Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Kontroll (R)

Director: Nimród Antal. With Sandór Csányi, Eszter Balla, Zsolt Nagy, Csaba Pindroch. (110 min.)

Sterritt **** See review.

Look at Me (PG-13)

Director: Agnès Jaoui. With Agnès Jaoui, Marilou Berry, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Laurent Grévill. (110 min.)

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Originally called "Comme un image."

Sterritt *** See review.

Odessa ... Odessa! (Not rated)

Director: Michale Boganim. With residents of New York, Israel, and Ukraine. (97)

Sterritt *** A documentary voyage from the original Odessa, in Russia, to Little Odessa in New York, and on to Israel, where many Odessa emigrants have settled. This leisurely, transfixing movie is much more interested in nostalgic atmosphere than "educational" facts. In English, Russian, and Hebrew with subtitles.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
The Ballad of Jack & Rose (R)

Director: Rebecca Miller. With Daniel Day-Lewis, Camilla Belle, Beau Bridges, Catherine Keener. (112 min.)

Sterritt *** Marvelously acted story about an aging anarchist, his teenage daughter, and their struggle to keep up a life of happy solitude despite the distractions of Jack's love life and a real-estate developer who wants houses to spring up around them. Smart and engrossing, if too heavy on the symbolism at times.

Be Cool (PG-13)

Director: F. Gary Gray. With John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Cedric the Entertainer, Christina Milian. (114 min.)

Sterritt *Sequel to the 1995 hit "Get Shorty," with crook Chili Palmer putting his muscle behind the career of a gifted African-American singer. The overlong comedy has few laughs and flirts far too much with racist, homophobic humor. A waste of a fine cast.

Beyond the Sea/Más allá del mar (Not rated)

Director: Lisandro Perez-Rey. With veterans of the Mariel Boatlift from Cuba. (80 min.)

Sterritt *** Documentary about the famous Cuban boatlift of the Jimmy Carter era. Full of fascinating eye-witness accounts. In English and Spanish with subtitles.

D.E.B.S. (PG-13)

Director: Angela Robinson. With Sara Foster, Jordana Brewster, Devon Aoki, Jill Ritchie. (91 min.)

Sterritt ** It turns out the SATs contain a secret test that detects your ability to lie and cheat, and if you score well you're drafted into this all-girl spy squad, where the latest assignment is to track down a femme fatale with fatal plans for her victims. Alas, the movie isn't nearly as amusing as its premise, but it's refreshingly different from most run-of-the-mill teenage fare.

Guess Who (PG-13)

Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan. With Bernie Mac, Ashton Kutcher, Zoë Saldaña, Judith Scott. (106 min.)

Sterritt * Updated version of the 1967 hit "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," which broke cultural ground by putting Hollywood's stamp of approval on interracial marriage. The trite and contrived remake, about an African-American woman whose father has trouble accepting her white fiancé, is almost too flat and stilted to sit through, much less be inspired by.

Hitch (PG-13)

Director: Andy Tennant. With Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James, Amber Valletta. (118 min.)

Sterritt ** Smith is terrific as a "date doctor" who teaches klutzy men how to woo the women they fancy. But the screenplay is silly - anything for a laugh - and the comedy is far too long. Nice work from James and Valletta, perhaps inspired by Smith's refusal to let the material drag him down.

Staff *** Witty, sweet, fashionable.

Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes of innuendo. Violence: 6 scenes.Profanity: 31 profanities.Drugs: 8 scenes of drinking.

Hostage (R)

Director: Florent Siri. With Bruce Willis, Michelle Horn, Kevin Pollak, Serena Scott Thomas (113 min.)

Sterritt ** Newly arrived in the job of a small-town sheriff, a former hostage negotiator faces two awful situations at once. He has to rescue youngsters held by thugs in a fortified house and also save his own family from kidnappers. The action is dynamically filmed and Willis is at his best. Suspense is soon hijacked by outright gore and grisliness, though.

Ice Princess (G)

Director: Tim Fywell. With Michelle Trachtenberg, Joan Cusack, Kim Cattrall, Trevor Blumas. (98 min.)

Sterritt *** Should our high-school heroine stick with physics, which everyone says is her calling, or become a figure skater, which entices her when she tries to work out its aerodynamics in scientific terms? Trite but nice, this enjoyable comedy drama has good-spirited warmth toward almost all its characters, from the domineering moms to the daughters beginning to find themselves. And it's great to see so many smart girls in a Hollywood movie!

Lipstick & Dynamite (Not rated)

Director: Ruth Leitman. With Penny Banner, Ida May Martinez, Judy Grable, Gladys Gillem. (83 min.)

Sterritt *** Documentary about old women who were professional female wrestlers in their younger days. An entertaining look at a genuinely offbeat subject.

