Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Bright Leaves (Not rated)

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

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.)

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

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.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
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

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.

Bright Young Things (R)

Director: Stephen Fry. With Emily Mortimer, Dan Akroyd, Stockard Channing, Peter O'Toole. (105 min.)

Sterritt *** Literate, bittersweet adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's grimly hilarious 1930 novel "Vile Bodies," skewering a segment of English society between the wars that staves off any temptation to make the world a better place by inhabiting as many merrymaking places as it can find. Fry makes a strong directorial debut, and Fenella Woolgar's acting is deliciously weird.

Collateral (R)

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

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."

Staff *** Thoughtful, classy, engaging.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes. Violence: 15 scenes. Profanity: 42 expressions. Drugs: 3 scenes.

End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones
(Not rated)

Directors: Michael Gramaglia, Jim Fields. With The Ramones, Rodney Bingenheimer, Deborah Harry. (95 min.)

Sterritt *** Documentary about the rock group, which has worked its way through an amazing number of members in its long career - not including anyone actually named Ramone, incidentally - while serving up music so free of thought that the best of it seems to crystallize our thoughtless, tightly wound era.

It's Easier for a Camel (Not rated)

Director: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi. With Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Chiara Mastroianni, Denis Podalydès. (116 min.)

Sterritt *** Difficult facts, tempting fancies, and complicated memories affect the outwardly comfortable life of a French-Italian woman whose conscience is nagged by the unearned wealth she was born into. A diverting dramatic comedy. In French with subtitles

The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg (Not rated)

Director: Jerry Aronson. With Allen Ginsberg, Joan Baez, William S. Burroughs, William F. Buckley. (86 min.)

Sterritt **** Expanded, updated version of the 1993 documentary about the great American poet who overcame a sea of troubles to inspire three generations, never allowing international respect to undermine the imaginativeness of his public and private personae. His readings of his own work are especially thoughtful, moving, and provocative.

Mean Creek (R)

Director: Jacob Aaron Estes. With Rory Culkin, Joshua Peck, Scott Mechlowicz, Carly Schroeder. (89 min.)

Sterritt *** An adolescent prank goes horribly wrong during a boy's birthday party near a small Pacific Northwest town. Imagine a bolder "Bully" blended with a more probing "River's Edge" and you'll have some idea of this little drama's strong dramatic and emotional power.

Nicotina (R)

Director: Hugo Rodríguez. With Diego Luna, Marta Belaustegui, Lucas Crespi, Carmen Madrid. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** A diamond thief, a computer geek spying on the woman next door, a barber with a dead customer in his chair, and a pharmacist who's determined to quit smoking are among the characters of this quick-moving Mexico City caper movie. Supercharged with an energy and ingenuity that "Run Lola Run" once had a patent on. In Spanish with subtitles

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (PG)

Director: Garry Marshall. With Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, John Rhys-Davies, Hector Elizondo. (120 min.)

Sterritt ** Apart from a scene in which Julie Andrews sings - an all too rare occasion nowadays - this sequel holds few surprises. Princess Mia (Hathaway) is the princess of Genovia, which looks about as European as Disneyland Paris. But before she inherits the throne from Queen Renaldi (Andrews), the parliament rules that she must marry. Mia has to choose between an arranged marriage with a Prince Charles-like dweeb or a hottie. Hathaway is delightful, but this lazily plotted "Bachelorette" for tweens ends with the least dramatic wedding ceremony ever. By Stephen Humphries

Staff ** Fun, naive, unchallenging.

Sex/Nudity: 1 innuendo. Violence: 3 mild scenes. Profanity: none. Drugs: 2 scenes.

Rosenstrasse (PG-13)

Director: Margarethe von Trotta. With Maria Schrader, Martin Feifel, Katje Riemann, Jürgen Vogel. (136 min.)

Sterritt **** The intertwined stories of women affected by the Holocaust in very different ways. The movie is woven with the complexity of a superb carpet, again confirming von Trotta's place as one of the world's greatest female filmmakers. In German and English, with subtitles

Uncovered: The War on Iraq (Not rated)

Director: Robert Greenwald. With David Kay, Patrick Eddington, John Dean, Scott Ritter. (86 min.)

Sterritt **** An astonishing, articulate parade of former intelligence analysts, Republican officials, and military officers reveal an astounding array of facts, figures, and perspectives relating to terrorism and the Iraq war that are downright invisible in newspapers, TV reports, and everywhere else. This documentary strives to fill the gap, and the result is memorable; viewing is mandatory.

Staff *** Striking, convincing, one-sided.

Sex/Nudity: 0 scenes. Violence: 6. Profanity: 1 expression. Drugs: 1 scene.

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.

Staff *** Atmospheric, tense, beautifully scored.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes. Violence: 11 scenes. Profanity: 1 mild expression. Drugs: 2 scenes.

OUT ON VIDEO
Taking Lives (Unrated)

Director: D.J. Caruso. With Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland (103 min.)

Sterritt ** Thanks to forensic science, mangled cadavers tell plenty of tales - but in this grisly serial-killer love story you can't always follow the evidence. The starring role fits Jolie like a medical examiner's glove. Jolie's remote, conflicted FBI profiler has a steely-eyed gaze and, more important, a cast-iron stomach. Warning: Don't watch the behind-the-scenes extras before the movie unless you are a spoiler junkie. By Maud Dillingham

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