2003 Movie Guide

2 Fast 2 Furious (PG-13)

Director: John Singleton. With Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Cole Hauser. (110 min.)

Sterritt * A former cop and his ex-con friend agree to help the feds capture a big-time dope dealer in exchange for clearing their own criminal records. The film has enough wild driving to satisfy any "French Connection" fan or "Bullitt" buff, but there's precious little for anyone else to enjoy. 2 foolish + 2 flashy = 4 get it!

Staff **1/2Adrenaline pumping, flashy, the new "Dukes of Hazzard."

Sex/Nudity: 6 innuendos. Violence: 15 scenes, including multiple car crashes. Profanity: 25 profanities. Drugs: At least 5 scenes.

21 Grams (R)

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu. With Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio Del Toro, Clea DuVall. (125 min.)

Sterritt **** A car crash sets off events affecting two sisters with emotional problems, a former thug who's now a Christian; an ailing professor; and his wife, who wants to have a baby. The title refers to the weight a body supposedly loses when its soul leaves the material world, a notion Iñárritu uses as a metaphor for the enigmas of the human experience.

Staff **1/2 Unrelentingly bleak, probing, heartbreaking.

Sex/Nudity: 5 instances of nudity, 2 scenes of sex, 2 scenes of innuendo. Violence: 13 instances of violence. Profanity: 54 harsh profanities. Drugs: 16 scenes with smoking, 13 scenes with drinking, 4 scenes with drugs.

28 Days Later (R)

Director: Danny Boyle. With Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson. (113 min.)

Sterritt *** An epidemic of medically induced rage has reduced almost everyone in England to zombies gripped by murderous hate, and our heroes are a group of survivors making their way to a military enclave that may offer safety. The story borrows from many sources, including "Night of the Living Dead" and Stephen King's "The Stand," but heartfelt acting and imaginative directing raise it above average.

Staff *** Gritty, daring, biting, horror classic.

Sex/Nudity: 4 scenes of nudity. Violence: Bloody and graphic throughout, including rapes and mutilation. Profanity: 60 profanities. Drugs: 7 scenes of drinking, smoking.

A Guy Thing (PG-13)

Director: Chris Koch. With Jason Lee, Julia Stiles, Selma Blair, Diana Scarwid. (105 min.)

Sterritt * After his bachelor party, a groom-to-be wakes up in bed with a woman he doesn't know, then finds out she's his fiancée's favorite cousin and a lot more fun than the fiancée herself. The screenplay has a lot of talk about people being "right for each other," but the characters are so shallow and generic it's hard to care who winds up with whom.

Staff * Predictable, painfully bad, overacted.

Sex/Nudity: 1 implied sex scene; 7 instances of innuendo. Violence: 9 scenes of gratuitous violence, including a fight. Profanity: 37 expressions. Drugs: 5 scenes of drinking. 1 scene with illegal drugs.

A Man Apart (R)

Director: F. Gary Gray. With Vin Diesel, Larenz Tate, Timothy Olyphant, Jacqueline Obradors. (109 min.)

Sterritt * Diesel plays a narcotics cop who prospers by relying on the tricks he learned as a streetwise hustler. When criminals murder his wife, his lust for vengeance brings out a side of him as nasty as the bad guys'.

Staff ** Predictable, exciting, Diesel-icious.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes, including innuendo and topless dancers. Violence: 14 scenes, including shootouts. Profanity: 105 harsh profanities. Drugs: 22 scenes with drinking, smoking, drugs.

Acts of Worship (Not rated)

Director: Rosemary Rodriguez. With Ana Reeder, Michael Hyatt, Christopher Kadish, Nestor Rodriguez. (94 min.)

Sterritt *** A young woman copes with drug addiction and related problems on unsparing urban streets. Rodriguez makes a promising debut with this unsentimental drama.

Afghan Stories (Not rated)

Director: Taran Davies. With families in New York and Afghanistan. (61 min.)

Sterritt *** A visit with Afghan men, women, and children in the wake of Sept. 11, probing views of everything from the Soviet invasion of 1979 to poverty today. The documentary makes up in humane values what it lacks in sociological depth. In English, Pashto, and Turkmen with English subtitles.

Agent Cody Banks (PG)

Director: Harald Zwart. With Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff. (110 min.)

Sterritt * An high-schooler becomes a junior James Bond when the CIA recruits him for an assignment only Hollywood could dream up: dating a pretty girl so he can spy on her dad, a scientist whose schemes could destroy the world. The repetitious script shows interest in nothing beyond action-centered plot gimmicks.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes with innuendo. Violence: 12 scenes with violence. Profanity: 10 expressions. Drugs: None noted.

Alex & Emma (PG-13)

Director: Rob Reiner. With Luke Wilson, Kate Hudson, Sophie Marceau. (105 min.)

Sterritt *** He's a novelist who must start and finish a new book in one month or face the wrath of loan sharks, and she's a stenographer who begins as his assistant and becomes much more than that. The movie alternates between the author's musty apartment and the 1920s nostalgia-world of the story he's dreaming up. Wilson and Hudson play a gallery of comic characters, and the story is predictable but amusing.

Staff ** Exhausting sequences of clichés, charming cast, lacks substance.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes of innuendo, implied sex. Violence: 2 scenes. Profanity: 1 instance. Drugs: 1 instance of drinking.

Alias Betty (Not rated)

Director: Claude Miller. With Sandrine Kiberlain, Nicole Garcia, Mathilde Seigner, Edouard Baer. (101 min.)

Sterritt *** After a novelist's child dies, her neurotic mother kidnaps a child for her to raise. The grief-stricken woman accepts this illegal scheme when she learns her little houseguest may have come from an abusive home. Miller spins an engrossing story, combining drama, social reflection, and high-octane suspense. In French with English subtitles.

All the Real Girls (R)

Director: David Gordon Green. With Paul Schneider, Zooey Deschanel, Patricia Clarkson. (108 min.)

Sterritt ** This film is about a hesitant love affair of an oversexed young man and an inexperienced young woman in a sleepy Southern town. Green cares more about atmosphere than story, and he never overuses a technique or flaunts his cinematic skills. But, sadly, he never builds much dramatic interest, either.

Staff *** True-to-life, beautifully filmed, edgy.

Sex/Nudity: 2 sexual scenes. Violence: 3 scenes. Profanity: 29 expressions. Drugs: 18 scenes with tobacco, drinking.

Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony (PG-13)

Director: Lee Hirsch. With Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim, Hugh Masakela, Thandi Modise. (103 min.)

Sterritt ** A look at the role played by popular music in the war against apartheid during 40 years of South Africa's history. There are lots of lively tunes in an excellent cause, but in the end you wish you'd either probed more deeply into historical events or heard more uninterrupted minutes of inspired performing. In English, Xhosa, and Zulu, with English subtitles.

Staff *** Rousing, toe-tapping, interesting slice of history; could have offered more depth.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 12 scenes of violent historical footage, including shootings. Profanity: 4 profanities. Drugs: 6 scenes of smoking, drinking.

Amen. (Not rated)

Director: Costa-Gavras. With Mathieu Kassovitz, Ulrich Tukur, Ulrich Mühe, Michel Duchaussoy. (130 min.)

Sterritt ** A German officer and a Jesuit priest mount a vain effort to alert Pope Pius XII to the Nazi genocide campaign. This ambitious drama contains powerful messages about religious hypocrisy and the moral lassitude that allowed the Holocaust to continue. Regrettably, director Costa-Gavras puts more of his energy into simplistic psychology and movie action than historical depth and philosophical insight.

American Splendor (R)

Directors: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini. With Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis, Harvey Pekar. (100 min.)

Sterritt **** This movie breaks all the rules, offering a partly fictionalized look at the life of Pekar, a writer of underground comic books who earns most of his living as a file clerk and finds an equally idiosyncratic comics fan, Brabner, to be his wife. Pekar and Brabner are played by Giamatti and Davis, but also appear as themselves in interview sequences. It's emotionally poignant, socially revealing, and wildly entertaining.

Staff ***1/2 Wry humor, ode to an antihero, triumphant.

Sex/Nudity: 2 innuendoes. Violence: 1 slap. Profanity: 20 profanities. Drugs: 2 drinking, smoking scenes.

American Wedding (R)

Director: Jesse Dylan. With Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Eugene Levy, January Jones. (102 min.)

Sterritt * Jim and Michelle get married in the third "American Pie" film, and the whole gang gets involved in planning the shindig. The actors are on autopilot and Adam Herz's screenplay panders to its target audience so relentlessly it verges on incompetence. Even gross-out films ought to maintain some standards!

Staff *** Sophomoric, crass, zany, playful.

Sex/Nudity: 22 scenes, including sex, nudity. Violence: 4 scenes, including whipping. Drugs: 5 drinking scenes.

An Injury to One (Not rated)

Director: Travis Wilkerson. (53 min.)

Sterritt **** This offbeat documentary looks back at the lynching of a mine-workers' labor organizer in Butte, Mont., in 1917. Through archival material, printed words, and songs of the period, Wilkerson probes the tragedy with great intelligence and compassion, linking history to the subsequent development of business practices, environmental problems, and life in that part of America today.

Anger Management (PG-13)

Director: Peter Segal. With Jack Nicholson, Adam Sandler, Marisa Tomei, Heather Graham. (100 min.)

Sterritt *** A businessman (Sandler) with an anger problem gets sentenced to live-in therapy sessions with an eccentric shrink (Nicholson). The comedy is uneven and sometimes crude, but it's worth seeing for Sandler's minimalist acting and for a few funny scenes. Nicholson also is fine when he isn't overplaying.

Staff ** Promising start, too slapstick, predictable.

Sex/Nudity: Innuendo throughout; heavy kissing between women. Violence: 15 scenes. Profanity: 23 harsh profanities. Drugs: 14 scenes with drinking and smoking.

Anything Else (R)

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 put together. This is a quintessential Allen comedy: squirmy relationships, dark Jewish humor, and - as with most of Allen's films since the first years of his career - not nearly as many laughs.

Sex/Nudity: 16 scenes. Violence: 3 scenes. Profanity: 2 profanities. Drugs: 19 drinking, smoking, and drug scenes.

Assassination Tango (R)

Director: Robert Duvall. With Duvall, Luciana Pedraza. (114 min.)

Sterritt *** Duvall is terrific as a hit man who learns to tango in Argentina while waiting for the return of a general he's been hired to murder. As usual in the films he writes and directs, Duvall blends a fictional story with authentic background details and performances by cast members who aren't trained actors.

Staff *** Intelligent, elegant dancing, engaging.

Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene. Violence: 8 scenes, including shootings. Profanity: 24 harsh profanities. Drugs: 22 scenes with drinking, smoking, drugs.

Bad Boys II (R)

Director: Michael Bay. With Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Gabrielle Union. (87 min.)

Staff ** Miami PD's mismatched partners, family man Marcus (Lawrence) and bachelor Mike (Smith), return to find themselves in the middle of a Russian-Cuban-Haitian drug war and in a contest between Miami's finest and the feds to bring down the combatants. Clever ideas and hilarious moments drown in a flood of violence. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 10 scenes. Violence: 19 scenes, including explosions, shootings. Profanity: 236 profanities. Drugs: 9 scenes of drinking, smoking, and drug use.

Bad Santa (R)

Director: Terry Zwigoff. With Billy Bob Thornton, Lauren Graham, Bernie Mac, Tony Cox. (93 min.)

Staff ** "Bad Santa," indeed. With all the hype about this film, one may expect a dark, cynical comedy with some sort of commentary on the mass-consumerism of the season. Sadly, moments like that are few. Instead, we get 93 minutes of Billy Bob Thornton drinking and pointlessly cussing in a Santa suit. This movie is as welcome as a lump of coal. By Adam Weiskind

Balseros (Cuban Rafters) (Not rated)

Directors: Carles Bosch, Josep M. Doménech. With Rafael Cano, Miriam Hernández, Guillermo Armas. (120 min.)

Sterritt *** Thoughtful, ambitious documentary that travels between Havana and American cities as it traces the lives of several underprivileged Cubans who emigrate to the United States and try to carve out new lives.

The Barbarian Invasions (R)

Director: Denys Arcand. With Rémy Girard, Dorothée Berryman, Stéphane Rousseau, Sophie Lorain. (95 min.)

Sterritt ** A dying man tries coming to terms with his condition, his past, and his family. Arcand is today's most prominent French-Canadian filmmaker, with a knack for blending drama and humor. But here his work is a bit too neat and calculated to make the emotions ring really true. In French with English subtitles.

Basic (R)

Director: John McTiernan. With John Travolta, Connie Nielsen, Samuel L. Jackson, Giovanni Ribisi. (98 min.)

Sterritt * A retired military man (Travolta) investigates the murder of a brutal sergeant (Jackson) in a chaotic training situation where too many people had too many motives and opportunities for the crime. Travolta and Jackson have some effective scenes, but James Vanderbilt's screenplay ought to be court-martialed.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 15 scenes, including bloody fights. Profanity: 69 profanities. Drugs: 9 scenes of drinking, smoking.

The Battle of Shaker Heights (PG-13)

Directors: Efram Potelle, Kyle Rankin. With Shia LaBeouf, Elden Henson, Kathleen Quinlan. (88 min.)

Staff ** If you've been rooting for one of HBO's "Project Greenlight" movies to be a hit, you'll need to put your pompoms away for now. This latest effort by an amateur writer and director starts out promisingly but can't sustain the laughs or character development it needs to be engaging. Teen actor Shia LaBeouf helps distract from the shortcomings with his performance as a war reenactor coping with quirky parents, a bully, and a crush on an older girl. By Kim Campbell

Sex/Nudity: 2 innuendoes. Violence: 5 scenes, mostly fights. Profanity: 9 profanities. Drugs: 3 drinking scenes.

Bend It Like Beckham (PG-13)

Director: Gurinder Chadha. With Parminder K. Nagra, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Keira Knightley. (112 min.)

Sterritt ** The heroine is a soccer-loving Indian teen living in London with her traditional family; they believe nice young women shouldn't chase after balls, and their conservatism may prevent her from fashioning her future on her own terms. The film probes territory already explored in pictures like "East Is East," but its look at cultural clashes is always well-meaning and good-humored.

Staff ** Joyous, innocent, predictable.

Sex/Nudity: 1 mild sex scene. Violence: Mild violence on the soccer field. Profanity: 7 profanities. Drugs: 8 scenes of drinking; 1 with smoking.

Better Luck Tomorrow (R)

Director: Justin Lin. With Parry Shen, Sung Kang, Jason Tobin, Roger Fan. (99 min.)

Sterritt *** A small circle of Asian-American friends scramble for good grades, plan for college, and pull off petty crimes. The filmmaking is gimmicky, aimed at young moviegoers with a taste for rowdy teen comedy and music-video aesthetics. What helps Lin's feature debut is his insight into the dark side of living up to "model minority" stereotypes in a materialistic culture.

Staff * Contrived, MTV-antics, empty.

Sex/Nudity: 9 scenes. Violence: 11 scenes, including beatings and a dead body. Profanity: 110 profanities. Drugs: 29 scenes of drinking, smoking, and drug use.

Beyond Borders (R)

Director: Martin Campbell. With Angelina Jolie, Clive Owen, Linus Roache. (127 min.)

Staff *** The movie takes us to Ethiopia, Cambodia, and Chechnya along with Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen in their trials as foreign-aid relief workers. Roused from her comfortable, rich life in London by Owen's emotional appeal for funding, Jolie travels overseas to make a difference. True to Hollywood form, Owen and Jolie fall into a romance despite her husband and son back home, which only increases the tragedy surrounding their lives. By Olivia Kobelt

Staff ** Predictable, heartwrenching, well-meaning

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. 1 implied sex scene. Violence: 14 scenes, including war scenes. Profanity: 62 strong expressions. Drugs: 12 instances of drinking, smoking.

Big Fish (PG-13)

Director: Tim Burton. With Albert Finney, Jessica Lange, Ewan McGregor, Billy Crudup, Alison Lohman. (110 min.)

Sterritt ** A young man (McGregor) tries to understand the life of his estranged, now dying father (Finney) by sifting grains of truth from the mountains of tall tales the old guy was forever telling about himself. Burton spices up the story with touches of his trademarked surrealism, but they're swamped by the trickiness and sentimentality of John August's screenplay, based on Daniel Wallace's novel. What a waste of a fine cast.

Biker Boyz (PG-13)

Director: Reggie Rock Bythewood. With Laurence Fishburne, Larenz Tate, Meagan Good. (111. min.)

Staff ** Smoke Galloway (Fishburne) is "King of Cali" - the best motorcycle street racer in California - and president of the Black Knights club. His mechanic's 18-year-old son wants the crown for himself and forms a rival biker club. Footage of the races and amazing stunts break up the sometimes tedious stretches. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. 1 implied sex scene. Violence: 7 scenes. Profanity: 19 strong expressions. Drugs: 9 instances of drinking, smoking.

Blind Spot - Hitler's Secretary (PG)

Directors: André Heller and Othmar Schmiderer. With Traudl Junge. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** This documentary presents a long interview with a personal assistant to Adolf Hitler who lived in his bunker during his final days. She candidly admits her failure to recognize the profound evil of a man she found personable and even kind during their daily interactions. Her testimony is a salutary reminder that Hitler was a person - not a supernatural monster - and that the evil he manifested could visit us again if more civilized humans don't remain watchful.

Staff **** Candid, intimate, sparse, riveting.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: Some descriptions of violence. Profanity: None. Drugs: 3 scenes of smoking.

Blue Car (R)

Director: Karen Moncrieff. With Agnes Bruckner, David Strathairn, Margaret Colin. (87 min.)

Sterritt *** A teenage girl writes poetry as a means of coping with her dysfunctional family and then faces a new challenge when her encouraging English teacher starts to cross the line of teacher-pupil propriety. Except for the somewhat superficial climax, Moncrieff's low-key screenwriting and directing mesh marvelously with the first-rate acting.

Staff *** Nuanced, chilling, transparent.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex; some innuendo. Violence: 4 instances, including statutory rape, self-mutilation. Profanity: 17 profanities. Drugs: 3 drinking scenes.

Boat Trip (R)

Director: Mort Nathan. With Cuba Gooding Jr., Vivica A. Fox, Horatio Sanz, Roselyn Sanchez. (93 min.)

Sterritt * Hoping for sexual adventures on a singles cruise, two woman-crazy guys find themselves on a ship full of gay men instead, plus a bevy of bikini models brought on board by a feeble plot twist. This boatload of clichés is strenuously unfunny.

Sex/Nudity: 23 sex scenes, including innuendo, seminudity. Violence: 6 scenes. Profanity: 56 expressions. Drugs: 13 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Bollywood/Hollywood (PG-13)

Director: Deepa Mehta. With Rahul Khanna, Lisa Ray, Moushumi Chatterjee, Dina Pathak. (103 min.)

Staff **1Rahul's traditional Hindu mother lays down the law: Find a nice Indian girl to marry. This is no easy task for him, since they live in Toronto. Rahul hires an escort to pose as his fiancée, but he's taken aback when she becomes a bit too convincing. If this North American transplant of Indian-style filmmaking isn't completely successful, the lovely cast makes it a joyful attempt. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 6 innuendoes. Violence: 4 scenes, including fistfights. Profanity: 15 profanities. Drugs: At least 6 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Bonhoeffer (Not rated)

Director: Martin Doblmeier. With voices of Klaus Maria Brandauer, Adele Schmidt, Richard Mancini. (94 min.)

Sterritt ** This well-meaning documentary is about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian who was executed in a Nazi prison after participating in a conspiracy to kill Hitler. While this account is interesting, what's missing is an exploration of how he reconciled his pacifism with his conviction that assassination is justified in some cases. In English and German with English subtitles.

Staff *** Insightful, grave but inspiring.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: Discussions about Nazi violence. Profanity: None.

The Bread, My Sweet (Not rated)

Director: Melissa Martin. With Scott Baio, Kristin Minter, Rosemary Prinz, John Amplas. (105 min.)

Staff *** Baio plays a dealmaker for a Pittsburgh conglomerate that specializes in hostile takeovers, but what he really longs for is making bread in the neighborhood Italian bakery he owns with two brothers. And how can he bring some joy to the aging couple upstairs who've become surrogate parents? Marry their globe-trotting daughter. By M.K. Terrell

Bringing Down the House (PG-13)

Director: Adam Shankman. With Steve Martin, Queen Latifah, Eugene Levy, Joan Plowright. (105 min.)

Sterritt * Likable white lawyer (Martin) meets earthy black exconvict (Latifah) who won't stop pestering him until he helps her clear her name. Parts of this boisterous comedy are in remarkably poor taste - a scene where Martin dudes himself up in ghetto-style gear - and the rest is just not funny.

Staff ** Slapstick, funny at times, racially tense.

Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes with innuendo, strong at times. Violence: 7 scenes, including fights. Profanity: 7 harsh expressions; 42 mild. Drugs: 13 scenes of drinking, smoking. 1 scene of drugs.

Brother Bear (G)

Directors: Aaron Blaise, Robert Walker. With voices of: Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Clarke Duncan. (85 min.)

Sterritt ** This old-fashioned animation tells the story of three native American brothers, one of whom is mysteriously turned into a bear as a path to redemption of his human faults. All the old Disney trademarks are here, except wit and surprise.

