Director: Mirra Bank. With Maurice Sendak, Pilobolus Dance Theatre. (84 min.)
Sterritt *** See review.
Director: Fritz Lang. With Gustav Fröhlich, Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge. (120 min.)
Sterritt **** See review.
Director: Pamela Yates. With Jeff Adachi, Michele Forrar, Will Maas, Lam Choi. (115 min.)
Sterritt *** This engrossing documentary follows a number of cases handled by San Francisco public defenders. Some end happily for the lawyers and defendants; others emphatically don't. The movie's TV-style production values are a little too slick, but the real-life stories are fascinating to watch.
Director: Jacques Audiard. With Emmanuelle Devos, Vincent Cassel, Olivier Gourmet, Olivier Perrier. (115 min.)
Sterritt ** A young woman with a hearing disorder strikes up an uneasy friendship with a recently released convict who takes a low-level job at the office where she works and then starts slipping back toward crime. The first half is a well-acted psychological drama, but the second half is standard thriller fare with more action than insight. In French with English subtitles.
Director: Rob Bowman. Starring Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, Izabella Scorupco. (100 min.)
Staff ** How do you reinvent the monster movie? How about casting a mythological creature that is as much a part of biblical lore as ancient Chinese culture: the dragon. Here, hibernating dragons reawaken and, by 2020, have reduced mankind to little bands of feudal refugees. But, when one such group in Northern England meets a traveling group of American soldiers, they join forces to vanquish the winged beasts. Result? Ridiculous macho posturing as Matthew McConaughey's soldier chews more scenery than even the toothiest of the dragons. Still, there's a nifty sky-diving sequence, a funny homage to Star Wars, and enough action to keep undemanding monster-movie fans momentarily distracted. By Stephen Humphries
Director: Sam Mendes. With Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Stanley Tucci. (119 min.)
Sterritt ** See review. See interviews with cast members.
Director: Roy Andersson. With Lars Nordh, Stefan Larsson, Hanna Eriksson, Torbjorn Fahlstrom. (98 min.)
Sterritt **** In place of a conventional plot, this utterly unique Swedish movie offers a series of related episodes about a business tycoon on the skids, a magician whose tricks go wrong, and a motley crew of other characters. Some are funny, some are tragic, all are dreamlike and unpredictable, suggesting that the 21st century will be a lot weirder and wackier than we expect. In Swedish with English subtitles.
Director: Benoit Jacquot. With Angela Gheorghiu, Ruggero Raimondi, Roberto Alagna. (119 min.)
Sterritt *** See review.
Director: Doug Liman. With Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Brian Cox. (113 min.)
Sterritt ** Damon plays a spy so afflicted by amnesia that he doesn't know his name, much less the assignment he's supposed to carry out. The movie has director Liman's distinctive stamp, with fidgety camera work and lightning-quick editing. But he hasn't so much transformed the espionage thriller as submitted to its conventions. A truly fresh treatment of Robert Ludlum's novel wouldn't rely so heavily on shootouts, car chases, and boy-meets-girl cliches.
Staff *** Fresh, entertaining, great casting.
Sex/Nudity: 1 instance implied sex. Violence: 11 scenes, including shooting. Profanity: 6 expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes drinking, smoking.
Director: Peter Care. With Kieran Culkin, Emile Hirsch, Jodie Foster. (110 min.)
Sterritt *** "Stand by Me" meets "Ghost World." This coming-of-age story centers on two 1970s parochial-school students who express their frustrations by drawing a lurid comic book, but get into trouble when their discontents spill into the real world. The film's theme is that many adolescents don't draw firm lines between reality and fantasy. It has no profound insights to offer, even when it tackles the grim topic of incest, but nimble performances and lifelike dialogue make it entertaining and thoughtful.
Staff *** Dark, unsnarling, original, captures the struggles of youth
Sex/Nudity: 11 instances, including innuendo. Violence: 12 scenes, including violent drawings. Profanity: 49 harsh expressions. Drugs: 13 scenes with drinking, smoking, drugs.
Director: Zacharias Kunuk. With Natar Ungalaaq, Sylvia Ivalu, Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq. (172 min.)
Sterritt *** The adventures of an Inuit nomad over 20 years, starting with a mysterious event during his childhood and then detailing his feud with a rival over a woman they both love. There's as much unbridled passion and violent conflict as melodrama fans could ask for. You feel the power of the Arctic setting in each scene, from frantic chases to intimate conversations. The story's refusal to draw solid lines between "good" and "evil" characters shows striking sophistication.
Staff *** Captivating, revealing, spare, real.
Sex/Nudity: 8 scenes, mostly innuendo, 2 with nudity. Violence: 12 scenes, including a rape. Profanity: 4 expressions. Drugs: Nothing explicit.
Les Destinées (Not rated)
Director: Olivier Assayas. With Emmanuelle Béart, Charles Berling, Isabelle Huppert. (180 min.)
Sterritt ** A well-to-do Protestant clergyman falls in love with a younger woman, complicating his passage through the World War I era and subsequent years of changing social conditions. Assayas has made more exciting films, and this drama is longer and more leisurely than it needs to be. It's very elegant, though, with strong acting by a distinguished cast. Originally entitled "Les Destinées Sentimentales." In French with English subtitles.
Director: John Schultz. With Bow Wow, Morris Chestnut, Jonathan Lipnicki, Anne Meara. (100 min.)
Staff **1/2 Some may see this as a feature-length commercial for the NBA . Or as a starmaking vehicle for diminutive 15-year-old rapper Bow Wow. They''d be right. But it's also a good-hearted fairy tale about finding a family and your dreams. An orphan (Bow Wow) discovers a pair of magic sneakers that make him a basketball phenomenon. But what he wants even more is a home. There's a genuine chuckle or two here and bring a hanky for the sentimental scenes. By Gregory M. Lamb
Directors: Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois. With voices of Daveigh Chase, Tia Carrere. (85 min.)
