Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Are We There Yet? (PG)

Director: Brian Levant. With Ice Cube, Nia Long, Philip Bolden, Aleisha Allen. (95 min.)

Sterritt ** You may be asking yourself the title question as you watch a kid-phobic man take an unwanted road trip with the children of a single mom he wants to

woo. Cube is cute and Long is lovely, but the youngsters are too brash and smug to bear. At least there's a heartwarming end to the excursion.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?
Arakimentary (Not rated)

Director: Travis Klose. With Araki, Björk, Takeshi Kitano, Richard Kern. (85 min.)

Sterritt ** Nonfiction portrait of the renowned Japanese photographer Araki, whose work ranges from art works to fashion shots to pornographic imagery. Illuminating, if not exactly edifying. In English and Japanese with subtitles.

Assault on Precinct 13 (R)

Director: Jean-François Richet. With Ethan Hawke, Maria Bello, Laurence Fishburne, Drea de Matteo. (109 min.)

Sterritt ** See review at right.

Head-On (Not rated)

Director: Fatih Akin. With Birol Unel, Sibel Kekilli, Stefan Gebelhoff, Catrin Striebeck. (118 min.)

Sterritt *** It's multiculturalism without tears in this tragicomic tale of two extremely unhappy young Turks who decide to get married on the tiny chance it will make their new lives in Germany a bit more tolerable. Superbly acted. In English, German, and Turkish with subtitles.

She's One of Us (Not rated)

Director: Siegrid Alnoy. With Sasha Andres, Carlo Brandt, Catherine Mouchet, Eric Caravaca. (100 min.)

Sterritt **** Brilliantly made psychological thriller about a young woman who'd do anything to be like the people she considers "nice" and "normal" but can't quite

manage the trick, at least in her own mind. Imaginatively acted, endlessly atmospheric. In French with subtitles.

With God on Our Side: George W. Bush & the Rise of the Religious Right in America (Not rated)

Directors: Calvin Skaggs, David Van Taylor. With assorted politicians and commentators. (100 min.)

Sterritt **** A scrupulously balanced look at the subject outlined in the title. Packed with historical, sociological, and cultural context.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
The Assassination of Richard Nixon (R)

Director: Niels Mueller. With Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Don Cheadle. (95 min.)

Sterritt **** Fictionalized account of a real-life businessman named Samuel Byck, whose frustration with getting nowhere led him to a mental breakdown and a crazy plot to kill the president in 1974. This is one of the rare movies to explore American materialism through the eyes of an all-too-ordinary person who isn't up to the challenges of everyday life.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 6 scenes of gun violence. Profanity: 30 harsh profanities. Drugs: 5 scenes with alcohol, 4 scenes with smoking.

The Aviator (PG-13)

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

Sterritt *** Large-scale epic about the life and times of Howard Hughes, focusing on his experiences as a filmmaker, flier, aircraft designer, and world-class eccentric. DiCaprio is excellent as Hughes and Blanchett is even better as movie star Katharine Hepburn, one of his lovers. The film largely lacks the personal, idiosyncratic touches that distinguish Scorsese's greatest work, though.

Coach Carter (PG-13)

Director: Thomas Carter. With Samuel L. Jackson, Ashanti, Robert Richard, Gwen McGee. (136 min.)

Sterritt ** Fact-based story of a high-school basketball coach who demands a great deal - some feel far too much - of the hard-boiled kids who play on his team. The movie's moral messages are all on target. Too bad the movie is much, much too long and Jackson gives one of his dullest performances ever.

Sex/Nudity: 4 instances of innuendo. Violence: 8 scenes. Profanity: 30 harsh profanities. Drugs: 2 scenes with alcohol, 2 scenes with smoking, 3 scenes with drugs.

The Chorus (PG-13)

Director: Christophe Barratier. With Gérard Jugnot, Marie Bunel, François Berléand. (97 min.)

Sterritt *** In the late 1940s, a failed musician grudgingly takes a job at a school for difficult boys and uses his musical gifts to engage and uplift them. Extremely goodhearted, if not exactly original or exciting. In French with subtitles.

Elektra (PG-13)

Director: Rob Bowman. With Jennifer Garner, Terence Stamp. (96 min.)

Staff * Another conflicted Marvel Comics hero, Elektra (Garner, who also played this character in "Daredevil"), wants a vacation between assassinations, but must combat the Order of the Hand, a band of supernatural ninja warriors doing the dirty work of an evil board of directors. If that's not enough, she also has to deal with a teenage apprentice, obsessive-compulsive disorder (or is it feng shui?), and an inane script. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 21 scenes. Profanity: 10 profanities. Drugs: 3 scenes with drinking.

