Director: Frank Coraci. With Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Cécile de France, Jim Broadbent. (120 min.)
Sterritt ** Another adaptation of Jules Verne's ingenious novel about a 19th-century man circumnavigating the globe to win a wager and demonstrate the progress of modern science. While less ambitious than the 1956 release with David Niven, the film uses the same gimmick of famous faces in cameo roles. Coogan and Broadbent are agile and expressive, but too much time goes to Chan's silly stunts. A colorful disappointment.
Director: David Blyth. With Mistress J., Master Bruce. (84 min.)
Sterritt ** Documentary about New Zealand's kinky-sex scene. Interesting as anthropology, although the subject won't appeal to many people.
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber. With Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor, Rip Torn. (92 min.)
Sterritt * The owners of rival health clubs enter teams in a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament. Stiller strives to be a wild and wacky villain, Vaughn endeavors to be a likable and average hero, and both fall flat on their faces, like everything else in this unspeakably stupid comedy.
Director: Aleksandr Sokurov. With Aleksei Nejmyshev, Andrei Shchetinin, Aleksandr Razbash. (97 min.)
Sterritt **** A gentle Russian drama etching the close, sometimes conflicted, relationship between a widowed father and his son, a student at military school. Like most of Sokurov's movies, this oblique parable is mysterious, elliptical, irresistible. In Russian with subtitles.
Director: Ramona S. Diaz. With Imelda Marcos, Christian Espiritu. (103 min.)
Sterritt *** Nonfiction portrait of the former first lady of the Philippines, from her youth as a beauty-pageant contestant to her adult life as a dictator's wife, a cockamamie philosopher, a collector of shoes galore, and a defendant in scads of lawsuits. She emerges as an energetic, narcissistic, and totally self-deluded woman. In English and Tagalog with subtitles.
Director: Abigail Honor. With Edward DeBonis, Vincent Maniscalco, the Rev. Raymond Lefebvre. (80 min.)
Sterritt *** Documentary about the efforts of a profoundly religious gay couple to get married in the Roman Catholic church. The movie is sociologically rich, if not very memorable in the personalities it depicts.
Director: Jean-François Pouliot. With Raymond Bouchard, David Boutin, Benoît Brière, Lucie Laurier. (110 min.)
Sterritt *** The setting is a tiny French-Canadian village that desperately wants a factory to set up shop there and replace its once-healthy fishing industry - but the factory won't cooperate unless a physician opens a practice in the community, so the townsfolk devise an elaborate set of ruses to lure a big-city plastic surgeon who'd much rather stay in Montreal with his girlfriend. The story isn't as funny as it tries to be, but it grows increasingly winning as it goes along. Originally titled "La Grande Séduction." In French with subtitles
Director: Steven Spielberg. With Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci, Kumar Pallana. (128 min.)
Sterritt * See review, this page.
Director: Fabrice Cazeneuve. With Julien Baumgartner, Julia Maraval, Jérémie Elkàïm, François Comar. (90 min.)
Sterritt ** Outed as a homosexual, a 17-year-old swimming champ endures tough times in his high school and ambivalence at home, where his parents are more bewildered than upset. The story's celebration of honesty is commendable, even if the treatment of homophobia is no deeper than the hero's swimming pool. Originally titled "A Cause d'un garçon." In French with subtitles
Director: David Twohy. With Vin Diesel, Thandie Newton, Colm Feore, Judi Dench. (115 min.)
Sterritt * Riddick battles evil crusaders called Necromongers, helped by tips from a virtuous Elemental, and between them they save the galaxy and make Riddick supreme ruler of everything, which we're supposed to think is an excellent outcome. The special effects are extra special. The screenplay is idiotic, though, and Diesel speaks his dialogue like a Sylvester Stallone clone who never finished third grade.
Sex/Nudity: Two instances of innuendo. Violence: 25 scenes. Profanity: 16 expressions, some strong. Drugs: 3 counts of smoking, 1 of drinking.
Director: Roland Emmerich. With Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal. (123 min.)
Sterritt ** Global warming disrupts Earth's heat-circulation patterns, causing a perfect storm that instantly goes global and creates Ice Age conditions. A climatologist (Quaid) makes a dangerous journey to his young-adult son (Gyllenhaal) for no reason except that death-defying treks are mandatory for science-fiction epics like this. The movie presents no scientific arguments - let alone evidence. The decade after next is too soon to see a picture as silly as this.
Staff ** Predictable plot, special-effects superstorm, wry.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 16 scenes. Profanity: 12 expressions. Drugs: 1 instance of drinking.
Director: Pete Hewitt. With Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Stephen Tobolowsky, voice of Bill Murray. (80 min.)
