Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Bang Rajan (Not rated)

Director: Tanit Jitnukul. With Jaran Ngamdee, Theerayut Pratyabamrung, Bongkoj Khomgmalai. (119 min.)

Sterritt *** Siamese villagers fight Burmese invaders in the 18th century, led by the chief warrior of a distant tribe that agrees to help them. The story suggests a more violent "Seven Samurai," full of jungle mayhem and eloquently filmed action-movie suspense. In Thai with subtitles

Cellular (PG-13)

Director: David R. Ellis. With Kim Basinger, Chris Evans, William H. Macy, Eric Christian Olsen. (94 min.)

Recommended: Default

Staff ** See review.

Criminal (R)

Director: Gregory Jacobs. With John C. Reilly, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Diego Luna, Peter Mullan. (87 min.)

Sterritt ** A fledgling con artist apprentices himself to a seasoned veteran and, as usual in movies like this, little is what it seems to be. This remake of the Argentine hit is effective at times, and Gyllenhaal shows a new side of her talent, but the main impression is of first-rate performers doing second-rate work.

A Letter to True (Not rated)

Director: Bruce Weber. With Marleine Bastien, Bruce Weber, Julie Christie, Marian Faithfull. (78 min.)

Sterritt **** True is Weber's dog, and in this documentary-style "letter" the filmmaker/photographer ruminates on everything from Elizabeth Taylor to the miseries of war. It's all deliberately homemade and raggedy, and that's where its charm comes from, along with the delightful old-music score.

The Private Archives of Pablo Escobar (Not rated)

Director: Marc de Beaufort. With Escobar family members and associates. (78 min.)

Sterritt *** Documentary about the honcho of Colombia's notorious Medéllin drug cartel, who became a major political figure before his violent death. Gripping. In Spanish with subtitles

Reconstruction (Not rated)

Director: Christoffer Boe. With Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Maria Bonnevie, Nicolas Bro, Krister Henriksson. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** A young man leaves his girlfriend for an attractive strange and then finds his entire world turning so strange and unfamiliar he literally can't recognize it. The movie's main message is that stories can push our emotional buttors even though we know they're only fictional constructions. The influence of Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier looms heavily over the whole film. In Danish with subtitles

Testosterone (Not rated)

Director: David Moreton. With Leonardo Brzezicki, Sonia Braga, Dario Dukah, Jennifer Coolidge. (101 min.)

Sterritt ** A gay American man meets mercurial new acquaintances while scouring an Argentine city for his runaway boyfriend. Starts quirky, grows steadily darker, doesn't build much excitement.

Unlikely Heroes (Not rated)

Director: Richard Trank. With Ben Kingsley, Robert Clary, Recha Sternbuch, Anna Heilman. (120 min.)

Sterritt *** Documentary about several Jews who rebelled in different ways against the Holocaust and its horrors. Moving and informative. In English and Hebrew with subtitles

What the #$*! Do We Know!? (Not rated)

Directors: William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, Mark Vicente. With Marlee Matlin, John Hagelin, Amit Goswami. (108 min.)

Sterritt ** The makers of this "hybrid documentary" interweave the story of a dissatisfied woman with monologues by scientists conveying their ideas about the nature of the cosmos and the meaning of life. There are many tantalizing bits, but the overall result is a simplistic story wrapped in barely explained quantum physics and new-age sound bites. Fascinating and frustrating in about equal measure.

When Will I Be Loved (R)

Director: James Toback. With Neve Campbell, Fred Weller, Karen Allen, Dominic Chianese. (83 min.)

Sterritt *** The first portion, with Toback as an eccentric professor talking to people in the street, is out of control even by this filmmaker's kooky standards. Then the movie morphs into a deconstructed remake of "Indecent Exposure" and it's downright riveting, with Campbell doing her best acting to date.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (PG-13)

Director: Dwight H. Little. With Johnny Messner, KaDee Strickland. (93 min.)

Staff ** An orchid in the Borneo jungles is the only source of a potential "fountain of youth" drug, and an intrepid band of pseudoscientists must rush to harvest it or wait seven years until it blooms again. There's nothing to stop them but inexperience, a swarm of people-eating snakes, and greed. Attractive cast and scenery help make up for the mounting absurdity. By M.K. Terrell.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene with innuendo. Violence: 17 instances. Profanity: 55 instances. Drugs: 9 scenes.

