Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
The Cloud of Unknowing (Not rated)

Director: Richard Sylvarnes. With DJ Mendel, Miho Nikaido, Thomas Jay Ryan, Lisa Walter. (83 min.)

Sterritt *** A physician, a fortune teller, and a possibly reincarnated wife are the main characters of this spooky, atmospheric tale. Beautifully photographed.

Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry (Not rated)

Director: George Butler. With John Kerry, Thomas Oliphant, Max Cleland, voice of Ben Affleck. (92 min.)

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Sterritt **** Documentary about Kerry's experiences as a soldier and protester during the Vietnam era. Put into production long before Kerry's presidential candidacy, the absorbing account reflects Butler's long experience with nonfiction film, going back to "Pumping Iron," the picture that put Arnold Schwarzenegger on the map in 1977.

I [heart] Huckabees (R)

Director: David O. Russell. With Dustin Hoffman, Naomi Watts, Jude Law, Lily Tomlin. (106 min.)

Sterritt ** See review.

Ladder 49 (PG-13)

Director: Jay Russell. With Joaquin Phoenix, John Travolta, Morris Chestnut. (115 min.)

Staff *** As firefighter Jack Morrison (Phoenix) waits for his buddies to evacuate him from a collapsing warehouse, he relives his 10 years with the department. The clunky flashback storytelling doesn't detract much from the believable vignettes of fire fighting, rescues, and sudden death, as well as the job's pressures on home life. It may keep you asking why men and women choose this lifestyle. It will make you grateful they do. By M.K. Terrell

Shark Tale (PG)

Directors: Vicky Jenson, Rob Letterman, Eric Bergeron. With voices of Will Smith, Renée Zellweger, Robert De Niro, Angelina Jolie. (90 min.)

Sterritt ** Animated feature about a little fish who poses as a macho underwater dude after a shark's accidental death makes him look like a hero, pleasing the late shark's vegetarian brother but irking his "godfather"- like dad. The screenplay isn't remotely as funny as it tries to be, and the visual style is equally unexciting.

Tying the Knot (Not rated)

Director: Jim de Sève. With gay couples seeking marriage. (82 min.)

Sterritt **** Informative documentary about the recent history of efforts to legalize gay marriage, tying these in with the history of marriage as an institution. Packed with information.

Woman Thou Art Loosed (Not rated)

Director: Michael Schultz. With Bishop T.D. Jakes, Kimberly Elise, Loretta Devine, Debbie Morgan (94 min.)

Sterritt *** Visited on death row by a compassionate clergyman, a badly abused African-American woman recalls the events that landed her there. The screenplay is overwrought at times, but the acting is superb by any standard.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
A Dirty Shame (NC-17)

Director: John Waters. With Tracey Ullman, Chris Isaak, Selma Blair, Johnny Knoxville. (88 min.)

Sterritt ** A bonk on the head turns a woman into a sex addict, so she joins a support group with other afflicted folks. The humor is more childish than raunchy, but it's interesting to see that becoming a big-time Broadway impresario hasn't led Waters to sell out his affection for gross-out gags.

Cellular (PG-13)

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

Staff ** When Kim Basinger is kidnapped, she rigs a broken telephone - MacGyver style - so that she randomly dials a cellphone belonging to Ryan (Evans). Fortunately he heeds her call for help and uses his wits to thwart the villains. The story (think "Speed" meets "Phone Booth") may be hokum but it's undeniably fun. By Stephen Humphries.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 20 scenes. Profanity: 51 expressions. Drugs: 4 instances of drinking.

First Daughter (PG)

Director: Forest Whitaker. With Katie Holmes, Michael Keaton, Marc Blucas, Margaret Colin. (105 min.)

Staff *** Freshman Samantha Mackenzie (Holmes), the president's daughter, just wants to be accepted at college. But she keeps ending up in the tabloids, vexing mom and dad during an election year. This storybook tale shares a similar plot to last winter's "Chasing Liberty," but it's more believable and the father-daughter scenes are sometimes touching, with Keaton strict, but surprisingly laid-back, as president. See it with your own daughters. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 7 instances of innuendo. Violence: 3 instances. Profanity: 7 mild expressions. Drugs: 5 scenes with drinking.

The Forgotten (PG-13)

Director: Joseph Ruben. With Julianne Moore, Dominic West, Gary Sinise, Alfre Woodard. (91 min.)

Staff ** Telly Paretta (Moore) is a smart and independent freelance editor whose life seems to have no other purpose than to devotedly remember Sam, her 8-year old son, who passed away a little over a year ago. Grief, however, is quickly replaced by angry despair as she learns that even those closest to her deny her child ever existed. Telly's unrelenting search for the truth, although depressingly predictable at times, does deliver a few good jumps and allows Julianne Moore to display her acting prowess once again. By Gabino Villanueva

Sex/Nudity: 2 mild innuendos Violence: 14 instances. Profanity: 20 expressions. Drugs: 4 instances of drinking.

