Director: Charles Shyer. With Jude Law, Susan Sarandon, Omar Epps, Marisa Tomei. (103 min.)
Sterritt *** Remake of the 1966 comedy-drama that put Michael Caine on the movie-world map with his portrayal of a womanizing scoundrel who eventually realizes he doesn't know "what it's all about," as the title song put it. Law is lively and Shyer keeps the action hopping with help from the movie's original gimmick of having Alfie keep up a running monologue to the audience.
Director: Miguel Albaladejo. With José Luis García-Pérez, David Castillo, Arno Chevrier, Mario Arias. (92 min.)
Sterritt *** When his mother travels far from home and gets in trouble with the law, a 9-year-old boy is cared for by his uncle, a gay dentist, and the uncle's gaggle of unusual friends. A compassionate, life-affirming Spanish comedy-drama. In Spanish with subtitles.
Directors: Carlos Sandoval, Catherine Tambini. With residents of Farmingville, N.Y. (78 min.)
Sterritt **** Documentary about a Long Island town where violence flared when Mexican laborers moved there and waited for work on public streets and sidewalks. Illuminating and alarming. In English and Spanish with subtitles.
Director: Brad Bird. With voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Vowell. (115 min.)
Sterritt *** See review at right.
Director: Maryo J. de los Reyes. With Albert Martinez, Lorna Tolentino, Mark Gil, Gloria Romero. (124 min.)
Sterritt ** A 9-year-old boy in the Philippines faces his dysfunctional family with an indomitable spirit and unquenchable good nature. Amiable, though much too long. In Tagalog with subtitles.
Director: Elia Kazan. With Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden, Rod Steiger. (108 min.)
Sterritt *** Brando made one of his most indelible impressions in this relentlessly dramatic, ever-controversial tale of loyalty and betrayal in the world of working-class unions, first released in 1954. A classic.
Director: James Wan. With Leigh Whannell, Cary Elwes, Monica Potter, Danny Glover. (103 min.)
Sterritt *** It's a hacksaw rather than a chain saw this time, but there's gore, gore, and more gore as two strangers find themselves trapped in a madman's multiple-murder scheme. Horror fans will find plenty to shriek about. Everyone else should keep their distance.
Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 21 scenes, mostly graphic. Profanity: 51 expressions, mostly strong. Drugs: 2 instances of smoking.
Director: Roger Michell. With Daniel Craig, Samantha Morton, Rhys Ifans, Bill Nighy. (100 min.)
Sterritt *** A professor is dogged by an eccentric loner who's convinced some kind of divine spark has passed between them and welded their lives together. The story is intriguing and the acting is excellent, but the substance of Ian McEwan's original novel has been reduced from a multifaceted exploration of human affection to a stalker yarn with oddly homophobic overtones. The movie's mannered camera work doesn't help.
Director: Peter Berg. With Billy Bob Thornton, Garrett Hedlund. (117 min.)
Staff ***1/2 Every fall west Texans' fancy turns from the boom and bust oil economy to high-school football. Friday night's game makes a coach the town hero or a whipping boy. Thornton plays Coach Gaines of the Odessa-Permian Panthers, whose tough love and pep talks mitigate the fanaticism pouring from the stands. Director Berg treats the sports-movie conventions with freshness. By M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: 4 instances. Violence: 11 instances. Profanity: 34, mostly mild expressions. Drugs: 7 instances of drinking and smoking.
Director: Takashi Shimizu. With Sarah Michelle Gellar, Clea DuVall, William Mapother, Bill Pullman. (96 min.)
Staff *** When a young Japanese day-care volunteer responsible for nursing an elderly, demented woman fails to show up to work one day, an American exchange student (Gellar) is asked to take her place. The disturbing events that follow in the old woman's home will leave you hanging by a thread as you gradually become acquainted with the horror that clutches all those who enter. The film is a beautiful blend of tension, good performances, and a shocking ending. By Gabino Villanueva
Sex/Nudity: 2 instances. Violence: 16 instances. Profanity: 3 mild expressions. Drugs: 3 instances of drinking and smoking.
Director: Paola di Florio. With Sander Vanocur, Gloria Steinem, John Lewis, voice of Stockard Channing. (75 min.)
Sterritt **** Amazing footage from the glory period of the civil rights movement energizes this documentary about Viola Gregg Liuzzo, a white woman whose 1965 murder by white supremacists in Alabama helped push Congress to pass key voting rights legislation. Fascinating.
