Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (Not rated)

Director: Alex Gibney. With Bethany McLean, various Enron executives, voice of Peter Coyote. (110 min.)

Sterritt **** Spellbinding documentary about the rise and fall of Enron, which aspired to be the world's leading business until it was sabotaged by its leaders' outrageous financial fraud. If you followed this scandal as it unfolded you won't learn much new here, but as real-life stories go, this is as riveting - and as revealing about the dark side of American business - as they come.

The Interpreter (PG-13)

Director: Sydney Pollack. With Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener, Sydney Pollack. (123 min.)

Recommended: Default

Sterritt *** See review.

A Lot Like Love (PG-13)

Director: Nigel Cole. With Ashton Kutcher, Amanda Peet, Kathryn Hahn, Kal Penn. (107 min.)

Sterritt * This is a story about the on-and-off romance of a young man and woman over several years. Why don't they just settle down with each other and save us all 107 minutes? The movie never quite makes that clear. What's the point of the picture, except to allow Kutcher fans occasional peeks at acting talent he usually keeps hidden?

The Man Who Copied (R)

Director: Jorge Furtado. With Lázaro Ramos, Leandra Leal, Pedro Cardoso, Luana Piovani. (125 min.)

Sterritt *** A photocopy clerk falls in love with a woman he spies on across the street, and his desire to impress her leads to risky business that eventually turns criminal. Furtado's comic thriller is a telling commentary on modern avarice in Brazil and elsewhere, which touches on everything from "The Simpsons" to "Rear Window" along the way. Too bad it runs out of ideas before the overlong story is over. In Portuguese with subtitles.

Save the Green Planet! (Not rated)

Jun-Hwan Jeong. With Ha-kyun Shin, Yun-shik Baek, Jeong-min Hwang, Ju-hyeon Lee. (118 min.)

Sterritt *** A demented man tortures his former boss, convinced he's protecting Earth from an alien invasion. Very inventive, but stay away if you can't stomach over-the-top violence. In Korean with subtitles.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
The Amityville Horror (R)

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

Sterritt *** Here's what happens 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 as scary.

Beauty Shop (PG-13)

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

Staff ***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. By Elizabeth Owuor.

Eros (R)

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

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.

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

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.

House of D (PG-13)

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

Sterritt * Duchovny makes his film-directing debut with this unpersuasive comedy-drama about a man recalling his troubled adolescence, including his relationships

with his unstable mom, a mentally challenged janitor, and a prostitute who hollers advice to him from a window in a Greenwich Village house of detention. The cast is likable, but the package rarely seems genuine.

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.

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.

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.

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, Penelope Cruz, Steve Zahn, William H. Macy. (127 min.)

Sterritt * American adventurers (McConaughey, Zahn) search for a Civil War ship that's wound up buried in an African desert, teaming up with a humanitarian physician (Cruz) and stumbling on a plague of toxic chemicals in the process. The action thriller takes place in Nigeria and Mali, which are little more than exotic backdrops for standard buddy-movie maneuvers - lots of chasing, shooting, and wise-cracking; little of anything else.

Sin City (R)

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

Sterritt ***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 hyperviolent 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.

OUT ON DVD
Primer (PG-13)

Director: Shane Carruth. With Shane Carruth, David Sullivan. (77 min.)

Staff ** The dialogue in "Primer," a film about two engineers who cook up a time-travel machine in their garage, includes more mumbo-jumbo scientific jargon than an entire season of "Star Trek." Your only hope of deciphering what the characters are saying is to activate the English subtitles option. Even then you'll find yourself straining to follow the plot's convoluted paradoxes once one of the engineers secretly begins using the device for his own twisted ends. The story's willfully oblique narrative mars an innovative indie - filmed for a mere $7,000 in Texas - that scores points for its ideas about the perils of wanting to relive the past. By Stephen Humphries

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