Director: Thom Fitzgerald. With Olympia Dukakis, Parker Posey, Don McKellar, Sarah Polley. (110 min.)
Sterritt ** Euthanasia is the subject of this offbeat drama about a policewoman (Posey) investigating a series of deaths in New York's gay community. The topic is thought-provoking, the flashback-based structure is interesting, and there are surprising twists near the end. But there's also an overdose of sentimentality that badly dilutes the picture's impact.
Director: Emile Gaudreault. With Luke Kirby, Ginette Reno, Paul Sorvino, Claudia Ferri. (90 min.)
Staff ** The proper way for Italian kids to leave home is to grow up and get married. Twenty-something Angelo Barberini (Kirby), son of Italian immigrants in Montreal, still has some growing up to do, but he wants to do it in his own apartment. He's also not about to get married, because he's gay. These bombshells have predictable effects on his traditional family, but Reno's charming performance and some hilarious moments help this Canadian import rise above clichés. By M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: 8 innuendoes; 3 scenes of implied sex. Violence: None. Profanity: 25 profanities. Drugs: At least 15 drinking and smoking scenes.
Director: Carl Franklin. With Denzel Washington, Eva Mendes, Sanaa Lathan, Dean Cain. (114 min.)
Sterritt ** See review.
Director: Richard Linklater. With Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, Sarah Silverman. (108 min.)
Sterritt **** See review.
Director: James Cox. With Val Kilmer, Lisa Kudrow, Carrie Fisher, Eric Bogosian. (99 min.)
Sterritt ** The relentlessly sordid life of John Holmes, better known as porn-film icon Johnny Wadd, after his "stardom" has disintegrated and he's living a rotten life as a drug addict with the sleaziest friends and foes you can imagine. The murder-mystery plot is told in rough-and-tumble style, full of sound and fury but signifying almost nothing in the end.
Director: Woody Allen. With Allen, Jason Biggs, Stockard Channing, Christina Ricci. (108 min.)
Sterritt ** A rising comedy writer (Biggs) has oddball conversations with an older colleague (Allen) while dealing with a girlfriend (Ricci) who's almost as eccentric as both of them. This is a quintessential Allen comedy: squirmy relationships, dark Jewish humor, an assumption that everybody in Manhattan has money and a touch of glamour, and - as with most of Allen's films since the first years of his career - not nearly as many laughs.
Sex/Nudity: 16 scenes, including innuendo and implied sex. Violence: 3 scenes. Profanity: 2 profanities. Drugs: 19 drinking, smoking, and drug scenes.
Director: Vladimir Michalek. With Vlastimil Brodsky, Stella Zázvorková. (97 min.)
Sterritt ** Part caper movie and part scenes from a marriage, this Czech comedy-drama focuses on an elderly man who escapes from his tedious marriage by pulling off small con jobs. The acting is wonderful and the story is engrossing until it takes a wrong turn, leading to a sentimental ending that's out of tune with the film's earlier emotionally complex moods. In Czech with English subtitles.
Sex/Nudity: 1 innuendo. Violence: 2 minor scenes. Profanity: 3 profanities. Drugs: 12 drinking and smoking scenes.
Director: Mike Figgis. With Sharon Stone, Dennis Quaid, Stephen Dorff, Juliette Lewis. (117 min.)
Sterritt ** A family from the big city moves to a rural home and is menaced by a psychopath whose family used to own the place. After two experimental movies in a row, the gifted director of "Leaving Las Vegas" apparently felt he needed another box-office hit. Unfortunately, this isn't it. Figgis brings strong visual imagination, but he can't rescue Richard Jefferies's screenplay from plot holes bigger than the manor itself.
Staff ** Flat script, Stone cold, gripping at times.
Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes, including innuendo, implied sex. Violence: 14 scenes, including murder, fights. Profanity: 29 profanities. Drugs: 8 drinking and smoking scenes.
Director: Olivier Assayas. With Connie Nielsen, Charles Berling, Chloë Sevigny. (120 min.)
