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Movie Guide

October 22, 2004

Arna's Children (Not rated)

Directors: Juliano Mer Khamis, Danniel Danniel. With Arna Mer Khamis, Juliano Mer Khamis. (83 min.)

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Sterritt **** Documentary about a Jewish woman who set up a theater center for Palestinian children in a West Bank refugee camp, and some of her pupils who later became suicide bombers in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Contains amazingly candid views of warriors behind the scenes of battle. In English, Hebrew, and Arabic with subtitles.

DIG! (Not rated)

Director: Ondi Timoner. With Anton Newcombe, Courtney Taylor, Matt Hollywood, Zia McCabe. (106 min.)

Sterritt **** Documentary about two rock bands, the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols, whose leaders are (usually) friendly rivals, and one of whom (Newcombe) seems bent on sabotaging his life as well as his career. What makes the movie powerful is Timoner's decision to structure it via Taylor's perspective on his competitor, with no holds barred.

The Grudge (PG-13)

Director: Takashi Shimizu. With Sarah Michelle Gellar, Clea DuVall, William Mapother, Bill Pullman. (96 min.)

Staff *** When a young Japanese day-care volunteer responsible for nursing an elderly, demented woman fails to show up to work one day, an American exchange student (Gellar) is asked to take her place. The disturbing events that follow in the old woman's home will leave you hanging by a thread as you gradually become acquainted with the horror that inescapably clutches all those who enter the house. Based on the Japanese hit motion picture "JU-ON: The Grudge," and shot by the same director, this film is a beautiful blend of tension, good performances, and a shocking ending. By Gabino Villanueva

Happy Hour (Not rated)

Director: Mike Bencivenga. With Anthony LaPaglia, Caroleen Feeney, Eric Stoltz, Robert Vaughn. (93 min.)

Sterritt ** The acting is excellent in this bittersweet story of a man whose life and love affair are wrecked by alcoholism. The first hour is eloquent and true. Once the story takes its big turn toward tragedy, though, it becomes predictable and sentimental.

The Machinist (Not rated)

Director: Brad Anderson. With Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside, Anna Massey. (107 min.)

Sterritt *** Effectively weirded-out chiller about a factory worker who may - or may not - be a cold-blooded killer. Bale is brilliant.

The Manson Family (Not rated)

Director: Jim Van Bebber. With Marc Pitman, Marcelo Games, Michelle Briggs, Jim Van Bebber. (95 min.)

Sterritt ** Docudrama about the group of late-'60s murderers, emphasizing rank-and-file members usually obscured by Charles Manson's psychotic shadow. Harrowing and imaginatively made.

Sex Is Comedy (Not rated)

Director: Catherine Breillat. With Anne Parillaud, Grégoire Colin, Roxane Mesquida, Dominique Colladant. (92 min.)

Sterritt ** Making a movie, a filmmaker guides two young performers toward a sex scene that has everyone nervous. Talky and mostly humorless, but interesting as a reflection of Breillat's experiences directing her own popular film "Fat Girl" in 2001.

Sideways (R)

Director: Alexander Payne. With Paul Giamatti, Sandra Oh, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen. (123 min.)

Sterritt **** See review.

Surviving Christmas (PG-13)

Director: Mike Mitchell. With Ben Affleck, Christina Applegate, James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara. (91 min.)