Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
The Aviator (PG-13)

Director: Martin Scorsese. With Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Kate Beckinsale. (170 min.)

Sterritt *** See review at right.

Beyond the Sea (PG-13)

Director: Kevin Spacey. With Kevin Spacey, Brenda Blethyn, John Goodman, Kate Bosworth. (121 min.)

Recommended: Default

Sterritt ** The life and times of singer Bobby Darin, from his music-filled childhood to his untimely death, using the same kind of memoir storytelling as "De-Lovely," the Cole Porter biopic released slightly earlier. Spacey is almost as swinging as Darin was, but his filmmaking leans toward tried-and-true formulas.

Flight of the Phoenix (PG-13)

Director: John Moore. With Dennis Quaid, Miranda Otto, Giovanni Ribisi, Tony Curran. (113 min.)

Sterritt *** Or rather, the crash and rebuilding of an oil-company plane that goes down in the Gobi Desert, where constant threats range from sandstorms to smugglers. Effective action, solid suspense, excellent Ribisi, plus enough clichés to equal the grains of Gobi sand that fill the screen.

Imaginary Heroes (R)

Director: Dan Harris. With Sigourney Weaver, Emile Hirsch, Jeff Daniels, Michelle Williams. (111 min.)

Sterritt **** Harris's debut drama shows rare promise as it tracks the engrossing emotional life of a suburban family, which goes through a string of crises after a tragic event that has a shattering impact on all concerned. While the ultimate message is hopeful, Harris's screenplay pulls no punches in its tragicomic portrait of two generations facing challenges they'd assumed their all-too-comfortable circumstances would shield them from. Superbly acted.

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (PG)

Director: Brad Silberling. With Jim Carrey, Meryl Streep, Billy Connolly, Jude Law. (108 min.)

Sterritt * See review, page 13.

Million Dollar Baby (PG-13)

Director: Clint Eastwood. With Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, Margo Martindale. (129 min.)

Sterritt **** See review, page 13.

Santa Smokes (Not rated)

Directors: Till Schauder, Chris Valentien. With Till Terror, Kristy Jean Hulslander, Richard Glover. (85 min.)

Sterritt ** A sidewalk Santa finds romance with a Christmas angel he meets on the job. Forgettable fun.

The Sea Inside (PG-13)

Director: Alejandro Amenábar. With Javier Bardem, Belén Rueda, Tamar Novas, Lola Dueñas. (125 min.)

Sterritt *** Fact-based story of an articulate Spanish man who fights for the right to die after almost 30 years of lying paralyzed in bed while his family, and two women in his life, take care of him. Bardem is brilliant. In Spanish with subtitles.

Spanglish (PG-13)

Director: James L. Brooks. With Adam Sandler, Paz Vega, Téa Leoni, Cloris Leachman. (131 min.)

Sterritt ** See review, page 13.

A Tale of Two Sisters (Not rated)

Director: Ji-woon Kim. With Su-Jeong Lim, Geun-yeong Mun, Jung-ah Yum, Kap-su Kim. (115 min.)

Sterritt *** Mysteries abound in this gothic fairy tale about young Korean sisters who revisit their father and his wife, a wicked stepmother in the old tradition. Quite restrained for what's basically a horror movie, and very well acted. In Korean with subtitles.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
Alexander (PG-13)

Director: Oliver Stone. With Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Jared Leto. (172 min.)

Sterritt * The story of Alexander the Great, who wept when he realized there were no more realms for him to conquer. Stone may do the same when he realizes what a dull movie he's directed. It's astounding that the ingenious creator of "JFK" and "Wall Street" could make an epic on war and empire that's so utterly simplistic and unreflective.

Sex/Nudity: 8 instances. Violence: 21 Profanity: 3 mild expressions. Drugs: 10 scenes with drinking.

Blade Trinity (R)

Director: David Goyer. With Wesley Snipes, Jessica Biel, Kris Kristofferson, Parker Posey. (113 min.)

Staff ** Snipes is back once again as the human-vampire hybrid crusading to save Earth from the more bloodthirsty side of his family, with assistance from his mentor's daughter (Biel), who delights in archery, and an ex-vampire (Reynolds), who specializes in wisecracks. Goyer, who wrote all three "Blade" movies, fills this one with the usual gore and mayhem, but at least it's funnier than the first two. By M. K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 4 instances of innuendo. Violence: 30 scenes, often gory Profanity: 77 harsh expressions. Drugs: 3 scenes with smoking.

Christmas With the Kranks (PG)

Director: Joe Roth. With Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd. (99 min.)

Sterritt * Facing their first Christmas without their daughter at home, a middle-aged couple decide not to celebrate the holiday, sending their neighborhood into shock. It's main message is that everyone should believe and behave in exactly the same way. Groupthink wins again!

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo. Violence: 5 Profanity: 3 mild theological expressions. Drugs: 6 instances of drinking, 1 of smoking.

