Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Après-Vous (R)

Director: Pierre Salvadori. With Daniel Auteuil, José Garcia, Sandrine Kiberlain, Michèle Moretti. (110 min.)

Sterritt *** After saving a stranger from hanging himself, a restaurateur gets involved with the unhappy guy's girlfriend. Garcia is great in this French dramatic comedy, and Auteuil remains one of the great European stars. Maybe the movie does so much dawdling and meandering so we'll have more time to bask in their presence; in any case, the otherwise pleasant picture uses up its ideas long before it uses up its running time. In French with subtitles.

Cinderella Man (PG-13)

Director: Ron Howard. With Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Paddy Considine. (144 min.)

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Sterritt **** See review.

Invisible (Not rated)

Director: Konstantin Bojanov. With six Bulgarian drug abusers. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** Documentary portrait of several East European heroin addicts. Humane, unsentimental, eye-opening. In Bulgarian with subtitles.

Milwaukee, Minnesota (R)

Director: Allan Mindel. With Troy Garity, Alison Folland, Randy Quaid, Bruce Dern. (95 min.)

Sterritt ** Two young swindlers decide to con a backward young Midwestern man, and discover they're not the only ones with a special interest in him and his money. A very uneven dark comedy.

Or (My Treasure) (Not rated)

Director: Keren Yedaya. With Ronit Elkabetz, Dana Ivgi, Meshar Cohen, Shmuel Edelman. (100 min.)

Sterritt **** Sad story of a middle-aged Israeli prostitute whose well-meaning teenage daughter wants desperately to get her off the streets and into a legitimate job. Yedaya's prizewinning debut film is acted and directed with uncommon psychological realism. In Hebrew with subtitles.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (PG)

Director: Ken Kwapis. With Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrara, Alexis Bledel, Blake Lively. (110 min.)

Sterritt *** See review.

The White Diamond (Not rated)

Director: Werner Herzog. With Dr. Graham Dorrington, Werner Herzog, Mark Anthony Yhap. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** Herzog's highly personal portrait of a British scientist who's invented a sort of newfangled blimp to explore the canopy of a Guyana rain forest. Like all Herzog's best movies, this more-or-less documentary blurs the boundaries between unpredictable reality and sheer cinematic storytelling. Touching, transfixing, unique.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
A League of Ordinary Gentlemen (Not rated)

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

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.

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.

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. (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, 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.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes with innuendos. Violence: 6 scenes, including fighting. Profanity: 12 mild profanities. Drugs: 4 scenes with drinking, 6 scenes with smoking, plus subplot about caffeine addiction.

Kingdom of Heaven (R)

Director: Ridley Scott. With Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Eva Green. (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.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 2 scenes. Profanity: 1 harsh profanity, 1 mild. Drugs: 5 scenes with drinking, 6 scenes with smoking.

The Longest Yard (PG-13)

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

Sterritt * The wicked warden of a Texas prison engineers a rigged football game between guards and inmates, with the convicts led by a former pro who's been jailed for reckless behavior. Lively but also rude, crude, and mean-spirited. A little relief comes from Sandler and from Reynolds, who starred in the 1974 movie on which this remake is based.

Sex/Nudity: 10 scenes of innuendo, 2 with minor nudity. Violence: 18 scenes, including fights and torture. Profanity: 130 harsh profanities. Drugs: 4 scenes with drinking, 7 scenes with drinking.

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.

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo. Violence: None. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

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.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes of mild innuendo. Violence: 12 scenes, mostly for comic effect. Profanity: 2 mild expressions. Drugs: None.

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?

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.

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.

Staff *** Fitting finale, poorly written, dark, violent.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of mild innuendo. Violence: 26 scenes, often grisly. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

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.

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.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes of innuendo, 1 scene of seminudity. Violence: 25 harsh scenes. Profanity: 48 harsh profanities. Drugs: 5 scenes with drinking, 1 scene with smoking.

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