Director: Mikhal Håfström. With Jennifer Aniston, Clive Owen. (100 min.)
"Derailed" is a penny dreadful with A-list stars. Clive Owen, who really should have tried harder to be cast as the next James Bond, plays a Chicago ad executive who meets a magnetically friendly commuter, played by Jennifer Aniston, on the morning train to work. Though both are married with children, they soon find themselves booking a seedy hotel room. Enter Vincent Cassel, who one might think had his fill of this kind of thing after starring in "Irréversible." What happens next shall remain a secret, but here's a hint: Retribution awaits. Here's another: Stay home. Grade: C
- Peter Rainer
Director: Jim Sheridan. With 50 Cent, Joy Bryant, Terrence Howard. (134 min.)
Lightning didn't strike twice. Eminem made an improbably strong movie debut in "8 Mile" but now there's "Get Rich or Die Tryin'", which stars his rapper protégé Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson. I had high hopes - its director is Jim Sheridan ("My Left Foot," "In America"); and Terence Howard, who's on a roll, has a meaty part in it. But this thinly autobiographical gangsta odyssey never achieves liftoff, and Jackson is unconvincing. Even if you are playing (essentially) yourself, it helps if you're an actor first. Grade: C-
Sex/Nudity: 11 scenes including nudity and sex Violence: 19 scenes, including torture. Profanity: 295 harsh expressions. Drugs: 5 scenes with drinking, 7 scenes with smoking, and 11 scenes with drug use or selling.
Director: Jon Favreau. With Tim Robbins, Frank Oz, Jonah Bobo. (113 min.)
Two squabbling brothers, home alone for a few minutes, find an old board game in the basement with mysterious, not to mention dangerous, properties. Once the duo sets the game in motion, they not only find their home adrift in outer space, but also have to learn teamwork to cope with a demented robot and attacks by Zorgons (meat-eating, pyromaniac lizard-men). Here, appropriately retro effects and family values outweigh an episodic script. After the screening, a preteen next to this critic asked his mom, "Why did you think I wouldn't like this?" There's your endorsement. Grade: B-
- M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of mild innuendo. Violence: 15 scenes. Profanity: 5 mild expressions. Drugs: None.
Director: Martin Campbell. With Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones. (100 min.)
"The Legend of Zorro," starring Antonio Banderas as the masked one, made me long to re-watch "Zorro the Gay Blade," the great spoof starring George Hamilton. In that film, the Spanish accents were meant to sound deliberately fake. (Zorro kept referring to "the people" as "the pipple." ) Here, even Banderas sounds like he's having a hard time sounding authentic. Catherine Zeta-Jones, as Zorro's swashbuckling wife Elena, looks fetching but doesn't have much to do otherwise. Zorro's nemesis, a French aristocrat played by Rufus Sewell, sports heavy eyeliner and has plans to blow up America. He seems to be under the misapprehension that Zorro is James Bond. Grade: C-
- Peter Rainer
Director: Hany Abu-Assad. With Kais Nashef, Ali Suliman. (90 min.)
Said (Nashef) and his friend Khaled (Suliman) are recruited as human bombs by an underground Palestinian terrorist organization in the West Bank in the intermittently powerful "Paradise Now," which was directed and co-written by Hany Abu-Assad. He attempts with mixed results to get inside the psyches of men who would blow themselves up for the cause. The film is better than the recent "The War Within," which tried for the same things, but ultimately, and perhaps unavoidably, we are left face to face with the unknowable. Grade: B+
Director: Tony Scott. With Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Lucy Liu. (127 min.)
The real-life Domino, a Bounty Hunter who died in June of an apparent overdose, was the daughter of actor Laurence Harvey and supermodel socialite Pauline Stone. Clearly what lured director Tony Scott, who knew Domino, is the massive contradiction of her life: Born into the glamour of London and Beverly Hills, she ended up a female Rambo. Whatever reality the actual Domino may have possessed has been sliced and diced by Scott's usual barrage of whiplash camera work and rat-a-tat editing, complete with flashbacks, flash forwards, and flash in-betweens. Grade: C-
Sex/Nudity: 8 scenes including nudity and implied sex Violence: 20 brutal scenes. Profanity: 186 harsh expressions. Drugs: 30 scenes with drinking and 28 scenes with smoking.