Staff **1/2 Warm, scenic, enthralling storyline.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 8 scenes. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

Bruce Almighty (PG-13)

Director: Tom Shadyac. With Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston, Morgan Freeman. (94 min.)

Sterritt ** Finding himself endowed with divine powers temporarily granted by God, a self-centered local TV reporter gradually learns there are more important things in life than his career woes and petty gripes. The screenplay doesn't ultimately make much sense. Carrey is a unique comic talent, though, and Freeman and Aniston back him up with sensitive performances.

Staff *** Carrey is allllrighty, divinely funny, sentimental.

Sex/Nudity: 10 scenes, including innuendo. Violence: 7 scenes of violence, mostly slapstick or fighting. Profanity: 12 profanities. Drugs: 4 scenes with drinking.

Bubba Ho-Tep (R)

Director: Don Coscarelli. With Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, Reggie Bannister, Bob Ivy. (92 min.)

Sterritt *It turns out Elvis Presley is alive but not so well, living in a rest home where he and a crazy crony start to suspect that an ancient Egyptian spirit is menacing the place. Davis contributes his usual dignity - not easy when you're playing a character who thinks he's John F. Kennedy dyed black - but it's not enough to save this silly thriller-comedy.

Buffalo Soldiers (R)

Director: Gregor Jordan. With Joaquin Phoenix, Anna Paquin, Ed Harris, Elizabeth McGovern. (98 min.)

Sterritt *** The year is 1989, the setting is a US army base in West Germany, and the subject is rampant corruption orchestrated by a young officer and participated in by more soldiers than you'd like to think. The irony and skepticism of this dark comedy-drama are closer to "Catch-22" and "M*A*S*H" than to movies with more reverent views of the military, and at its best it's as refreshing as it is daring. Superbly acted.

Bulletproof Monk (PG-13)

Director: Paul Hunter. With Chow Yun-Fat, Seann William Scott, Jamie King. (103 min.)

Staff ** In Tibet in 1943, the "Monk Without a Name" becomes the protector of a sacred scroll that will make its reader ruler of the world. Naturally, the Nazis want it. Sixty years later, the monk comes to the US - Nazis still in pursuit - to find a successor. The mix of martial arts, super-hero, and Eastern philosophy doesn't really come together. By M.K. Terrell

Staff *1/2 Flat, corny, jumpy.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes of innuendo. Violence: 20 scenes, including kung-fu battles. Profanity: 11 profanities. Drugs: 3 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Bus 174 (Not rated)

Director: José Padilha. With Yvonne Bezerra de Mello, Luiz Eduardo Soares, Sandro do Nascimento. (122 min.)

Sterritt *** A fascinating documentary about the 2000 hijacking of a commuter bus by a homeless man in Rio, exploring aspects of Brazilian life that contributed to the crime. In Portuguese with English subtitles.

Cabin Fever (R)

Director: Eli Roth. With Jordan Ladd, Rider Strong, James DeBello. (94 min.)

1/2 Five college students rent a cabin for a weeklong getaway. Out of the woods comes a man soaked in blood from a flesh-eating virus, which may also have infected the minds of filmmakers. After the friends set the visitor on fire and chase him off, they begin succumbing. There's way too much gross-out gore - this film should be quarantined. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 4 scenes with sex, innuendo. Violence: 22 extremely grisly scenes. Profanity: 138 profanities. Drugs: 14 drinking, smoking, and drug scenes.

Calendar Girls (PG-13)

Director: Nigel Cole. With Helen Mirren, Julie Walters, Linda Bassett, John Alderton. (108 min.)

Sterritt ** Wanting to juice up their charity fundraising, members of an English ladies' club decide to replace the bucolic views on their annual calendar with photos of themselves coyly photographed in the buff. This actually happened, and the calendar was a great success. The same can't be said for this female "Full Monty" because it follows formulas already overused in British comedies.

Camp (PG-13)

Director: Todd Graff. With Daniel Letterle, Joanna Chilcoat, Robin de Jesus. (114 min.)

Staff *** At Camp Ovation, teens and preteens put on musicals all summer. Misfits at school, these kids all like musical comedy, and most of the boys are gay. Here they find acceptance and identity. Charmingly performed by a cast of talented newcomers, "Camp" is filmed at the actual Catskills camp where writer-director Graff performed as a child. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 7 scenes, including innuendo. Violence: 3 scenes, including severe beating. Profanity: 42 profanities. Drugs: 8 smoking and drinking scenes.

Capturing the Friedmans (Not rated)

Director: Andrew Jarecki. With Arnold Friedman, Jesse Friedman, Elaine Friedman, David Friedman. (107 min.)

Sterritt **** This is a riveting documentary about a seemingly ordinary Long Island family knocked to smithereens when shocking criminal charges are levied against two of them, sparking a series of dramatic, traumatic events. Jarecki was fortunate to have a substantial trove of revealing video at his disposal. A compulsively watchable movie that's also a provocative inquiry into the ability of the criminal-justice system to determine culpability and truth.

Carnage (Not rated)

Director: Delphine Gleize. With Chiara Mastroianni, Jacques Gamblin, Ángela Molina. (130 min.)

Sterritt *** After a bull is slain in a Spanish bullring, parts of the deceased creature's carcass are sent for various reasons to various places in Europe, affecting a wide range of characters in an equally wide number of ways. Funny, sad, and tinged with magic realism, this ambitious comedy-drama is as original as it is nimbly directed. In French and Spanish with English subtitles.

Casa de los Babys (R)

Director: John Sayles. With Maggie Gyllenhaal, Daryl Hannah, Susan Lynch, Rita Moreno, Lili Taylor. (95 min.)

Staff *** At first glance, Casa is about the lives of six American women with little in common apart from their journey to South America to adopt children. Sayles deftly draws their stories together in a film you'll be sorry to see end. By Mary Wiltenburg

Staff ** Minimal, tender, poorly edited.

Sex/Nudity: 2 innuendoes. Violence: None. Profanity: 15 profanities. Drugs: 10 scenes of drinking, smoking, drug use.

The Cat in the Hat (PG)

Director: Bo Welch. With Mike Myers, Kelly Preston, Alec Baldwin, Dakota Fanning. (71 min.)

Sterritt * Dismal adaptation of Dr. Seuss's classic book, about a magical cat who coaxes two kids into having mischievous fun while their mom's away. Myers plays the title feline as if he were a borscht-belt comedian without a speck of talent, and Welch's frenetic style is more like a Freudian fever dream than a children's amusement. Jaw-droppingly miscalculated.

Staff * Irritating, Cat-astrophic, inappropriate for kids.

Sex/Nudity: 4 scenes with innuendo. Violence: 10 scenes of mild violence, mostly played for laughs. Profanity: 1 profanity, and several scenes of vulgarity. Drugs: 2 scenes with alcohol.

Catching Out (Not rated)

Director: Sarah George. With members of the freight-hopping community. (80 min.)

Sterritt *** This is a documentary about the dwindling breed of nomads who "catch out" freight cars for long-distance rides that are as free as they are illegal. The wanderers are a very mixed group with a wide range of motivations, and director George - who has logged more than 10,000 miles on the rails herself - chronicles their subculture with skill and sympathy.

Chaos (Dir. Coline Serreau) (Not rated)

Director: Coline Serreau. With Catherine Frot, Vincent Lindon, Rachida Brakni. (109 min.)

Sterritt **** Stricken with a guilty conscience after she fails to help the victim of a savage assault, a French woman becomes the unexpected guardian of a young Algerian immigrant, with results that change both their lives in major ways. Excellent acting, a mordant sense of humor, and a smart political sensibility are among its many assets. In French with English subtitles.

Chaos (Dir. Hideo Nakata) (Not rated)

Director: Hideo Nakata. With Masato Hagiwara, Miki Nakatani, Ken Mitsuishi, Jun Kunimura. (104 min.)

Sterritt *** A man's wife is kidnapped, leading to a series of twists as bizarre as they are unpredictable. This stylish Japanese thriller is being marketed as a cross between "Vertigo" and "Les Diaboliques," and while it's nowhere near as resonant as those classics, it's eerie enough to please connoisseurs of psychological suspense. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (PG-13)

Director: McG. With Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Bernie Mac. (111 min.)

Sterritt ** The woman warriors must retrieve two metal rings encoded with secret information about a witness-protection program. Their enemies include a retired member of Charlie's flock who's thrown in her lot with the villains. The spunky cast is the only reason to see this lively but forgettable action farce.

Staff ** Fun cast, scant plot, flashy.

Sex/Nudity: 13 innuendos. Violence: 16 scenes. Profanity: 1 harsh profanity. Drugs: 4 drinking scenes. 2 with smoking.

Chasing Papi (PG)

Director: Linda Mendoza. With Roselyn Sanchez, Sofia Vergara, Jaci Velasquez. (80 min.)

Staff **1/2 Good-looking Papi (Verastegui) can't resist acquiring new girlfriends as business takes him around the US. Now he loves three women - each in a different city. When they all decide to visit him in L.A., everyone gets a big surprise. This romp has the innocence and pace of a '30s screwball comedy. By M.K. Terrell

Staff *** Spicy, sharp dialogue, innocent.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes of innuendo. Violence: 5 scenes. Profanity: 6 profanities. Drugs: 6 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Chi-Hwa-Seon (Painted Fire) (Not rated)

Director: Im Kwon-taek. With Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ho-jung, Ahn Sung-ki, Kim Yeo-jin. (117 min.)

Sterritt **** This color-drenched Korean drama takes its visual and narrative inspiration from the life and work of a 19th-century Korean painter who captivated art lovers while battling personal demons at a time of great social and cultural change.

Cinemania (Not rated)

Directors: Angela Christlieb, Stephen Kijak. With Jack Angstreich, Harvey Schwartz, Roberta Hill. (83 min.)

Sterritt **** What if nothing on earth interested you except going to the movies? The impassioned New Yorkers profiled in this documentary aren't critics, just folks who think the good life means racing from one screen to another as many hours each day as possible. Think of the intricate schedules and split-second travel routes to be plotted out! You may become a cinemaniac yourself after sitting through this beauty.

Circle of Deceit (R)

Director: Volker Schlöndorff. With Bruno Ganz, Hanna Schygulla, Jerzy Skolimowski, Jean Carmet. (108 min.)

Sterritt *** A reporter with personal problems has a challenging time in battle-weary Beirut as Palestinians and Christians square off during the early 1980s. This politically charged 1981 drama isn't one of Schlöndorff's greatest films, but its strong moral concerns make it well worth viewing. In German with English subtitles.

City of Ghosts (R)

Director: Matt Dillon. With Dillon, Natascha McElhone, James Caan, Gérard Depardieu. (116 min.)

Sterritt ** Dillon makes his directorial debut with this thriller about a con artist dueling with his accomplice in Bangkok, which is photographed as a tangled web of rich exoticism and decadent sleaze. The film has shortcomings, but it's fun to see Caan back.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes in brothels; 2 innuendos. Violence: 13 scenes, including brutal beatings and shootouts. Profanity: 36 profanities. Drugs: 20 scenes of drinking, smoking.

City of God (R)

Director: Fernando Meirelles. With Alexandre Rodrigues, Matheus Nachtergaele, Seu Jorge. (140 min.)

Sterritt ** A young photographer records the terrible events and personalities that surround him in a Rio de Janeiro slum between the late '60s and early '80s, including a psychopath who runs a gang of kids. In Portuguese with English subtitles.

Staff ** Excessively violent, disturbing, compelling.

Sex/Nudity: 9 instances implied sex. Profanity: 137 harsh expressions. Violence: 44 scenes of very graphic violence, including bullet-ridden bodies. Drugs: 2 scenes of smoking; 15 scenes with illegal drugs, mostly cocaine.

Cold Creek Manor (R)

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.

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.

Confidence (R)

Director: James Foley. With Edward Burns, Rachel Weisz, Andy Garcia, Dustin Hoffman. (98 min.)

Sterritt * A con artist plans his last big scam, motivated by revenge and dogged by mobsters who feel he owes them. The film is as tricky and superficial as its lowlife characters, using visual flimflam to mask its lack of substance. The confidence-game scenes work reasonably well; the rest is awful.

Staff ** Great twists, flashy, lacks substance.

Sex/Nudity: 6 sex scenes with nudity. Violence: 14 harsh scenes. Drugs: 19 drinking scenes; 18 smoking; 2 with drugs.

Confusion of Genders (Not rated)

Director: Ilan Duran Cohen. With Pascal Greggory, Nathalie Richard, Vincent Martinez, Julie Gayet. (94 min.)

Sterritt *** Uncertain where he wants his life to go, a French lawyer does a romantic juggling act involving the attorney he works for, a client, and other male and female acquaintances. Although there's quite a bit of nudity and sex, the potentially sensationalistic story is acted with sincerity and directed with a creative eye. In French with English subtitles.

The Cooler (R)

Director: Wayne Kramer. With William H. Macy, Maria Bello, Alec Baldwin, Paul Sorvino. (101 min.)

Sterritt **** The title character is a guy whose luck is so bad it's contagious, which makes him valuable to a Las Vegas casino that uses him to cool the good fortune of gamblers winning too much at the tables. Look for realism and you'll be disappointed. Look for a contemporary fairy tale, and you'll find this an oddly engaging yarn. Macy is at his inimitable best, with Baldwin and Bello close behind.

The Core (PG-13)

Director: Jon Amiel. With Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Delroy Lindo, Stanley Tucci. (136 min.)

Staff * It's the end of the world as we know it when a military experiment ends up destabilizing Earth's core. Before long, subpar fire-and-brimstone special effects are raining on postcard scenery like the Colosseum in Rome. The actors tackle their roles with laughable temerity, and the result, though hardly laudable, is better than "Armaggedon." By Stephen Humphries

Staff ** Core-ny, explosive, good effects.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 14 scenes. Profanity: 3 harsh expressions. Drugs: 11 scenes of smoking, drinking.

Cowboy Bebop (R)

Director: Shinichiro Watanabe. With Koichi Yamadera, Unsho Ishizuka, Megumi Hayashibara. (116 min.)

Staff ** Bounty hunters from space track down a terrorist with a stolen military bioweapon. Slick animation and a hip soundtrack lend the action a distinctive style. Fans of the TV series will argue over whether the movie surpasses it. But animé fans will enjoy the show regardless. By Tim Rauschenberger

Sex/Nudity: Some innuendo. Violence: 16 scenes, including gunfights and battles Profanity: 13 profanities. Drugs: 13 scenes of smoking, drinking.

Cradle 2 The Grave (R)

Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak. With Jet Li, DMX, Mark Dacascos. (100 min.)

Staff * DMX plays the leader of a gang of thieves who enlists the help of a Taiwanese intelligence agent when his daughter is kidnapped. The film plays like a music video with bright colors, pounding music, and dizzying camera moves. If the gore does not make you look away, then the "been there" plot will. By Sasha Brown

Sex/Nudity: 4 instances of innuendo. Violence: 18 scenes, including beatings. Profanity: 73 harsh expressions. Drugs: At least 7 scenes of smoking and drinking.

Cremaster Cycle (Not rated)

Director: Matthew Barney. With Matthew Barney, Ursula Andress, Richard Serra, Norman Mailer. (397 min.)

Sterritt *** A major figure in the New York art scene, Barney mixes ancient legends, contemporary myths, dreamlike visions, and his distinctive stylistics in this five-part series of plotless meditations on the human imagination. At its best it's evocative and riveting. Its longest portion, "Cremaster 3," is the weakest.

The Cuckoo (PG-13)

Director: Alexander Rogozhkin. With Viktor Bychkov, Anni-Christina Juuso. (100 min.)

Sterritt ** Isolated from their units in the remote countryside during World War II, two soldiers from the rival Soviet and Finnish armies seek refuge with a Lappland peasant woman. The situation hardly provides an original metaphor for the communication failures that plague the human race, but the drama's heart is in the right place. In Russian, Finnish, and Sami with English subtitles.

Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes. Violence: 5 scenes. Profanity: 3 profanities. Drugs: 1 instance.

Daddy Day Care (PG)

Director: Steve Carr. With Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin, Anjelica Huston. (93 min.)

Sterritt ** Murphy and Garlin start a kiddie-minding business as an alternative to a pretentious preschool they can't afford for their own kids when they lose their jobs. Murphy gives one of his more restrained performances, while the screenplay's message would have seemed progressive 30 years ago: Men can change diapers, and women can be lawyers!

Staff ** Fun family fare, cute kids, simple.

Sex/Nudity: 1 innuendo. Violence: 9 scenes of slapstick. Profanity: 7 mild expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with smoking.

The Dancer Upstairs (R)

Director: John Malkovich. With Javier Bardem, Laura Morante, Juan Diego. (135 min.)

Sterritt ** Bardem plays a Latin American police detective who tracks down a revolutionary zealot while mooning over his daughter's dance teacher. Malkovich's directorial debut is intellectually ambitious, but his meandering style dilutes the story's emotional effectiveness. Bardem delivers a sensitive performance.

Staff *** Provocative, well-paced, intricate.

Sex/Nudity: 1 nude scene; 3 innuendos. Violence: 22 scenes, some quite gory depicting the aftermath of explosions. Profanity: 14 profanities. Drugs: 7 smoking scenes; 2 scenes with alcohol.

Daredevil (PG-13)

Director: Mark Steven Johnson. With Ben Affleck, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Garner. (96 min.)

Staff * Batman, Superman, Spidey, and now Daredevil? Ten minutes into it, you won't need superhuman senses to realize that it's not a great movie. Affleck plays Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer by day, action hero by night. There's plenty of action - the violence is exhausting - but the characters aren't likable, the plot is thin, and the acting is robotic. By Lisa Connors

Staff ** Violent, mindless, comic-bookish.

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of innuendo; 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: 20 scenes, including bloody fights. Profanity: 11 expressions. Drugs: 10 scenes of drinking and smoking.

Dark Blue (R)

Director: Ron Shelton. With Kurt Russell, Lolita Davidovich, Scott Speedman, Ving Rhames. (116 min.)

Sterritt *** Russell plays a Los Angeles cop who sees bending the rules as an everyday aspect of bringing the bad guys down. This could have been a routine police-corruption drama, but it gains dramatic energy from Russell's passionate acting and from setting the tale at the time when four real-life crooked cops are about to be acquitted in the beating of Rodney King.

Staff **1/2 Gritty, predictable, rough.

Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene. 1 scene of partial nudity. Violence: 15 scenes, including murders, beatings, and riots. Profanity: 192 harsh expressions. Drugs: 14 scenes of smoking and drinking.

Darkness Falls (PG-13)

Director: Jonathan Liebesman. With Chaney Kley, Emma Caulfield, Lee Cormie. (76 min.)

Staff * The 1850s lynching of an innocent woman has provided a small Maine town with a "tooth fairy" ghost-in-residence who sometimes attacks children the night they lose their last baby tooth. The largely Australian cast sounds American and does a good job of not breaking up while uttering inanities in one idiotic scene after another. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 25 scenes, including dead bodies. Profanity: 4 harsh expressions. Drugs: 1 scene of drinking.

Deliver Us From Eva (R)

Director: Gary Hardwick. With Gabrielle Union, LL Cool J, Duane Martin. (105 min.)

Staff ** Eva (Union) has raised her three younger sisters since the untimely death of their parents. Now they're grown up, and Eva continues to mother them by meddling in their relationships. The sisters' husbands and fiancé hire a ladies' man (LL Cool J), to sweep Eva off her feet and out of their lives. Naturally, the plan backfires. What nearly saves the paint-by-numbers plot is a watchable cast. By M.K. Terrell

Staff *** Brightly cast, energetic, ribald.

Sex/Nudity: 19 instances of innuendo. 1 sex scene. Violence: 3 scenes. Profanity: 68 expressions. Drugs: 10 scenes of drinking.

Demonlover (Not rated)

Director: Olivier Assayas. With Connie Nielsen, Charles Berling, Chloë Sevigny. (120 min.)

Sterritt ** A nosy businesswoman runs into formidable and inscrutable foes as she traces the connections between a multinational company and a website worthy of "Videodrome" for nastiness and perversity. This ambitious epic takes a finely cynical attitude toward the excesses of our media-saturated age, but 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. Violence: 20 scenes, including rape, torture. Profanity: 5 profanities. Drugs: At least 25 drinking and smoking scenes.

Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (PG-13)

Director: Sam Weisman. With David Spade, Mary McCormack, Rob Reiner. (99 min.)

Sterritt * Now a 35-year-old failure, a once-famous actor prepares for a big audition by reliving his childhood, moving in with a nice suburban family that turns out to have problems of its own. Four chuckles and a lively final-credits sequence are a mighty poor score for 99 minutes of alleged comedy. Spade will be a former grownup star if he can't find funnier material than this.

Staff ** Mindless fun, corny, winning performances.

Sex/Nudity: 8 innuendoes. Violence: 5 scenes. Profanity: 71 profanities. Drugs: 5 drinking scenes; 1 with drugs.

Die Mommie Die (R)

Director: Mark Rucker. With Charles Busch, Phillip Baker Hall, Jason Priestley, Natascha Lyonne. (90 min.)

