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Movie Guide

August 27, 2004

Bright Leaves (Not rated)

Director: Ross McElwee. With Ross McElwee, Charleen Swansea, Vlada Petric, Patricia Neal. (107 min.)

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Sterritt **** McElwee returns to his Southern roots for a meandering look at all sorts of issues, including his family's former entanglement in the tobacco business and the ironic fact that his father became a physician treating that business's victims. Deeply personal, morally alert, and highly entertaining.

Brothers in Arms (Not rated)

Director: Paul Alexander. With John Kerry, members of a Vietnam-war boat crew. (68 min.)

Sterritt **** Documentary about a combat-boat crew led by Kerry, whose experiences are treated as neither more nor less important than those of his comrades. The movie's main contribution is its fresh look at the Vietnam War, being refought in the Kerry-Bush presidential campaign at the time of the film's release.

The Brown Bunny (Not rated)

Director: Vincent Gallo. With Vincent Gallo, Chloë Sevigny. (92 min.)

Sterritt ** A mournful young man drives endless miles to see his girlfriend for a sex scene that became notorious long before the movie's release. Gallo's earlier work suggests he has directorial talent, but here it's buried beneath too much ego to be detectible. Drastically shortened since its 2003 première.

Bush's Brain (PG-13)

Directors: Joseph Mealey, Michael Paradies Shoob. With Max Cleland, Molly Ivins, Richard C. Clark, Jacques Vroom. (89 min.)

Sterritt **** A skeptical view of George W. Bush's chief political strategist, Karl Rove, using argumentative strategies common to agenda-driven documentaries. You may not agree with its perspectives, but you'll always know where it stands, and it's amazing how many Republicans the filmmakers have found to spill the beans on a politico who considers himself in the same camp. Based on the 2003 book by Joseph C. Moore and Wayne Slater.

Hero (PG-13)

Director: Zhang Yimou. With Jet Li, Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk, Zhang Ziyi, Tony Leung, Chiu-Wai. (99 min.)

Sterritt **** See review.

This Ain't No Heartland (Not rated)

Director: Andreas Horvath. With Andreas Horvath and residents of the American Midwest. (106 min.)

Sterritt **** Interviews, conversations, and small talk filmed by an Austrian filmmaker in middle America, largely about war, terrorism, and other current affairs. It reveals an astounding degree of ignorance and apathy in a democracy that depends for its survival on informed voters.

Alien vs. Predator (PG-13)

Director; Paul W.S. Anderson. With Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, Lance Henriksen, Ewen Bremner. (87 min.)

Staff ** In this surprisingly tame matchup of two of moviemaking's most fearsome creatures in moviemaking history, humans are drawn down to Antarctica to serve as bait in a contrived battle between Hollywood's best-grossing aliens. The big winners in this contest may be those who avoid going to see the film in the first place. By Sheera Frenkel

Almost Peaceful (Not rated)

Director: Michel Deville. With Simon Abkarian, Clotilde Courau, Vincent Elbaz, Lubna Azabal. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** The year is 1946 and the characters are mostly Jews concerned about the stability of their society and their still-uncertain place within it. The gently told comedy-drama is more colorful than you'd expect, using wry humor and lively music to keep sentimentality at bay. In French with subtitles