Director: John Gatins. With Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning. (102 min.)
When racehorse Soñador breaks a leg, trainer Ben Crane (Russell) sees a potential brood mare, if he can at least get her well enough to walk. We've seen it all before, but this one is so well made it's a sure crowd pleaser. Grade: B
- M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 2 mild scenes. Profanity: 4 mild expressions. Drugs: None.
Director: Shane Black. With Val Kilmer, Robert Downey Jr. (102 min.)
As a petty thief turned aspiring actor and detective in Shane Black's raucously entertaining "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," Robert Downey Jr. is on screen almost all the time, which is good news, since few performers can hold the screen as well. His live-wire physicality is capable of just about anything. In his new film, he uses it for comic effect; at times he is as jumpy and jerky as a cartoon character (Bugs Bunny, to be exact). Black, who wrote "Lethal Weapon," makes his directorial debut, and he puts a fresh spin not only on that film but also on a whole slew of films noirs. Grade: B+
- Peter Rainer
Sex/Nudity: 13 scenes including nudity. Violence: 20 gory scenes. Profanity: 130 harsh expressions. Drugs: 9 scenes with drinking. 8 scenes with smoking.
Director: Niki Caro. With Charlize Theron, Woody Harrelson. (126 min.)
Theron plays a battered wife who fights sexual harassment at her job in the iron mines. She has her best role since "Monster," but overall "North Country" is too self-consciously scaled as an anthem for the human spirit. Grade: B-
Sex/Nudity: 16 scenes of innuendo and sexual harassment. Violence: 8 scenes, including one of rape. Profanity: 76 harsh expressions. Drugs: 11 scenes with smoking. 10 scenes with drinking.
Director: Jane Anderson. With Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern. (99 min.)
Evelyn Ryan rewrote the definition of resilience in the '50s and '60s, supporting ten children and an alcoholic husband by composing jingles and 25-word essays to win hundreds of contests. Moore makes a perfect Evelyn, always upbeat, and Harrelson as her ineffectual husband is borderline tragic. The film veers from tongue-in-cheek documentary to gritty drama to sitcom, but it's true to the spirit of daughter Terry's book and of Evelyn's life - lumpy but filled with expectancy of good, and utterly charming. Grade: B - M.K.T.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 4 scenes. Profanity: 25 expressions. Drugs: 8 scenes with drinking.
Director: Anand Tucker. With Steve Martin, Claire Danes. (104 min.)
Martin plays a dotcom millionaire who successfully woos Mirabelle (Danes), a salesgirl at Saks. Whether intentionally or not, Martin has given us something truly spooky: A full-fledged portrait of a hollow man. Grade: B
Sex/Nudity: 13 frank scenes of innuendo and sex. Violence: None. Profanity: 9 fairly mild expressions. Drugs: 3 scenes with smoking. 11 scenes with drinking.
Director: Giddi Dar. With Shuli Rand, Michal Bat-Sheva Rand, Shaul Mizrahi. (90 min.)
On the eve of the Succoth holiday in Israel, Moshe and his wife's prayers are answered when the destitute couple finds the money they need to buy the required palm, myrtle, willow, and citron for the festival - with enough left over for groceries and rent. They also get a "blessing" they didn't pray for: ushpizin (holiday guests) in the form of two convicts from Moshe's criminal past. Compassion, reverence, and subtle humor help this collaboration between ultra-Orthodox Israeli actors and secular filmmakers to rise above its modest budget. Grade: B
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 4 mild scenes. Profanity: 3 mild expressions. Drugs: 5 scenes with alcohol and 10 scenes with smoking.