Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Code 46 (R)

Director: Michael Winterbottom. With Tim Robbins, Samantha Morton, Om Puri, Nina Fog. (92 min.)

Sterritt *** A couple feels romantic in a future society where pervasive human cloning makes some sexual relationships too risky to be allowed. Not always compellingly made, but intelligent and perhaps prophetic.

Collateral (R)

Director: Michael Mann. With Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo. (120 min.)

Recommended: Default

Sterritt *** A hit man shanghais a cab driver to be his assistant for one long, bloody night. Stylishly made, if less intellectually resonant than first-rate Mann films like "Ali" and "The Insider."

Hell's Highway: The True Story of Highway Safety Films (Not rated)

Director: Bret Wood. With Rick Prelinger, Mike Vraney, Martin Yant, Helena Reckitt. (91 min.)

Sterritt **** A nonfiction look at the history of scare- mongering "safety" films. The interviews with Prelinger are especially smart, discussing the ideological agendas frequently lurking in "educational" materials.

Last Life in the Universe (R)

Director: Pen-Ek Ratanaruang. With Tadanobu Asano, Sinitta Boonyasak, Laila Boonyasak, Takashi Miike. (104 min.)

Sterritt **** A suicidal man shakes off his self-destructive urges after he meets a grief-stricken young woman. Moody, atmospheric, and bewitching, like other first-rate examples of modern Thai cinema. In Thai, Japanese, and English, with subtitles.

Little Black Book (PG-13)

Director: Nick Hurran. With Brittany Murphy, Holly Hunter, Stephen Tobolowsky, Kathy Bates. (98 min.)

Sterritt ** A would-be TV producer uses her entry-level position as a lever for prying into her boyfriend's personal affairs. A spicy critique of tabloid TV is buried in romantic-comedy material that strains too hard for cuteness. Ditto for Murphy's acting.

Open Water (R)

Director: Chris Kentis. With Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis, Saul Stein, Estelle Lau. (80 min.)

Sterritt **** See review.

Serpico (R)

Director: Sidney Lumet. With Al Pacino, Barbara Eda-Young, Tony Roberts, John Randolph. (129 min.)

Sterritt **** A quintessential New York director made this quintessential New York movie in 1973, with Pacino at his best as an honest cop who turns on his crooked colleagues. As compelling as the factual events it's based on.

Stander (R)

Director: Bronwen Hughes. With Thomas Jane, Ashley Taylor, Deborah Kara Unger, Dexter Fletcher. (111 min.)

Sterritt ** A cop in apartheid South Africa becomes a bank robber as a sideline. The story is so eager to highlight macho action scenes that it loses track of the important historical and political issues it raises.

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.

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.)

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

I, Robot (PG-13)

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

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

Staff *** Thoughtful, classy, engaging.

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

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 *** Remake of the political thriller about a woman using a mind-controlled war veteran to manipulate an election through violence. Where the 1962 version had humor, the 2004 version has flat-out paranoia--a telling sign of the times. Washington is wonderful, as usual.

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 earns money by impregnating would-be single mothers. This satire tackles a wide range of issues, from corporate whistle-blowing to the toll of sexual license on family structures. It would be better 50 minutes shorter, and trimmed of unneeded 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 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.

OUT ON VIDEO
The Whole Ten Yards (PG-13)

Director: Howard Deutch. With Bruce Willis, Amanda Peet, Matthew Perry, Kevin Pollack, and Natasha Henstridge (98 min.)

Staff ** A retired hit man (Willis) is dragged back into action by an old friend (Perry) whose wife (Hendstridge) has been kidnapped. "Nine Yards" fans will enjoy seeing these capable stars reprise their roles, but the hackneyed plot and forced humor may test even the most enthusiastic viewers' patience. During the DVD's underwhelming extra, director Deutch characterizes his concept as a homicidal Three Stooges meets 'As Good as it Gets.' A low-rent 'Pink Panther' is more like it. By Maud Dillingham

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