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Director: Martin Campbell. With Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones. (100 min.)
"The Legend of Zorro," starring Antonio Banderas as the masked one, made me long to re-watch "Zorro the Gay Blade," the great spoof starring George Hamilton. In that film, the Spanish accents were meant to sound deliberately fake. (Zorro kept referring to "the people" as "the pipple." ) Here, even Banderas sounds like he's having a hard time sounding authentic. Catherine Zeta-Jones, as Zorro's swashbuckling wife Elena, looks fetching but doesn't have much to do otherwise. Zorro's nemesis, a French aristocrat played by Rufus Sewell, sports heavy eyeliner and has plans to blow up America. He seems to be under the misapprehension that Zorro is James Bond. Grade: C-
- Peter Rainer
Director: Hany Abu-Assad. With Kais Nashef, Ali Suliman. (90 min.)
Said (Nashef) and his friend Khaled (Suliman) are recruited as human bombs by an underground Palestinian terrorist organization in the West Bank in the intermittently powerful "Paradise Now," which was directed and co-written by Hany Abu-Assad. He attempts with mixed results to get inside the psyches of men who would blow themselves up for the cause. The film is better than the recent "The War Within," which tried for the same things, but ultimately, and perhaps unavoidably, we are left face to face with the unknowable. Grade: B+
Director: Tony Scott. With Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Lucy Liu. (127 min.)
The real-life Domino, a Bounty Hunter who died in June of an apparent overdose, was the daughter of actor Laurence Harvey and supermodel socialite Pauline Stone. Clearly what lured director Tony Scott, who knew Domino, is the massive contradiction of her life: Born into the glamour of London and Beverly Hills, she ended up a female Rambo. Whatever reality the actual Domino may have possessed has been sliced and diced by Scott's usual barrage of whiplash camera work and rat-a-tat editing, complete with flashbacks, flash forwards, and flash in-betweens. Grade: C-
Sex/Nudity: 8 scenes including nudity and implied sex Violence: 20 brutal scenes. Profanity: 186 harsh expressions. Drugs: 30 scenes with drinking and 28 scenes with smoking.
Director: John Gatins. With Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning. (102 min.)
When racehorse Soñador breaks a leg, trainer Ben Crane (Russell) sees a potential brood mare, if he can at least get her well enough to walk. We've seen it all before, but this one is so well made it's a sure crowd pleaser. Grade: B
- M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 2 mild scenes. Profanity: 4 mild expressions. Drugs: None.
Director: Cameron Crowe. With Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin. (123 min.)
Drew Baylor (Bloom) is a shoe designer whose latest, botched creation, about to hit the stores, is poised to collapse his company. As an added bonus, Drew's girlfriend dumps him, and he gets word that his father has suddenly died in his hometown of Elizabethtown, Ky. Jetting in from the West Coast to plan the funeral, he encounters a flight attendant, Claire (Kirsten Dunst). Their live-wire connection continues on the ground, first at a distance, via marathon phone chats, and then face to face, for more jawboning. "Elizabethtown" is scaled big but the experience is curiously uninvolving. Part of the problem is that Orlando Bloom is featured almost nonstop, and yet he never seems to be in the movie. I'll say one thing for "Elizabethtown": Like every other Crowe movie, it has a very well- chosen pop/rock soundtrack. It may not be much of a movie, but it's a terrific concert. Grade: C-
Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes of innuendo and implied sex. Violence: 1 scenes, attempted suicide. Profanity: 11 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 9 scenes with drinking.
Director: Rupert Wainwright. With Tom Welling, Maggie Grace. (100 min.)
Ghosts hiding in a supernatural fog sail into a small Oregon town in a boat they imagine to be a clipper ship. Their mission is revenge on the descendants of four men who murdered them and used their fortune to found the town a hundred years ago. The scariest thing about this paint-by-numbers remake is that it was No. 1 at the box office last week. Grade: D -
Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes including implied sex Violence: 19 horror scenes. Profanity: 14 expressions. Drugs: 7 scenes with drinking.
Innocent Voices (R)
Director: Luis Mandoki. With Carlos Padilla, Leonor Varella, Xuna Primus. (120 min.)