Melinda and Melinda (PG-13)

Director: Woody Allen. With Radha Mitchell, Will Ferrell, Chloë Sevigny, Wallace Shawn. (100 min.)

Sterritt *** During a friendly debate about optimism vs. pessimism, two writers work out the adventures of the title character(s) by imagining how differently the same person might behave with different circumstances and companions. Allen's view of life is limited to the urban middle class, as usual, but it's good to see his thoughtfulness back in action as he ponders the divide - if there is one - between comic and tragic perspectives.

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (PG-13)

Director: John Pasquin. With Sandra Bullock, Regina King, William Shatner, Enrique Murciano. (115 min.)

Staff ** After posing as a beauty contestant, Agent Gracie Hart (Bullock) is too recognizable to work undercover so she becomes the FBI spokesmodel. She and her bodyguard (King) can't stand each other, but when the pageant's emcee (Shatner) and Miss United States fall into the hands of kidnappers, the agents must team up to save them. It's a variation on the buddy-film genre, but otherwise there's not much new here. It may be time for Bullock to swear off sequels. By M. K. Terrell

Nina's Tragedies (Not rated)

Director: Savi Gabizon. With Aviv Elkabets, Ayelet July Zurer, Anat Waxman, Yoram Hatav. (110 min.)

Sterritt **** The place is Israel, and the hero is a 14-year-old boy who falls in love with his aunt, moving in with her as a sympathetic family member after her husband dies. This wry comedy drama has excellent acting and surprises galore. In Hebrew with subtitles.

The Pacifier (PG)

Director: Adam Shankman. With Vin Diesel, Lauren Graham, Brad Garrett. (91 min.)

Staff ** Hardened Navy commando Shane Wolf (Diesel) gets the most challenging assignment of his career: protecting the children of an assassinated scientist from agents seeking the top-secret program he was working on. Fortunately, the combination of the bodyguard's military discipline and hidden soft side give the family children the tough love they need. The Disney-like plotting is too predictable for most adults and teens, and violence puts it off-limits for young children, but 8- to 11-year-olds should find the slapstick amusing. By M.K. Terrell

The Ring Two (PG-13)

Director: Hideo Nakata. With Naomi Watts, Simon Baker, Sissy Spacek, David Dorfman. (111 min.)

Sterritt *** More about the insidious video that kills its viewers if they don't copy it and pass it to another victim. Subtler than "The Ring" and scarier than "Ringu," the Japanese thriller that started it all, this is sequel-spinning with a vengeance. Watts is wonderful, and the story's forsaken-child theme still has plenty of horrific power.

Robots (PG)

Director: Chris Wedge. With voices of Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Mel Brooks, Jennifer Coolidge. (89 min.)

Sterritt ** The animated adventures of a young robot with big ambitions, and an old robot who's been kicked out of his own business by a profit-hungry upstart. The visuals are spectacular, but the screenplay is trite, intermittently vulgar, and not funny.

16 Years of Alcohol (R)

Director: Richard Jobson. With Kevin McKidd, Laura Fraser, Ewan Bremner, Susan Lynch. (102 min.)

Sterritt ** Drama about a young Scottish man who discovers the downside of drinking the hard way - all the hard ways, in fact. Directed by former rock star Jobson in a leisurely, sometimes compelling style; but the pacing soon grows dull and the narration is a nonstop string of clichés, platitudes, and truisms that should have been flung out the cutting-room window.

OUT ON DVD
Apollo 13 (PG)

Director: Ron Howard. With Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris. (140 min.)

Staff *** 1/2There's something about getting back home that never loses its appeal. "Apollo 13" details one of the great return stories of the 20th century. Has anyone ever strayed further from home base and returned to tell the tale than these three astronauts who floated adrift for agonizingly long days in space? This two-disc DVD set released on Tuesday to mark the 35th anniversary of the actual mission offers the near-perfect casting of Tom Hanks in the lead as well as interviews with the real astronauts and fun details about just what it takes to film actors in zero-gravity space. By Gloria Goodale.

Almost Peaceful/Un Monde Presque Paisible (Not rated)

Director: Michel Deville. With Simon Abkarian, Zabou Breitman Lubna Azabal, Clotilde Courau. (94 min.)

Staff ****In this poignant portrait of life after WWII, Parisian Jews strive to piece together the broken fragments that remain from their lives before the war. With the backdrop of Albert (Simon Abkarian) and Lea's (Zabou Breitman) newly reopened tailoring business, the characters' lives blend as beautifully as the garments they create. A movie that offers viewers a candid but quietly moving lens into life after the concentration camps, "Almost Peaceful" is sure to resonate with those who have experienced the trials of learning to live again. In French with subtitles. By Elizabeth Owuor.

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