Sterritt ** A nosy businesswoman (Nielsen) runs into formidable and sometimes inscrutable foes as she traces the connections between a multinational company and a website worthy of "Videodrome" for nastiness. Assayas has directed some fine French films, but while this ambitious epic takes a finely cynical attitude toward the excesses of our media-saturated age, it never quite jells into a coherent statement. Or a coherent film. In French and English with English subtitles.
Sex/Nudity: 12 scenes, including seminudity, sex, innuendo. Violence: 20 scenes, including rape, torture. Profanity: 5 profanities. Drugs: At least 25 drinking and smoking scenes.
Director: Danny DeVito. With Ben Stiller, Drew Barrymore, Eileen Essel, Harvey Fierstein. (97 min.)
Staff ** Newlyweds Alex and Nancy (Stiller, Barrymore) can't believe the gem of a townhouse they find. It even has an income-generating unit upstairs. But the sweet little tenant turns out to be such a nuisance that the new owners plot her demise. This is not the tribute to "The Ladykillers" it wants to be, but the leads are likable. By M.K. Terrell
Director: Jonathan Lynn. With Cuba Gooding Jr., Beyoncé Knowles, Mike Epps, Wanda Williams. (123 min.)
Staff ** The Music Man goes gospel in this tale of a New York con man returning to his Georgia roots. Cuba Gooding, Jr. stars as an unemployed advertiser scheming to win an inheritance from his small-town aunt. When he spots sultry jazz singer Lilly in a local club, he decides the sadder but wiser girl is for him. To win her, though, he has to lose his lying ways - and lead their gospel choir to glory. No 76 trombone-calibre acting here, but the music will make you want to stand up and say "Amen." By Mary Wiltenburg
Sex/Nudity: 5 innuendoes. Violence: None. Profanity: 9 profanities. Drugs: 12 scenes of drinking, smoking.
Lost in Translation (R)
Director: Sofia Coppola. With Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Akiko Takeshita. (102 min.)
Sterritt **** Murray and Johansson play two Americans in Tokyo, a movie star doing a tedious photo shoot for a whiskey ad and a young woman whose new husband (Ribisi) loves his work more than her. They cope with loneliness by forming a friendship across generations - but will it blossom into a romance? Not quite a love story and not quite NOT a love story, Coppola's sophomore effort (after "The Virgin Suicides," also excellent) is smart, funny, and splendidly acted.
Staff **** Stylish, witty, thoughtful, layered.
Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex; 1 nude scene; some innuendo. Violence: None. Profanity: 5 profanities. Drugs: 16 drinking scenes; 9 with smoking.
Director: Eric Till. With Joseph Fiennes, Peter Ustinov, Claire Cox, Alfred Molina. (113 min.)
Sterritt ** The life of Martin Luther, from his days as a 16th-century monk to his role in sparking the upheavals of the Protestant revolution. The film diminishes its educational value by minimizing biographical issues like Luther's struggle with depression and his penchant for anti-Semitic thinking. Still, it provides an energetic overview of his career.
Sex/Nudity: 3 innuendoes. Violence: 7 scenes, including brutal killings. Profanity: 6 profanities. Drugs: A few drinking scenes.
Director: Ridley Scott. With Nicolas Cage, Alison Lohman, Sam Rockwell, Bruce Altman. (116 min.)
Sterritt *** A conspicuously neurotic con artist (Cage) gets distracted from a swindle he's pulling off with his partner (Rockwell) when he meets his teenage daughter (Lohman) whose existence he's recently discovered. True to the caper-movie format, deceit and double-dealing run deeper than the plot's surface suggests. Cage plays a difficult character with skill and sympathy, helped by a solid supporting cast. It's mischievous fun.
Staff *** Touching, oddball characters, suspenseful.
Sex/Nudity: 1 scene at a nude bar. Violence: 2 scenes, including murder. Drugs: 14 scenes of drinking; 25 smoking.
Director: Isabel Coixet. With Sarah Polley, Scott Speedman, Deborah Harry, Mark Ruffalo. (106 min.)
Sterritt * Learning that she has only a few months to live, a 20-something woman keeps this a secret from her husband and daughters, but makes a list of things she wants to do with her remaining time, like record future birthday messages and entice a new man to fall in love with her. It wants to be funny and sad, but it's really a schmaltzy soap opera full of coincidence, sentimentality, and behavior far less life-affirming than we're meant to think.