Sterritt *** Lilo is a bratty Hawaiian girl whose dysfunctional family gets worse and then predictably heals after she befriends Stitch, a bratty genetic experiment who travels to Earth from a distant planet. Kids will love the fantasy and adventure of this cleverly written animation, and grownups will appreciate its whimsical humor. All this plus six Elvis Presley songs on the soundtrack!
Staff **1/2 Chaotic, adventurous, endearing.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 15 scenes with cartoonish violence. Profanity: None. Drugs: 1 scene with alcohol.
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld. With Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Lara Flynn Boyle, Tony Shalhoub. (88 min.)
Sterritt ** Agent J needs Agent K to help him combat Serleena, a Victoria's Secret model who's really an insidious alien; but K has lost all memory of his top-secret career, and the high-tech gizmo they need to retrieve it is in the hands of a guy who's weird even by MIB standards. That's just the starting point of this moderately amusing sequel, which is best when it relies on dead-pan acting by the stars, worst when it drags in summer-movie stupidities like an incessantly talking dog.
Staff ** Nutty, obvious jokes, OK sequel.
Sex/Nudity: 7 instances, mostly innuendo. Violence: 11 scenes, including attempted rape. Profanity: 17 mild expressions. Drugs: At least 3 scenes with drinking and smoking.
Director: Steven Spielberg. With Tom Cruise, Samantha Morton, Colin Farrell, Max von Sydow. (145 min.)
Sterritt *** The year is 2054, when clairvoyant "precogs" enable police to arrest murderers before they murder. Cruise plays a dedicated cop who's inexplicably accused as the would-be killer of someone he's never heard of. Most of the movie is clever, imaginative, and savvy in its questions about social anxiety and government power. Too bad Spielberg also indulges the kiddie side of his talent, cooking up a silly chase sequence that only video-game nuts will be able to watch without wincing.
Staff ***1/2 Timely, future-noir, well-paced.
Sex/Nudity: 4 scenes with sex, 2 with innuendo. Violence: 20 (often extended) scenes. Profanity: 3 harsh words. Drugs: 3 scenes with alcohol. 1 with smoking and 8 with drug use.
Director: Steven Brill. With Adam Sandler, Winona Ryder, John Turturro. (91 min.)
Staff * No matter what name Adam Sandler assumes he's the same persona in every movie: the ultimate village idiot savant. In the latest vehicle for his personality a remake of Frank Capra's "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" Sandler plays a simpleton from Vermont who's whisked to New York to collect a $40 billion inheritance. Deeds finds himself in an environment manned by more butlers than you could cram into Gosford Park. But nefarious interests are sniffing around. Though the film has a "wealth doesn't equal happiness" message, it's clear filmmakers put more thought into product placement than storytelling. By Stephen Humphries
Staff ** Silly, uninspired, dumb, earnest
Sex/Nudity: Some innuendo. Violence: 5 scenes comic violence. Profanity: 22 expressions. Drugs: 14 scenes drinking and smoking.
Director: Craig McCracken. With (voices): Tara Strong, Catherine Cavadini. (87 min.)
Staff *1/2 "Powerpuff Girls," could use a little more power and a lot less puff in its storyline. This film, based on the Cartoon Network series, tells how three kindergarten heroines became protectors of good. The affable Professor Utonium tries to create a perfect daughter. Instead three super-powered girls pop up, blinking wide-eyed and bobbing in the air like helium balloons. The film's animation is bright but simple, and the dialogue offers few clever lines. But young children, especially girls, will enjoy the lighthearted adventure. Adults may prefer to take several long trips to the snack counter. By Stephanie Cook
Director: D.J. Caruso. With Val Kilmer, Meat Loaf. (100 min.)
Sterritt ** Plot twists proliferate in this gimmicky thriller about a seemingly drug-dazed loser who turns out to be cooler and more calculating than he appears. Full-throttle performances by D'Onofrio and Goldberg provide the most memorable moments. Otherwise the film gets less interesting as it goes along, and Tony Gayton's violence-prone screenplay is sometimes as hard to fathom as the salt-smothered California lake it's named after.
Director: John Sayles. With Edie Falco, Timothy Hutton. (141 min.)
Sterritt ** This ambitious drama sweeps through a Florida town with a skeptical eye, focusing on a civic booster with an artificial smile, an unhappy motel manager with too many men in her life, and an African-American woman revisiting her home after years away. Sayles has assembled an impressive cast, but he's so busy orchestrating these lives together that he doesn't manage to give each individual the fine details a persuasive portrait needs.
Staff *** Down-to-earth, insightful, leisurely.
Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes, including implied sex. Violence: 3, including arson. Profanity: 24 harsh expressions. Drugs: 20 scenes with smoking and drinking.
Director: Arik Kaplun. With Nir Levi, Shmil Ben Ari, Moscu Alcalay. (95 min.)
Staff ***1/2 The charming action and warm vignettes of this outstanding Israeli film make for an engaging love story that is simultaneously humorous, beautiful, and real. The story takes place in Israel under the cloud of an incipient war with Iraq, thrusting a compulsive Israeli filmmaker into the trajectory of a Russian émigré when her deadbeat husband skips town. The film's rustic moments of joy and poignant glimpses into the human situation will affirm what you already knew: life has a funny way of working out. By Aaron Bingham
Staff ***1/2 Empowering, off-beat, light-hearted, funny, comforting.
Sex/Nudity: 7 instances, including 2 brief sex scenes. Violence: 6 scenes. Profanity: 10 expressions. Drugs: 10 scenes of drinking, smoking.