Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Around the Bend (R)

Director: Jordan Roberts, With Christopher Walken, Josh Lucas, Glenne Headly, Michael Caine. (85 min.)

Sterritt ** Three male relatives of three generations head off on a bittersweet journey to fulfill the terms of a deceased family member's eccentric will. The story is spotty, but the acting is fine, especially when Walken is around.

Primer (PG-13)

Director: Shane Carruth. With Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Casey Gooden, Carrie Crawford. (78 min.)

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Sterritt *** Young businessmen concoct a sort of time machine in a garage, then test its power to change their lives without conjuring up paradoxes that might call reality itself into question. The screenplay is convoluted but fascinating, flawed less by its built-in complexity than by the limitations of the characters' psychological depth.

Silent Waters (Not rated)

Director: Sabiha Sumar. With Kirron Kher, Aamir Malik, Arshad Mahmud, Salman Shahid. (95 min.)

Sterritt *** After being raised as a Muslim in Pakistan following her abduction in 1947 when Pakistan became a nation, a woman is tracked down by her Sikh brother from India, with grave repercussions for a number of people. Stirring on religious and humanitarian levels, and very timely notwithstanding its 1979 setting. In Punjabi with subtitles.

Stage Beauty (R)

Director: Richard Eyre. With Billy Crudup, Clair Danes, Richard Griffiths, Zoe Tapper. (110 min.)

Sterritt *** See review.

Tarnation (Not rated)

Director: Jonathan Caouette, With Jonathan Caouette. Renée LeBlanc, Adolph Davis, David Sanin Paz. (105 min.)

Sterritt **** An autobiographical documentary about Caouette's unbelievably troubled life, featuring members of his unbelievably dysfunctional family. Harrowing, extremely disturbing at times, but brought to the screen in dazzling pop-art images that make the movie's grim content very much worth watching.

Taxi (PG-13)

Director: Tim Story. With Queen Latifah, Jimmy Fallon, Jennifer Esposito, Gisele Bündchen. (79 min.)

Sterritt ** She's a souped-up cab driver, he's an accident-prone cop, and their adversaries are bank robbers who look and dress like supermodels. Frivolous but fun, somewhere between a comic "French Connection" and the craziest Nascar race you never saw.

Vera Drake (R)

Director: Mike Leigh. With Imelda Staunton, Peter Wight, Lesley Manville, Jim Broadbent. (125 min.)

Sterritt **** Staunton plays a middle-aged cleaning woman in 1950s London who performs illegal abortions in her spare time, motivated not by money or ideology but by an intuitive conviction that she's providing a desperately needed service for desperately needy women. The acting is brilliant and Leigh's screenplay - developed through his usual process of improvisation and rehearsal - is very long on compassion, very short on preaching and politics.

Vodka Lemon (Not rated)

Director: Hiner Saleem. With Ivan Franek, Romen Avinian, Lala Sarkissian, Astrik Avaguian. (84 min.)

Sterritt ** Tragicomic story centering on tiny events that lend meaning to the largely bleak lives of residents in a snowbound Armenian village. Diverting but minor. In Armenian, Russian, Kurdish, and French, with subtitles.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
Collateral (R)

Director: Michael Mann. With Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx. (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, engaging, classy.

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

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. 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.

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

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 violence 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 in this coming-of-age comedy may surprise some fans. By M.K. Terrell

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (R)

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

Staff ** Alice (Jovovich) 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 survivors, Alice searches for a way to escape. The action is entertaining, but be prepared to be terrified. This film's true monster, however, is the ruthless Umbrella Corporation. By Tim Rauschenberger

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 Mafia boss- like dad. The screenplay isn't remotely as funny as it tries to be, and the visual style is equally unexciting.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 8 Profanity: 7 mild expressions. Drugs: 1 scene of drinking, 1 of smoking.

Shaun of the Dead (R)

Director: Edgar Wright. With Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield. (99 min.)

Staff *** Late 20something Shaun (Pegg) gets dumped by his girlfriend Liz (Ashfield), who doesn't want to spend the rest of her life at the pub with Shaun and his disgusting best friend Ed (Frost). Hungover the next day, Shaun takes a while to realize that the morning commute is filled with blood-spattered undead in full B-lot swagger. Shaun and Ed lead a zombie-bashing expedition to save Liz and Shaun's mum, and they all end up hiding out - where else? - at the pub. The film offers homage to all zombie films ever made with a Pythonesque lilt. Beware the makeup if you're the squeamish type. By J. Johnson

Sex/Nudity: 1 instances of innuendo. Violence: 22 scenes. Profanity: 64 instances. Drugs: 4 scenes of smoking and drinking.

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.

OUT ON DVD
Mean Girls (PG-13)

Director: Mark S. Waters. With Lindsay Lohan, Rachel

McAdams, Tina Fey, Tim Meadows. (97 min.)

Staff *** Raised and home-schooled in Africa by her parents, Cady Heron (Lohan) has been able to get by without the 411 on cliques, fashion, and how to fit in with American teens ... that is, until now. After enrolling in a public high school, Cady faces a new set of rules: no longer will it be survival of the fittest, but of the meanest. Written and produced by Saturday Night Live talent, this is definitely not your average teen movie. It's smart, funny, and has special features that include commentary from SNL's Tina Fey as well as Rosalind Wiseman, author of the book that inspired the film. By Gabino Villanueva

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