Director: Robert Rodriguez. With Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Johnny Depp. (101 min.)
Staff ** Now that the "Spy Kids" franchise has run its course, director Rodriguez returns to more grown-up fare with the final installment of his "Desperado" trilogy. Translation: Big guns and blowups. Banderas plays a mariachi player/assassin who's recruited by a corrupt CIA agent (Depp) to take out a drug lord. Depp delivers great lines in a deadpan style. It's entertaining, but if you can't stomach violence, it's best to skip this one. By Lisa Leigh Connors
Staff * Vapid, unoriginal, gratuitously violent.
Sex/Nudity: 4 innuendoes. Violence: 30 gory scenes, including beatings. Profanity: 23 profanities. Drugs: 21 scenes of drinking, smoking.
Director: Peter Berg. With The Rock, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Walken. (105 min.)
Sterritt ** A big-muscled "retrieval expert" visits Brazil to kidnap a mobster's son, then makes a deal with a revolutionary leader to help find an artifact that's also coveted by an American capitalist who runs a slave-labor operation. This is basically a 10th-tier rehash of the Indiana Jones genre, laced with moments that are actually clever and exciting. Dawson is alluring, Scott is smug, Walken is terrific, and The Rock is, well, The Rock.
Sex/Nudity: 4 innuendoes. Violence: 19 scenes, including beatings, shootings. Profanity: 11 profanities. Drugs: At least 11 drinking, smoking scenes.
Director: Tim McCanlies. With Robert Duvall, Michael Caine, Haley Joel Osment, Kyra Sedgwick. (110 min.)
Sterritt *** Duvall and Caine play two cranky old codgers whose idea of a good time is firing shotguns at the traveling salesmen who dare to approach their ramshackle front porch. They learn to enjoy life better when they take in a 14-year-old relative (Osment) who listens to their tales of bygone adventures. Duvall and Caine are anything but secondhand, and their acting is marvelous - as is McCanlies's screenplay.
Staff *** Uplifting, funny, adventurous.
Sex/Nudity: 1 innuendo. Violence: 14 scenes, including swordfights. Profanity: 28 mild profanities. Drugs: 6 scenes with drinking or tobacco.
Director: István Szabó. With Harvey Keitel, Stellan Skarsgard, Birgit Minichmayr. (105 min.)
Sterritt *** This is a fictionalized account of the post-World War II effort by US authorities to discredit brilliant German conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler as having been a Hitler supporter during the Nazi period. Ronald Harwood's screenplay brings an impressive range of moral and political issues into play. The acting is also strong.
Director: Audrey Wells. With Diane Lane, Raoul Bova, Sandra Oh, Lindsay Duncan. (113 min.)
Staff *** Lane plays Frances Mayes, a divorced US writer in search of a new start. When her best friends give her a 10-day trip to Tuscany, it turns out to be the right ticket. While touring the Italian countryside, Frances spots a charming villa and buys it. While restoring it, she meets colorful characters, including an eccentric woman and a handsome Italian man who sweeps her off her feet. But thankfully, it's not a by-the-numbers romantic comedy. Lane does a superb job. Kudos also go to director Wells for delivering a delightful script. By Lisa Leigh Connors
Staff **1/2 Picturesque, lively, predictable.
Sex/Nudity: 7 scenes, including innuendo, implied sex. Violence: None. Profanity: 13 profanities. Drugs: 7 scenes of drinking.
Director: Len Wiseman. With Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen. (121 min.)
Sterritt *** A young physician gets caught up in a war between vampires and werewolves. At heart, this is an old-fashioned monster flick decked out with Hollywood's battery of high-tech visual effects. It's as goofy as it is gory, but Tony Pierce-Roberts's moody camera work and Martin Hunter's rat-a-tat-tat editing give it an electricity that horror buffs will enjoy.
Sex/Nudity: 1 mild scene. Violence: 30 gory scenes, including massacres. Profanity: 10 profanities. Drugs: At least 4 scenes of smoking.