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Staff ***1/2 Every fall west Texans' fancy turns from the boom and bust oil economy to high-school football. Friday night's game makes a coach the town hero or a whipping boy. Thornton plays Coach Gaines of the Odessa-Permian Panthers, whose tough love and pep talks mitigate the fanaticism pouring from the stands. Director Berg treats the sports-movie conventions with freshness. By M.K. TerrellSkip to next paragraph
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Sex/Nudity: 4 instances. Violence: 11 instances. Profanity: 34, mostly mild expressions. Drugs: 7 instances of drinking and smoking.
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 clutches all those who enter. The film is a beautiful blend of tension, good performances, and a shocking ending. By Gabino Villanueva
Sex/Nudity: 2 instances. Violence: 16 instances. Profanity: 3 mild expressions. Drugs: 3 instances of drinking and smoking.
Director: Paola di Florio. With Sander Vanocur, Gloria Steinem, John Lewis, voice of Stockard Channing. (75 min.)
Sterritt **** Amazing footage from the glory period of the civil rights movement energizes this documentary about Viola Gregg Liuzzo, a white woman whose 1965 murder by white supremacists in Alabama helped push Congress to pass key voting rights legislation. Fascinating.
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 from the believable vignettes of fire fighting and the job's pressures on home life. By M.K. Terrell
Director: David Petersen. With members of a Washington, D.C., church. (87 min.)
Sterritt *** Documentary about a small, minimally funded church that helps its African-American members face the challenges of ghetto life. Affecting, though not very artistic.
Director: Taylor Hackford. With Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell, Regina King. (152 min.)
Sterritt *** Fictionalized biography of Ray Charles, the late singer, pianist, and songwriter. Foxx is just about perfect, allowing us to identify and empathize with Charles even as we experience his failings. Fine acting, a convincing view of the South in the Jim Crow era, and magnificent music compensate for simplified psychology and a schematic story line.
Sex/Nudity: 7 instances. Violence: 6 instances. Profanity: 76 mild expressions. Drugs: 52 instances, some with illegal substances.
Director: Peter Chelsom. With Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Jennifer Lopez. (106 min.)
Sterritt * For inexplicable reasons, a middle-aged man decides to take dancing lessons but keep this secret from his wife. The cast is promising, but this remake of the popular Japanese movie falls flat, with more "sound design" than delicious music, more slick film editing than graceful ballroom gliding.