Chava (Padilla) is an 11-year-old boy caught up in the civil war in 1980s El Salvador in "Innocent Voices," which is partly based on the childhood of its screenwriter, Oscar Torres. As an almost daily ritual, Chava and his fatherless family dodge bullets in their cardboard shack as they attempt to maintain a semblance of sanity in a village turned battlefield. The subject matter is harrowing, but the treatment is slick. The actors, all of whom seem too posed and pretty, are not particularly accomplished, and director Luis Mandoki lacks the visual imagination to bring the story to a boil. Grade: B - P.R.
Director: Shane Black. With Val Kilmer, Robert Downey Jr. (102 min.)
As a petty thief turned aspiring actor and detective in Shane Black's raucously entertaining "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," Robert Downey Jr. is on screen almost all the time, which is good news, since few performers can hold the screen as well. His live-wire physicality is capable of just about anything. In his new film, he uses it for comic effect; at times he is as jumpy and jerky as a cartoon character (Bugs Bunny, to be exact). Black, who wrote "Lethal Weapon," makes his directorial debut, and he puts a fresh spin not only on that film but also on a whole slew of films noirs. Grade: B+
- Peter Rainer
Sex/Nudity: 13 scenes including nudity. Violence: 20 gory scenes. Profanity: 130 harsh expressions. Drugs: 9 scenes with drinking. 8 scenes with smoking.
Director: Rodrigo García. With Glenn Close, Dakota Fanning, Holly Hunter. (115 min.)
"Nine Lives," written and directed by Rodrigo García, is something of a stunt: Nine stories about nine women filmed in nine separate unbroken takes. Garcia has gone in for this sort of thing before - his last film, "Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her," told five stories. The advantage of this format is that, if an episode isn't working, you can always wait it out until the next one comes along. The uneven "Nine Lives" has an impressive cast, but the best section features the great Mexican actress Elpidio Carrillo as a prison inmate kept from her child. Grade: B-
- Peter Rainer
Director: Niki Caro. With Charlize Theron, Woody Harrelson. (126 min.)
Theron plays a battered wife who fights sexual harassment at her job in the iron mines. She has her best role since "Monster," but overall "North Country" is too self-consciously scaled as an anthem for the human spirit. Grade: B-
Sex/Nudity: 16 scenes of innuendo and sexual harassment. Violence: 8 scenes, including one of rape. Profanity: 76 harsh expressions. Drugs: 11 scenes with smoking. 10 scenes with drinking.
Director: Jane Anderson. With Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern. (99 min.)
Evelyn Ryan rewrote the definition of resilience in the '50s and '60s, supporting ten children and an alcoholic husband by composing jingles and 25-word essays to win hundreds of contests. Moore makes a perfect Evelyn, always upbeat, and Harrelson as her ineffectual husband is borderline tragic. The film veers from tongue-in-cheek documentary to gritty drama to sitcom, but it's true to the spirit of daughter Terry's book and of Evelyn's life - lumpy but filled with expectancy of good, and utterly charming. Grade: B
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 4 scenes. Profanity: 25 expressions. Drugs: 8 scenes with drinking.
Director: Anand Tucker. With Steve Martin, Claire Danes. (104 min.)
Martin plays a dotcom millionaire who successfully woos Mirabelle (Danes), a salesgirl at Saks. Whether intentionally or not, Martin has given us something truly spooky: A full-fledged portrait of a hollow man. Grade: B - P.R.
Sex/Nudity: 13 frank scenes of innuendo and sex. Violence: None. Profanity: 9 fairly mild expressions. Drugs: 3 scenes with smoking. 11 scenes with drinking.
Director: Marc Forster. With Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts. (99 min.)
If you're the kind of moviegoer who likes puzzling out the plots of insoluble movies, then by all means rush to see "Stay," a great big blurry mess starring Ewan McGregor as a psychiatrist who gets pulled into the dreamscape of his disturbed patient, played by Ryan Gosling. Besides these two, Naomi Watts and Bob Hoskins also make appearances - the cast, if not the movie, is first-rate. The director, Marc Foster, most recently made "Finding Neverland," which could also serve as the title for his new film, except nothing is found and "neverland" is too kind a term for the chaos he flings at us. Grade: C-
Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes of innuendo. Violence: 10 horror scenes. Profanity: 28 harsh expressions. Drugs: 3 scenes with smoking. 4 scenes with drinking. 1 scene with prescription drugs.