Director: Yasuaki Nakajima. With Yasuaki Nakajima, Jacqueline Bowman, Moises Morales. (72 min.)
Sterritt ** A handful of survivors fight one another for survival after a third world war. Dark, eccentric, silly.
Director: Ron Rice. With Taylor Mead, Linda Evanoff, Eric Nord, Ella Henry. (70 min.)
Sterritt **** A giant of "underground" film made this 1960 tragicomedy about a man on the fringes of American society. Mead's acting has been compared with that of Buster Keaton and Charles Chaplin, and that's not as large a stretch as it sounds.
Director: Tim Fywell. With Michelle Trachtenberg, Joan Cusack, Kim Cattrall, Trevor Blumas. (98 min.)
Sterritt *** Should our high-school heroine stick with physics, which everyone says is her calling, or become a figure skater, which entices her when she tries to work out its aerodynamics in scientific terms? Trite but nice, this enjoyable comedy-drama has good-spirited warmth toward almost all its characters, from the domineering moms to the daughters beginning to find themselves. And it's great to see so many smart girls in a Hollywood movie!
Director: Woody Allen. With Radha Mitchell, Will Ferrell, Chloë Sevigny, Wallace Shawn. (100 min.)
Sterritt *** See review, at right.
Director: Joe Maggio. With Clint Jordan, Kirstin Russell, Eleanor Hutchins, Dudley Findlay Jr. (91 min.)
Sterritt *** During a long and sometimes ghoulish night, a suicidal husband recovers his shaky sanity while his wife dispenses with some of hers in an unlikely encounter with a performance artist. Maggio's second movie is as smart and surprising as his first, "Virgil Bliss," and he'll become a major talent if he overcomes an occasional weakness for contrived plot devices.
Director: Hideo Nakata. With Naomi Watts, Simon Baker, Sissy Spacek, David Dorfman. (111 min.)
Sterritt *** More about the insidious video that kills its viewers if they don't copy it and pass it to another victim. Subtler than "The Ring" and scarier than "Ringu," the Japanese thriller that started it all, this is sequel-spinning with a vengeance. Watts is wonderful, and the story's forsaken-child theme still has plenty of horrific power.
Director: Katsuhero Otomo. With voices of Albert Molina, Anna Paquin, Patrick Stewart, Robin Atkin Downes. (106 min.)
Sterritt **** Visually stunning animation about a 19th-century boy caught between factions using steam power for combat and destruction in London, where most of the action takes place. Otomo outdoes his "Akira" with this cinematic feast, which also raises big moral questions about science as benefactor or enemy of true human progress.
Director: F. Gary Gray. With John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Cedric the Entertainer, Christina Milian. (114 min.)
Sterritt *Sequel to the 1995 hit "Get Shorty," with crook Chili Palmer putting his muscle behind the career of a gifted African-American singer. The overlong comedy has few laughs and flirts far too much with racist, homophobic humor. A waste of a fine cast.
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.
Director: Wes Craven. With Christina Ricci, Shannon Elizabeth, Joshua Jackson, Portia de Rossi. (96 min.)
Staff * A werewolf in Hollywood has infected several young people and ripped others to pieces. The survivors' struggle to escape the curse of becoming werewolves themselves leads to all manner of confrontation, most notably in a museum filled with wax effigies. Cast changes, reshoots, and reedits cursed this production from the beginning, and it shows. By M. K. Terrell.
Diary of a Mad Black Woman (PG-13)
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: 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: Florent Siri. With Bruce Willis, Michelle Horn, Kevin Pollak, Serena Scott Thomas (113 min.)
Sterritt ** Newly arrived in the job of a small-town sheriff, a former hostage negotiator faces two awful situations at once. He has to rescue youngsters held by thugs in a fortified house and also save his own family from kidnappers. The action is dynamically filmed and Willis is at his best. Suspense is soon hijacked by outright gore and grisliness, though.
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. 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: Danny Boyle. With Alexander Nathan Etel, Lewis Owen McGibbon, James Nesbitt, Jane Hogarth. (97 min.)
Sterritt *** Two young English boys stumble on a bag crammed with pounds just before Britain switches to the euro, and if they don't decide how to use the cash fast, it'll be worthless. Is it a gift from God, as one believes, or just a chance to win friends and influence people, as the other thinks? Their exploits swerve among the dreamlike, the mundane, and the inspired. You never know what to expect from Boyle, and that goes triple in this offbeat comedy drama. It's a movie about family that family viewers will find good, quirky fun.
Director: Adam Shankman. With Vin Diesel, Lauren Graham, Brad Garrett. (91 min.)
Staff ** Hardened Navy commando Shane Wolf (Diesel) gets the most challenging assignment of his career: protecting the children of an assassinated scientist from agents seeking the top-secret program he was working on. Fortunately, the combination of the bodyguard's military discipline and hidden soft side give the family children the tough love they need. The Disney-like plotting is too predictable for most adults and teens, and violence puts it off-limits for young children, but 8- to 11-year-olds should find the slapstick amusing. By M.K. Terrell
Director: Chris Wedge. With voices of Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Mel Brooks, Jennifer Coolidge. (89 min.)
Sterritt ** The animated adventures of a young robot with big ambitions, and an old robot who's been kicked out of his own business by a profit-hungry upstart. The visuals are spectacular at times, but the screenplay is trite, intermittently vulgar, and just not funny.
Director: Mike Binder. With Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, Evan Rachel Wood, Mike Binder. (118 min.)
Sterritt ** A mother and her four daughters cope with bitterness and confusion after her husband abruptly vanishes from the household. Allen and Costner give admirably understated performances as the woman and her eccentric next-door neighbor, but the story feels more cleverly contrived than deeply felt.
Director: Philip Saville. With Henry Ian Cusick, Stuart Bunce, Daniel Kash, Diana Berriman. (280 min.)
Staff ** Narrated by Christopher Plummer, this is a lushly filmed attempt to bring the apostle John's version of the life of Jesus to the screen. The film received mixed reviews for its somewhat stiff literal faithfulness to every word as written in the American Bible Society's Good News Bible. Nonetheless, it remains an interesting depiction of a story that is certainly worth revisiting this time of year. The extras include an interactive map of the Holy Land with the miracles of Jesus delineated on it, historical background, and an interesting featurette that takes you into the making of the film. By Gloria Goodale.
Director: Brad Bird. With the voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson. (121 min.)
Staff ****When society turns on those with superpowers, Bob and Helen Parr hang up their Spandex suits and Zorro masks, enter the equivalent of a witness-protection program for superheroes, and try to raise a family. But each family member struggles with an identity crisis as they try to fit into regular life. That, in turn, leads to tensions within the home that would flummox Dr. Phil. To save itself, the family has to unite to save the world from a villain. In a lively commentary track, director Brad Bird offers an absorbing look into his vision and doesn't shy from discussing conflict between himself and the film's producer over artistic decisions. In addition to an equally candid "making of" featurette and a quirky film by actress Sarah Vowell, the second disc includes a cute short about Jack-Jack, the family baby who turns into a Tasmanian Devil at will. By Stephen Humphries.