Director: Brett Ratner. With Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson, Don Cheadle, Jeff Garlin, Naomie Harris. (97 min.)
Sterritt ** A cop chases a crook who covets a huge, exotic diamond. This indirect rehash of "To Catch a Thief" trades Hitchcockian shrewdness for the slickest kinds of Hollywood glitz, gloss, and vulgarity.
Director: Beeban Kidron. With Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Gemma Jones. (108 min.)
Sterritt ** The sequel to the 2001 hit "Bridget Jones's Diary" is basically more of the same, with our weight-conscious heroine caught between snooty attorney Firth, cheeky journalist Grant, and her own indecisive nature. The movie catches occasional fire when Bridget suddenly says what's really on her mind. The rest is silliness.
Director: Rodney Evans. With Anthony Mackie, Roger Robinson, Aunjanue Ellis, Ray Ford. (94 min.)
Sterritt ** A young African-American writer meets an aging veteran of the Harlem Renaissance movement who's lost none of his hard-boiled intelligence since his glory days in the pre-War World II era. Interesting for its historical content.
Director: Marc Forster. With Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Dustin Hoffman, Julie Christie. (113 min.)
Sterritt *** See review.
Director: Bill Condon. With Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, John Lithgow, Oliver Platt. (118 min.)
Sterritt *** Fictionalized biography of Alfred Kinsey, a professor who switched his research from insects to human sexuality in the 1940s, opening controversial new doors for scientific inquiry. The movie's style is fairly staid, but it's hard to imagine how Neeson could be better, and the subject is handled with taste and tact.
Director: Bilge Ebiri. With Kelly Miller, Tobi-Lyn Byers, Jonathan Uffelman, Scott Janes. (85 min.)
Sterritt * A new employee is given a hard time from impish colleagues at the office. Alas, the movie is less clever than its characters.
Director: Chazz Palminteri. With Susan Sarandon, Alan Arkin, Penélope Cruz, Robin Williams. (96 min.)
Sterritt * A lonely divorcee, an eccentric old man, and a squabbling couple are among the characters of this Christmas Eve comedy-drama. Santa Claus's bag couldn't hold as many clichés as the screenplay dishes out.
Directors: Mark Brian Smith, Tony Montana. With Troy Duffy, Willem Dafoe, Billy Connolly. (81 min.)
Sterritt **** Documentary about filmmaker Duffy, a Boston bartender whose first screenplay got bought by Miramax, then dumped into "turnaround" limbo, and finally made by someone else, flopping at the box office. The fault appears to lie with Duffy, but the movie takes such a strong stance against him that it's hard to be sure of anything except that this movie is a hilarious and harrowing cautionary tale.
Director: Claude Miller. With Ludivine Sagnier, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Nicole Garcia. (104 min.)
Sterritt *** Modern retelling of Anton Chekhov's play "The Seagull," focusing on a would-be movie director, his actress girlfriend, and his mother's boyfriend, a famous filmmaker. Splendidly acted and directed. In French with subtitles.
The Polar Express (G)
Director: Robert Zemeckis. With voices of Tom Hanks, Nona Gaye, Eddie Deezen, Peter Scolari. (100 min.)
Sterritt ** See review.
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: 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. Based on the Japanese hit motion picture "JU-ON: The Grudge," and shot by the same director, 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: Brad Bird. With voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Vowell. (115 min.)
Sterritt *** What would happen if the public turned against superheroes, seeing them as menaces whose pursuit of truth and justice wreaks havoc on innocent bystanders? That question energizes this ambitious animation from Disney and Pixar, and the answers, decked out with slam-bang action and witty dialogue, are great fun to discover.
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, including drug addiction that threatened to sabotage his career before he kicked the habit in the 1960s. 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: 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: Peter Chelsom. With Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Jennifer Lopez, Bobby Cannavale. (106 min.)
Sterritt * For inexplicable reasons, a middle-aged man decides to take dancing lessons but keep this secret from his wife, who suspects something worse is going on. 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.