Hotel Rwanda (PG-13)

Director: Terry George. With Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix. (121 min.)

Sterritt ** Fact-based drama about a hotel manager (Cheadle) who starts a sort of "Schindler's list" by giving shelter to displaced members of the Tutsi tribe under siege from Hutu fighters. The subject is crucially important, but the movie dilutes its impact with by-the-numbers filmmaking, and Cheadle's one-note performance displays few of his acting gifts.

Staff ***1/2 Depressing, educational, terrifying, heroic.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 21 scenes of gruelling violence. Profanity: 13 harsh profanities. Drugs: 14 scenes with alcohol, 5 scenes with smoking.

In Good Company (PG-13)

Director: Paul Weitz. With Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, Marg Helgenberger. (109 min.)

Sterritt *** A middle-aged businessman (Quaid) gets demoted when his company is acquired by an international media mogul, and things get worse when his embarrassingly young new boss (Grace) starts dating his daughter (Johansson) during her first year at college. Lively acting and timely humor are the main assets of this garden-variety comedy.

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

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

Sterritt * The fictional author narrates peril-filled adventures of the Baudelaire orphans and their guardians, none of whom guard them very well. You needn't be per-Snickety to find this an unfortunate lemon of a movie, flawed by Carrey's overacting.

A Love Song for Bobby Long (R)

Director: Shainee Gabel. With John Travolta, Scarlett Johansson, Gabriel Macht, Deborah Kara Unger. (119 min.)

Sterritt *** Travolta reinvents his screen persona once again, playing a dissolute codger who lives with a former student from his English-professor days in a ramshackle Louisiana house that takes on a new atmosphere when its new owner (Johansson) decides to reside there too. Rambling, meandering, likable.

Meet the Fockers (PG-13)

Director: Jay Roach. With Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman. (115 min.)

Sterritt * Sequel to "Meet the Parents," with an engaged couple hoping their respective parents - including a tough-as-nails CIA retiree on one side, a touchy-feely sex therapist on the other - will get along. De Niro and Hoffman almost give comic life to this brainless, vulgar farce.

Million Dollar Baby (PG-13)

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

Sterritt **** Eastwood gives his deepest performance ever as an aging gym owner who reluctantly agrees to train a female prizefighter, played by Swank in excellent form. Going all the way with both triumph and tragedy, it's as bold as it is engrossing.

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. The action is sparkling entertainment most of the way through.

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 Phantom of the Opera (PG-13)

Director: Joel Schumacher. With Gerard Butler, Minnie Driver, Simon Callow, Miranda Richardson. (141 min.)

Sterritt ** Hollywood adaptation of the Broadway smash about a demented fiend who skulks, slays, and sings in the Paris Opera's mysterious underbelly. The acting and crooning are sadly uneven.

Racing Stripes (PG)

Director: Frederik du Chau. With Hayden Panettiere, voices of Dustin Hoffman, Whoopi Goldberg. (93 min.)

Sterritt ** The aptly named hero is a zebra who thinks he's a racehorse, and has the good fortune to be adopted by a teenage girl who's convinced he can outrun any thoroughbred on the track. Cute, not as funny as it wants to be, and anthropomorphic in ways that are too simplistic for comfort.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 5 mild scenes. Profanity: 2 mild profanities. Drugs: 1 scenes with drinking.

White Noise (PG-13)

Director: Geoffrey Sax. With Michael Keaton, Deborah Kara Unger, Ian McNeice, Chandra West. (98 min.)

Sterritt ** A middle-aged architect believes his recently deceased wife is trying to contact him from "beyond" through VCRs and computer discs operated by a peculiar man he's just met. The story doesn't make much sense, but Keaton is good.

OUT ON VIDEO
Friday Night Lights (PG-13)

Director: Peter Berg. With Billy Bob Thornton, Derek Luke, Tom McGraw. (117 min.)

Staff *** In 1988, the town of Odessa, Texas, believed that its new high-school quarterback - a teen blessed with the sure arm of John Elway and the fleet foot of Michael Vick - was a football messiah destined to lead their favorite sons to the state championship. But when he was sidelined by injury, the team faced a long, hard, unpredictable season. This stunning, true story focuses on the desperate lives of boys who live in a region where football is all consuming. The invaluable extras include interviews with the actual players. By Stephen Humphries

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