Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
The Amityville Horror (R)

Director: Andrew Douglas. With Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, Philip Baker Hall, Rachel Nichols. (89 min.)

Sterritt *** When a good Long Island house goes bad. Not to mention a family, a baby sitter, and a doorknob with a mind of its own. This remake stays close to the eponymous 1979 horror movie it's based on, except for being precisely 10,000 times scarier.

Eros (R)

Directors: Wong Kar Wai, Steven Soderbergh, Michelangelo Antonioni. With Alan Arkin, Gong Li, Robert Downey Jr., Luisa Ranieri. (104 min.)

Recommended: Default

Sterritt **** Three short movies with sexual themes by filmmakers of extraordinary interest. The best is "Equilibrium" by Soderbergh, about a man being analyzed by a distracted shrink. Next best is "The Hand" by Wong, about a Hong King tailor in love with a client. "The Dangerous Thread of Things," about a man involved with two women, shows the aging, ailing Antonioni still vigorously probing his lifelong theme of existential isolation. All are tactfully filmed by current standards. In English, Mandarin, and Italian, with subtitles.

House of D (PG-13)

Director: David Duchovny. With David Duchovny, Téa Leoni, Robin Williams, Zelda Williams. (97 min.)

Sterritt * See review.

Major Dundee: The Extended Version (Not rated)

Director: Sam Peckinpah. With Charlton Heston, Richard Harris, Senta Berger, Warren Oates. (126 min.)

Sterritt *** Augmented with 12 minutes of previously unseen footage - and a whole new music score to replace the original one, which Peckinpah hated - this reissue brings the 1965 western closer than ever to the full version that was slashed by its studio before its release. It's not a masterpiece, but its story of Civil War enemies banding together for battle against Indian warriors and French soldiers packs an occasional wallop.

Palindromes (Not rated)

Director: Todd Solondz. With Ellen Barkin, Matthew Faber, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alexander Brickel. (100 min.)

Sterritt **** The controversial Solondz strikes again with this indirect sequel to "Welcome to the Dollhouse," focusing on a 13-year-old girl whose desire to get pregnant sends her into a strange odyssey away from her family and friends. Having several actresses (and an actor) portray the heroine is just one of the drama's weirdly absorbing strategies. Like all this adventurous filmmaker's work, it's truly one of a kind.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
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.

Beauty Shop (PG-13)

Director: Bille Woodruff. With Latifah, Alfre Woodard, Alicia Silverstone, Andie MacDowell. (105 min.)

***1/2 Gina Norris (Queen Latifah) tries her own hand at beauty-shop bliss and far outshines and out-styles her counterparts from the hit movie, "Barbershop." Packed with clichés and all the regular plot twists and turns, the film has grander moments that offer a real depth that overshadows the more formulaic elements. Beauty Shop is a laugh-out-loud, feel-good film that will endear viewers to its eclectic cast. By Elizabeth Owuor.

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.

Fever Pitch (PG-13)

Director: Bobby & Peter Farrelly. With Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon, Jason Spevack, Kadee Strickland. (101 min.)

Staff *** Lindsey, a hard-working city woman, starts dating Ben, a sweetly attentive school teacher during Boston's winter. Come Spring, a different side of Ben emerges. The one devoted to the Red Sox with an obsessiveness - not to mention geekiness - matched only by costumed Trekkies at a sci-fi convention. Lindsey soon realizes that Ben is too wedded to the baseball team to ask her to marry him. A date movie that should appeal to both men and women, "Fever Pitch" uses gentle comedy to explore the nature of compromise in a relationship. By Stephen Humphries

In Satmar Custody (Not rated)

Director: Nitzan Giladi. With Yahia Jaradi, Lauza Jaradi, and members of their community. (70 min.)

Sterritt **** Eye-opening documentary about a family that undergoes an awful domestic tragedy after moving from Yemen to a New York community dominated by an ultraorthodox, ultrastrict Judaic sect that considers Israel a bitter enemy. Stranger than fiction, indeed.

Kontroll (R)

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

Sterritt **** The setting is the grungy depths of the Budapest subway system, where the main characters work, travel, hang out, and get into far-too-frequent trouble. Part mystery, part melodrama, part comedy, this genre-bender is fascinating from start to finish. In Hungarian with subtitles.

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.

Look at Me (PG-13)

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

Sterritt *** An aspiring singer attaches herself to a music teacher who, in turn, hopes her pupil's novelist dad might help her own husband succeed with the written word. The underlying theme is how gifted, famous people exert influences on others that nobody involved is fully aware of. Too bad the movie dawdles and meanders enough to lose its storytelling grip. In French with subtitles.

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.

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 the 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.

Sahara (PG-13)

Director: Breck Eisner. With Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn, Penélope Cruz.. (120 min.)

Staff *** Dirk Pitt, the adventurous diver of Clive Cussler's bestselling novels, escorts a beautiful doctor (Cruz) to Mali. She's looking for the source of a mysterious plague. He's looking for a Naval ship from the Civil War believed to be shipwrecked in the desert (yes, you read that correctly.) "Sahara" should appeal to fans of "National Treasure," last year's hit blend of ersatz archaeology and adventure. The secret ingredient that makes this daft but handsome thriller so enjoyable is the chemistry between Pitt (Alpha-male McConaughey) and his sidekick Al Giordino (the ever zany Zahn). If the yarn careens around plot corners on one wheel at times, it manages to do so without losing its balance as a sleek thrill ride. By Stephen Humphries.

Sin City (R)

Directors: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez. With Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Mickey Rourke, Jaime King. (126 min.)

Staff *** Interlocking stories of crime, revenge, and horror based on Miller's comic books and graphic novels. The cast is excellent and the computer-generated visuals are consistently stunning. Too bad the narration sounds like a string of clichés from creaky old detective novels, and that the movie never comes within hailing distance of a moral perspective on its material.

The Upside of Anger (R)

Director: Mike Binder. With Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, Evan Rachel Wood, Mike Binder. (118 min.)

Sterritt ** A mother and her four daughters cope with bitterness and confusion after her husband abruptly vanishes from the household. Allen and Costner give admirably understated performances as the woman and her eccentric next-door neighbor, but the story feels more cleverly contrived than deeply felt.

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