Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
The Holy Girl (R)

Director: Lucrecia Martel. With Mercedes Morán, Carlos Belloso, Marìa Alche, Mia Maèstro. (106 min.)

Sterritt **** Smart, subtle drama about an Argentine teenager who tries to reconcile her sincere religious questions with the temptations of worldly life, complicated by her odd relationship with a sexually impulsive physician in town for a medical conference. Superbly cast, evocatively directed.

Kicking & Screaming (PG)

Director: Jesse Dylan. With Will Ferrell, Robert Duvall, Kate Walsh, Mike Ditka. (90 min.)

Recommended: 'Gravity': Find the 5 'Easter Eggs' in the movie

Sterritt *** Ferrell plays a soccer dad who coaches a preteen squad with his klutzy son as a member and his hotly competitive father (Duvall) determined to lead his own team to the championship. Some scenes are just silly, others are dead-on uproarious. Ditka, a real-life football legend, is a real find as our hero's assistant.

Kings and Queen (Not rated)

Director: Arnaud Desplechin. With Emmanuelle Devos, Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric. (150 min.)

Sterritt **** See review.

Mad Hot Ballroom (PG)

Director: Marilyn Agrelo. With New York City public school pupils. (110 min.)

Sterritt ** Documentary about New York preteens learning ballroom dancing in a public school program. Many moviegoers will swoon over the young folks' earnest efforts to learn gracefulness and sociability. But at heart this is a cuteness exploitation flick.

Ma Mére (NC-17)

Director: Christophe Honore. With Isabelle Huppert, Louis Garrel, Joana Preiss, Emma de Caunes. (110 min.)

Sterritt ** A young man joins some wild women, including his widowed mother, in debauchery. Based on a novel by French provocateur Georges Bataille, an important thinker whose fiction rarely translates into good cinema. In French with subtitles.

Monster-in-Law (PG-13)

Director: Robert Luketic. With Jane Fonda, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Vartan, Adam Scott. (102 min.)

Sterritt * A bride to be, who works as a temp, dukes it out with her mother-in-law to be, a former TV star - as the wedding day draws near. The comedy is shamelessly stupid and flagrantly vulgar by turns. Fonda is no great actress, but why did she choose this throwaway trash as her first movie in 15 years?

Unleashed (R)

Director: Louis Leterrier. With Jet Li, Morgan Freeman, Bob Hoskins, Kerry Condon. (103 min.)

Sterritt * Preposterously violent thriller about an Asian fighter who's treated like a dog by the Englishman who "owns" him until he's given refuge by a blind piano tuner. Luc Besson's screenplay is dumb, but has just enough weird touches to give occasional glimmers of interest.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
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? What's the point, except to allow Kutcher fans peeks at the acting talent he usually keeps hidden?

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 original, except it's 10,000 times as scary.

Brothers (R)

Director: Susanne Bier. With Connie Nielsen, Ulrich Thomsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Sarah Juel Werner (117 min.)

Sterritt **** Deeply moving tale of a young mother caught between her husband, a soldier traumatized in Afghanistan, and his brother, a thief recently released from jail. Sensitively written and filmed to perfection, the drama raises crucial questions about humanity's capacity for moral transformation. In Danish with subtitles.

Crash (R)

Director: Paul Haggis. With Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Jennifer Esposito, Matt Dillon. (113 min.)

Sterritt *** Interlocking stories of diverse Los Angeles characters, from cops and crooks to folks caught in between. The writer of "Million Dollar Baby" makes his directing debut with a screenplay that often seems rigged and contrived, but comes to life via excellent acting and a philosophical argument that bigotry and benevolence are inextricably intertwined.

Double Dare (Not rated)

Director: Amanda Micheli. With Zoe Bell, Jeannie Epper, Lucy Lawless, Quentin Tarantino. (81 min.)

Sterritt *** Entertaining documentary about stuntwomen who do risky business for a living, standing in for everyone from "Xena: Warrior Princess" to Uma Thurman in the "Kill Bill" movies. They had to leap, plunge, and crash into a male-dominated profession, and the movie shows how family and sheer derring-do have helped them along the way.

