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes. Violence: 15 scenes. Profanity: 34 expressions. Drugs: 2 scenes.

King Arthur (PG-13)

Director: Antoine Fuqua. With Clive Owen, Keira Knightley, Ioan Gruffud, Stellan Skârsgard. (129 min.)

Sterritt * The unflinching monarch leads his followers against the Saxons, the Roman Empire, and the Roman Catholic church. Focusing on what the filmmakers claim was the real Arthur, the movie gives us a Round Table and Excalibur but no magic, no mystery, no mythic resonance.

Staff * Melodramatic, cliche, gritty.

Sex/Nudity: 5 instances. Violence: 17 scenes. Profanity: 11 mild expressions. Drugs: 3 instances of drinking.

Orwell Rolls in His Grave (Not rated)

Director: Robert Kane Pappas. With Mark Crispin Miller, Michael Moore, Bernie Sanders. (84 min.)

Sterritt **** Ingenious, eye-opening documentary about the growing shallowness of American mass media as conglomerates buy news and entertainment outlets that effectively choke off most of their competition. Get ready for a cultural wake-and-shake you won't forget.

Spider-Man 2 (PG-13)

Director: Sam Raimi. With Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Alfred Molina, Rosemary Harris. (127 min.)

Sterritt *** Our hero (Maguire) takes on Doctor Octopus, (Molina) who's lost control of the artificial tentacles he's invented; while in his secret identity he continues his courtship of would-be girlfriend (Dunst). The sequel is more exciting than the 2002 original, thanks to Molina's excellent acting. Only the comic scenes fall as flat as one of Spidey's leftover webs.

Staff *** Satisfying, pumped-up, melodramatic.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 18 scenes. Profanity: 4 mild expressions. Drugs: 3 instances of drinking, 3 of smoking.

OUT ON VIDEO
Cold Mountain (R)

Director: Anthony Minghella. With Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Renée Zellweger. (154 min.)

Staff *** From Anthony Minghella, director of "The English Patient," comes another historical movie pitting love against war. The Civil War tale trots out all the flourishes that lengthy epics are known for: Inman (Law) and Ada (Kidman) overcome class differences to fall in love, but no sooner have they kissed their first kiss, then he enlists as a soldier. But don't worry, such sculpted cheekbones are meant to be together. The film meanders a lot and by the time the couple is reunited, you may not care any more. The two-disc DVD includes deleted scenes, a director commentary, and songs from the movie. By Sheera Frenkel

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