Hero (PG-13)

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

Sterritt **** In ancient China 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 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 Last Shot (R)

Director: Jeff Nathanson. With Matthew Broderick, Alec Baldwin, Toni Colette, Joan Cusack. (93 min.)

Staff ** A clunky comedy based on the real-life 1980s tragedy of a Hollyweird hanger-on. Struggling writer Steven Schats (Broderick) gets hired to direct his gobbler of a screenplay by a "producer" who is really an undercover FBI agent (Baldwin) bent on ensnaring the Mafia. Once the trap is sprung, though, the feds shut down the production early. A glammed-up Colette steals the show, pulverizing the scenery with her charming overbite, and Cusack devastates as an eat-her-young producer. By Maud Dillingham

Sex/Nudity: 7 instances. Violence: 9 scenes. Profanity: 78 Drugs: at least 10 instances of smoking and drinking.

The Motorcycle Diaries (R)

Director: Walter Salles. With Gael García Bernal, Rodrigo de la Serna, Mía Maestro, Mercedes Morán. (126 min.)

Sterritt **** Fictionalized version of the freewheeling travels around Latin America that gave young Ernesto "Che" Guevara, still a middle-class medical student, a glimpse of his future calling as a revolutionary fighter. Some will find this movie a whitewash, given the violent activities Guevara became famous for in Cuba and elsewhere, but from a psychological angle it's a fascinating study of an energetic personality hunting for a route to a meaningful life. Superbly acted. In Spanish with subtitles.

Mr. 3000 (PG-13)

Director: Charles Stone III. With Bernie Mac, Paul Sorvino, Angela Bassett, Chris Noth. (104 min.)

Staff *** Milwaukee slugger Stan Ross (Mac) retires from baseball midseason after reaching 3,000 hits. Nine years later, statisticians discover that he scored only 2,997 hits. To be eligible for The Hall of Fame, Stan must shape up, return to the lineup as a real team player, and get three more hits - at age 47. The subtlety of Mac's acting is a surprise. By M.K. Terrell

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (R)

Director: Alexander B. Witt. With Jared Harris, Milla Jovovich, Thomas Kretschmann. (94 min.)

Staff ** After surviving a trip into a zombie-infested "hive," in a previous film, Alice wakes up in a hospital to find authorities have sealed off her city because a virus that turns creatures and humans into zombies has escaped a corporate lab. Banding together with several survivors, Alice searches for a way to escape the super zombies. The action is entertaining, but be prepared to be startled repeatedly - if not terrified. This film's true monster, however, is the ruthless Umbrella Corporation. By Tim Rauschenberger

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (PG)

Director: Kerry Conran. With Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi. (107 min.)

Sterritt * A newspaperwoman and a pilot race across continents to find an evil scientist and stop a robot invasion in 1939. A combination of stilted acting and computer-generated effects, this piece of soulless merchandise is no less mechanical than its own automatons, and no more intelligent.

Staff *** Uneven pace, cold story, stunning effects.

Sex/Nudity: 3 innuendos. Violence: 13 scenes. Profanity: 6 mild expressions. Drugs: None.

Wimbledon (PG-13)

Director: Richard Loncraine. With Paul Bettany, Kirsten Dunst, Celia Imrie, Bernard Hill. (100 min.)

Staff ** A British tennis player in the twilight of his mediocre career (Bettany) meets Lizzie (Dunst), one of the best players on the women's circuit. (Dunst may be plucky but can you imagine her taking on Serena?) She becomes his muse on the court, inspiring him to play the best tennis of his career even as the romance distracts her from her game. Bettany is in winning form but Dunst isn't a convincing match -either on or off the court. By Stephen Humphries

Staff **1/2 Playful, dodges clichés, uneven performances.

Sex/Nudity: 11 instances. Violence: 2 instances. Profanity: 45 expressions. Drugs: 12 instances of smoking and drinking.

OUT ON DVD
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (R)

Director: Michel Gondry. With Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst (108 min.)

Staff **** Collaborating with psychedelic scribe Charlie Kaufman, Gondry casts a cool eye on a dilemma: What do you do when the love of your life becomes a bad memory? Their outrageous answer packs a wallop: Pay a shady brain-surgery firm to excise him or her from your memory. Virtuosic duo Carrey and Winslet are completely plausible in an unhinged parallel universe that takes place inside Carrey's mind. Good thing it's a DVD so you can watch it again - and again. With illuminating extras. By Maud Dillingham

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