Staff ** A loving send-up of "women's" films, especially those of the '50s. Washed-up singer Angela Arden decides the way to escape her dysfunctional family is to poison her husband. Much of the campy humor derives from the fact that the leading lady is a man (Busch, who adapted the scenario from his own stage play). Sometimes it actually works. By M.K. Terrell

Dirty Pretty Things (R)

Director: Stephen Frears. With Audrey Tautou, Chiwetel Ejiofor. (107 min.)

Staff *** An illegal immigrant (Ejiofor), who works as a night clerk and a cabbie to make ends meet, discovers an underground organ-trading operation at a posh London hotel. With help from a maid (Tautou), also an illegal immigrant, he tries to expose the crime ring while avoiding immigration authorities. In this intelligent thriller, Frears offers an unflinchingly gritty view of life as an illegal immigrant, often exploited and clinging to survival. By Stephanie Cook Broadhurst

Staff *** Probing, realistic, heart wrenching.

Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes. Violence: 8 scenes, including rapes, graphic surgeries, fights. Profanity: 19 profanities. Drugs: 13 scenes of smoking, drinking, and drug use.

Divine Intervention (Not rated)

Director: Elia Suleiman. With Suleiman, Manal Khader, Nayef Fahoum Daher. (92 min.)

Sterritt *** This is a film about the adventures of a Palestinian man called E.S., based on the life of writer-director Suleiman, as he copes with his ailing father, woos a girlfriend who lives on the other side of an Israeli checkpoint, and gets through daily life in his neighborhood. In Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles.

Staff **1/2 Slow, severe, political.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 9 scenes, including explosions and gunfire. Profanity: 21 harsh expressions. Drugs: At least 9 scenes with smoking.

Dopamine (R)

Director: Mark Decena. With John Livingston, Sabrina Lloyd, Bruno Campos, Reuben Grundy. (79 min.)

Staff **1/2 Sure, you and your date have "chemistry," but how many people who say that mean it literally? Rand does: The hopeless antiromantic spends his first date with Sarah prattling about pheromones. While his analysis of attraction carries the couple through a date or two, they start to feel something more like ... well, could it be love? By Mary Wiltenburg

Down With Love (PG-13)

Director: Peyton Reed. With Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor. (96 min.)

Sterritt * The time is 1962. The heroine is an enterprising author (Zellweger) who's penned a feminist book years ahead of its time, but the suave magazine editor she needs for publicity purposes (McGregor) wants to prove she's a romantic at heart. There's promise in the film's idea of reviving the spirit of Doris Day-Rock Hudson comedies. Sadly, though, director Reed has no idea how to build the right bubbling rhythms.

Staff **1/2 Campy, giddy, sappy.

Sex/Nudity: 16 instances of innuendo. Violence: 3 mild scenes. Profanity: None. Drugs: 25 scenes with drinking, smoking.

Dracula: Pages From a Virgin's Diary (Not rated)

Director: Guy Maddin. With Zhang Wei-Qiang, Tara Birtwhistle, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. (75 min.)

Sterritt **** Maddin reconfirms his well-established status as one of modern cinema's great fabulists with this dance version of Bram Stoker's novel. The visual style is deliberately archaic and slyly postmodernist, slinky and sensuous from first frame to last.

Dreamcatcher (R)

Director: Lawrence Kasdan. With Morgan Freeman, Jason Lee, Tom Sizemore, Donnie Wahlberg. (131 min.)

Sterritt ** Four young men with a knack for mind-reading battle aliens in the New England woods. The main characters are compendiums of Gen-X clichés, and most of the cast is too unseasoned to transcend the silly screenplay.

Staff ** Odd, clichéd, gross.

Sex/Nudity: 4 innuendos. Violence: 25 scenes. Profanity: 52 expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes of drinking.

Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (PG-13)

Director: Troy Miller. With Eric Christian Olsen, Derek Richardson, Mimi Rogers, Eugene Levy. (95 min.)

Sterritt *** Positioned somewhere between "Wayne's World" and "Animal House," this good-natured farce gives the backstory of the 1994 hit "Dumb & Dumber," telling how the dopey heroes met as high school students in a "special class."

Sex/Nudity: 7 innuendos. Violence: 5 instances. Profanity: 23 mild instances. Drugs: 1 instance of smoking, 1 of drinking.

Duplex (PG-13)

Director: Danny DeVito. With Ben Stiller, Drew Barrymore, Eileen Essel, Harvey Fierstein. (97 min.)

Staff ** Newlyweds Alex and Nancy can't believe the gem of a townhouse they find. 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. By M.K. Terrell

Dust (R)

Director: Milcho Manchevski. With Joseph Fiennes, Rosemary Murphy, David Wenham. (127 min.)

Sterritt ** This hugely ambitious melodrama begins when an African-American burglar in New York gets held at gunpoint by his intended victim, an elderly white woman who uses the opportunity to tell him an apocryphal story of her family's past in Macedonia. Its most impressive aspect is its visual style, patterned to some degree on Sergio Leone westerns.

Dysfunktional Family (R)

Director: George Gallo. With Eddie Griffin, Uncle Buckey, Uncle Curtis. (89 min.)

Staff * Like Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy before him, Eddie Griffin has made a film based on his stand-up comedy routine - now if only it were funny. There are some mildly humorous moments, but overall, this film is boring and depressing to boot. By Sasha Brown

Sex/Nudity: 57 scenes, mostly sex talk. A few porn clips. Violence: Scenes of child abuse. Profanity: At least 600 profanities. Drugs: 13 scenes of smoking, drinking, drugs.

El Bola (Not rated)

Director: Achero Mañas. With Juan José Ballesta, Pablo Galán, Alberto Jiménez, Manuel Morón. (88 min.)

Sterritt *** The poignant yet unsentimental story of a 12-year-old boy caught between his abusive father and a grown-up friend who'd like to rescue him from his bad family environment but is afraid of legal reprisals. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Elf (PG)

Director: Jon Favreau. With Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Edward Asner. (92 min.)

Sterritt **** Buddy was raised at the North Pole by Santa but when he learns he's an adopted human rather than an everyday elf, he heads for Manhattan to meet his dad, a Scrooge-like executive. The cast is perfect, and David Berenbaum has written a smart and funny sugarplum of a screenplay.

Staff *** Sprightly, festive, good-hearted fun.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 4 scenes of violence, including a beating. Profanity: 2 mild profanities. Drugs: 5 scenes with alcohol, 1 scene with smoking.

Elephant (R)

Director: Gus Van Sant. With Alex Frost, Eric Deulen, John Robinson, Carrie Finklea. (81 min.)

Sterritt **** A seemingly ordinary day at an Oregon high school is shattered when two students unleash a shooting rampage modeled on the Columbine massacre that rocked Colorado in 1999. What causes the horror? Instead of suggesting pat answers, Van Sant makes us squirm, worry, and think about the random violence lurking in American society that won't go away unless we work to understand it.

The Embalmer (Not rated)

Director: Matteo Garrone. With Ernesto Mahieux, Valerio Foglia Manzillo, Elisabetta Rocchetti. (104 min.)

Sterritt *** A middle-aged dwarf taxidermist gets a crush on a young man he's taken as an apprentice, with results that grow emotionally complex when the helper falls in love with a feisty woman. Mahieux gives a bravura performance as the title character. In Italian with English subtitles.

Emerald Cowboy (Not rated)

Director: Andrew Molina. With Eishy Hayata, Eve Hayata. (117 min.)

Sterritt ** Hayata's real-life exploits inspired this rough-and-tough drama about a Japanese-born businessman who settles in Colombia, where he wheels, deals, and sometimes shoots his way to the top in the ruthlessly competitive world of mining and selling emeralds. The acting is weak, largely because many of the performers seem uncomfortable speaking English. In English and Spanish with English subtitles.

The Event (R)

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. But there's also an overdose of sentimentality that badly dilutes the picture's impact.

The Flower of Evil (Not rated)

Director: Claude Chabrol. With Nathalie Baye, Benoît Magimel, Suzanne Flon, Bernard Lecoq. (104 min.)

Sterritt **** Borrowing his title from French poet Charles Baudelaire, the venerable Chabrol has crafted a subdued thriller about young love, marital deception, and the dark side of France's history in the Nazi era, explored in the meticulously groomed household of a woman running for political office. In French with English subtitles.

The Fighting Temptations (PG-13)

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. By Mary Wiltenburg

Sex/Nudity: 5 innuendoes. Violence: None. Profanity: 9 profanities. Drugs: 12 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Final Destination 2 (R)

Director: David Richard Ellis. With A.J. Cook, Sarah Hattingh, Ali Larter. (100 min.)

Staff *1/2 Horrible accidents overtake survivors, one by one, as they theorize about how they can thwart death's plan. The movie becomes progressively less imaginative but no less grisly as it wears on. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: Partial nudity. 1 instance of innuendo. Violence: 20 scenes, some very gory. Profanity: 25 harsh expressions. Drugs: 9 scenes of drinking, smoking, and drug use.

Finding Nemo (G)

Director: Andrew Stanton. With Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Willem Dafoe. (101 min.)

Staff *** A neurotic clownfish searches for his missing son after the youngster is scooped up and plopped into the aquarium of an Australian dentist. This exuberant animation is no "Toy Story," but it's the next best thing, with colorful cartooning, imaginative dialogue, and voice performances that mold the finny characters into richly believable figures.

Staff **** Artistic triumph, hilarious, fun.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 5 scenes may scare small children. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S. McNamara (PG-13)

Director: Errol Morris. With Robert McNamara. (107 min.)

Sterritt **** Morris turns his unblinking documentary eye on the controversial secretary of Defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, punctuating interview segments with archival footage. Among the film's many revelations is the fact that the McNamara of today has far more complex and conflicted views of the Vietnam War - which he helped orchestrate and direct - than either his champions or detractors may expect. The filmmaking is meticulous and the ideas are endlessly thought-provoking.

Forbidden Photographs: The Life and Work of Charles Gatewood (Not rated)

Director: Charles Macdonald. With Charles Gatewood, Daniel Lapin. (90 min.)

Sterritt ** Gatewood has built a thriving career on photographing members of American subcultures, the more bizarre and exhibitionistic the better. This documentary presents a guided tour of the wildly offbeat subjects he has chronicled and interacted with over the years, from biker gangs to body modifiers who don't know when to quit. The material isn't exactly forbidden, but moviegoers should be duly warned before entering this no-taste zone.

Forget Baghdad (Not rated)

Director: Samir. With Ella Shohat, Shimon Ballas, Samir Naqqash, Moishe Houri. (95 min.)

Sterritt **** Engrossing documentary about the social, cultural, and political conundrums faced by Israeli citizens whose Jewish background is rooted in the Sephardic tradition of Arab countries rather than the Ashkenazi heritage of immigrants from European nations. Articulate interviews and an unusually creative visual style make the picture as lively to watch as it is illuminating to think about. In English, Arabic, and Hebrew with English subtitles.

Freaky Friday (PG)

Director: Mark Waters. With Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Harold Gould, Mark Harmon. (93 min.)

Sterritt *** This delicious remake of Disney's popular 1976 comedy stars Curtis and Lohan as a middle-aged mom and teen daughter who inexplicably exchange bodies. Lohan is winsome, Curtis is even better. The only freaky thing about this "Friday" is its delightful difference from the trendy eye candy that's come to dominate family-friendly filmmaking.

Staff ** Funny Friday, childlike, Curtis's show.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: 3 mild expressions. Drugs: 3 drinking scenes.

Freddy vs. Jason (R)

Director: Ronny Yu. With Robert Englund, Monica Keena, Ken Kirzinger, Kelly Rowland.

Staff ** The movie opens with Freddy Krueger of "Nightmare on Elm Street" explaining he's lost the ability to claim his victims because they have forgotten him. To remedy his situation, he resurrects Jason of "Friday the 13th" to do his dirty work. This works, of course, until Jason starts taking all the credit. And then the fun begins. This is purely a gory, knockdown street fight. One can only imagine what lies in store for Michael Myers of "Halloween." By Adam Weiskind

Friday Night (Not rated)

Director: Claire Denis. With Valérie Lemercier, Vincent Lindon, Hélène de Saint-Père. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** Driving to a dinner engagement, a Parisian woman gets stuck in the mother of all traffic jams, offers a ride to a handsome pedestrian, and enters a fleeting affair that catches both of them by surprise. What's appealing about this lyrical romance is the way Denis unfolds its events, treating each tiny detail as a lovingly placed fragment of what gradually grows into an enticing mosaic of time, place, and personality. In French with English subtitles.

Staff ** Seductive, tense, slow.

Sex/Nudity: 4 long scenes of sex, 3 with nudity, 2 innuendoes. Violence: 1 fight. Drugs: 11 drinking, smoking scenes. Profanity: 10 profanities.

From Justin to Kelly (PG)

Director: Robert Iscove. With Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini. (95 min.)

Staff * Kelly Clarkson, the original "American Idol" winner, takes a trip to Miami for spring break and meets Justin Guarini, the "Idol" runner-up. It's love at first sight, but misconnection is the name of the game for these would-be lovers - and for viewers. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 4 innuendos. Violence: 1 mild instance. Profanity: 8 mild expressions. Drugs: 6 instances of drinking.

Fulltime Killer (Not rated)

Directors: Johnnie To, Wai Ka Fai. With Andy Lau, Takashi Sorimachi, Kelly Lin. (102 min.)

Sterritt ** Two hit men - one secretive and reclusive, the other wild and flamboyant - joust for the No. 1 reputation, bringing excitement and danger to a young woman who becomes a pawn in their competition. The story matters less than the style, full of swooping camera movements, rapid-fire editing, and color-drenched displays of the vivid violence the Hong Kong school is famous for. In English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese with English subtitles.

Gerry (R)

Director: Gus Van Sant. With Matt Damon, Casey Affleck. (103 min.)

Sterritt **** Two men embark on a hike in a lonely patch of wilderness, then discover they're deeply lost. This bravely offbeat drama is a radical experiment in stripping a story to its bare essentials, then pushing those essentials as far as they'll go. It reconfirms Van Sant as one of the most original filmmakers, and Damon as a star who's not afraid to take risks.

Staff *** Breathtaking scenery, spare, slow.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 1 scene of strangulation. Profanity: 39 harsh expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes with smoking.

Ghosts of the Abyss (G)

Director: James Cameron. With Bill Paxton, John Lynch, Charles Pellegrino. (60 min.)

Sterritt *** Filmed in the Imax 3-D format, this eye-filling documentary visits the wreck of the Titanic with a crew of scientists, historians, and observers as they explore the tragic marvel with lighting from an underwater chandelier and videography by two remote-controlled robots that become the movie's mascots, a sort of R2D2 and C3PO of the briny deep.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: A few scenes recreating panic as ship goes down. Profanity: 6 profanities. Drugs: Several drinking and smoking scenes.

Gigli (R)

Director: Martin Brest. With Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Al Pacino. (124 min.)

Staff DUD In "Gigli," Ben Affleck has a constant smirk on his face. His costar, Jennifer Lopez, also sports a mischievous grin. It's as if the pair are laughing to themselves, thinking, "We can make a really bad movie, and people will still pay to see us." Affleck plays mob thug Larry Gigli, who's ordered to kidnap the mentally challenged brother of a federal prosecutor. J. Lo plays a lesbian hitwoman hired to make sure he doesn't mess up. By Lisa Leigh Connors

Sex/Nudity: 10 scenes. Violence: 7 scenes, including kidnapping, fights. Profanity: 125 harsh profanities.

Girlhood (Not rated)

Director: Liz Garbus. With: Shanae and Megan. (82 min.)

Sterritt *** Documentary following the lives of two teenage girls who've been arrested and jailed for grisly crimes, showing experiences during and after incarceration. Detailed, compassionate, humane.

Girl With a Pearl Earring (PG-13)

Director: Peter Webber. With Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth, Judy Parfitt, Tom Wilkinson. (95 min.)

Sterritt **** A young woman (Johansson) signs on as a servant in the home of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, becoming his protégé when he discovers her eye for art, and his model when he becomes fascinated by her beauty. What makes the movie distinctive is that it's photographed in imitation of Vermeer's style - an approach that could have seemed gimmicky but is redeemed by the filmmakers' integrity and tenacity. Just as important, Johansson may have been born to play this role.

Gloomy Sunday (Not rated)

Director: Rolf Schübel. With: Stefano Dionisi, Erika Marozsán, Joachim Król, Ben Becker. (112 min)

Sterritt *** In the early Hitler years, a Budapest restaurant pianist and his employer both fall for a beautiful waitress, and the musician composes the melancholy title song to express his longing for her, which doesn't diminish when a Nazi pushes his way into the love triangle. Meanwhile, suicides are proliferating in the city - is the song to blame, or is it the tenor of the times? In German with English subtitles.

Gods and Generals (PG-13)

Director: Ronald F. Maxwell. With Robert Duvall, Jeff Daniels, Stephen Lang, Mira Sorvino. (225 min.)

Sterritt * An amazingly dull reenactment of the early stages of the Civil War, written and directed with a stunning lack of historical context, cultural insight, and dramatic credibility. The technical quality is inexcusably lax and the acting is consistently weak - even Duvall sounds like he's reading from cue cards.

Staff **1/2 Wooden, educational, too long.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 6 extended battle scenes. Profanity: 5 expressions. Drugs: 15 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Good Boy! (PG)

Director: John Robert Hoffman. With: Liam Aiken, Kevin Nealon, Molly Shannon. (89 min.)

Staff * Talking dogs were cute, once. It's a tad disconcerting, however, when a canine starts lip syncing to the voice of Carl Reiner so it can complain about flatulence. That's typical of this ho-hum story about a lonely boy who discovers a UFO with a dog who comes from a planet ruled by mutts. In other words, it's a poor rehash of "E.T." . By Stephen Humphries

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 3 mild scenes. Profanity: 5 profanities. Drugs: None.

The Good Thief (R)

Director: Neil Jordan. With Nick Nolte, Tchéky Karyo, Emir Kusturica. (110 min.)

Sterritt ** Nolte plays a gambler on the French Riviera who stakes his future on a scheme to pull off two heists - a real one and a decoy - helped by a motley crew of collaborators. This caper is a duded-up remake of Jean-Pierre Melville's classic "Bob le Flambeur." Jordan miscalculates by substituting noise and bustle for the moody atmosphere of the 1955 original.

Staff ** Retro, mediocre, witty.

Sex/Nudity: 9 scenes, including innuendo and sex. Violence: 9 scenes, including beating. Profanity: 39 harsh profanities. Drugs: 25 scenes with drinking, smoking, or drug use.

The Gospel of John (PG-13)

Director: Philip Saville. With Henry Ian Cusick, Lynsey Baxter, Christopher Plummer. (180 min.)

Sterritt ** The movie describes Jesus' life as related in the Book of John. It's interesting to see a movie of this kind based on a single gospel. But except for a few scenes that evoke the reverent beauty of Renaissance painting, the filmmaking and acting are awfully stiff. Spending three hours with the original would be a far better use of time.

Gothika (R)

Director: Mathieu Kassovitz. With: Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr., Penélope Cruz, Charles S. Dutton. (97 min.)

Sterritt ** Accused of murdering her husband, a psychiatrist (Berry) is forcibly committed to her own mental institution, where her colleagues have trouble believing her growing realization that an evil ghost is behind the whole tragic misunderstanding. Great cast, great atmosphere, little sense or first-rate suspense.

Staff **1/2 Dark, eerie, grisly.

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of nudity, 2 innuendos. Violence: 15 instances of violence, including rape and sexual torture. Profanity: 5 profanities. Drugs: 3 scenes with smoking.

Grind (PG-13)

Director: Casey La Scala. With Mike Vogel, Vince Vieluf, Adam Brody, Joey Kern.

Staff ** Four Chicago skateboarders follow a professional 'boarder's tour across the country, hoping he'll sponsor their team. They run out of money and a rival team steals their van, stranding them, but they refuse to give up. The cast is young and exuberant, the road-trip gags are plentiful, the skateboarding is, like, awesome, but it's often slow going in between. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 4 innuendoes. Violence: 5 scenes, including shoving, punching. Profanity: 36 mostly mild expressions. Drugs: 2 scenes of drinking.

The Guru (R)

Director: Daisy von Scherler Mayer. With Jimi Mistry, Heather Graham, Marisa Tomei. (95 min.)

Sterritt * An Indian immigrant goes to work for a porn-movie outfit and then starts impersonating a new-age mystic, becoming a star on the inspirational circuit. The comedy invites us to sneer at society snobs, giggle at tepid sex jokes, sniffle at sentimental interludes, and congratulate ourselves for being sophisticated enough to watch the unconventional kisses (biracial, gay) that climax the picture. What are talents like Tomei and Graham doing in a wafer-thin fizzle like this?

Staff ** Colorful, flat, almost works.

Sex/Nudity: 20 instances, themes deal with porn industry. Violence: 1 scene of wrestling. Profanity: 28 harsh expressions. Drugs: 11 scenes of smoking and drinking.

The Guys (PG)

Director: Jim Simpson. With Sigourney Weaver, Anthony LaPaglia. (88 min.)

Sterritt ** This is a two-character drama about a journalist (Weaver) who agrees to help a New York City fire captain (LaPaglia) write eulogies for comrades who were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, coming into more intimate contact with the tragedy than she ever expected. Simpson's film is a soft-spoken memorial to the awful event and its human consequences.

