Director: Wayne Wang. With Jeff Daniels, AnnaSophia Robb, Cicely Tyson, Eva Marie Saint. (106 min.)
Sterritt ** New to a small town where her father is the preacher, a young girl makes new friends including a couple of aging women and a friendly pooch she names after the grocery store where she finds him. Bland, amiable, innocuous.
Director: Agnès Varda. With Ydessa Handeles, Michel Piccoli, and many photographs. (91 min.)
Sterritt **** Three short documentaries about photography made by one of France's finest directors. "Ydessa, the Bears, and Etc." portrays an eccentric curator. "Ulysse" analyzes a photo Varda took years earlier. "Salut les Cubains" collages almost 2,000 photos she took during a Cuban sojourn. In English and French with subtitles.
Director: Francis Lawrence. With Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Peter Stormare, Tilda Swinton. (118 min.)
Sterritt ** Reeves plays a James Bond of the supernatural, tracking down demons and helping a mournful woman solve the mystery of her twin sister's suicide. The story is a retread of the old "Exorcist" and "Omen" formats, but it delivers as much action and spectacle as fans of the genre could want.
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel. With Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ulrich Matthes, Corinna Harfouch. (149 min.)
Sterritt **** See review.
Director: Carl Bessai. With Ian McKellen, Deborah Kara Unger, Tygh Runyan, Theo Crane. (92 min.)
Sterritt *** On a visit to Canada to receive an honorary degree, an aging man copes with old memories while trying to forge new bonds with his estranged family.
Poignant and well acted, though not very memorable.
Director: Michael Wolk. With Gary Wilson, The Blind Dates. (74 min.)
Sterritt *** Documentary about rock musician Wilson, who developed a cult following with his 1977 debut album, then dropped so far out of sight that even people wanting to reissue the record had a hard time finding him. Offbeat and entertaining.
Director: Christopher Munch. With Bryce Johnson, Rain Phoenix, Cole Williams, Michelle Phillips. (74 min.)
Sterritt ** Two adolescent brothers, both pop stars with gay proclivities, slowly come to terms with their complex relationship and their own fledgling personalities. Intermittently insightful, but a disappointment from the talented Munch.
Director: Dan Harris. With Sigourney Weaver, Emile Hirsch, Jeff Daniels, Michelle Williams. (111 min.)
Sterritt **** Harris's debut drama shows rare promise as it tracks the engrossing emotional life of a suburban family that goes through a series of crises after a
tragic event. While the ultimate message is hopeful, Harris's screenplay pulls no punches in its tragicomic portrait of two generations facing challenges they'd assumed their all-too-comfortable circumstances would shield them from. Superbly acted.
Director: Michael Schorr. With Horst Krause, Ursula Schucht, Harald Warmbrunn, Karl Fred Müller. (114 min.)
Sterritt **** Bored with retirement, an aging German realizes that it's a lot more fun to play American zydeco music than polkas on his accordion. Eventually, he makes it to the US to hear the music in person. Filmed in a leisurely, understated style, this dark comedy is downright entrancing. A spectacular directorial debut. In German and English with subtitles.
Director: Lawrence Guterman. With Alan Cumming, Jamie Kennedy, Bob Hoskins, Ryan Falconer. (94 min.)
Sterritt * Cumming's antic acting is the only asset of this boisterous comedy about Loki, the mischievous Norse god, looking for a mislaid magical mask, which a young cartoonist has now stumbled on. The special effects are ubiquitous but not very special.
Director: Bahman Ghobadi. With Soran Ebrahim, Avaz Latif, Hiresh Feysal Rahman. (98 min.)
Sterritt **** The place is Kurdistan, the time is just before the Iraq war, and the main characters are kids who earn their living any way they can, including selling land mines they find buried in the ground. Superb acting and authentic details energize this rare Iran/Iraq coproduction. In Kurdish with subtitles.
Director: Brian Levant. With Ice Cube, Nia Long, Jay Mohr, Aleisha Allen. (95 min.)
Sterritt ** You may ask yourself that question as you watch a kid-phobic man take a road trip with the kids of a single mom he wants to woo. Cube is cute and Long is lovely, but the youngsters are too smug to bear. At least there's a heartwarming end to the excursion.
Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 14 scenes of comic violence. Profanity: 4 mild profanities. Drugs: 1 scene with alcohol.
Director: Martin Scorsese. With Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Kate Beckinsale. (170 min.)
Sterritt *** Large-scale epic about the life and times of Howard Hughes, focusing on his experiences as a filmmaker, aircraft designer, and world-class eccentric. The film largely lacks the personal, idiosyncratic touches that distinguish Scorsese's greatest work, though.
Director: Gurinder Chadha. With Aishwarya Rai, Martin Henderson, Naveen Andrews, Marsha Mason. (120 min.)
Sterritt ** Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" gets transplanted to India in this modern-day update. (What's next? "Saris and Sensibility"?) There are even a few Bollywood-style dance sequences in this tale of an eligible bachelorette who meets an American tourist whose arrogance sparks a culture clash. Austen's comedy of social mores works well in the Indian setting and director Gurinder Chadha ("Bend It Like Beckham") infuses the tale with joyous vigor. Alas, the film collapses under the leaden performance of lead actor Martin Henderson. By Stephen Humphries
Sex/Nudity: 4 instances of innuendo. Violence: 1 fight scene. Profanity: 13 profanities. Drugs: 11 scenes with alcohol.
Director: John Polson. With Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Elisabeth Shue, Famke Janssen. (101 min.)
Sterritt *** After his wife's violent death, a psychologist moves to a new country home with his daughter, who starts playing very sinister games. The acting is excellent in this gory psychological thriller.
Director: Andy Tennant. With Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James, Amber Valletta. (118 min.)
Sterritt ** Smith is terrific as a "date doctor" who teaches klutzy men how to woo the women they fancy. But the screenplay is silly - anything for a laugh - and the comedy is far too long. Nice work from James and Valletta, perhaps inspired by Smith's refusal to let the material drag him down.
Staff ***Witty, sweet, fashionable.
Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes of innuendo. Violence: 6 scenes.Profanity: 31 profanities.Drugs: 8 scenes of drinking.
Director: Jay Roach. With Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman. (115 min.)
Sterritt * Sequel to "Meet the Parents," with an engaged couple hoping their respective parents - including a tough-as-nails CIA retiree on one side, a touchy-feely sex therapist on the other - will get along. De Niro and Hoffman almost give comic life to this vulgar farce.
Director: Clint Eastwood. With Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman. (129 min.)
Sterritt **** Eastwood gives his deepest performance ever as an aging gym owner who reluctantly agrees to train a female prizefighter, played by Swank in excellent form. Going all the way with both triumph and tragedy, it's as bold as it is engrossing.
Staff *** Poignant, masterpiece, sad.
Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of innuendo. Violence: 13 fight scenes, often grisly. Profanity: 48 profanities, often harsh. Drugs: 2 scenes with drinking.
Director: Frank Nissen. With voices of Jim Cummings, Brenda Blethyn, Jimmy Bennett, David Ogden Stiers. (68 min.)
Sterritt *** Pooh and his pals - except Roo, who's too young for the trip - set out to capture a mysterious new creature who's shown up in their neck of the woods. The gentle story, told via old-fashioned "flat" animation, is perfect for young viewers.
Director: Alexander Payne. With Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church. (123 min.)
Sterritt **** Two friends, a recently divorced writer and a marriage-bound actor, spend a weekend together in rural California, running into more complications of the heart than they ever expected. This bittersweet comedy-drama positively crackles with wit.
Director: Clare Kilner. With Debra Messing, Dermot Mulroney, Jack Davenport. (89 min.)
Sterritt * Dismal romantic comedy about a young American woman who hires a male "escort" to pretend he's her boyfriend at her sisters wedding. Flatly written and directed, and whatever happened to old-fashioned screen chemistry between stars?
Director: Walter Salles. With Gael García Bernal, Rodrigo De la Serna, Mercedes Morán. (128 min.)
Staff *** The true story of the making of a revolutionary and a pop/political icon, "Motorcycle Diaries" is an affectionate and ribald buddy movie that details a road trip that the young Che Guevara took with a friend. The DVD has great additions: reminiscences from the real-life motorcycle partner, Alberto Granado, as well as a fascinating "making of" featurette that takes you through the world Che traveled on his youthful journey. By Gloria Goodale