Sterritt * The cat from Jim Davis's popular comic strip copes with a new dog in the household while his owner woos a pretty veterinarian. The blend of live action and animation is competently done, but the subtly mean-spirited screenplay has more sour meows than hearty laughs. Shown with a short cartoon called "Gone Nutty," which also isn't funny.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (PG)
Director: Alfonso Cuarón. WIth Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson. (141 min.)
Sterritt *** The third installment of the series based on J.K. Rowling's novels is darker and scarier than its predecessors, with Harry stalked by a killer who's escaped from prison, and haunted by ghostly guardians called Dementors who may be more dangerous than the murderer. Add a werewolf, a magic map, and a hippogriff, and you have an imaginative horror movie for mature kids.
Staff *** Spellbinding, spooky, not for kids, best yet.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 12 scenes. Profanity: 8 mild expressions. Drugs: 3 instances of drinking.
Directors: Nickolas Perry, Harry Thomason. With Paul Begala, James Carville, Morgan Freeman. (90 min.)
Sterritt **** A history of the Clinton presidency, emphasizing the question of whether there was a vast conspiracy - or a gaggle of little ones - to bring it down before its time. Riveting and revealing whatever views you have on the partisan issues involved. Based on the book by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons.
Director: Jared Hess. With Jon Heder, Tina Majorino, Efren Ramirez, Sandy Martin. (86 min.)
Sterritt *** Who would have guessed that a wildly refreshing take on the teenage-nerd genre would come from small-town Idaho, where the title character tangles with his weirded-out family and pushes for an equally uncharismatic friend to become president of their high-school student body? This minimalist comedy may not make you laugh out loud, but you'll be smiling without a break, and sometimes grinning with amazement at the quiet ingenuity of everyone concerned.
Directors: Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon. With voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz. (92 min.)
Sterritt *** The gentle ogre is dragged by his new spouse, Fiona, to meet her royal mom and dad, stirring up trouble with a fairy godmother who's furious with him for beating Prince Charming in the race for Fiona's hand. At its best, this "Shrek" sequel draws up a brilliant new blueprint for all-ages animation, blending fairy-tale whimsy with edgy social satire. Too bad it ends with worn-out homilies far less imaginative than the story as a whole.
Staff *** Worthy sequel, playful, slam-dunk finish.
Sex/Nudity: 6 instances of innuendo. Violence: 12 scenes. Profanity: None. Drugs: 3 instances of drinking, 1 of drugs.
Director: Frank Oz. With Nicole Kidman, Christopher Walken, Bette Midler, Matthew Broderick. (95 min.)
Sterritt * A remake of the 1975 science-fantasy fable about menfolk of a Connecticut community who battle the threats of "women's lib" by transforming their spouses into stereotypes of picture-perfect housewives. The message of Ira Levin's 1972 novel is drowned in a flood of cheap and easy gags that suggest feminism has Hollywood more stumped than ever.
Sex/Nudity: 7 instances of innuendo, 1 of implied sex. Violence: 4 scenes, none too graphic. Profanity: 14 mild expressions. Drugs: 5 instances of smoking and drinking.
Directors: Byambasuren Davaa, Luigi Falomi. With Janchiv Ayurzana, Chimed Ohin, Zeveljamz Nyam. (93 min.)
Sterritt **** Blurring all the lines between fiction and documentary, this gentle and amusing movie blends real, unrehearsed material with delightful storytelling scenes focusing on a Mongolian family that faces a problem when a camel in its herd takes a dislike to a newborn calf and refuses to nurse it. The action takes place in Gobi Desert locations, which provide a striking background for drama involving humans, animals, and nature itself. In Mongolian with subtitles
Directors: Eric Chaikin, Julian Petrillo. With Marlon Hill, Joel Sherman, Joe Edley, Matt Graham. (80 min.)
Sterritt *** A documentary portrait of four men who play Scrabble not only as a pastime in city parks but also in big-time tournaments with big-time money at stake. Light, lively, informative, fun.
Director: Kevin MacDonald. With Brendan Mackey, Aaron Nicholas, Joe Simpson, Simon Yates. (107 min.)
Staff **** A snowy survival story that puts "The Day After Tomorrow" to shame, this docudrama recounts the gripping mountaineering adventure of Joe Simpson, left for dead (and with a broken leg) on a 21,000-foot Peruvian peak in 1985. MacDonald skillfully alternates between interviews with the humbled climbers and scenes of the restaged expedition by their stunt doubles. The cinematography is breathtaking, the mishaps are hair-raising, and Simpson's painful descent turns the stomach. The tale is more thrilling than anything Hollywood could devise, and the DVD extras - including a making-of featurette and a piece that answers any lingering questions - actually add to the overall experience. By Marie Ewald