Sex/Nudity: None. Profanity: Not much. Drugs: None.

The Hard Word (R)

Director: Scott Roberts. With Guy Pearce, Rachel Griffiths, Damien Richardson. (102 min.)

Sterritt ** This film is about three brothers who've built a joint career as robbers and thieves. Sprung from the slammer for one last job, they take on the challenge of stealing millions from the Melbourne Cup racing sweepstakes. If they'd spent enough time out of jail to see a proper ration of caper pictures, they'd know better than to trust new associates they don't really know - anyone named Tarzan is a psycho for sure.

Sex/Nudity: 12 scenes, including innuendo and nudity. Violence: 11 scenes. Profanity: 119 profanities. Drugs: 12 scenes of drinking, smoking, and drug use.

The Haunted Mansion (PG)

Director: Ron Minkoff. With Eddie Murphy, Marsha Thomason, Terence Stamp, Wallace Shawn. (88 min.)

Sterritt ** Hoping to land a commission, two married real estate brokers and their kids visit a spooky old manor containing a mysterious young man, his weirded-out butler, and ghosts galore. While this uneven horror comedy may supply giggles and shivers to the preteens it's aimed at, grownups won't find anything they haven't seen before.

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of innuendo. Violence: 12 scenes. Profanity: 10 mild expressions. Drugs: 2 scenes of drinking.

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (Not rated)

Director: Laetitia Colombani. With Audrey Tautou, Samuel Le Bihan, Isabel Carré. (92 min.)

Sterritt **** A bright-eyed art student dreams of a wonderful future with the handsome doctor who's stolen her heart - but halfway through the movie we start seeing things through the doctor's eyes, and they don't look quite the same. Colombani's directorial debut is smart and suspenseful. In French with English subtitles.

Staff ** Off-beat, amusing, strange.

Violence: 3 scenes with violence. Profanity: 7 expressions.

Head of State (PG-13)

Director: Chris Rock. With Rock, Bernie Mac, Robin Givens. (95 min.)

Sterritt ** Rock plays a black alderman who's coaxed into running for president by an underhanded politico who really wants him to lose. You can guess the rest - he speaks his mind, charms average citizens, and sweeps in from behind. But along with painfully predictable gags, the film has moments of sharp social satire, and Rock makes a promising directorial debut.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 8 scenes. VP: 3 harsh expressions. VD: 11 scenes of smoking, drinking.

The Heart of Me (R)

Director: Thaddeus O'Sullivan. With Helena Bonham Carter, Paul Bettany, Olivia Williams. (96 min.)

Sterritt *** Carter plays a romantic Englishwoman who falls in love with her brother-in-law, embarking on a long-term affair that entails keeping the hapless wife and sister in the dark. The power of this intelligent drama grows from its dark-toned portrayal of the World War II era and from its evocative use of flashbacks.

Sex/Nudity: 7 scenes, including sex and nudity. Violence: 5 scenes, including rape and suicide attempt. Profanity: 2 mild profanities. Drugs: 14 scenes of drinking and smoking.

Hidden in Plain Sight (Not rated)

Director: John H. Smihula. With commentators on the School of the Americas. (95 min)

Sterritt ** Documentary expressing highly critical views of the School of the Americas, an American military institution now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute of Security Cooperation, which includes such dictators as Manuel Noriega and Roberto D'Aubuisson among its grads. While there's much to be learned here about education and military mentalities, the account is too one-sided to convince viewers who don't already agree with its perspectives.

Holes (PG)

Director: Andrew Davis. With Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Patricia Arquette, Shia LaBeouf. (111 min.)

Staff *** This honky-tonk tale hews closely to Louis Sachar's Newbery-winning children's book. LaBeouf plays Stanley Yelnats IV, a teen wrongly convicted of stealing a pair of sneakers. He's shipped off to Camp Green Lake, a detention center where he and others are forced to shovel holes in the desert ostensibly "to build character," says the warden, played chillingly by Weaver. "Holes" digs deeper than other movies of its ilk, probing racism, children not fitting in, and the value of friendship. By Stephanie Cook Broadhurst

Staff ***1/2 Adept adaptation, entertaining, 'Hole'-some.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene with innuendo. Violence: 12 scenes, including shootings and fights. Profanity: 10 mild profanities. Drugs: None.

Hollywood Homicide (PG-13)

Director: Ron Shelton. With Harrison Ford, Josh Hartnett, Lena Olin, Martin Landau. (115 min.)

Sterritt * A longtime LAPD detective (Ford) and his somewhat naive partner (Hartnett) try to solve the murder of an entire rap group while moonlighting at other jobs.

Sex/Nudity: 8 scenes of innuendo, implied sex. Violence: 12 scenes, including shootings. Profanity: 31 harsh profanities. Drugs: 9 scenes of drinking, smoking.

The Holy Land (Not rated)

Director: Eitan Gorlin. With Albert Illouz, Aryeh Moskona, Oren Rehany. (96 min.)

Sterritt *** Beset by indecision in his personal and religious life, a young Israeli man visits a distant city where he falls in love with a prostitute and sees aspects of Israeli and Palestinian life that he never dreamed of before. The acting and directing are uneven, but many scenes have strong emotional and political power. In English and in Hebrew, Arabic, and Russian with English subtitles.

Sex/Nudity: 13 scenes including sex, nudity. Violence: 5 scenes. Profanity: 20 harsh profanities. Drugs: 24 instances of drinking, smoking, drug use.

Horns and Halos (Not rated)

Directors: Michael Galinsky, Suki Hawley. With James Hatfield, Sander Hicks, Mark Crispin Miller. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** This is a chilling and engrossing documentary about an author whose life took wild turns when his biography of George W. Bush lost its berth with a mainstream press, leading him to team up with a maverick publisher. The film should fascinate anyone interested in politics, publishing, and the uneasy marriage between big money and mass communication.

Staff *** Grass roots, smart, raw.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: 12 profanities. Drugs: 2 scenes with drinking; 4 with smoking.

Hotel (Not rated)

Director: Mike Figgis. With John Malkovich, Salma Hayek, Burt Reynolds, Lucy Liu. (93 min.)

Sterritt *** Filming a movie version of a classic play in Italy, a British production crew interacts with a documentary crew shooting a film about them, all in the peculiar environment of a very odd hotel. Figgis cooks up fewer memorable cinematic tricks here than in "Time Code," but he still deserves credit for taking more artistic chances than a dozen ordinary directors.

House of Sand and Fog (R)

Director: Vadim Perelman. With Jennifer Connolly, Ben Kingsley, Ron Eldard, Shohreh Aghdashloo. (126 min.)

Sterritt ** A county mistakenly evicts a troubled woman from her family home and auctions it off to a conservative Iranian immigrant, sparking a fierce battle over conflicting rights that threatens to turn violent when a cop in love with the woman gets involved. The first hour is excellent, spinning an ethically and emotionally compelling tale. Narrative logic fades during the second half, though, reducing the movie's impact on every level - and it's worse if you've read the novel by André Dubus III, which carries its grim premise to a more tough-minded conclusion.

House of 1,000 Corpses (R)

Director: Rob Zombie. With Chris Hardwick, Karen Black, Jennifer Jostyn, Sid Haig. (88 min.)

Staff ** Originally slated for release in 2000, this movie - written and directed by horror buff Rob Zombie - was unable to find a distributor because of its violence. The plot pays homage to 1970s horror flicks: Four friends are out driving on a rainy night. They become stranded and seek shelter in a sadistic family's farm house. While it delivers the goods to horror fans, it may prove too disturbing for the unsuspecting audience member. By Sasha Brown

Staff * Sadistic, creepy, depraved.

Sex/Nudity: 15 scenes, including innuendo, nudity. Violence: 26 grisly scenes. Profanity: 65 profanities. Drugs: Few scenes of drinking, smoking.

House of the Dead (R)

Director: Uwe Boll. With Jürgen Prochnow, Clint Howard. (92 min.)

Staff DUD When five young people arrive late at a rave on the deserted "Isla de la Muerte," most of the partygoers have fallen victim to resident zombies seeking replacement body parts. Fortunately a smuggler is on hand to provide weapons for our heroes' defense. The movie, like the video game series it inspired, features nonstop killing. If that doesn't make you scream, the sheer stupidity of this movie will. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes of innuendo, nudity. Violence: 24 very gory scenes. Profanity: 54 profanities. Drugs: 10 scenes of drinking, smoking.

The Housekeeper (Not rated)

Director: Claude Berri. With Jean-Pierre Bacri, Emilie Dequenne, Catherine Breillat. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** A middle-aged engineer falls in love with his young housekeeper. Berri is experienced enough to know that ill-starred affection and May-December romance have been treated in plenty of other films, so he takes a subdued and sensitive approach, allowing the emotions of the story to blossom in a gradual, organic way. In French with English subtitles.

Sex/Nudity: 4 scenes of sex, partial nudity. Violence: None. Profanity: 4 profanities. Drugs: 23 scenes of drinking, smoking.

A House on a Hill (Not rated)

Director: Chuck Workman. With Philip Baker Hall, Laura San Giacomo, Henry Rollins, Shirley Knight. (94 min.)

Sterritt **** An aging architect (Hall) unexpectedly returns to a long-abandoned and memory-filled project at the same time as a documentary is being made about his life and work. Content and style dovetail superbly in this offbeat drama.

How To Deal (PG-13)

Director: Clare Kilner. With Mandy Moore, Allison Janney, Peter Gallagher, Nina Foch. (109 min.)

Sterritt ** Moore turns in a restrained performance as a girl whose dysfunctional friends and family - a mom hurt by divorce, a dad about to marry a bimbo, a classmate whose boyfriend dies after getting her pregnant - make her so skeptical about romance that she resists the handsome guy who wants to date her. The story is more like a TV soap opera, and the filmmakers don't walk the comedy-drama tightrope skillfully.

Sex/Nudity: 4 scenes, including implied sex, innuendo. Violence: 1 car crash. Profanity: 4 profanities. Drugs: 11 scenes of drinking, smoking.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (PG-13)

Director: Donald Petrie. With Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, Adam Goldberg. (114 min.)

Staff * The title of this film would more accurately read: "How to Lose an Audience in 10 Minutes." Some scenes will make you laugh out loud, but the movie's formula for comedy gets old faster than you can say, "Let's just be friends." Andie (Hudson) is the "how to" girl for a women's magazine who writes a feature on how to drive a man away. But her subject has his own agendaz; He bets his friends that he can make a woman fall in love with him. By Stephanie Cook Broadhurst

Staff ** Silly, biting, insipid, funny at times.

Sex/Nudity: 2 sexually suggestive scenes. Innuendo throughout. Profanity: 39 harsh expressions. Drugs: 7 scenes of drinking. 1 with smoking.

Hukkle (Not rated)

Director: György Palfi. With Ferenc Bandi, Attila Kaszás, Ferenc Nagy, József Forkas. (75 min.)

Sterritt *** The title is Hungarian for "hiccup," and that's what an elderly man often does as director Pálfi veers between close-ups of his weathered face and goings-on in the rural town around him, which may or may not include murder. Hovering between vivid countryside documentary and understated melodrama, this almost wordless film is a unique excursion into fascinating territory. In Hungarian with English subtitles

Hulk (PG-13)

Director: Ang Lee. With Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott. (137 min.)

Sterritt *** Bruce Banner becomes a modern-day Dr. Jekyll after gamma rays wreak havoc on him, morphing him into a hulking green giant. As a character, the Hulk is no more interesting here than in the Marvel Comics that spawned him. Some of his exploits - hopping through the desert like a superfrog, for instance - are as silly as can be. But the movie adds a poignant plot element by making Bruce's father responsible for his predicament, allowing a current of pop-Freudian psychology to run through the yarn.

Staff ** Intense, surprisingly well acted, awful screenplay.

Sex/Nudity: 1 brief instance of nudity. Violence: 23 scenes including brutal fights and gunfire. Profanity: 6 mild expressions. Drugs: 1 instance of drug use, 1 of drinking.

The Human Stain (R)

Director: Robert Benton. With Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise. (106 min.)

Sterritt ** Philip Roth's story of a famous author who befriends a professor, learning of a great secret in his past and an incongruous love affair in his present. Although the cast is excellent, the intelligence and passion of Roth's novel are lost in glossy camera work and well-worn Hollywood mannerisms.

Staff *** Gripping, poignant, issue-driven

Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes. Violence: 6 scenes. Profanity: 46 instances. Drugs: 8 scenes of smoking, 3 of drinking.

Human Weapon (Not rated)

Director: Ilan Ziv. With Robert Jay Lifton. (54 min.)

Sterritt **** A brief history of suicide attacks, demonstrating that they're far from new and far from homogeneous in the motives that drive them and the causes they serve. Ziv's documentary is chilling and instructive. In English, Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, and Tamil with English subtitles.

The Hunted (R)

Director: William Friedkin. With Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro, Connie Nielsen, Jenna Boyd. (94 min.)

Sterritt * A former military teacher (Jones) pursues a "killing machine" (Del Toro) who learned his lessons all too well. The chief aim of this ham-fisted chase movie is to stage its story against as many Pacific Northwest backgrounds as possible. There's hardly a pause for breath. Or thought.

Staff ** Predictable, gritty, good premise.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 17 graphic scenes, including shootouts. Profanity: 13 expressions. Drugs: 3 scenes with drinking, smoking.

I Capture the Castle (R)

Director: Tim Fywell. With Romola Garai, Henry Thomas, Rose Byrne, Bill Nighy. (113 min.)

Sterritt *** Cassandra is a 17-year-old girl living in an old English castle with her sister Rose and their very eccentric parents. The rent is so far overdue that Rose cooks up a scheme to marry the American landlord, but complications ensue when Cassandra starts falling for him. Fywell keeps the funny-sad story moving at a steady clip. In all, an enticing and unpredictable tale.

Staff *** Literate, romantic, terrific script.

Sex/Nudity: No sex; brief nudity. Violence: 3 scenes. Profanity: 3 profanities. Drugs: 7 scenes of drinking; 3 smoking scenes.

Identity (R)

Director: James Mangold. With John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Ray Liotta, Rebecca de Mornay. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** A ramshackle motel hosts a motley crew of stranded travelers - including a mad killer on his way to a hearing just hours before his execution. Soon, corpses start piling up like crazy. The film has wild mood-swings, from "Psycho" to "Scream" and back again, but it's just loopy enough to be involving, if you're willing to leave your brain at the snack counter.

Staff ** Clichéd, contrived twist, Cusack is watchable.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: 22 scenes, some are quite gory. Profanity: 23 profanities. Drugs: 3 smoking scenes; 2 scenes with drinking.

In America (PG-13)

Director: Jim Sheridan. With Samantha Morton, Paddy Considine, Djimon Hounsou, Emma Bolger. (103 min.)

Sterritt ** An actor emigrates from Ireland to New York with his wife and young daughters, moving into a scruffy tenement and hoping he'll achieve some success before overwhelming poverty gets the better of them all. The story has too many trite moments, but strong acting and a goodhearted attitude keep it afloat.

Staff ***1/2 Touching, genuine, take some tissues.

Sex/Nudity: 3 sex scenes, 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 1 scene. Profanity: 4 instances. Drugs: 1 scene of drinking.

Independent Spirits: Faith Hubley/John Hubley (Not rated)

Director: Sybil DelGaudio. With Faith Hubley, John Hubley, Emily Hubley, John Canemaker. (85 min.)

Sterritt *** A nonfiction look at the lives of two filmmakers who pioneered the art of independent cinema via ingenious and intelligent animations, supplementing their income with everything from laboring at the Disney studio to creating legendary TV commercials.

In My Skin (Not rated)

Director: Marina de Van. With Marina de Van, Laurent Lucas, Thibault de Montalembert, Léa Drucker. (93 min)

Sterritt *** After suffering a minor injury, a young woman develops a love-hate relationship with her own skin, taking her inner and outer life in unpredictable directions. The results are unsparingly perverse and oddly spellbinding. In French with English subtitles.

In the Cut (R)

Director: Jane Campion. With Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kevin Bacon. (113 min.)

Sterritt *** After a murder victim is found near her apartment, a New York teacher (Ryan) becomes sexually involved with a detective (Ruffalo) who's working on the case and may be the culprit himself. Grim and sordid though it is, this psychological thriller gains power from Campion's creative style and Ryan's willingness to trade her usual cuteness for an utterly unglamorous role.

In the Mirror of Maya Deren (Not rated)

Director: Martina Kudlacek. With Jonas Mekas, Judith Malina, Amos and Marcia Vogel. (103 min.)

Sterritt **** In the movie world, the late Maya Deren is the equivalent of a legendary poet who blazes new trails in language while remaining unknown to readers who stick to bestseller lists. Spiced with quotations from her lectures, interviews with associates, and excerpts from classic Deren works like "Meshes of the Afternoon," this documentary is an eloquent memorial to her achievements.

In This World (R)

Director: Michael Winterbottom. With Enayatullah Jumaudin, Imran Paracha, Allah Bauhsh. (88 min.)

Staff *** This film chronicles the true journey of two young brothers from Pakistan who, like thousands of others, risk their lives to seek refuge in London. Hand-held cameras track their journey through the frozen mountains near Tehran, the frenzied streets of Istanbul, and onward. By Heidi Wilson

Sex/Nudity: 1 innuendo. Violence: 4 scenes. Profanity: 4 profanities. Drugs: 12 scenes of drinking, smoking.

The In-Laws (PG-13)

Director: Andrew Fleming. With Michael Douglas, Albert Brooks. (95 min.)

Staff ** A loose-cannon secret agent (Douglas) drags a mild-mannered foot doctor (Brooks) into his world of clandestine capers and narrow escapes. Can they save the world and still pull off the wedding of their son and daughter? This remake of a near-classic 1979 comedy is funny in spots but devolves into sitcom silliness. David Suchet steals scenes as a chilling yet comic über-villain. By Gregory M. Lamb

Staff *** Screwball, tedious, fast.

Sex/Nudity: 6 innuendos, 1 nude scene. Violence: 7 scenes, including explosions and beatings. Profanity: 6 harsh expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes with drinking.

Intolerable Cruelty (PG-13)

Director: Joel Coen. With George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Bob Thornton. (100 min.)

Sterritt *** A high-powered attorney (Clooney) falls for a gorgeous gold digger (Zeta-Jones) while representing her husband in their divorce, producing an elaborate web of comic situations. There's enough dark, cynical, and eccentric moments to make this a true Coen brothers satire of modern life and love.

Staff **1/2 Screwball comedy, witty banter, overdone.

Sex/Nudity: At least 4 scenes of implied sex. Innuendo throughout. Violence: 8 scenes, including shooting, comic violence. Profanity: 45 mild profanities. Drugs: 10 scenes of drinking; 1 with smoking.

Irréversible (Not rated)

Director: Gaspar Noé. With Vincent Cassell, Monica Bellucci, Albert Dupontel. (95 min.)

Sterritt *** This is a story about a brutal murder, a horrifying rape, and the events leading up to them, all revealed in reverse chronology. Noé's despairing view of human nature is as thoughtful as it is grim, limning the most appalling aspects of earthly experience in terms recalling Dante and Bosch. Only moviegoers who can tolerate extreme violence should venture near this film. In French with English subtitles.

Staff * Sickening, depressing, unnecessarily violent.

Sex/Nudity: 12 sex scenes, including 5 with male and female nudity. Violence: 8 scenes, including a brutal rape scene and a graphic beating. Profanity: 350 expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes of smoking, drinking, 2 with drugs.

It Runs in the Family (PG-13)

Director: Fred Schepisi. With Kirk Douglas, Michael Douglas, Rory Culkin, Bernadette Peters. (109 min.)

Sterritt ** The ailing patriarch of a wealthy New York clan copes with emotional issues revolving around a successful son, who's facing his own challenges: problem kids, deaths in the family, and a near miss with an extramarital love affair. The screenplay is ragged around the edges, but the film is worth a visit if you're fond of the terrific Douglas duo.

Sex/Nudity: 10 instances of innuendo; 1 of implied sex. Violence: 3 scenes, including fights. Profanity: 19 harsh expressions. Drugs: 8 drinking scenes; some smoking; 3 scenes with pot.

The Italian Job (PG-13)

Director: F. Gary Gray. With Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton, Charlize Theron, Seth Green. (104 min.)

Staff ** This remake of the 1969 crime caper rounds up all the usual clichés. There's a computer genius, an explosives expert, and a veteran safe cracker (Donald Sutherland at his most venerable). Sadly, "Italian Job" lacks the key ingredients of a great heist. By Stephen Humphries

Staff ** Slick, star vehicle, zippy car chase.

Sex/Nudity: 5 innuendos. 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: 10 extended scenes. Profanity: 17 profanities. Drugs: 10 scenes with smoking and drinking.

Japón (Not rated)

Director: Carlos Reygadas. With Alejandro Ferretis, Magdalena Flores, Carlos Reygadas Barquin. (122 min.)

Sterritt *** A man travels from Mexico City to the rugged countryside, where he plans to commit suicide. Renting a room from a lonely old woman, he builds an intimate relationship with her, nudging him toward altered views of the world. Reygadas's first feature is more persuasive as visually engaging cinema than as thoughtful philosophy, but it's engrossing despite its flaws. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Staff *** Rich plot, jarring, beautiful, slow.