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.

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.

Cookout (PG-13)

Director: Lance Rivera. With Ja Rule, Queen Latifah, Tim Meadows, Jenifer Lewis. (85 min.)

When a young basketballer from the 'hood (Quran Pender) signs a big NBA contract, he throws a party at his new crib. The astonishing array of guests redefines "extended family." Mostly good clean fun and family values with a minimum of gross-out humor, but don't look for a plot. Coscripted by Queen Latifah, who plays the gatehouse guard and S.W.A.T. team wannabe. By M.K. Terrell.

Everybody Says I'm Fine! (Not rated)

Director: Rahul Bose. With Rehaan Engineer, Sharokh Bharucha, Koel Purie, Rahul Bose. (103 min.)

Sterritt * A hairdresser finds he can read the minds of his clients. The consequences aren't remotely as comic as they're meant to be.

FDNY Dream Bike (Not rated)

Directors: John Allison, Tim O'Grady. With New York firefighters. (48 min.)

Sterritt ** Documentary about New York City firefighters who restored an old motorcycle bought by one of their colleagues before he died in the 9/11 attacks. Lightweight, sentimental, sweet.

Hero (PG-13)

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

Sterritt **** In ancient times before China was a unified nation, a warrior visits an emperor to receive praise for killing the ruler's enemies, describes his exploits, then faces unexpected questions that cast a new Rashomon-like light on everything we've seen. Pure excitement, pure cinema. In Mandarin with subtitles.

Staff *** Rich, rewarding, intricately woven.

Sex/Nudity: 3. Violence: 15 scenes. Profanity: none. Drugs: 1 scene.

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (PG)

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

Staff ** Apart from a scene in which Julie Andrews sings - a rare occasion nowadays - this sequel holds few surprises. Princess Mia, the princess of Genovia, discovers that she must marry before she can inherit the throne. This lazily plotted "Bachelorette" 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.

Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (R)

Director: Kang Je-gyu, With Bin Won, Dong-Kun Jang, Eun-ju Lee, Yeong-ran Lee. (140 min.)

Sterritt * Two brothers are forcibly drafted into South Korea's army to fight in the bloody Korean war. Redolent of "Saving Private Ryan" and "We Were Warriors," but almost entirely devoted to combat violence and sentimental interludes. In Korean with subtitles.

Suspect Zero (R)

Director: E. Elia Merhige. With Aaron Eckhart, Ben Kingsley, Carrie-Ann Moss, Julian Reyes. (99 min.)

Staff ** Banished to Albuquerque after losing one serial killer case, FBI Agent Mackelway (Eckhart) lands in the middle of another, this time aided by a clairvoyant (Kingsley), who may be the killer he's after, and reunited with ex-partner/lover (Moss), who thinks he's going off the deep end again. Fragmented storytelling illustrates the men's anguish, and the whole thing almost makes sense before it's through. By M.K. Terrell.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances. Violence: 20 instances. Profanity: 15 instances. Drugs: 1 scene.

Vanity Fair (PG-13)

Director: Mira Nair. With Reese Witherspoon, Jim Broadbent, Eileen Atkins, Gabriel Byrne. (141 min.)

Sterritt ** Lavish adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's great novel, with a not-quite-convincing Witherspoon as social climber Becky Sharp plus a solid supporting cast. Nair calls attention to the social failings of 19th-century England but rarely explores them, choosing to stress nostalgic elements that fans of the "heritage" genre will enjoy. Look at Stanley Kubrick's great "Barry Lyndon" if you want to see Thackeray adaptation at its best.

OUT ON VIDEO
Magnum P.I. - Season One (Not Rated)

Director: Various. With Tom Selleck, John Hillerman, Roger E. Mosley, Larry Manetti. (Four-disc box set.)

Staff ** When "Magnum P.I." debuted in 1980, every high school marching band in the country scrambled to learn the theme tune. The series boosted tourism to Hawaii and turned Tom Selleck into a candidate for the role of Indiana Jones. Season One showcases the show's most enduring elements, such as the rivalry between Selleck's twinkle-eyed detective and his landlord, the ever-droll Higgins. Some of the comedic story lines remain unbearably silly, though. By Stephen Humphries

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