Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Bomb the System (R)

Director: Adam Bhala Lough. With Mark Webber, Gano Grills, Jade Yorker, Jaclyn DeSantis. (91 min.)

Sterritt ** Drama about the travails and triumphs (mostly travails) of New York City graffiti sprayers. Well acted and ably directed, if not very probing about its subject of underclass youth.

A League of Ordinary Gentlemen (Not rated)

Director: Christopher Browne. With Pete Weber, Wayne Webb, Steve Miller, Walter Ray Williams Jr. (98 min.)

Recommended: Default

Sterritt *** Documentary about efforts to turn bowling into a big-time spectator sport. While the movie is strong on the history of its subject, it allows some yawns to enter its own account of a big, heavily hyped tournament. Still, it's very entertaining.

The Longest Yard (PG-13)

Director: Peter Segal. With Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, James Cromwell, Burt Reynolds. (114 min.)

Sterritt * See review.

Madagascar (PG)

Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath. With voices of Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith. (80 min.)

Sterritt * Bored with his life, a zoo animal takes himself and some friends on a quest for more agreeable climes. The animation is deft but the screenplay is stilted, the voice-performances are unimaginative, and the whole project is surprisingly clumsy in its efforts to please young and old alike. A major disappointment.

The Ninth Day (Not rated)

Director: Volker Schlöndorff. With Ulrich Matthes, August Diehl, Bibiana Beglau, Hilmar Thate. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** On temporary leave from the Dachau death camp, a Roman Catholic priest struggles with his conscience, his fears for his family, and with a Nazi officer who hopes he'll push his bishop toward more sympathy with the Nazi cause. This is moviemaking on the highest dramatic, psychological, and moral plane. In German with subtitles.

Saving Face (R)

Director: Alice Wu. With Michelle Krusiec, Joan Chen, Lynn Chen, Jin Wang. (91 min.)

Sterritt *** A mother and daughter face romantic complications at the same time in New York City's busy Chinese-American community. Nicely acted. In English and Mandarin with subtitles.

Sequins (Not rated)

Director: Eléanore Faucher. With Lola Naymark, Ariane Ascaride, Robert Ryan, Thomas Paroppe. (88 min.)

Sterritt **** Deeply moving French drama about a working-class teenager who discovers she's pregnant. Faucher's filmmaking is exquisite, Naymark's acting is luminous, and superb use of music lends a crowning touch. In French with subtitles.

The Two of Us (Not rated)

Director: Claude Berri. With Michel Simon, Alain Cohen, Luce Fabiole, Charles Denner. (86 min.)

Sterritt *** Berri made his feature-directing debut with this serious-minded 1967 comedy about a Jewish boy living with an anti-Semitic farmer while evading Nazi terror. Based on Berri's own experiences, the movie was originally called "Le Vieil Homme et l'enfant." In French with subtitles.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
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.

Dominion Prequel to The Exorcist (R)

Director: Paul Schrader. With Stellan Skarsgard, Clara Bellar, Billy Crawford, Gabriel Mann. (115 min.)

Sterritt **** While grappling with his faith, a Roman Catholic priest battles a demon in an East African outpost. The material is right up Schrader's alley, and while his vision of the first "Exorcist" chapter isn't a masterpiece, it's far superior to the Renny Harlin prequel to "The Exorcist" released last year.

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, though.

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.

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. The thriller is swiftly told and smartly acted, with an idea or two on its mind as a bonus.

Kicking & Screaming (PG)

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

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.

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.

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.

Mojados: Through the Night (Not rated)

Director: Tommy Davis With Guapo, Oso, Viejo. (65 min.)

Sterritt *** Davis accompanies a small group of Mexicans as they sneak across the US border. A gripping documentary, although we learn too little of the relationship between the filmmaker and his subjects. In English and Spanish 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?

Shake Hands With the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire (Not rated)

Director: Peter Raymont. With Roméo Dallaire and colleagues. (91 min.)

Sterritt **** Documentary about a UN peacekeeper given the assignment of halting the Rwandan genocide in 1994 but not the means to do it. Wrenching on both personal and political levels. In English and French with subtitles.

6ixtynin9 (R)

Director: Pen-Ek Ratanaruang. With Lalita Panyopas, Sritao, Black Phomtong. (111 min.)

Sterritt *** Originally called "A Funny Story About 6 and 9," this Thai production uses an old gimmick - an apartment-door number that slides out of position - to spark the story of a young woman mixed up with crooks she's never seen before. Comically grotesque, strikingly filmed. In Thai with subtitles.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (PG-13)

Director: George Lucas. With Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Ian McDiarmid, Hayden Christensen. (142 min.)

Sterritt *** Lucas wraps up his second "Star Wars" trilogy, centering on Anakin Skywalker's secret marriage to Padme, his friendship with Obi-Wan Kenobi, and his temptation to use the Dark Side of the Force for personal gain. As spectacle this stands with the best, although it falls flat when corny dialogue takes over.

Tell Them Who You Are (R)

Director: Mark Wexler. With Haskell Wexler, Mark Wexler, Julia Roberts, Jane Fonda. (95 min.)

Sterritt *** Portrait of legendary cinematographer and political activist Haskell Wexler, directed by his son, who has a hard time keeping control of the project with such a forceful dad in front of the camera. A fascinating glimpse of family love and rivalry, if not a deep-digging documentary of "My Architect" quality.

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. The screenplay is dumb, but has enough weird touches to give occasional glimmers of interest.

OUT ON DVD
Seinfeld: Season Four (Not rated)

Director: Various. With Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis Dreyfuss, Michael Richards, Jason Alexander. (252 min.)

Staff **** Much has been made of the elements that make "Seinfeld" a classic sitcom: The quotable one-liners, the physical comedy of Kramer's character, and the elliptical plotlines that converge in a harmonious farce at the end of each episode. But the show's most overlooked ingredient is the camaraderie between the four principals. Among the bountiful extras of this four-disc set is a hilarious 20-minute blooper reel that shows just how much the actors are enjoying each other's company and talents. That warmth spills over into the commentary tracks by the cast members. By Stephen Humphries

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