Sex/Nudity: 4 graphic sex scenes. Violence: 7 scenes, some gory. Profanity: 11 profanities.

Jeepers Creepers 2 (R)

Director: Victor Salva. With Jonathan Breck, Billy Aaron Brown, Nicki Lynn Aycox. (103 min.)

Staff * Every 23rd spring, the Creeper gets to eat for 23 days. On day 23, it plans to turn a busload of high school basketball champs into dessert, ripping open the bus roof like a box of candy. Corny dialogue and the Creeper's delight make this seem more parody than sequel, but it's gruesome nonetheless. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 4 innuendoes. Violence: 28 extremely gory scenes. Profanity: 55 profanities. Drugs: 1 smoking scene.

Jet Lag (R)

Director: Daniele Thompson. With Juliette Binoche, Jean Reno, Sergi Lopez, Scali Delpeyrat. (91 min.)

Staff *** The quirky romance between Rose, a beautician who wishes her life were more like an American movie, and Felix, a heavily furrowed chef turned frozen-food guru, unfolds within the austere confines of Charles de Gaulle airport and a Hilton hotel. Though the takeoff is slow and the destination a bit too neat, the journey is charming. By Teresa Méndez

Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes, including innuendo, brief porn clips. Violence: 3 mild scenes. Profanity: 8 profanities. Drugs: Several drinking scenes.

Johnny English (PG)

Director: Peter Howitt. With Rowan Atkinson, John Malkovich, Natalie Imbruglia. (87 min.)

Sterritt ** Just what we needed, another James Bond spoof. The hero is a bumbling secret agent who mingles ineptitude with self-confidence that never quits as he tries to stop a French villain (Malkovich) from replacing Queen Elizabeth and turning her country into real estate for his jail business. There are clever scenes, but Atkinson was funnier in his earlier "Bean."

Staff ** Cheeky, slapstick, standard fare.

Sex/Nudity: 1 brief scene of nudity; 3 innuendoes. Violence: 8 scenes, including shootings. Profanity: 9 mild expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes of drinking.

The Jungle Book 2 (G)

Director: Steve Trenbirth. With John Goodman, Haley Joel Osment, Tony Jay. (72 min.)

Staff ** "The Jungle Book 2" takes more than just "The Bare Necessities" from the original film. The story line feels like a modern-day version of the first installment, including many of the same jigs, jokes, and jingles. The film picks up with Mowgli trying to adjust to life in a human village - longing for his old jungle stomping grounds. By Stephanie Cook Broadhurst

Staff *** Adorable, good music, lovely to watch.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 9 scenes of cartoonish violence. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

Just Married (PG-13)

Director: Shawn Levy. With Ashton Kutcher, Brittany Murphy, Christian Kane, Taran Killam. (95 min.)

Staff * A fairy-tale honeymoon in Europe quickly becomes a nightmare for a young couple through her father's attempted sabotage and the groom's boorish treatment of the locals. By M.K. Terrell

Staff **1/2 Slapstick, fluff, corny.

Sex/Nudity: 7 instances of innuendo. 2 scenes of implied sex. Violence: 8 scenes, mostly comedic, including assault. Profanity: 29 expressions. Drugs: 17 scenes with drinking or smoking.

Kangaroo Jack (PG)

Director: David McNally. With Jerry O'Connell, Anthony Anderson, Estella Warren, Christopher Walken. (88 min.)

Sterritt * Two lunkheaded Americans fly to Australia on a mission for a mobster, and find themselves chasing after a kangaroo that's carrying an envelope stuffed with cash. Walken has a few good moments, but nobody else does.

Staff *1/2 Poorly acted, silly, go to the zoo instead.

Sex/Nudity: 5 suggestive scenes. Profanity: 12 expressions. Violence: 29 scenes. Drugs: 3 bar scenes; some smoking.

Kedma (Not rated)

Director: Amos Gitai. With Andrei Kashkar, Helena Yaralova, Yussef Abu Warda, Juliano Merr. (100 min.)

Sterritt *** The time is 1948, the place is Palestine just before the establishment of modern Israel, and the main characters are Jewish refugees who have escaped Nazi extermination only to find themselves in conflict with British troops preparing for the partition of Palestinian land. As usual in his films, Gitai explores contested historical terrain from multiple points of view. In Hebrew with English subtitles.

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (R)

Director: Quentin Tarantino. With Uma Thurman, Vivica A. Fox, Sonny Chiba, Lucy Liu. (110 min.)

Sterritt *** Talk about pulp fiction. This extremely bloody martial-arts epic has the most straightforward story Tarantino has ever told, following a woman (Thurman) as she takes revenge on many enemies. Stay away if you have a single squeamish bone in your body.

Staff *** Gory, moody, stylish.

Violence: 97 scenes. Extreme violence throughout film, including rape, slaughters. Profanity: 28 profanities. Drugs: 5 scenes of drinking, smoking.

La Commune (Not rated)

Director: Peter Watkins. With an ensemble cast. (345 min.)

Sterritt **** Watkins envisions the historical events surrounding a real experiment in radical democracy carried out by Parisian proletarians in the 19th century. The film also comments on media issues of today by imagining that the uprising of 1871 was covered by journalists with both progressive and conservative agendas. In French with English subtitles.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (PG-13)

Director: Jan de Bont. With Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Chris Barrie. (118 min.)

Staff DUD In this unwelcome sequel, Lara Croft (Jolie) undertakes a quest to find Pandora's Box before a mad scientist can get there first and unleash a series of second-rate special effects upon an unsuspecting world. With the aid of a Scottish mercenary (Butler), the gun-toting archaeologist battles faceless henchmen and a script that seems to rely on emoticon symbols instead of dialogue. By Stephen Humphries

Sex/Nudity: 1 innuendo. Violence: 18 extended scenes. Profanity: 4 profanities. Drugs: 2 drinking scenes.

The Last Samurai (R)

Director: Edward Zwick. With: Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Timothy Spall, Billy Connelly. (144 min.)

Sterritt ** A down-and-out Civil War veteran accepts an offer to teach Japanese troops how to shoot so they can subdue Japan's remaining samurai swordsmen. But his loyalties shift when he's held captive in a samurai village overflowing with values of dignity, fidelity, and honor. The slow-moving movie puts more weight on postcard pretty pictures than on historical issues.

Staff *** Flawed plot, 'Dances with Wolves' remake, beautifully shot, epic.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 21 scenes of bloody battle. Profanity: 4 instances. Drugs: 10 scenes of drinking, 2 scenes smoking.

Laurel Canyon (R)

Director: Lisa Cholodenko. With Frances McDormand, Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale. (103 min.)

Sterritt *** Fresh from medical school, a conscientious young man and his fiancée move into the southern California home of his mother, an aging flower child whose domicile does extra duty as recording studio for her young lover's rock band. The story doesn't live up to its technical polish, but it paints a vivid picture of emotional vibes emanating from the Hollywood Hills.

Staff *** Evocative setting, shocking, quirky.

Sex/Nudity: 9 scenes, including 3 with nudity and 6 of sex. Violence: 1 scene. Profanity: 50 profanities. Drugs: 20 scenes of smoking, drinking.

Lawless Heart (R)

Directors: Neil Hunter, Tom Hunsinger. With Tom Hollander, Bill Nighy, Douglas Henshall. (110 min.)

Sterritt *** After a friend's untimely death, three men rethink the other relationships in their lives. What's essentially a commonplace story is deepened by the filmmakers' strategy of telling it from multiple points of view. Solid acting and engaging characters round out the neatly assembled tale.

Sex/Nudity: 9 sex scenes, including nudity. Violence: 1 scene. Profanity: 20 profanities. Drugs: 27 scenes of smoking, drinking.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (PG-13)

Director: Stephen Norrington. With Sean Connery, Peta Wilson, Shane West, Jason Flemyng. (112 min.)

Sterritt * A band of 19th-century adventurers familiar from other yarns - submariner Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, and so on - agree to help the British Empire by thwarting the villainous Fantom's plan to blow up a conclave of world leaders. The mighty Nautilus surging through the sea is an impressive sight to behold, but most of the picture is standard action-movie stuff. Extraordinary? Balderdash!

Sex/Nudity: 2 innuendoes. Violence: 23 scenes, including shootings and fights. Profanity: 5 profanities. Drugs: At least 4 drinking and smoking scenes.

The Legend of Leigh Bowery (Not rated)

Director: Charles Atlas. With Boy George, Bella Freud, Damien Hirst, Norman Rosenthal. (80 min.)

Sterritt *** Visually jolting documentary about Bowery, the late fashion designer, who turned his over-the-top approach to clothing into a form of performance art. In the process, he became a pop-culture icon and also a soul-baring model who posed for some of Lucien Freud's most respected paintings.

Levity (R)

Director: Ed Solomon. With Billy Bob Thornton, Kirsten Dunst, Morgan Freeman, Holly Hunter. (100 min.)

Sterritt *** Leaving jail after serving 23 years for a murder he committed as a teenager, a lonely man (Thornton) takes a job in a forlorn community center run by an enigmatic preacher (Freeman). He strikes up hesitant relationships with a troubled young woman (Dunst) and the sister of the man he killed. Solomon keeps the drama generally interesting, though some touches make the film noir plot seem too pretentious.

Staff *** Creative, absorbing, well acted, slow.

Sex/Nudity: 1 implied sex scene; 1 instance of innuendo. Violence: 5 scenes. Profanity: 26 profanities. Drugs: 10 scenes with drinking, smoking, and drugs.

The Life of David Gale (R)

Director: Alan Parker. With Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, Gabriel Mann. (130 min.)

Sterritt ** The title character is a troubled philosophy professor whose life goes downhill when he loses his job because of a trumped-up rape charge and then gets convicted of murdering a fellow political activist who protested capital punishment at his side for years. The subject is timely but Parker cares more about quickening our pulses than enlightening our minds. And the surprise ending isn't much of a surprise.

Staff *** Gripping, well acted, superb.

Sex/Nudity: 2 graphic sex scenes, 3 scenes of a nude body. Violence: 6 scenes. Profanity: 22 expressions. Drugs: 7 scenes of drinking, 5 scenes with smoking, 1 scene of illegal drug use.

Lilya 4-Ever (R)

Director: Lukas Moodysson. With Oksana Akinshina, Artiom Bogucharskij, Elina Benenson. (109 min.)

Sterritt *** Left to fend for herself by an uncaring mother and an impersonal society, a teenage girl sinks into a spiral of abuse by others and misguided decisions of her own. Set mostly in an unnamed part of the former Soviet Union, this grim Danish-Swedish production is socially revealing and artistically creative, both coldly realistic and infused with compassion for its heroine. In Russian and Swedish with English subtitles.

Staff *** A must-see, harrowing, superbly acted.

Sex/Nudity: 12 scenes including sex, nudity, prostitution. Violence: At least 5 scenes of sexual violence. Drugs: 11 scenes of drinking, smoking, and drug use.

The Lizzie McGuire Movie (PG)

Director: Jim Fall. With Hilary Duff, Adam Lamberg, Alex Borstein, Clayton Snyder. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** The popular TV character heads for Rome with a gaggle of classmates and a bossy chaperon. The action is light and lively all the way, poking inventive fun at everything from nosy little brothers to romantic Romans who aren't as glamorous as they claim to be.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 1 scene with punching. Profanity: None. Drugs: 1 drinking scene.

Looney Tunes: Back in Action (PG)

Director: Joe Dante. With: Brendan Fraser, Joan Cusack, Steve Martin (91 min.)

Sterritt ** Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck join two humans on a search for a magical diamond, quarreling about star status all the way. Dante's technical tour de force combines live action and animation as good as anything in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," but there's far too much cartoon violence for young kids.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 39 scenes of violence. Profanity: 3 mild profanities. Drugs: 3 scenes with alcohol.

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (PG-13)

Director: Peter Jackson. With Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellan, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Liv Tyler. (301 min.)

Sterritt **The hugely popular series comes to a close as Frodo and Sam struggle toward Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring in the fires where it was forged, ending an evil threat. This is one of the rare times when a trilogy's third chapter is the best of the bunch, thanks mostly to the character of Gollum and the spectacular effects of the climactic battle scene. Jackson can't sustain such power for way over three hours, though, and most of the acting is dull, dull, dull.

Staff **** Incredible, stunning, built to last forever.

Sex/Nudity: None Violence: 97 At least 37 scenes, including battle gore. Profanity: None. Drugs: 2 scenes of drinking, 4 with smoking.

Lost in La Mancha (R)

Directors: Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe. With Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp, Jeff Bridges. (93 min.)

Sterritt **** Bridges narrates this documentary about the unmaking of Gilliam's dream project, "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote," which went before the cameras in Spain only to be knocked out of production by problems including a flood that washed away sets. This is a sad and funny true-life tale that speaks volumes about the difficulties of independent filmmaking.

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of innuendo. Violence: None. Profanity: 30 expressions. Drugs: 12 scenes of smoking or drinking.

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 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 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.

Love Actually (R)

Director: Richard Curtis. With: Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Laura Linney. (128 min.)

Sterritt * Set in London during the holiday season, this overstuffed romantic comedy tells intertwined tales about the prime minister and an assistant he's infatuated with, his sister and her straying husband, a rock star who hates the holiday song he's just recorded, and plenty more. The cast glitters but the storytelling falls flat, relying on bathroom humor and needless nudity.

Staff *** Charming, light, impressive cast.

Sex/Nudity: 3 sex scenes, 7 instances of innuendo, including scenes with nudity. Violence: Mostly comic violence. Profanity: 26 instances. Drugs: 9 scenes of drinking.

Love & Diane (Not rated)

Director: Jennifer Dworkin. With Love Hinson, Diane Hazzard, Donyaeh Hazzard, Willie Hazzard. (155 min.)

Sterritt **** Dworkin makes a powerful filmmaking debut with this long, intense documentary about an inner-city family beset by problems of poverty and addiction. The movie is expansive in its concerns, intimate in its emotions, and incisive in its analysis of the interplay between social-service systems and the individual, often idiosyncratic, households they mean to help.

Love Liza (R)

Director: Todd Louiso. With Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Jack Kehler, Sarah Koskoff. (93 min.)

Sterritt **** A desperately unstable man copes with his wife's suicide by doping himself up and letting his life fall apart. Hoffman's acting is poignant, etching a sad character with no trace of compromise, and Bates gives one of her most controlled performances ever.

Staff *** Disturbing, poignant, uneven.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of nudity. Violence: At least 3 scenes of violence. Profanity: 30 expressions. Drugs: 15 scenes of drinking or drug abuse, including gasoline sniffing.

Love the Hard Way (Not rated)

Director: Peter Sehr. With Adrien Brody, Charlotte Ayanna, Jon Seda. (104 min.)

Sterritt * For reasons the film never clarifies, a petty criminal and a brilliant biology student fall in love, with awful consequences. Brody has offbeat charisma, but it's no match for the corny dialogue, not to mention the "Wild at Heart" snakeskin jacket he wears.

Lucía Lucía (R)

Director Antonio Serrano. With Cecilia Roth, Kuno Becker, Carlos Alvarez-Novoa. (110 min.)

Staff *** When Lucía's husband disappears in the Mexico City airport, two male neighbors - one much older and one much younger - come to her aid. They uncover police corruption and governmental misdeeds and learn that her husband of 10 years wasn't the honest government functionary he appeared to be. Overall, it's a tidy, well-acted thriller. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 4 scenes of nudity, sex. Violence: 9 scenes, including bloody fighting. Profanity: 15 profanities. Drugs: 6 scenes of drinking, smoking, drugs.

Luther (PG-13)

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.

Staff *** Powerful, choppy, uplifting.

Sex/Nudity: 1 implied sex scene; 2 innuendoes. Violence: 8 scenes, including brutal killings. Profanity: 6 profanities. Drugs: 2 scenes with wine.

Madame Satã (Not rated)

Director: Karim Ainouz. With Lázaro Ramos, Marcelia Cartaxo, Felipe Bauraqui. (105 min.)

Sterritt ** Rio de Janeiro is the setting for this fact-based story of an all-around social, sexual, and romantic rogue who became a widely renowned female impersonator. No-nonsense critiques of Brazil's endemic poverty and deeply flawed criminal-justice system lend substance to what otherwise might have seemed a flimsy and sensationalistic tale. In Portuguese with English subtitles.

Staff ** Complex, gritty, ruthless.

Sex/Nudity: 12 scenes of innuendo, nudity, and graphic sex. Violence: 10 scenes, some graphic. Profanity: 29 profanities. Drugs: 18 smoking, drinking, and drug scenes.

The Magdalene Sisters (R)

Director: Peter Mullan. With Anne-Marie Duff, Nora-Jane Noone, Dorothy Duffy. (119 min.)

Sterritt **** Four young Irish Catholic women are sent to live in a home for "wayward girls" run by an order of Roman Catholic nuns who discipline their inmates with a regime of celibacy, labor, and isolation. Based on realities that persisted into the '90s, Mullan's screenplay exposes almost medieval misogyny in a supposedly civilized society and provides a vivid reminder that piety without compassion is meaningless.

Staff *** Brutally honest, enraging, uncompromising.

Sex/Nudity: 10 scenes with innuendo, nudity. Violence: 10 scenes, including rapes. Profanity: 22 profanities. Drugs: 4 scenes of drinking; 2 smoking.

Malibu's Most Wanted (PG-13)

Director: John Whitesell. With Jamie Kennedy, Regina Hall, Taye Diggs, Ryan O'Neal. (85 min.)

Sterritt *** Kennedy plays a white teen who tries so hard to be black that his politically ambitious father (O'Neal) hires two African-American actors to pose as inner-city hoods and scare him back into white-bread behavior. The comedy is often crass, but it makes points about how much of "race" is more about words and gestures than skin color.

Staff *** Inspired silliness, lighthearted, fun.

Sex/Nudity: 9 innuendos. Violence: 16 scenes, including shootouts, explosions. Profanity: 105 profanities. Drugs: 6 drinking scenes.

Mambo Italiano (R)

Director: Emile Gaudreault. With Luke Kirby, Ginette Reno, Paul Sorvino. (90 min.)

Staff ** The proper way for Italian kids to leave home is to get married. Angelo Barberini, 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 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.

Man on the Train (R)

Director: Patrice Leconte. With Jean Rochefort, Johnny Hallyday, Isabelle Petit-Jacques. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** Rochefort and Hallyday play two men, a retired poetry teacher and an over-the-hill robber, who meet when the latter comes to town for a poorly planned heist. Their friendship starts by chance and ends abruptly, but it blossoms long enough to make each man wonder if his chosen path has been as fulfilling as it has seemed. In French with English subtitles.

Sex/Nudity: 3 innuendos. Violence: 1 shootout. Profanity: 14 harsh expressions. Drugs: 12 scenes of drinking, smoking.

The Man Without a Past (PG-13)

Director: Aki Kaurismäki. With Markku Peltola, Kati Outinen, Annikki Tähti, Sakari Kousmanen. (97 min.)

Sterritt **** An ordinary man gets beaten and robbed by thugs, develops a walloping case of amnesia, and spends the rest of the film rebuilding his life through the kindness of strangers and the love of a good woman. Kaurismaki is Finland's greatest filmmaker, and never has he more artfully balanced his patented blend of deadpan humor, low-key melodrama, and toe-tapping music. In Finnish with English subtitles.

Staff *** Tender, moving, riveting.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 5 scenes, including 2 beatings. Profanity: None. Drugs: 27 smoking scenes; 3 with drinking.

Manic (R)

Director: Jordan Malamed. With Don Cheadle, Zooey Deschanel. (100 min.)

Sterritt * Spoiled adolescents fill a mental institution with tantrums, and we're supposed to feel their pain. What really hurts is the film's shallow screenwriting, self- indulgent acting, and poor camera work.

Manna From Heaven (PG)

Directors: Maria and Gabrielle Burton. With Louise Fletcher, Frank Gorshin, Seymour Cassell. (119 min.)

Sterritt ** Out of nowhere, a cascade of cash rains down on a working-class neighborhood, changing the lives of those who run outside to gather it up - and changing them even more years later, when a moral-minded member of the group decides this was only a heaven-granted loan that must now be repaid with interest. This non-Hollywood production, made by five Burton sisters and their parents in their hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., is colorful and cute.

Marci X (R)

Director: Richard Benjamin. With Lisa Kudrow, Damon Wayans, Christine Baranski. (84 min.)

Staff * Seizing on a rap CD as symbolic of all that's wrong with America, a conservative senator (Baranski) calls a boycott of the conglomerate that owns the record label, putting the stressed-out CEO (Benjamin) in the hospital. His socialite daughter (Kudrow) tries to get the rapper (Wayans) to apologize, but she falls in love instead. The film sheds weak satirical light on the issues of freedom of speech, media responsibility, and oppression of minorities. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex; 6 innuendoes. Violence: 1 fight. Profanity: 15 profanities. Drugs: 5 drinking, smoking scenes.

Marooned in Iraq (Not rated)

Director: Bahman Ghobadi. With Shahab Ebrahimi, Faegh Mohammadi. (97 min.)