Ladder 49 (PG-13)
Director: Jay Russell. With Joaquin Phoenix, John Travolta, Morris Chestnut. (115 min.)
Staff *** As firefighter Jack Morrison (Phoenix) waits for his buddies to evacuate him from a collapsing warehouse, he relives his 10 years with the department. The clunky flashback storytelling doesn't detract from the believable vignettes of fire fighting and the job's pressures on home life. By M.K. Terrell
Director: David Petersen. With members of a Washington, D.C., church. (87 min.)
Sterritt *** Documentary about a small, minimally funded church that helps its African-American members face the challenges of ghetto life. Affecting, though not very artistic.
Director: Taylor Hackford. With Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell, Regina King. (152 min.)
Sterritt *** Fictionalized biography of Ray Charles, the late singer, pianist, and songwriter. Foxx is just about perfect, allowing us to identify and empathize with Charles even as we experience his failings. Fine acting, a convincing view of the South in the Jim Crow era, and magnificent music compensate for simplified psychology and a schematic story line.
Sex/Nudity: 7 instances. Violence: 6 instances. Profanity: 76 mild expressions. Drugs: 52 instances, some with illegal substances.
Director: Peter Chelsom. With Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Jennifer Lopez. (106 min.)
Sterritt * For inexplicable reasons, a middle-aged man decides to take dancing lessons but keep this secret from his wife. The cast is promising, but this remake of the popular Japanese movie falls flat, with more "sound design" than delicious music, more slick film editing than graceful ballroom gliding.
Sex/Nudity: 5 instances of innuendo. Violence: None. Profanity: 19 expressions, mostly mild. Drugs: 5 scenes of drinking.
Directors: Vicky Jenson, Rob Letterman, Eric Bergeron. With voices of Will Smith, Renée Zellweger, Robert De Niro, Angelina Jolie. (90 min.)
Sterritt ** Animated feature about a little fish who poses as a macho underwater dude after a shark's accidental death makes him look like a hero, pleasing the late shark's vegetarian brother but irking his Mafia boss- like dad. The screenplay isn't remotely as funny as it tries to be, and the visual style is equally unexciting.
Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 8 Profanity: 7 mild expressions. Drugs: 1 scene of drinking, 1 of smoking.
Director: Mike Mitchell. With Ben Affleck, Christina Applegate, James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara. (91 min.)
Sterritt ** Deciding not to spend Christmas alone, a spoiled yuppie pays a fortune to a family for pretending to be his own loving relatives during the yuletide season. There are a few amusing moments, but this is no "Bad Santa" despite its obvious ambition to play similar holiday tricks.
Director: Tim Story. With Queen Latifah, Jimmy Fallon, Jennifer Esposito. (79 min.)
Sterritt ** She's a cab driver, he's a cop, and their adversaries are bank robbers. Frivolous but fun, somewhere between a comic "French Connection" and the craziest Nascar race you never saw.
Staff **1/2 Idiotic plot, laughs aplenty, Latifah shines.
Sex/Nudity: 1 innuendo. Violence: 3 scenes. Profanity: 60 expressions. Drugs: 2 scenes with alcohol.
Director: Trey Parker. With voices of Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Kristen Miller, Elle Russ. (98 min.)
Sterritt ** A team of bumbling military heroes do battle with North Korea's dictator, who's enlisted a gaggle of Hollywood peaceniks as his dupes. With all the characters played by marionettes, this is an equal-opportunity satire, making fun of everyone from Michael Moore to flag-waving militarists. The only stand it appears to take is that all grownups are equally stupid.
Staff **1/2 Technical wonder, irreverent, brilliant satire.
Sex/Nudity: 11 instances. Violence: 21 instances. Profanity: 177 expressions, mostly strong. Drugs: at least 13 instances of smoking and drinking.
Director: Xan Cassavetes. With Robert Altman, James Woods, F.X. Feeney, Kevin Thomas. (122 min.)
Sterritt **** Riveting documentary about the early California cable outlet and its ingenious programmer, Jerry Harvey, whose unsettled life and tragic death provide a dramatic framework for the account.
Director: Victor Fleming. With Clark Gable, Thomas Mitchell, Vivien Leigh. (238 min.)
Staff **** The touched-up colors sparkle, the images are clear, and the storytelling is poignant. Everything about this very human story played out on history's stage stands the test of time. The performances are passionate and the special effects - including the burning of Atlanta - still take your breath away. The extras are fascinating, and include everything from auditions by the many Scarlett hopefuls to a profile of the film industry in the late 30s. A positively must-have early stocking stuffer.
By Gloria Goodale