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Movie Guide

January 19, 2007



Still in Release
Stomp the Yard (PG-13)

Director: Sylvain White. With Columbus Short, Ne-Yo, Meagan Good. (115 min.)

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Step dancing has been a traditional source of pride and identity forAfrican-American college fraternities and sororities since at least the 1920s. When DJ (Short), a hip-hop dancerfrom Los Angeles, goes to college in Atlanta, his skills soon attract attention from rival frats hoping to compete for the national championship. Groan-inducing plot twists and unnecessarily jazzed-up editing aside, this movie will serve as a rousing primer for a previously little known art form that's going mainstream at schools and even churches across the country.  Grade: C+
– M.K. Terrell

Pan's Labyrinth (R)

Director: Guillermo del Toro. With Ivana Baquero, Sergi López. (112 min.)

Guillermo del Toro's nightmare fable is an achievement, but not one intended for small children. Its imagery is far too upsetting. For everyone else, this picture is required viewing. Set in Franco's Spain just after the civil war, the story is told through the eyes of 13-year-old Ofelia, whose beautiful but sickly mother has married a vicious Fascist captain. To escape her life, Ofelia imagines an underground cavern filled with satyrs, ogres, and trolls. In tone, "Pan's Labyrinth" resembles a cross between "Alice in Wonderland" and H.P. Lovecraft, with some Buñuel thrown in for good measure. It's a tribute to – as well as a prime example of – the disturbing power of imagination. Grade: A
– Peter Rainer

Letters From Iwo Jima (R)

Director: Clint Eastwood. With Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya. (141 min.)

This companion piece to "Flags of Our Fathers" is in almost every way superior.In "Letters," drawn from missives sent home by Japanese soldiers, Eastwood shows us the same battle from the Japanese perspective, and his intention is simpler: He wants us to recognize the humanity of the enemy. In order to achieve the utmost verity, he filmed the entire production using Japanese actors whose dialogue is subtitled in English. Grade: A–
– P.R.

Babel (R)

Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. With Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett. (142 min.)

"Babel" is the conclusion of the trilogy that began with "Amores perros" and "21 Grams." There are four separate narratives that are supposed to interlock, but never really do. The odyssey begins when a Moroccan goat herder buys a hunting rifle and leaves it with his two sons. One of the boys unthinkingly fires on a tour bus and hits a tourist (Blanchett), vacationing with her husband (Pitt). Meanwhile, the couple's children in Los Angeles are being cared for by their Mexican nanny, who transports them across the border to Tijuana to attend her son's wedding. The conclusion doesn't justify all the heavy lifting it takes to get there. Grade: B
P.R.

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