Director: Jacques Audiard. With Romain Duris, Aure Atika, Jonathan Zaccaï, Linh Dan Pham. (107 min.)
Sterritt **** Inspired by the 1978 thriller "Fingers," this superbly acted thriller focuses on an aspiring concert pianist who intersperses his piano lessons with errands for his mobster friends. As stylish as it is suspenseful. In French with subtitles.
Director: Stephen Marshall. With Rosario Dawson, Nathan Crooker, Brett DelBuono, Amy Redford. (90 min.)
Sterritt ** A rogue journalist tracks the activities of a black anarchist group as the Republican National Convention draws near. It's a pity that such vital, thought-provoking material has been rendered so lifeless and inauthentic on the screen.
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul. With Sakda Kaewbuadee, Banlop Lomnoi, Huai Dessom. (118 min.)
Sterritt **** See review, at right.
Director: Steven Spielberg. With Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins, Justin Chatwin. (117 min.)
Sterritt *** Earthlings battle alien invaders who wreak deadly havoc until they're stymied by ... you know what, if you've read H.G. Wells's influential 1898 novel. Spielberg gives the story his full high-tech treatment, building great scariness with help from first-class music and camera work. The picture gets repetitive, though, since its terrors are pretty much the same from start to finish. Cruise is in good form and Fanning is still the best child actress around.
Director: Jia Zhangke. With Chen Taisheng, Zhao Tao, Jing Jue, Jiang Zhong-wei. (139 min.)
Sterritt **** See review, at right.
Director: Robert Rodriguez. With Cayden Boyd, Kristen Davis, David Arquette, George Lopez. (94 min.)
Sterritt ** You'll know who the target audience is when you discover the story's setting is called Planet Drool, and the hero is an imaginative schoolboy who joins the title characters to fight the evil Mr. Electric and save the world. Only part of it is in 3-D, but youngsters should enjoy pulling their special specs on and off.
Director: Christopher Nolan. With Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman. (141 min.)
Sterritt ** How a young man became the Caped Crusader instead of just Bruce Wayne, millionaire playboy. Neeson plays a ninja, which shows how desperately the story stretches for angles. But you finally get good answers to the Joker's excellent question: "Where does he get those wonderful toys?!!?"
Staff *** Well plotted, dizzying, uneven, comical.
Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of innuendo. Violence: 29 intense scenes. Profanity: 11 mild profanities. Drugs: 4 scenes with drinking, 1 scenes with drug dealing.
Director: Nora Ephron. With Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine. (95 min.)
Sterritt ** Launching a new version of the TV sitcom "Bewitched," an actor (Ferrell) with more ego than talent inadvertently fills the role of a witch with a real witch (Kidman) who's trying to give up hexes and become a normal person. Always whimsical, occasionally quite funny.
Staff ** Occasionally charming, predictable, nostalgic.
Sex/Nudity: 4 instances of innuendo. Violence: 1 mild scene. Profanity: 23 profanities. Drugs: 3 scenes with drinking, 1 scene with a cigarette.
Director: Ron Howard. With Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Paddy Considine. (144 min.)
Sterritt **** Fact-based story of Jim Braddock, a 1930s prizefighter who suffered from Depression poverty as much as almost anyone, but captured the American imagination when he overcame injuries to take on Max Baer for the heavyweight title. Howard's rock-solid directing and superb acting by Crowe and Giamatti make this one of the all-time-great boxing films.
Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes with innuendos. Violence: 13 scenes, including fighting. Profanity: 71 strong profanities. Drugs: 9 scenes with drinking, 18 scenes with smoking.
Director: Angela Robinson. With Lindsay Lohan, Matt Dillon, Cheryl Hines, Michael Keaton. (95 min.)
Sterritt ** A teen who yearns for car-racing glory (Lohan) outwits her worried dad (Keaton) and leaves a smirky rival (Dillon) in the dust with the help of Herbie, the Volkswagen with a mind of his own who became a movie star in "The Love Bug" in 1968. Utterly predictable, but pleasant enough for its young target audience.
Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of innuendo. Violence: 7 comic scenes. Profanity: 4 profanities. Drugs: None.
Howl's Moving Castle (PG)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki. With voices of Emily Mortimer, Christian Bale. (119 min.)
Sterritt **** Miyazaki outdoes his flamboyant "Spirited Away" with this fantasy about a vain prince, a fireplace with a talkative flame, and a girl trapped in an elderly body by a wicked witch. The story doesn't always make sense, but the visuals are dazzling. One version in English with subtitles, the other dubbed into English.