Sterritt **** Surrounded by chaos in the violent aftermath of the Iran-Iraq War, a popular Kurdish musician and his sons hunt for his missing wife, keeping up their spirits with melodies and carousing. A mix of war film, road movie, and romantic comedy-drama, this peripatetic yarn has enough energy to keep your toes tapping. In Kurdish with English subtitles.

Staff *** Folkloric, exotic, arresting.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 9 scenes, including robbery. Profanity: 14 profanities. Drugs: At least 4 instances of smoking.

Masked and Anonymous (PG-13)

Director: Larry Charles. With Jeff Bridges, Penelope Cruz, Bob Dylan, John Goodman. (120 min.)

Staff ** A Latin-American dictator has turned North America into a third-world country. A sleazy promoter (Goodman), promising the state network a "benefit" concert can't come up with big names, but gets a washed-up great (Dylan) out of jail to perform. This throwback to '70s protests, anonymously scripted by Dylan, never really comes together. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes of sex, innuendo. Violence: 9 scenes, including brutal tussles. Profanity: 3 profanities. Drugs: 20 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (PG-13)

Director: Peter Weir. With: Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, Billy Boyd, James D'Arcy. (138 min.)

Sterritt **** During the Napoleonic Wars, Captain Aubrey plays an oceanic cat-and-mouse game from Brazil to the Galápagos Islands as he tries to get the better of an enemy ship. Based on novels by Patrick O'Brian, this epic combines edge-of-your-seat battle scenes with vivid historical details and more fascinating characters than most action movies dream of.

Staff *** Captivating, masterly atmospheric, gory.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 15 scenes of extended warfare, including flogging, amputation. Profanity: 9 profanities. Drugs: 11 instances of drinking, 1 of smoking.

Matchstick Men (PG-13)

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 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. It's mischievous fun.

Staff *** Touching, oddball characters, suspenseful.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene at a nude bar. Violence: 2 scenes. Drugs: 14 scenes of drinking; 25 smoking.

The Matrix Reloaded (R)

Directors: The Wachowski Brothers. With Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss. (138 min.)

Sterritt ** Like its predecessor, this sequel pits a sort of superhero against the oppressive agents of machines that sustain their control of Earth by plugging humans into a virtual-reality world that keeps them deluded. The action is fast-paced but the occasional hints of philosophical depth are mere window dressing on what is essentially a money-driven franchise film.

Staff ** Thrilling car chase, video game-ish, too long.

Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene with nudity. 2 innuendos. Violence: 17 extended scenes, including battles. Profanity: 24 profanities. Drugs: 1 drinking scene.

The Matrix Revolutions (R)

Directors: The Wachowski Brothers. With Keanu Reeves, Jada Pinkett Smith, Laurence Fishburne. (129 min.)

Sterritt ** The trilogy concludes with lots of fighting between the machines - who've trapped humanity in a computer-controlled reality - and humans, struggling for freedom. This is basically a war movie decked out in sci-fi duds, plus touches of New Age hokum to make it seem profound.

Staff *** Stellar special effects, thrilling, poor dialogue.

Sex/Nudity: 1 topless scene. Violence: 12 scenes of extended violence. Profanity: 20 profanities. Drugs: 1 scene of drinking, 3 of smoking.

Max (R)

Director: Menno Meyjes. With John Cusack, Noah Taylor, Leelee Sobieski, Molly Parker. (106 min.)

Sterritt **** After World War I, a Jewish art dealer in Munich befriends an aspiring painter named Adolf Hitler, thinking he can distract the young man from his crazy political ideas by encouraging his creativity. This moodily filmed drama traces the roots of German fascism not only to the demented notions of the Nazis but to German culture in the early 1900s.

Staff *** Sharp, unsettling, inventive.

Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes, including implied sex. Violence: 3 scenes, including a severe beating. Profanity: 13 strong expressions. Drugs: 27 scenes with drinking and smoking.

The Medallion (PG-13)

Director: Gordon Chan. With Jackie Chan, Claire Forlani, Christy Chung, Lee Evans.

Staff * Three Interpol agents end up in Ireland to fight evil forces and save a gifted boy who is the keeper of a magical medallion of immortality. By Shannon Shaper

Sex/Nudity: 2 innuendoes. Violence: 14 scenes. Profanity: 3 profanities. Drugs: At least 1 smoking scene.

A Mighty Wind (PG-13)

Director: Christopher Guest. With Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Bob Balaban, Parker Posey. (87 min.)

Sterritt *** Guest follows his amusing "Waiting for Guffman" and "Best in Show" with yet another faux documentary, focusing on folkies from the '60s era of ballads and protest songs. The parody would be more memorable if it satirized a broader section of the folk-music scene instead of limiting itself to commercialized acts of the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul & Mary ilk. But it is as accurate as it is funny.

Staff *** Quirky, witty, well-acted.

Sex/Nudity: 7 scenes with innuendo. Violence: None. Profanity: None. Drugs: 2 drinking scenes.

Millennium Actress (PG)

Director: Satoshi Kon. With Miyoko Shoji, Mami Koyama, Fumiko Orikasa, Shouzou Iizuka. (87 min.)

Staff *** A TV interviewer and cameraman track down a Japanese film star who, like Greta Garbo, retired at the height of fame. They travel with her as she relives her career, beginning with a pre-World War II adolescence. This witty animé is a charming departure from the usual US cartoon feature. By M.K. Terrell.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 9 scenes, including battles. Profanity: 3 profanities. Drugs: At least 1 scene.

The Missing (R)

Director: Ron Howard. With: Cate Blanchett, Tommy Lee Jones, Evan Rachel Wood, Jenna Boyd. (130 min.)

Sterritt ** A frontier physician (Blanchett) and her estranged father (Jones) search for her young daughter, who's been kidnapped by a native American shaman with evil intentions. The screenplay often contradicts its supposed celebration of strong women and condemnation of anti-Indian oppression, and the last third is a lackluster barrage of fighting.

Staff *** Epic, entertaining, gruesome.

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo, 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: 23 scenes, including attempted rape. Profanity: 4 profanities. Drugs: 3 scenes with smoking, 5 with drinking.

Mona Lisa Smile (PG-13)

Director: Mike Newell. With Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal. (118 min.)

Sterritt ** The time is 1953, the place is a tradition-bound women's college in New England, and the heroine is an ornery Berkeley grad who takes a job teaching art history there, reasoning that she'd rather enlarge the minds of conservative students than preach her feminist-type ideas to folks who already agree with her. Roberts contributes as much energy as she can, but sentimentality trumps substance at every opportunity. The movie is a call for women's liberation in the 1950s - haven't we been there, done that already?

Mondays in the Sun (R)

Director: Fernando León de Aranda. With Javier Bardem, Nieve de Medina, José Ángel Egido, Luis Tosar. (115 min.)

Sterritt *** Bardem conveys his familiar brand of understated sensitivity in this drama about a small group of newly unemployed Spanish men whose lives grow lonelier and edgier day by day. The story's rambling, meandering style is just right for the melancholy subject being explored, and all the acting is excellent.

Morvern Callar (Not rated)

Director: Lynne Ramsay. With Samantha Morton, Kathleen McDermott, Dan Cadan. (97 min.)

Sterritt *** After the suicide of her boyfriend, who was an aspiring novelist, a working-class woman takes a spur-of-the-moment vacation with a pal, hoping for newfound wealth if she can pass her lover's unpublished manuscript off as her own. Ramsay continues her rise as England's hottest young female filmmaker.

Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes, including sex and nudity. Violence: 4 scenes, including bloody suicide. Profanity: 21 profanities. Drugs: 16 scenes of drinking, smoking.

My Architect (Not rated)

Director: Nathaniel Kahn. With Nathaniel Kahn, Frank Gehry, I.M. Pei, Philip Johnson. (116 min.)

Sterritt **** This candid, moving documentary follows Nathaniel Kahn's quest for a deeper understanding of his eccentric father, the fabled architect Louis I. Kahn, whose death in 1974 left numerous questions and ambiguities in its wake. This is personal filmmaking at its smart, sensitive best.

My Boss's Daughter (PG-13)

Director: David Zucker. With Ashton Kutcher, Tara Reid, Molly Shannon, Andy Richter.

Staff * Anxious to move up in the company office, as well as impress the tyrannical owner's daughter, Tom Stansfield agrees to baby sit the old man's pet owl. After receiving orders to have no visitors, he's unable to prevent a stream of people from wrecking the boss's mansion - and letting the owl escape. The real disaster is the slapstick-ridden script. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 5 innuendoes; 1 nude scene. Violence: 8 scenes. Profanity: 6 profanities. Drugs: 8 scenes of smoking, drinking, and drugs.

My Life Without Me (R)

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 the fact a secret from her husband and daughters, but makes a list of things she wants to do with her remaining time, such as enticing a new man to fall in love with her. It wants to be funny and sad, but it's really a schmaltzy soap opera.

Sex/Nudity: 4 scenes of implied sex. Violence: None. Profanity: 16 profanities. Drugs: 9 scenes of smoking and drinking.

My Terrorist (Not rated)

Director: Yulie Cohen Gerstel. With Yulie Cohen Gerstel. (58 min.)

Sterritt **** Gerstel's documentary account of her effort to break the cycle of Israel-Palestine violence. She lobbies for the release from prison of a Palestinian man who injured her in a bus attack. Her film provides an intelligent, deeply personal view of social and political issues that are longstanding and complex but not, she insists, intractable. In English and Hebrew with English subtitles.

Mystic River (R)

Director: Clint Eastwood. With Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Laura Linney. (137 min.)

Sterritt **** The lives of a cop (Bacon) and a shopkeeper (Penn) intersect when the merchant's daughter is murdered and it appears that another boyhood friend (Robbins) may have committed the crime. Robbins is brilliant as a man who was sexually abused as a child. Best of all is Eastwood's decision to probe serious themes through a lingering sense of ambiguity.

Staff ***1/2 Engrossing, great acting, complex.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: 11 scenes, including dead body, child abuse. Profanity: 30 profanities. Drugs: 15 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Narc (R)

Director: Joe Carnahan. With Jason Patric, Ray Liotta. (105 min)

Sterritt * A cop with a bad career history (Patric) rejoins the force, teaming with a violence-prone colleague (Liotta) who's under investigation for a list of abuses. The film is designed to show off Liotta's acting skills, but pointless nastiness crowd out any virtues it might have had.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes with innuendo. Violence: 27 scenes, including brutal beatings. Profanity: 316 harsh expressions. Drugs: 8 scenes of drinking, smoking, or drug use.

National Security (PG-13)

Director: Dennis Dugan. With Martin Lawrence, Steve Zahn. (90 min.)

Staff ** Lawrence plays a cadet who flunks out of the L.A. police academy and falsely accuses a white officer (Zahn) after a bystander comes forward with a video that shows a Rodney King-type beating. They must put animosities aside when they wind up as security guards chasing a gang of thieves. Zahn and Lawrence make a good team in this parody of police buddy films. By M.K. Terrell

Staff *Silly, predictable, dumb.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo and a partial strip. Profanity: 28 expressions. Violence: 16 scenes, including shootouts, slapstick violence. Drugs: 1 drinking scene.

The Nazi Officer's Wife (Not rated)

Director: Liz Garbus. With Edith Hahn, Julia Ormond, Susan Sarandon. (99 min.)

Sterritt *** This well-produced documentary tells Hahn's dramatic story of survival during the World War II era, when she hid her Jewish identity and ended up married to a Nazi who kept her secret, despite his anti-Semitism. Sarandon narrates and Ormond reads excerpts from Hahn's memoir, supplemented by archival footage and interviews with the survivor herself.

Nowhere in Africa (Not rated)

Director: Caroline Link. With Karoline Eckertz, Merab Ninidze, Juliane Köhler, Regine Zimmermann. (141 min.)

Sterritt *** The story begins in 1938, when a Jewish refugee from Nazi violence moves to a lonely farm in Kenya, then sends for his wife and daughter, resulting in major adjustment problems. The film focuses on the girl as she grows into adolescence. It also shows the difficulties her parents face in their new world. Many viewers will respond to this film's understated mix of family drama and Holocaust-era history.

Staff **** Enriching, absorbing, artful.

Sex/Nudity: 8 scenes, including innuendo, and 2 sex scenes. Violence: 5 scenes including graphic shots of dead animals. Profanity: 4 expressions. Drugs: 15 scenes.

Northfork (PG-13)

Director: Michael Polish. With Nick Nolte, Daryl Hannah, James Woods, Kyle MacLachlan. (103 min.)

Sterritt **** A hydroelectric project is about to put a Great Plains town underwater, and an evacuation committee is assigned to ensure no family gets left in harm's way. Meanwhile a sick boy, too weak to move, has an elaborate dream about angels as ineffectual and good-hearted as he is. This offbeat fable mingles drama, fantasy, and low-key spiritual resonance.

Staff ** Understated, disjointed, wistful.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene. Violence: 2 violent scenes. Profanity: 1 profanity. Drugs: None.

Old School (R)

Director Todd Phillips. With Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Juliette Lewis. (90 min.)

Staff * Ferrell, Wilson, and Vaughn play middle-aged men who yearn to return to the frolics of student life. What better solution than to purchase a house and set up a fraternity next to an institution of higher learning. "Old School," then, is another entry in the oddly enduring genre spawned by "Animal House": the campus comedy. The conventions are all too familiar. "Old School" flunks on every level. By Stephen Humphries

Staff **1/2 Juvenile, falls short, fun cast.

Sex/Nudity: 17 scenes, including implied group sex, nudity. Violence: 12 scenes, including tussles. Profanity: 17 expressions. Drugs: 16 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico (R)

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 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. Profanity: 23 profanities. Drugs: 21 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (R)

Director: Shane Meadows. With Robert Carlyle, Rhys Ifans, Kathy Burke, Shirley Henderson. (103 min.)

Staff *** Robert Carlyle of "Full Monty" fame returns in another slapstick comedy about what makes a man. (This time he keeps his clothes on.) Carlyle's Jimmy returns to the family he abandoned to find another man in their life. He's bumbling, fearful, and good for more than a few laughs, but will he have what it takes to stand up to thug Jimmy? You can probably guess, but you'll enjoy it anyway. By Mary Wiltenburg

Sex/Nudity: 3 innuendoes. Violence: 7 scenes, including brawls. Profanity: 106 profanities. Drugs: 11 drinking and smoking scenes.

Open Hearts (R)

Director: Susanne Bier. With Sonja Richter, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Mads Mikkelsen. (114 min.)

Staff *** Nearly too painful to watch, Bier's film forces the viewer down the same gantlet of emotions as the characters themselves. Sonja Richter plays Cecilie, a young woman who has an affair with Niels, a married doctor with three small children, after her fiancé becomes paralyzed. Niels happens to be the husband of the woman who struck her fiancé. Unforgiving in its starkness, what might otherwise seem melodramatic plays as tender and deeply affecting. By Sasha Brown

Staff *** Gripping, raw, wrenching.

Sex/Nudity: 10 instances, including sex and partial nudity. Violence: 2 scenes. Profanity: 27 instances of profanity. Drugs: 6 drinking scenes. 1 scene with smoking.

Open Range (R)

Director: Kevin Costner. With Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, Annette Bening, Michael Jeter. (139 min.)

Sterritt ** Most of this western takes place not on the open range but in a small frontier town where a grizzled old wrangler (Duvall) and his crusty partner (Costner) get into a deadly feud with a corrupt Irish land baron. Costner is comfortable directing westerns, as he showed with "Dances With Wolves." Here he takes a traditional approach - tricky to pull off, since what seems nostalgic to one viewer may seem hackneyed to another. Few will quarrel with the lavishly filmed landscapes, though.

Staff ** Old-fashioned, formulaic, earthy.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 11 scenes, including many shootouts. Profanity: 35 mostly mild expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes with smoking, 1 with drinking.

The Order (R)

Director: Brian Helgeland. With Heath Ledger, Mark Addy, Shannyn Sossaman. (102 min.)

Staff * A "sin eater" can absolve all sins by taking them unto himself, thus allowing salvation for the excommunicated. After 500 years, the last of the sin-eaters is fed up and chooses a priest (Ledger) as his replacement. While agonizing over the job offer, Ledger deals with demons, lust, and a megalomaniac cardinal bent on making himself pope. Someone should have fed this one to the script-eater. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 2 innuendoes. Violence: 17 gory scenes, including torture. Profanity: 7 profanities. Drugs: 8 scenes with smoking, 1 with drinking.

Ordinary Sinner (Not rated)

Directors: John Henry Davis. With Brendan P. Hines, Elizabeth Banks, Kris Park, A Martinez. (92 min.)

Sterritt * A college love triangle intersects with a murder case and a crisis of conscience for a gay clergyman. This low-budget drama tries very hard to convey messages of tolerance and compassion, but it's too weakly acted and directed to have much impact.

OT: Our Town (Not rated)

Director: Scott Hamilton Kennedy. With students at a Compton, Calif., high school. (76 min.)

Sterritt *** A creative teacher persuades a group of high-school students to mount a production of Thornton Wilder's classic small-town play "Our Town" in their own community, populated mostly by minority groups and dogged by poverty related problems. Kennedy and his likable "cast" deserve a standing ovation.

Staff *** Touching, hopeful, spirited.

Sex/Nudity: 4 innuendoes. Violence: 1 scene with gunshots. Profanity: 17 expressions. Drugs: None.

The Other Side of the Bed (Not rated)

Director: Emilio Martínez Lázaro. With Ernesto Alterio, Paz Vega, Guillermo Toledo. (109 min.)

Staff ** When girlfriend Paula tells Pedro she loves someone else, Pedro seeks comfort from tennis buddy Javier, which is awkward because Javier is Paula's new "someone." The cheating lovers go off for a weekend, leaving Pedro to find consolation in the arms of Javier's girlfriend, Sonia. Occasionally the cast breaks into song. It almost works. In Spanish, with English subtitles. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 19 scenes. Violence: 2 scenes. Profanity: 22 profanities. Drugs: 7 drinking, smoking scenes.

Out of Time (PG-13)

Director: Carl Franklin. With Denzel Washington, Eva Mendes, Sanaa Lathan, Dean Cain. (114 min.)

Sterritt ** The protagonist is the police chief of a tiny Florida town where a double homicide has occurred and various clues may finger him as the culprit if he can't solve the case in a hurry. Washington gives another fine performance, but the thriller has too many contrived escapes and last-minute switcheroos.

Sex/Nudity: 8 scenes of sex, innuendo. Violence: 6 scenes, including shootings. Profanity: 4 profanities. Drugs: 8 scenes of smoking, drinking.

Owning Mahowny (R)

Director: Richard Kwietniowski. With Philip Seymour Hoffman, Minnie Driver, John Hurt. (104 min.)

Sterritt **** Based on true events, this engrossing drama chronicles the decline of a mild-mannered bank clerk (Hoffman) as his gambling addiction drives him so deeply into debt that even his bookies feel bad about it. Hoffman is devastatingly good, and Hurt is excellent as a money-driven casino manager who wants to milk his client for all he's worth.

Staff *** Chilling, neurotic, frustrating.

Sex/Nudity: 1 nude scene; 2 innuendos. Violence: None. Profanity: 11 profanities. Drugs: 18 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Party Monster (R)

Directors: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato. With Macauley Culkin, Chloë Sevigny. (98 min.)

Sterritt ** This is a fact-based story of an imaginative young man (Culkin) who makes himself and his sidekicks conspicuous figures in the New York nightclub circuit. The plot is sordid and predictable - indiscriminate nightclubbing leads to escalating drugs, promiscuity, and violence.

Passionada (PG-13)

Director: Dan Ireland. With Jason Isaacs, Sofia Milos, Emmy Rossum, Theresa Russell, Seymour Cassel.

Staff ** This is a tale of romance set in a picturesque New England seaport between a working-class single mom with traditional Portuguese values and a carefree English card player. Despite its talented cast, this love story is bland and predictable. What starts out with all the ingredients for a spicy Portuguese paella ends up tasting more like fish and chips. By Bernard Cabrera

Staff ** Sweet, sincere, cute.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: None. Profanity: 12 mild expressions. Drugs: 12 scenes with drinking, 1 with smoking.

Paycheck (PG-13)

Director: John Woo. With Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman, Paul Giamatti, Joe Morton. (118 min.)

Sterritt ** Affleck plays an engineer who returns from his latest job - involving a new machine that can see into the future - with no memories of the three years he worked on the project, and plenty of evidence that someone wants to kill him right now. Woo's customary action-film pyrotechnics gather more substance than usual from the implausible but inventive plot, drawn from a Philip K. Dick story.

People I Know (R)

Director: Don Algrant. With Al Pacino, Kim Basinger, Ryan O'Neal, Téa Leoni. (95 min.)

Sterritt *** Imagine mixing "The Sweet Smell of Success" with "Eyes Wide Shut" and a dash of "ivans xtc," and you'll have an idea of this daringly offbeat fable about an aging publicity flack, a client aiming at political stardom, and a conspiracy that's as mystifying as it is menacing. Pacino gives his best performance in years, backed by a screenplay that keeps you engrossed.

Phone Booth (R)

Director: Joel Schumacher. With Colin Farrell, Katie Holmes, Kiefer Sutherland. (81 min.)

Sterritt *** A self-centered yuppie answers a pay phone in New York, and discovers he's talking with a psychopath who threatens to shoot him if he dares to hang up. Farrell solidly holds the screen and Schumacher has directed the high-voltage story without a wasted move.

