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Movie Guide

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Director: Pawel Pawlikowski. With Natalie Press, Emily Blunt, Paddy Considine, Dean Andrews. (85 min.)

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Sterritt **** Fierce friendship blossoms between two lonely teenage girls alienated from their dysfunctional English families, one damaged by adultery, the other by religious zealotry. Superbly acted, movingly written, and directed with a tough-minded lyricism rarely found in today's films. A summer movie to love.

The Perfect Man (PG)

Director: Mark Rosman. With Hilary Duff, Chris Noth, Heather Locklear, Carson Kressley. (96 min.)

Sterritt * A teenage girl tries to comfort her lonely single mom by cooking up a fictitious male admirer who sends flowers, e-mails, and the like. Repetitious teen-targeted fluff.

The Talent Given Us (Not rated)

Director: Andrew Wagner. With Judy Wagner, Allen Wagner, Emily Wagner, Maggie Wagner. (100 min.)

Sterritt *** Wagner directs members of his own family playing characters just like them on a cross-country drive. This isn't a movie, it's a thingamajig - frequently as off-putting as can be, but unassailably one of a kind.

Wheel of Time (Not rated)

Director: Werner Herzog. With the Dalai Lama, Buddhist pilgrims in India and Austria. (80 min.)

Sterritt **** The legendary German filmmaker visits Buddhist initiation ceremonies in northern India and Graz, Austria, attempting to capture their inner spirituality through the outward signs his equipment can capture. Riveting and unique.

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D (PG)

Director: Robert Rodriguez. With Cayden Boyd, Kristen Davis, David Arquette, George Lopez. (94 min.)

Sterritt ** You'll know who the target audience is when you discover the story's setting is called Planet Drool, and the hero is an imaginative schoolboy who joins the title characters to fight the evil Mr. Electric and save the world. Only part of it is in 3-D, but youngsters should enjoy pulling their special specs on and off.

Howl's Moving Castle (PG)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki. With voices of Emily Mortimer, Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall, Billy Crystal. (119 min.)

Sterritt **** Miyazaki outdoes his flamboyant "Spirited Away" with this imaginative fantasy about a vain prince, a fireplace with a talkative flame, and a girl trapped in an elderly body by a wicked witch. The story doesn't always make sense, but the visual effects are dazzling. You run across animation this ingenious about as often as a moving castle comes your way. One version in English with subtitles, the other dubbed into English.

Staff ***1/2 Grand, fantastical, wryly funny.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 12 action scenes. Profanity: None. Drugs: 1 instance of smoking.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (PG-13)

Director: With Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn, Kerry Washington. (120 min.)

Sterritt * Pitt and Jolie play secret agents who don't know each other's line of work when they get married, then become rivals and eventually partners in the licensed-to-kill game. The movie is a mish-mash of action-adventure clich├ęs, book-ended with lame attempts at psychological interest. Written, directed, and acted with ham-fisted heaviness.

Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes with innuendos, 2 sex scenes. Violence: 16 scenes. Profanity: 29 strong profanities. Drugs: 12 scenes with drinking, 3 scenes with smoking.

Cinderella Man (PG-13)