Staff ***1/2 Grand, fantastical, wryly funny.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 12 action scenes. Profanity: None. Drugs: 1 scene of smoking.
Director: George A. Romero. With John Leguizamo, Asia Argento, Dennis Hopper, Robert Joy. (94 min.)
Sterritt *** Humans fight zombies in a city where a cocky capitalist is profiting from the rampant supernatural chaos. There may never be another "Night of the Living Dead," the 1968 masterpiece to which this is yet another gore-filled sequel, but Romero remains the best maker of movies about, well, remains.
Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes, including nudity. Violence: 35 gory scenes. Profanity: 61 harsh profanities. Drugs: 7 scenes with drinking, 8 scenes with a cigarette, 1 with drugs.
Director: Peter Segal. With Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, James Cromwell, Burt Reynolds. (114 min.)
Sterritt * The wicked warden of a Texas prison engineers a rigged football game between guards and inmates, with the convicts led by a former pro who's been jailed. Lively but also rude, crude, and mean-spirited.
Sex/Nudity: 10 scenes of innuendo, 2 with minor nudity. Violence: 18 scenes, including fights and torture. Profanity: 130 harsh profanities. Drugs: 4 scenes with drinking, 7 scenes with drinking.
Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath. With voices of Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith. (80 min.)
Sterritt * Bored with his life, a zoo animal takes himself and some friends on a quest for more agreeable climes. The animation is deft but the screenplay is stilted, the voice-performances are unimaginative, and the whole project is surprisingly clumsy in its efforts to please young and old alike. A major disappointment from the DreamWorks team.
Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes of mild innuendo. Violence: 12 scenes, mostly for comic effect. Profanity: 2 mild expressions. Drugs: None.
Director: Luc Jacquet. With plenty of penguins, voice of Morgan Freeman. (80 min.)
Sterritt ** Documentary about the mating and chick-raising routines of Emperor Penguins, whose Antarctic habitat makes almost every activity hazardous to their health and even their lives. As a zoological spectacle the movie is riveting. But the narration tries to make us think of these adorable animals as if they saw the world in human terms, which they obviously don't, and the images have been enhanced by digital effects, as if they wouldn't be impressive enough on their own.
Director: With Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn, Kerry Washington. (120 min.)
Sterritt * Pitt and Jolie play secret agents who don't know each other's line of work when they get married, then become rivals and eventually partners in the licensed-to-kill game. The movie is a mish-mash of action-adventure clichés, book-ended with lame attempts at psychological interest.
Staff ** Charmingly cast, surprisingly slow, poorly edited.
Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes with innuendos, 2 sex scenes. Violence: 16 scenes. Profanity: 29 strong profanities. Drugs: 12 scenes with drinking, 3 scenes with smoking.
Director: Mark Rosman. With Hilary Duff, Chris Noth, Heather Locklear, Carson Kressley. (96 min.)
Sterritt * A teenage girl tries to comfort her lonely single mom by cooking up a fictitious male admirer who sends flowers, e-mails, and the like. Repetitious teen-targeted fluff.
Director: George Lucas. With Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Ian McDiarmid, Hayden Christensen. (142 min.)
Sterritt *** Lucas wraps up his second "Star Wars" trilogy, centering on Anakin Skywalker's secret marriage, his friendship with Obi-Wan Kenobi, and his temptation to use the Dark Side of the Force for personal gain. As spectacle this stands with the best, although it falls flat when corny dialogue takes over.
Staff *** Fitting finale, poorly written, dark, violent.
Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of mild innuendo. Violence: 26 scenes, often grisly. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.
Director: Werner Herzog. With the Dalai Lama, Buddhist pilgrims in India and Austria. (80 min.)
Sterritt **** The legendary German filmmaker visits Buddhist initiation ceremonies in northern India and Graz, Austria, attempting to capture their inner spirituality through the outward signs his equipment can capture. Riveting and unique.
Director: Gurinder Chadha. With Aishwarya Rai, Martin Henderson, Naveen Andrews, Alexis Bledel. (111 min.)
Staff * What's been missing from Jane Austen's novel "Pride and Prejudice"? The main character breaking into song and dance, that's what. In this Bollywood rendition, Lalitha, a beautiful Indian girl, must sort out her conflicted feelings toward an American visitor, William Darcy (conveniently named so that no one escapes the wisps of literary allusion). Musical numbers bring colorful exuberance to Indian culture, but at best they only disrupt an all too slow-moving, melodramatic plot. Assuming one can actually stand the unbelievable characters enough to finish the film, the DVD's special features may seem difficult to stomach. By Chelsea Waugaman