Staff *** Riveting, fast-paced.

Sex/Nudity: Mild innuendo. Violence: 6 scenes. Profanity: 97 profanities. Drugs: 4 smoking scenes.

Pieces of April (PG-13)

Director: Peter Hedges. With Katie Holmes, Oliver Platt, Patricia Clarkson. (80 min)

Sterritt *** A young woman has amusing mishaps while preparing a Thanksgiving meal for her estranged family, including her seriously ill mother. Hedges's directorial debut doesn't have many laughs despite its mostly comic tone, but the characters are so convincing and the mood so light and flaky that it's hard not to find it a delicious little hors d'oeuvre of a movie.

Staff ** Uninvolving, unappetizing, comical.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes including nudity. Violence: 1 scene with a beating. Profanity: 16 profanities. Drugs: 1 scene with alcohol, 1 scene with drugs.

Piglet's Big Movie (G)

With (voices): John Fiedler, Jim Cummings, Ken Sansom. (75 min.)

Staff *** "Piglet's Big Movie" is a lot bigger - and better - than its predecessor, "The Tigger Movie." OK, so a 5-year-old may not see the nuance in the always dear, always pastel Pooh pals in either Disney riff, but parents will recognize a whole new level of plot development. Piglet's kindness is sorely tested by his honey-obsessed friends - until he gets lost and they realize he's a hero who may be small, but in the "biggest, helpfulest way." By Clara Germani

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 5 very mild scenes. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (PG-13)

Director: Gore Verbinski. With Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Jonathan Pryce. (136 min.)

Sterritt ** This swashbuckling yarn centers on an endangered woman, a mysterious pendant, and a crew of cursed pirates who want to get their hands on both so they can undo the malediction that's turned them into undead versions of the Flying Dutchman. The story is silly but Cap'n Depp's dandified demeanor is more fun to watch than the rest of the spectacle.

Staff *** Depp steals the show, swashbuckling fun, long.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 18 violent scenes, including stabbings, hangings. Drugs: 10 scenes with drinking. Profanity: 6 mild profanities.

Pistol Opera (Not rated)

Director: Seijun Suzuki. With Makiko Esumi, Sayoko Yamaguchi, Mikijiro Hira, Kirin Kiki. (112 min.)

Sterritt **** A stylish hit woman, a guild of killers, and a competition for the title of top assassin are the ingredients in this outlandish reconfiguration of Japan's popular yakuza genre. What counts isn't the convoluted plot - it's the brilliance of Suzuki's style, articulating the action with eye-boggling color and split-second editing effects. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Platform (Not rated)

Director: Zhang Ke Jia. With Hong Wei Wang, Jing Dong Liang, Tao Zhao. (155 min.)

Sterritt *** The setting is provincial China in the late '70s and '80s, and the main characters are members of a theater troupe that has to change as the nation shifts from Maoist orthodoxy to new, more progressive attitudes. The movie makes up in sweep and splendor what it lacks in psychological depth and dramatic impact. In Mandarin with English subtitles.

Power Trip (Not rated)

Director: Paul Devlin. With residents of Tblisi. (86 min.)

Sterritt **** Behind that vague-sounding title stands a riveting documentary, filmed in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, about the bewilderment of citizens who can't understand why the US-based electric utility of their newly capitalist country insists on charging them for a power supply - something they've always considered a basic human right. In English and Georgian with English subtitles.

Prey for Rock & Roll (R)

Director: Alex Steyermark. With Gina Gershon, Lori Petty, Drea DeMatteo, Shelly Cole. (104 min)

Sterritt ** The life and times of an all-girl rock band in Los Angeles, dreaming of big-time success, or at least medium-time success, that will probably never arrive. The movie's main asset is Gershon's vitality, playing a rocker who's just turned 40 and realizes that being a middle-aged punk is far from satisfying.

Radio (PG)

Director: Mike Tollin. With Cuba Gooding, Jr., Ed Harris, Alfre Woodard. (109 min.)

Sterritt * In a small Southern town, a mentally slow African-American man (Gooding) comes under the wing of a high school football coach (Harris) who helps him achieve a happier and more trusting relationship with the everyday world. This fact-based drama is very well-meaning, but also cloying, sentimental, and simplistic.

Sex/Nudity: None VV: 2 mild scenes. Profanity: 14 profanities. Drugs: 2 scenes of tobacco.

Rana's Wedding (Not rated)

Director: Hany Abu-Asad. With Clara Khoury, Ismael Dabbag, Khalifa Natour, Zuher Fahoum. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** The father of our Palestinian heroine plans to take her to Egypt to a new life she's sure will be less happy than her current one. Her only chance to avoid this is to locate her boyfriend, Khalil, by 4 p.m. A plot that combines suspense, whimsy, and political resonance make this comedy-drama an unusual treat.In Arabic with English subtitles.

The Real Cancún (R)

Director: Rick de Oliveira. With 16 college students. (96 min.)

Staff ** Reality TV comes to the big screen. Concept: Recruit a few van loads of college men and women to spend their spring break in Cancún, add alcohol, roll film, and see what happens. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 27 scenes, including nudity, sex, and innuendo. Violence: 1 mild scene. Profanity: 156 profanities. Drugs: Smoking, drinking throughout.

The Recruit (PG-13)

Director: Roger Donaldson. With Al Pacino, Colin Farrell. (105 min.)

Sterritt ** "Nothing is what it seems," says CIA boss Pacino before putting new recruit Farrell onto the trail of fellow trainee Moynahan, who may be a double agent. The first half comes up with nifty surprises, but suspense ebbs as the story sinks into standard-issue shootout and car-chase scenes.

Staff *1/2 Unoriginal, well-cast, recycled.

Sex/Nudity: Several instances of innuendo. 2 scenes of implied sex. Violence: 7 scenes. Profanity: 26 expressions. Drugs: 7 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Reno: Rebel Without a Pause (Not rated)

Director: Nancy Savoca. With Reno. (75 min.)

Sterritt **** The controversial comic holds forth on the World Trade Center disaster, which happened in her neighborhood, and a long list of issues related to it directly, indirectly, or just barely. Her ornery perspectives are as thought-provoking as they are - at times - incendiary.

Respiro (PG-13)

Director: Emanuele Crialese. With Valeria Golino, Vincenzo Amato, Francesco Casisa. (90 min.)

Staff **When the seductive and reckless Grazia, a young wife and mother of three, finds herself at odds with the customs of her small fishing community, she seeks refuge in her devoted son. The film deftly depicts the bleak and beautiful island life of Lampedusa, but it lacks direction. By Marie Ewald

Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes, including nudity. Violence: 10 scenes, including fighting and dog killing. Profanity: 13 profanities. Drugs: At least 8 instances of smoking and drinking.

Returner (R)

Director: Takashi Yamazaki. With Ann Suzuki, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Kirin Kiki, Goro Kishitani. (116 min.)

Sterritt ** A time-traveling teenage girl arrives from the future with the mission of killing an outer-space alien who'll cause global war if not eliminated. Hovering between "Last Action Hero" and "E.T.," this extravaganza is bookended with violence but has some gentle moments in between. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time (Not rated)

Director: Thomas Riedelsheimer. With Andy Goldsworthy. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** This documentary features a leisurely visit with a dedicated artist who treks into a variety of natural settings - from the meadows of his native Scotland to the rocks and rivers of Nova Scotia - to create sculptures out of nature. The film would be more informative if it put Goldsworthy into the broader context of modernist art movements. It's visually ravishing from start to finish.

Rugrats Go Wild (PG)

Directors: Norton Virgien, John Eng. With voices of Bruce Willis, Nancy Cartwright, Tim Curry. (85 min.)

Sterritt *** The suburban Rugrats meet the wild Thornberrys when their boating vacation takes a wrong turn and lands them on a faraway island. Not surprisingly, the Thornberrys are more fun than the Rugrats, but the film turns into an enjoyable enough trip.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 8 scenes of cartoonish violence. Profanity: None. Drugs: 1 scene with drinking.

Runaway Jury (PG-13)

Director: Gary Fleder. With Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, John Cusack, Rachel Weisz. (123 min.)

Sterritt ** A woman sues the gun manufacturer whose product killed her husband. She's represented by a folksy lawyer (Hoffman), and opposed by a mercenary jury-selection consultant (Hackman) who's willing to sway the verdict by illegal means - and may succeed. A juror (Cusack) has told both he'll manipulate the deliberations for money. The story raises ethical questions, but puts most of its energy into gimmickry.

Staff **1/2 No objections, jury duty you'll enjoy, suspenseful.

Sex/Nudity: 1 mild sex scene. Violence: 8 scenes of violence, including a severe beating. Profanity: 12 mild profanities. Drugs: 6 scenes with alcohol, 1 with drugs.

The Rundown (PG-13)

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 a US capitalist. This is basically a 10th-tier rehash of Indiana Jones, laced with moments that are actually clever and exciting. Dawson is alluring, Walken is terrific, and The Rock is, well, The Rock.

Sex/Nudity: 4 innuendoes. Violence: 19 scenes. Profanity: 11 profanities. Drugs: At least 11 drinking, smoking scenes.

The Safety of Objects (R)

Director: Rose Troche. With Glenn Close, Dermot Mulroney, Patricia Clarkson, Robert Klein. (120 min.)

Sterritt ** A lonely father, an insecure woman, a comatose young man, and an adolescent infatuated with a doll are among the diverse characters of this multifaceted drama, based on A.M. Homes's stories. The effect is imaginative but overambitious, though Troche has cinematic talent.

Sex/Nudity: 10 scenes, including implied sex, seminudity. Violence: 5 scenes, including kidnapping. Profanity: 33 expressions. Drugs: 11 scenes with smoking, drinking.

Scary Movie 3 (PG-13)

Director: David Zucker. With Anna Faris, Charlie Sheen, Denise Richards, Jeremy Piven, Queen Latifah. (90 min.)

Staff *** Acting? Minimal. Character development? Nil. Plot? Barely: An anchorwoman has seven days to discover the source of a videotape before she is killed. Elsewhere, a farmer wants to know who is planting crop circles in his fields that spell out "ATTACK HERE." Thanks to director Zucker, this is by far the best installment yet - there's less bathroom humor and more "Airplane!"-type lunacy. By Alex Kaloostian

Sex/Nudity: 14 innuendoes. Violence: 28 instances. Profanity: 47 profanities. Drugs: 2 scenes of smoking, 1 of alcohol.

School of Rock (PG-13)

Director: Richard Linklater. With Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, Sarah Silverman. (108 min.)

Sterritt **** Kicked out of his band and desperate for rent money, a washed-up rock singer takes a job as a substitute teacher in a snooty private school, and decides to turn his fourth-grade class into a jivin' pop group. Black gives the performance of his career and the kids are marvelous. Viewers of all musical tastes will find crisp comic pleasures in this amiable tale.

Staff *** One-man show, family film, next "Spinal Tap."

Sex/Nudity: 3 innuendoes. Violence: 1 minor scene. Profanity: 13 mild profanities. Drugs: 4 scenes of smoking, drinking.

The Sea (Not rated)

Director: Baltasar Kormákur. With Gunnar Eyjólfsson, Sven Nordin, Hélène de Fougerolles. (109 min.)

Sterritt ** Tensions flare when an older Icelandic businessman calls his family together at his home near the coast and tries to forge an agreement on financial matters that holds a key to their future. The drama is ultimately more ambitious than enlightening. In Icelandic with English subtitles.

Sex/Nudity: 12 scenes, including innuendo, nudity. Violence: 7 scenes, including attempted rape. Profanity: 28 profanities. Drugs: 23 scenes of smoking, drinking.

Seabiscuit (PG-13)

Director: Gary Ross. With Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, Tobey Maguire. (129 min.)

Sterritt * This is a story of an unlikely trio - a millionaire, an eccentric loner, and an oversized jockey - who made a runty horse with an ungainly gallop into the most famous racer of the Depression. The subject is fascinating, but writer-director Ross never goes a millimeter beneath the surface of his characters.

Staff *** Heartwarming, triumphant, iconic.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes with partial nudity and sex. Violence: 6 scenes, including bloody fights and animal cruelty. Profanity: 20 harsh profanities. Drugs: 29 scenes with smoking and 22 with drinking.

Secondhand Lions (PG)

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 salesmen who dare to approach their ramshackle porch. They learn to enjoy life better when they take in a young relative (Osment) who listens to their tales of bygone adventures. Duvall and Caine are anything but secondhand, and their acting is marvelous.

Staff *** Uplifting, funny, adventurous.

Sex/Nudity: 1 innuendo. Violence: 14 scenes. Profanity: 28 mild profanities. Drugs: 6 scenes with drinking or tobacco.

Secret Lives: Hidden Children & Their Rescuers During WWII (Not rated)

Director: Aviva Sleslin. With surviving parents and children of the World War II era.

Sterritt *** This documentary is about non-Jewish adults who risked their lives to save Jewish children from Nazi brutality. Although it isn't original in style, this heartfelt account is instructive and often touching. In English, German, and French with English subtitles.

The Secret Lives of Dentists (R)

Director: Alan Rudolph. With Campbell Scott, Hope Davis, Denis Leary. (105 min.)

Sterritt **** This is a story about the marriage of two dentists. The wife may be having an affair so secret that her spouse can't be certain it's happening at all. The husband is still in love with her, but can't help recognizing that three lively kids, professional success, and money to spare add up to much less than a picture-perfect existence. This bittersweet comedy-drama ranks with the best work Rudolph has ever done.

Staff *** Original, touching, ingenuous.

Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes, nothing graphic. Violence: 1 scene of brutal beating. Profanity: 20 expressions, some strong. Drugs: 8 scenes of drinking, smoking.

September 11 (Not rated)

Directors: Sean Penn, Mira Nair, Ken Loach, Claude Lelouch, Samira Makhmalbaf, Shohei Imamura, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Amos Gitai, Idrissa Ouedrago, Youssef Chahine, Danis Tanovid. (135 min.)

Sterritt *** Originally titled "11'09"01," this is a collection of international movies responding to the Sept. 11 attacks, each lasting 11 minutes, nine seconds, and one extra frame to match Sept. 11, 2001, in the European calendar system. They vary enormously in style, quality, and ideas, but the best of them - by Gitai, Chahine, and Iñárritu, among others - pack an enormous emotional and intellectual punch. In English and other languages with English subtitles.

Shanghai Knights (PG-13)

Director: David Dobkin. With Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Fann Wong. (114 min.)

Staff *** Watching the Buster Keatonesque action in this superior sequel to "Shanghai Noon," one wonders whether Kung Fu maestro Jackie Chan was a Looney 'toon in his previous life. Just as animated is Owen Wilson, the other member of the odd couple. The mechanical plot places the duo in Victorian London where they try to prevent an aristocrat from assassinating the royal family. By Stephen Humphries

Staff ***Hilarious, amazing stunts, colorful.

Sex/Nudity: 12 sexually suggestive scenes. Violence: 17 scenes, including karate fights. Profanity: 23 expressions. Drugs: 9 scenes of smoking, drinking.

The Shape of Things (R)

Director: Neil LaBute. With Rachel Weisz, Paul Rudd, Gretchen Mol. (97 min.)

Sterritt **** An insecure college student becomes more assured under the sway of his new girlfriend, an aspiring artist who transforms his self-image but brings rueful surprises when she turns out to have an intellectual agenda. The film begins as a well-crafted dramatic comedy, then morphs into a disturbing deconstruction of truisms about love, loyalty, maturing, and the complex permutations of art and ethics.

Staff *** Insightful, powerful, incisive dialogue.

Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes, including innuendo and sex. Violence: 5 scenes of pushing. Profanity: 32 harsh expressions. Drugs: 1 scene of drinking; 1 scene with drugs.

Shattered Glass (PG-13)

Director: Billy Ray. With: Hayden Christensen, Peter Sarsgaard, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Zahn. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** Based on a 1998 article in Vanity Fair, this is a dramatized version of the real-life journalism scandal sparked by Stephen Glass, a New Republic staffer who built a temporarily dazzling career by juicing up, distorting, and downright inventing supposed "facts." Intimate in scale and marvelously acted - yes, Christensen can do more than swing a light saber - Ray's debut film is the most resonant movie about American journalism since "All the President's Men."

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (PG)

Directors: Tim Johnson, Patrick Gilmore. With voices: Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer. (86 min.)

Sterritt ** Our hero sets out to recover the cherished Book of Peace from whoever has stolen it and pinned the blame on him. The animators make the most of the film's traditional 2-D cartoon style, but the adventure rarely becomes as exciting as you'd expect, and the plot may be too a tad complicated for young viewers. But there are memorable moments along the way.

Sex/Nudity: 2 mild innuendos. Violence: 16 scenes, including sword fights. Profanity: None. Drugs: 2 mild drinking scenes.

The Singing Detective (R)

Director: Keith Gordon. With Robert Downey Jr., Mel Gibson, Robin Wright Penn, Katie Holmes. (109 min.)

Sterritt ** Physical and psychological illness land a mystery writer (Downey) in a hospital where a gifted psychiatrist (Gibson) helps him escape a hallucinatory maze of personal problems. Downey's rambunctious acting competes with Gordon's surrealistic filmmaking in this many-layered melodrama, adapted by the late Dennis Potter from his great 1980s miniseries.

Sister Helen (Not rated)

Directors: Rebecca Cammisa, Rob Fruchtman. With Sister Helen Travis and residents of the John Thomas Travis Center. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** Documentary about a woman's success in running a shelter for men with grave addiction problems, revealing her own past struggles with similar challenges and acknowledging the possible collapse of her legacy after her death in 2000. Inspiring, unsparing, and relentlessly candid.

The Slaughter Rule (Not rated)

Directors: Andrew & Alex Smith. With Ryan Gosling, David Morse, Clea Duvall, Eddie Spears. (116 min.)

Sterritt *** A young man from a shattered family develops a complex relationship with an aging coach who recruits him for an amateur football team. This well-acted melodrama paints a convincing portrait of its Montana milieu, and its best scenes suggest real insights into the paradoxical attitudes toward masculinity that men often feel compelled to assume.

The Son (Not rated)

Directors: Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne. With Olivier Gourmet, Morgan Marinne. (103 min.)

Sterritt **** A hard-working Belgian carpenter develops an enigmatic relationship with a teenage boy who comes to his shop as an apprentice, hiding his awareness of their intertwined roles in a tragic past event. Gourmet gives a virtuoso performance. In French with English subtitles.

Spellbound (G)

Director: Jeff Blitz. With children in the National Spelling Bee. (97 min.)

Sterritt **** The characters are a socially and culturally diverse group of kids who share a knack for spelling, and the event is the National Spelling Bee. This documentary would be more valuable if it explored the dark side of its subject, probing rote learning and asking if competition for its own sake is a proper educational tool. But you won't find many films with more sheer suspense.

Staff **** Humorous, suspenseful, interesting.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: 1 Drugs: None.

Spider (R)

Director: David Cronenberg. With Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson. (98 min.)

Sterritt **** A mentally troubled man tries to understand his tormented past as he is flooded by delusions and memories of his abused childhood. Cronenberg doesn't draw clear boundary lines between illusion and reality, depicting the main character's experiences as a complex web of memories, fantasies, and dreads. Honors also go to first-rate acting by Fiennes.

Staff *** Harrowing, metaphorical, lonely.

Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes. Violence: 3 scenes of violence, including self-mutilation. Profanity: 7 expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Spun (Not rated)

Director: Jonas Akerlud. With Jason Schwartzman, Mena Suvari, Brittany Murphy, Mickey Rourke. (96 min.)

Staff ** Unlike other recent films about drugs, "Spun" takes on the lifestyle of crystal-meth addicts. With the help of a washed-out color scheme, the "Spun" experience - played out among a circle of junkies in the L.A. area - is a draining one. No detail is spared and you are certain to walk away with a nagging queasiness. By Elizabeth Armstrong

Staff ** Gritty, manic, punishing.

Sex/Nudity: 23 scenes, including nudity, violent sex. Violence: 11 scenes, including shootings. Profanity: 250 profanities. Drugs: 35 scenes, including drugs, drinking, smoking.

Starkiss: Circus Girls in India (Not rated)

Directors: Chris Relleke, Jascha de Wilde. With members of the Great Rayman Circus. (77 min.)

Sterritt **** This unsentimental documentary depicts the daily experiences of about 50 girls, ages from 4 to 24, who've been sold into circus life by their poverty-stricken parents. Also present are additional circus employees and executives who see nothing wrong with the business arrangements that keep their enterprise going. In English, Hindi, and Nepalese with English subtitles.

The Statement (R)

Director: Norman Jewison. With Michael Caine, Tilda Swinton, Jeremy Northam, Charlotte Rampling. (120 min.)

Sterritt ** A sharp-eyed investigator hunts a Holocaust collaborator in present-day France, where he's been living with support from an ultraconservative Roman Catholic organization. The drama starts with great promise, but loses credibility when it lapses into long stretches of hackneyed dialogue and a general failure to make the central character convincing as a deeply religious man who is also a self-absorbed psychopath.