Closer (R)

Director: Mike Nichols. With Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen. (101 min.)

Sterritt *** Four characters - a photographer, a writer, a stripper, a physician - go through various permutations of lust, love, and combinations thereof as Patrick Marber's screenplay shuffles and reshuffles their four-way relationship. Intense, engrossing, and extremely well acted.

Staff *** Complex, chamber play, highly sexual material.

Sex/Nudity: 15 scenes including frank talk and nudity. Violence: 4 scenes. Profanity: 68 harsh expressions. Drugs: 17 scenes of smoking and drinking.

Finding Neverland (PG)

Director: Marc Forster. With Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Dustin Hoffman, Julie Christie. (113 min.)

Sterritt *** Depp plays the Scottish playwright who dreamed up "Peter Pan" after befriending some real-life children. The story takes large liberties with Barrie's biography, and parents should know that the movie is surprisingly dark, dealing candidly with the death of a major character. The acting is excellent.

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo. Violence: 1 Profanity: None. Drugs: 4 instances of drinking and smoking.

House of Flying Daggers (PG-13)

Director: Zhang Yimou. With Zhang Ziyi, Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Dandan Song. (119 min.)

Sterritt **** Love, treachery, and skulduggery zing like flashing blades through this thorny comedy-drama-romance, punctuated by some of the most inventive effects this side of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," which it often resembles. China's finest filmmaker is in stunning form. In Mandarin with subtitles.

Sex/Nudity: 5 instances. Violence: 15 Profanity: None. Drugs: 3 scenes with drinking.

The Incredibles (PG)

Director: Brad Bird. With voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Vowell. (115 min.)

Sterritt *** What would happen if the public turned against superheroes, seeing them as menaces whose pursuit of truth and justice wreaks havoc on innocent bystanders? That question energizes this ambitious animationfrom Disney and Pixar, and the answers, decked out with slam-bang action and witty dialogue, are great fun to discover.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 25 Profanity: 1 mild theological expression. Drugs: 2 instances of drinking.

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (R)

Director: Wes Anderson. With Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston. (118 min.)

Sterritt **** A publicity oriented oceanographer (Murray) and his could-be illegitimate son (Wilson) begin a "Moby-Dick"-style hunt for a so-called jaguar shark, running into everything from a rival operation to a gang of murderous pirates before they're through. What might have a self-consciously quirky comedy is humanized by its performances, especially from Murray, who keeps getting better and better. The director of "Rushmore" and "The Royal Tenenbaums" scores his most funny-sad movie to date.

National Treasure (PG)

Director: Jon Turteltaub. With Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Harvey Keitel, Jon Voight. (131 min.)

Sterritt ** "The Da Vinci Code" meets "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in this slam-bang adventure about two teams, one good and one evil, scrutinizing patriotic artifacts for clues to a hidden Masonic treasure. Too bad the clever bits are swamped by no-brainer gunfights, rescues, and chases galore.

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of innuendo. Violence: 11 Profanity: 5 mild theological expressions. Drugs: 1 instance of drinking.

Ocean's Twelve (PG-13)

Director: Steven Soderbergh. With George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Catherine Zeta-Jones. (123 min.)

Sterritt *** Danny Ocean's gang expands to a dirty dozen when he decides to pull off three heists in three European cities - a twist on the "Ocean's Eleven" idea of robbing three casinos - so his associates can reimburse a nasty crook who's very angry about getting ripped off. The action is sparkling entertainment most of the way through. Too bad the film indulges in occasional clichés to fill out its too-long running time.

Staff **1/2 Playful, improbable, fresh sequel.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of innuendo. Violence: 1 explosion. Profanity: 2 harsh expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes with cigarettes; 7 scenes with alcohol.

The Polar Express (G)

Director: Robert Zemeckis. With voices of Tom Hanks, Nona Gaye, Eddie Deezen, Peter Scolari. (100 min.)

Sterritt ** On its way to the North Pole, a magical train pauses on Christmas Eve to pick up kids who need more Christmas cheer. The story is too implausible even for a fantasy.

Staff *** Charming, fantastic animation, spirited.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: 1 mild expression. Drugs: None.

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (PG)

Directors: Sherm Cohen, Stephen Hillenburg, Mark Osborne. With voices of Tom Kenny, Alec Baldwin, Bill Fagerbakke, Jeffrey Tambor. (87 min.)

Sterritt **** Our absorbent hero and his starfish pal leave Bikini Bottom for sinister Shell City on a mission to retrieve King Neptune's stolen crown and save wrongly accused Mr. Krabs in the process. Imagine a Jerry Lewis movie designed by Salvador Dalí and you'll have some idea what this animation is like.

Sex/Nudity: 1 mild innuendo. Violence: 24 cartoonish scenes Profanity: None. Drugs: 2 scenes of drinking.

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