Director: Kim Ki-duk. With Jo Jae-Hyeon, Seo Won, Choi Duek-mun, Kim Yun-tae. (100 min.)
Sterritt ** Bizarre affection blooms between a South Korean thug and a woman forced into prostitution. Certainly offbeat, but not on a level with director Kim's previous work about marginalized people. In Korean with subtitles.
Director: Darren Grant. With Tyler Perry, Kimberly Elise, Steve Harris, Cicely Tyson. (117 min.)
Sterritt * Angry, vengeful emotions arise when an abused African-American wife is unceremoniously dumped by her awful husband. The movie seesaws between crude comedy and sudsy melodrama, and it's hard to decide which aspect is more ineptly handled. Plenty of mad moviegoers will put this in their diaries as one of the worst pictures in ages.
Director: Marcos Bernstein. With Fernanda Montenegro, Raul Cortez, Laura Cardoso, Luiz Carlos Persy. (98 min.)
Sterritt *** Participating in a neighborhood-watch program for senior citizens, a lonely Brazilian woman spies a murder in an apartment across the street and starts dating the retired judge who she thinks committed it. An absorbing new spin on the ingenious "Rear Window" concept, with poignant comments on aging in modern society. Superbly acted, especially by Montenegro, who recalls Giulietta Masina in Italian classics of old. In Portuguese with subtitles.
Director: Rodrigo Bellott. With Alexandra Aponte, Jorge Antonio Saavedra, Ronica V. Reddick, Roberto Urbina. (105 min.)
Sterritt ** The mostly separate stories of several young people trying to find themselves in a socially and sexually confusing world. The pace of this Bolivia/US coproduction is slower than that of a snail, but it gathers some interest as the themes of the vignettes dovetail near the end. In Spanish and English, with subtitles.
Director: Laura Gabbert. With Irja Lloyd, Lucille Alpert, other residents of the Sunset Hall home. (73 min.)
Sterritt **** Documentary about two residents of a Los Angeles nursing home for aging political leftists. Utterly unsentimental, deeply moving.
Director: Jan Hrebejk. With Jiri Machacek, Natasa Burger, Petr Forman, Emilia Vasaryova. (108 min.)
Sterritt **** A soccer hooligan, a wife longing for a child, an ailing professor, and an émigré to Australia are among the diverse characters of this ingeniously woven Czech comedy-drama, which recalls the early brilliance of filmmaker Milos Forman, whose son is in the cast. Always hard-hitting and often grimly, revealingly satirical. In Czech 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 ofcomic 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. DiCaprio is excellent as Hughes and Blanchett is even better as movie star Katharine Hepburn, one of his lovers. The film largely lacks the personal, idiosyncratic touches that distinguish Scorsese's greatest work, though.
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: 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. Alas, the film collapses under the leaden acting of Martin Henderson. By Stephen Humphries
Sex/Nudity: 4 instances of innuendo. Violence: 1 fight scene. Profanity: 13 profanities. Drugs: 11 scenes with alcohol.
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.
Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of innuendo. Violence: 34 instances. Profanity: 33 instances. Drugs: 12; smoking in almost every scene.
Downfall (Not rated)
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel. With Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ulrich Matthes, Corinna Harfouch. (149 min.)
Sterritt **** Fictionalized account of Adolf Hitler's last days, depicting his personal downfall as well as that of the Nazi movement he headed, and militarized Germany as a whole. Ganz reminds us why he's one of the world's great screen actors, and Hirschbiegel's straightforward style is riveting. In German with subtitles.
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: 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: 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: 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. 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 harsh profanities. 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: 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. 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.
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?