The Station Agent (R)

Director: Thomas McCarthy. With Paul Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale. (88 min)

Sterritt **** Dinklage gives a breakthrough performance as a railroad-loving dwarf who moves to an isolated home so he can pursue his train-spotting in peace, if the locals will leave him alone with their rude curiosity and overeager friendship. Every element is exactly right in this heartfelt gem of independent filmmaking.

Staff *** Profoundly touching, often hilarious.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene with partial nudity, 4 innuendoes. Violence: 2 scenes of violence. Profanity: 28 harsh profanities. Drugs: 19 scenes of smoking, 11 with alcohol.

Step Into Liquid (Not rated)

Director: Dana Brown. With various surfers. (88 min.)

Sterritt ** Hanging ten from southern California to places like Ireland and Vietnam, this documentary tries to recapture the 1966 magic of "The Endless Summer," which makes sense, since director Brown is son of Bruce Brown, who made that surfboard classic.

Staff *** Insane, tubular, fluid.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 4 scenes with injuries. Profanity: 18 profanities. Drugs: 1 drinking scene.

Stevie (Not rated)

Director: Steve James. With Stephen Fielding, Steve James, Verna Hagler, Tonya Gregory. (140 min.)

Sterritt **** This engrossing documentary began to develop when filmmaker James discovered that an Illinois youngster he'd mentored years earlier was entangled in family and legal problems. He decided to spend time with the man by making a documentary about him. The project acquired new dimensions when Fielding was charged with a startling crime. Its fascination also comes from James's reflections on his responsibilities as a friend and a filmmaker.

Staff *** Delicate, enlightening, disturbing.

Sex/Nudity: Few instances of innuendo. Violence: Sexual abuse is a main theme. No violence, but there are graphic threats throughout. Profanity: 44 profanities. Drugs: 13 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Stone Reader (Not rated)

Director: Mark Moskowitz. With Markowitz, Dow Mossman, Leslie Fiedler, Robert Gottlieb. (128 min.)

Sterritt * Documentary about Moskowitz's long effort to track down and interview Mossman, the now-obscure author of a novel that made a deep impression on him many years earlier. This movie should have been a book-lover's dream, but Markowitz's attitude toward literature seems closer to that of a hobbyist and collector than of a real connoisseur, and Mossman's long-delayed appearance is predictably anticlimactic.

Suspended Animation (Not rated)

Director: John Hancock. With Alex McArthur, Laura Esterman, Fred Meyers, Sage Allen. (117 min.)

Sterritt *** This suspense-horror movie centers on an animator who gets taken captive by cannibalistic sisters, escapes, and then starts obsessively tracking down estranged members of their family so he can better understand his weird experience and maybe take revenge. Although overlong, the picture has a fair measure of jolts and surprises.

S.W.A.T. (PG-13)

Director: Clark Johnson. With Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J.

Staff ** Farrell plays a resourceful LAPD cop reduced to weapons clerk for refusing to rat on a buddy in this resurrection of the '70s TV series. Jackson plays a sergeant who wants Farrell for his super elite S.W.A.T. unit. The fresh cast breathes some life into the proceedings, but the plot is formulaic. By M.K. Terrell

Staff * Insipid, unsatisfying, noisy.

Drugs: 4 smoking scenes; 8 with drinking. Profanity: 78 profanities.

Sweet Sixteen (R)

Director: Ken Loach. With Martin Compston, Michelle Coulter. (106 min.)

Sterritt *** Approaching his 16th birthday, a troubled Glasgow lad awaits his mother's return from prison. He schemes to raise the money that might let him escape his dysfunctional household and start a better life. Loach has made more memorable films, but his dramatic sense remains strong.

Staff *** Depressing, important, realistic.

Sex/Nudity: 3 innuendos. Violence: 12 scenes, including beatings. Profanity: 356 profanities. Drugs: 14 scenes of drinking, smoking, and drugs.

Swimming Pool (R)

Director: François Ozon. With Charlotte Rampling, Charles Dance. (102 min.)

Sterritt ** Suffering from writer's block, an English mystery novelist moves into a French chateau owned by her publisher, where she enters an increasingly ominous relationship with a young woman who's staying there. The suspenseful setup never pays off, but Rampling continues the impressive collaboration with Ozon that began with "Under the Sand" in 2000. In English and French with English subtitles.

Staff ** Understated, superficial, entertaining.

Sex/Nudity: 15 scenes, including nudity, sex. Violence: 3 scenes. Profanity: 9 profanities. Drugs: 20 scenes of drinking, smoking, drug use.

Sylvia (R)

Director: Christine Jeffs. With Gwyneth Paltrow, Daniel Craig, Blythe Danner, Michael Gambon. (100 min.)

Sterritt *** Paltrow plays the great poet Sylvia Plath in this dramatized account of her meeting with future poet laureate Ted Hughes, their troubled marriage, and Plath's eventual suicide. Like most such movie biographies, this one shows artistic creation as a matter of strong feelings alone, not the intricate blend of emotion and intellect it actually is. Jeffs conjures up vivid moods, though, and Paltrow is persuasive.

Staff *** Dreary, well-acted, overly dramatic score.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes, including nudity. Violence: 4 scenes. Profanity: 10 profanities. Drugs: 12 scenes of drinking, smoking.

Taking Sides (Not rated)

Director: István Szabó. With Harvey Keitel, Stellan Skarsgård, Birgit Minichmayr, Moritz Bleibtreu. (105 min.)

Sterritt *** This is a fictionalized account of the post-World War II effort by American authorities to discredit brilliant German conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler for supporting Hitler during the Nazi period. Ronald Harwood's screenplay, based on his stage play, brings an impressive range of moral and political issues into play. The acting is also strong, especially by Skarsgård as the legendary musician.

Tears of the Sun (R)

Director: Antoine Fuqua. With Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci. (105 min.)

Sterritt ** US soldiers penetrate the Nigerian jungle to rescue an endangered Italian physician who refuses to leave unless she can bring refugees with her. Dark-toned camera work and moody music give this war film a chilling atmosphere until the final scenes of combat-movie clichés.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of partial nudity. Violence: 10 scenes of extreme war violence. Profanity: 38 expressions.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (R)

Director: Jonathan Mostow. With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kristanna Loken, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes. (109 min.)

Sterritt ** A high-tech terminator is sent from the future to assassinate the late Sarah Connor's son, who has a crucial role to play in a future battle between humans and gizmos. The human resistance movement sends a cyborg to protect him, touching off spectacular battles. Schwarzenegger strides across the screen with a magnetism that makes the Hulk look wimpy.

Staff *** Relentless pace, witty at times, potent.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes of posterior nudity; 2 scenes with innuendo. Violence: 24 extended scenes. Profanity: 26 profanities. Drugs: 3 scenes of drinking.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (R)

Director: Marcus Nispel. With: Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour, Erica Leerhsen, R. Lee Ermey. (98 min.)

Sterritt ** Far from home, five clueless 20-somethings run into a demented girl, a sinister cop, a cannibal family, and ... the title tells the rest. More violent and less creepy than the 1974 original, the remake delivers enough gory mayhem to keep horror fans screaming.

Staff * Pointless, gory, mind-numbing.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes. Violence: 26 instances of beatings, shootings, and torture. Profanity: 46 strong expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with alcohol, 2 with drug use.

Thirteen (R)

Director: Catherine Hardwicke. With Evan Rachel Wood, Holly Hunter, Nikki Reed. (100 min.)

Staff ** This raw film chronicles how a 13-year-old honors student (Wood) succumbs to almost every peer pressure imaginable when she gains acceptance from the ringleader (Reed) of the cool clan at her junior high. Co-written by Reed when she was 13, the film's style is as volatile as a rebellious teen - at times veering over the top. The acting is impressive, though. By Stephanie Cook Broadhurst

Staff *** Harrowing, disturbing, eye-opening.

Sex/Nudity: 12 scenes of sex, and seminudity. Violence: 18 scenes, including self-mutilation. Profanity: 70 profanities. Drugs: 28 drinking, smoking, and drug scenes.

The Three Marias (Not rated)

Director: Aluizio Abranches. With Júlia Lemmertz, Luíza Mariani, Maria Luisa Mendonça. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** Stricken with grief and rage after her sons and husband are murdered by a long-ago romantic rival, a woman dispatches her three daughters to exact revenge with the help of three implacable killers . This strikingly unusual movie is at once an old-fashioned melodrama and a very grim fairy tale, acted and directed with flair. In Portuguese with English subtitles.

Till Human Voices Wake Us (R)

Director: Michael Petroni. With Guy Pearce, Helena Bonham Carter, Frank Gallacher. (101 min.)

Sterritt ** Visiting his Australian hometown after his father's death, a man remembers a romance of his teenage years and develops an enigmatic relationship with a woman who can't remember her past. Petroni's debut is too atmospheric for its own good, wrapping a potentially strong story in layers of misty emotion.

Staff **Stylish, modest, flat, quiet.

Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene with nudity. Violence: 2 scenes. Profanity: 2 profanities. Drugs: None.

Timeline (PG-13)

Director: Richard Donner. With Paul Walker, Frances O'Connor, Billy Connolly, Anna Friel. (116 min.)

Staff * In this "Stargate" redux, a Yale history professor rides a wormhole back to 14th century France. When he gets stuck there, a group of students time travel to rescue him, landing amid the clanking metal and flying arrows of a Anglo-French battle. Based on Michael Crichton's bestseller, this action film plays more like a comedy filled with TV acting and clichéd one-liners. By Stephanie Cook Broadhurst

To Be and to Have (Not rated)

Director: Nicolas Philibert. With George Lopez and his pupils. (104 min.)

Sterritt *** This is a gentle documentary about Lopez's work as the sole teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in rural France, where he treats his students with rare delicacy, intelligence, and affection. The film has much quiet charm, although it would be more interesting if we learned about Lopez's private life. In French with English subtitles.

Together (PG)

Director: Chen Kaige. With Peiqi Liu , Hong Chen, Zhiwen Wang, Chen Kaige, and Yun Tang. (117 min.)

Staff **** A 13-year-old boy and his father take off to Beijing in the hopes of finding a suitable violin teacher to encourage the adolescent's genius. "Together" is a breathtaking exploration of the relationship between people and music, whose culmination is both delicate and explosive. By Elizabeth Armstrong

Staff **** Endearing, familial, quirky, artful.

Sex/Nudity: Some innuendo. Violence: 2 tussles. Profanity: None. Drugs: 15 scenes of smoking, drinking.

The Trials of Henry Kissinger (Not rated)

Director: Eugene Jarecki. With Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens, Seymour Hersh. (80 min.)

Sterritt **** This documentary is about the controversial statesman's career, emphasizing his involvement in the Vietnam War and the 1973 ouster of Chile's elected president, and building its case along the lines of Hitchens's argument that he should be tried for war crimes. Pungent, opinionated, outspoken.

The Triplets of Belleville (PG-13)

Director: Sylvain Chomet. With voices of Michèle Caucheteux, Michel Robin, Jean-Claude Donda. (78 min.)

Sterritt **** When her bike-racing grandson is kidnapped, an elderly woman and her faithful pooch undertake a voyage to rescue him, and along the way they meetthree aged nightclub musicians who play "instruments" like the vacuum cleaner. Telling its story with almost no dialogue, this French animation is a wacky, sometimes hilarious dream. The best character is Belleville, a mixture of Paris and New York as they might be after globalization makes them indistinguishable. In French with English subtitles.

Tupac: Resurrection (R)

Director: Lauren Lazin. With: Tupac Shakur. (90 min.)

Staff *** The talented and charming rapper Tupac Shakur tells of his rise to fame in an extended interview illustrated by clips from concerts, dramatic films, and news footage. The MTV documentary style can be maddeningly superficial at times, but it can't blunt the eloquence as Tupac narrates his tragic march toward a violent and untimely death. By M.K. Terrell

Staff *** Passionate, intimate, one-sided

Sex/Nudity: 10 instances. Violence: 21 scenes of violence, including beatings and shootings. Profanity: 60. Drugs: 9 instances of drug use, 8 of alcohol, 10 of smoking.

Tycoon: a New Russian (Not rated)

Director: Pavel Lounguine. With Vladimir Mashkov, Andrei Krasko, Maria Mironova, Sergei Oshkevich. (128 min.)

Sterritt *** In the heady days after the Soviet Union fell, an anything-goes entrepreneur coaxes four students into joining him for a business spree that calls for collaborating with mobsters, eluding the secret police, and sparring with crooked military men and rival capitalists. In Russian with English subtitles.

Ten (Not rated)

Director: Abbas Kiarostami. With Mania Akbari, Amin Maher. (94 min.)

Sterritt **** Iran's greatest filmmaker is fond of stripping personalities bare through conversations they have while riding in cars. Here he pushes his favorite dramatic device to its limit - filling a whole movie with close-ups of a smart, independent-minded Tehran woman and a series of passengers in her front seat including her sister,her preteen son, a religious old woman, and a prostitute. The results are dramatic. In Farsi with English subtitles.

Under the Skin of the City (Not rated)

Director: Rakshan Bani-Etemad. With Golab Adineh, Baran Kosari, Mohammad Reza Forutan. (92 min.)

Sterritt *** Various challenges loom for members of an ordinary Tehran family, including the worried old matriarch and an ambitious son who wants to leave Iran for Japan and will do anything to get the money and papers he needs. In Farsi with English subtitles.

Underworld (R)

Director: Len Wiseman. With Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen. (121 min.)

Sterritt *** A 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. Beckinsale looks swell in medieval spandex, too.

Sex/Nudity: 1 mild scene. Violence: 30 gory scenes. Profanity: 10 profanities. Drugs: At least 4 scenes of smoking.

Uptown Girls (PG-13)

Director: Boaz Yakin. With Brittany Murphy, Dakota Fanning, Heather Locklear. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** A spoiled but sweet young woman becomes the nanny of a spoiled but not-so-sweet little girl, and they are both driven crazy before they learn valuable life lessons. Murphy is a sensational comic actress, and Fanning's talent far exceeds her years.

Staff ** Insipid, means well, falls flat.

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo. Violence: 1 slap. Profanity: 5 minor expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes of drinking.

Valley of Tears (Not rated)

Director: Hart Perry. With residents of Raymondville, Texas. (82 min.)

Sterritt *** Documentary about the exploitation of Chicano workers in a Texas town not far from the Mexican border. Centering mainly on a farm-workers strike in 1979 and a subsequent struggle to gain equal schooling for Mexican and Anglo children, the movie peaks about halfway through, when town officials try to stop Perry from recording and revealing what's going on in their community.

Veronica Guerin (R)

Director: Joel Schumacher. With Cate Blanchett, Gerard McSorley, Brenda Fricker. (92 min.)

Sterritt *** The fact-based story of a courageous Irish reporter (Blanchett) who puts her life on the line in a dangerous crusade against Dublin's ruthless drug traffickers. The movie is closer to an action-adventure thriller than a journalistic account, but energetic acting and vigorous directing make it work harrowingly well on its own terms.

Staff *** Frenetic, jolting, newsworthy, energizing.

Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes of sex and innuendo. Violence: 13 instances of beatings and shootings. Profanity: 31 instances. Drugs: 13 scenes of smoking, 10 with drinking, and 1 scene with people shooting up.

View from the Top (PG-13)

Director: Bruno Barreto. With: Gwyneth Paltrow, Christina Applegate. (88 min.)

Staff ** The movie opens with a red balloon drifting into the sky, setting the tone for the next hour and a half: light and airy. Paltrow's character is charming, and one can almost buy her act as a small-town girl who aspires to become a flight attendant. Mike Myers is especially funny as Paltrow's teacher. By Sasha Brown

Staff **Cheerful, fluffy, disappointing.

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo. Violence: 1 scene. Profanity: 5 profanities. Drugs: 9 scenes.

Washington Heights (R)

Director: Alfredo De Villa. With Tomas Milian, Judy Reyes, Manny Perez. (80 min.)

Sterritt *** A young Latino man dreams of success as a comic-book artist while working in his father's New York City bodega and coping with the challenges of inner-city poverty and crime. De Villa's debut film is persuasively written and acted, if a tad rougher around the edges than one might wish.

Whale Rider (PG-13)

Director: Niki Caro. With Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, Vicky Haughton. (105 min.)

Sterritt *** Closed out of any strong, challenging role in her community because of her gender, a young Maori girl in New Zealand refuses to lose faith in her value as a person, and eventually an unexpected crisis gives her the opportunity to prove her worth even to her macho, tradition-bound grandfather. The engaging story gains extra resonance from its mythical, even spiritual undertones, and Castle-Hughes gives a shining performance as the heroine.

Staff *** Life-affirming, tender, deeply moving.

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of innuendo. Violence: 3 minor scenes. Profanity: 3 expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes, mostly smoking.

The Weather Underground (Not rated)

Director: Sam Green. With Bernardine Dohrn, Mark Rudd, Todd Gitlin, Kathleen Cleaver. (93 min.)

Sterritt **** Documentary about the radical activist group that split from the far-left Students for a Democratic Society in 1969 and started bombing public buildings in a series of exploits that earned many of its members slots on the FBI's most-wanted list. The film tells the movement's tale dramatically and dispassionately, brilliantly juggling the demands of historical accuracy, ideological balance, and sociological perspective.

Warrior of Light (Not rated)

Director: Monika Treut. With Yvonne Bezerra de Mello, slum dwellers of Rio de Janeiro. (91 min.)

Sterritt **** Absorbing documentary about Yvonne Bezerra de Mello's selfless work helping street children in Rio de Janeiro, also showing her simultaneous life as a well-to-do woman with a ritzy lifestyle. Moving, revealing, harrowing. In English and Portuguese with English subtitles.

What a Girl Wants (PG)

Director: Dennie Gordon. With Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth, Eileen Atkins. (103 min.)

Sterritt * Longing to meet her father, an English aristocrat who sired her in a romantic fling, a New York teen (Bynes) flies to London and barges into his life. Bynes buffs may never have a better chance to bask in her perky presence. Others may draw some entertainment value from the high-profile supporting cast, but that's all this warmed-over comic trifle has to offer.

Staff ** Light, fun, goofy, standard fare.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes with innuendo. Violence: 3 scenes. Profanity: 8 profanities. Drugs: 5 drinking scenes.

What Alice Found (R)

Director: A. Dean Bell. With: Emily Grace, Judith Ivey, Bill Raymond. (97 min.)

Sterritt *** A teenage runaway is taken in by a pair of older nomads who spend their days seeing the USA in their SUV, and their nights in more dubious activities. Gradually, the youngster is drawn into their way of life, which is sleazy enough to give "trailer trash" a bad name. The subject is sordid, but the movie's attitude is ultimately life-affirming. The screenplay by Bell is packed with surprises, and the acting is excellent.

Willard (PG-13)

Director: Glen Morgan. With: Crispin Glover, Laura Elena Harring, David Parker. (100 min.)

Staff **With his spindly fingers and erratic eyes, Glover was a perfect choice to play Willard, the repressed antihero of this remake of the 1971 horror flick. Beneath Willard's milquetoast exterior lies a deep rage. Life has been hard on him: no friends, an abusive boss, and a mom who berates him. When he discovers that the rats in the basement are his friends, he uses them to wreak havoc. This film will keep you out of your basement for a while. By Sasha Brown

Staff **1/2 Chilling, atmospheric.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes. Violence: 11 scenes, including killing rats. Profanity: 6 expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with drinking.

Winged Migration (G)

Director: Jacques Perrin. With many flying birds. (85 min.)

Sterritt ** Birds, birds, birds. Some of the shots have the up-close naturalism of Audubon paintings, capturing our feathered friends in colorful detail. Others are out-and-out spectacular, with eye-filling juxtapositions of bird flocks and scenic vistas. As pretty as it is, however, the film isn't very informative, conveying little about its subject beyond what species and locations are on the screen.

Staff ***Stunning photography, interesting footage, empty narration.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

Wonderland (R)

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.

Staff **Morbidly fascinating, pulpy potboiler, disturbing.

Sex/Nudity: 7 scenes of innuendo. 2 scenes of implied sex. Violence: 15 scenes including beatings and murders. Profanity: 209 harsh profanities. Drugs: 36 scenes of smoking, drinking and heavy drug use.

Wrong Turn (R)

Director: Rob Schmidt. With Eliza Dushku, Jeremy Sisto, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Desmond Harrington. (84 min.)

Staff ** Four young adults stumble on a group of hillbilly mutants. They must fight the mutants or join scores of unsolved West Virginia disappearances. Fortunately, one of the four (Harrington) is a medical student who can patch himself up and inspire the others with one can-do plan after another. The cast is far better than the material. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances, including innuendo and implied sex. Violence: 16 scenes of extreme violence. Profanity: 12 profanities. Drugs: Several scenes of drinking, smoking, and drug use.

X2: X-Men United (PG-13)

Director: Bryan Singer. With Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry. (134 min.)

Staff ** Warning: Do not even consider going to this sequel until you've seen the first X-Men film. The sequel picks up as if you just ran to the fridge for a soda. That said, Singer has given this a slightly more serious tone, a broader canvas, some great new characters, and memorable interchanges between the two main mutants about the age-old question: "Who am I?" By Gloria Goodale

Staff *** X-cellent, superior sequel, overcooked.

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo. 1 brief nude scene. Violence: Extreme violence throughout. Profanity: 11 expressions. Drugs: 1 drinking scene; 3 scenes with smoking.

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