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