Fever Pitch (PG-13)

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

Staff *** Lindsey, a hard-working city woman, starts dating Ben, a sweet schoolteacher, during Boston's winter. Come spring, a different side of Ben emerges. The one devoted to the Red Sox with an obsessiveness only matched by costumed Trekkies at a sci-fi convention. A date movie that should appeal to both sexes, the film uses comedy to explore the art of compromise. By Stephen Humphries.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (PG)

Director: Garth Jennings. With Martin Freeman, Zooey Deschanel, Mos Def, John Malkovich. (110 min.)

Sterritt * An ordinary man is beamed to safety by an interstellar friend just before Earth is demolished by aliens who need room for their new hyperspace highway. This long-awaited movie adaptation of the late Douglas Adams's book, TV, and radio franchise is surprisingly bland. Die-hard fans should enjoy it.

House of Wax (R)

Director: Jaume Serra. With Elisha Cuthbert, Jared Padalecki, Paris Hilton, Chad Michael Murray. (105 min.)

Sterritt *** This remake of the 1953 horror classic, minus Vincent Price and the 3-D effects, brings a group of college kids to a haunted town where wax rules, along with terror, derangement, and other nasty things. As a frightfest it's better than today's average. But bring back Vincent Price and the 3-D effects!

The Interpreter (PG-13)

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

Sterritt *** Kidman plays a UN interpreter who says she overheard a death threat against an African tyrant - whom she turns out to have reasons for hating. Penn plays a Secret Service agent determined to head off the deadly embarrassment of an assassination in the UN building. The thriller is swiftly told and smartly acted, with an idea or two on its mind as a bonus.

Kingdom of Heaven (R)

Director: Ridley Scott. With Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, David Thewlis, Jeremy Irons. (138 min.)

Sterritt ** Scott turns to history again in this epic about crusaders fighting Muslims in the Holy Land several centuries ago. The screenplay aims for relevance to current world conflicts, but the story's medieval setting and the camera's obsession with action, action, action dilutes its potential as sober commentary. Adventure fans should like it, and while Bloom isn't an ideal hero, he's almost messianic compared with zero-charisma Colin Farrell in the awful "Alexander."

Ladies in Lavender (PG-13)

Director: Charles Dance. With Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Daniel Bruhl, Natasha McElhone. (103 min.)

Sterritt *** Two elderly women find a young musician stranded on shore after a shipwreck during the World War II era and decide, for differing reasons, to nurse him back to health. Dance's directorial debut isn't exciting, but it's deeply felt and engagingly acted. Why doesn't he take more advantage of the story's

opportunities for fine music, though?

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.

XXX: State of the Union (PG-13)

Director: Lee Tamahori. With Ice Cube, Willem Dafoe, Nona M. Gaye, Samuel L. Jackson, Scott Speedman. (101 min.)

Sterritt ** Sequel to "XXX" with Cube taking over Vin Diesel's role as a supersecret government agent operating on (and beyond) the fringes of the law. This time he needs to save the president from a coup engineered by the secretary of defense, who thinks the US should flaunt its military strength more aggressively. Most of the movie is standard action fare, but the political commentary is interesting.

Out on DVD
In Good Company (PG-13)

Director: Paul Weitz. With Dennis Quaid. Scarlett Johansson, Topher Grace. (110 min.)

Staff *** An entertaining and on-point film that explores Quaid's dilemma when he is demoted - only to be replaced with a scamp half his age (Grace), who also happens to be romancing his daughter. Viewers will enjoy commentary by the cast and crew, which adds context to the film, while some deleted scenes are just as funny as the movie itself. By Elizabeth Owuor

Les Choristes (The Chorus) (PG-13)

Director: Christophe Barratier. With Gérard Jugnot, François Berléand, and Kad Merad. (96 min.)

Staff *** At a school for troubled boys in postwar France, Monsieur Mathieu, the new teacher, confronts sullen pupils, apathetic colleagues, and a vindictive headmaster. He eventually teaches the boys to sing, bringing meaning and even joy into their lives. The familiar plot is completely transformed by well-drawn and finely acted characters, especially Jugnot as the compassionate and lonely teacher. The soundtrack soars with ethereal boy voices and a poignant orchestral score. Sadly, there aren't any bonus features. By April Austin

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