Movie Guide

New in theaters

Blossoms of Fire (Not Rated)

Director: Maureen Gosling. With the Zapotecs of Oaxaca, Mexico. (75 min.)

Maureen Gosling's documentary "Blossoms of Fire" fulfills the first criterion of any good ethnographic study: It's about an inherently interesting subject. Gosling worked with the great documentarian Les Blank on such films as "Burden of Dreams," and she knows her way around a viewfinder. Here she chronicles the lives of Isthmus Zapotecs of southern Oaxaca, Mexico. She pays particular attention to the women because the Zapotecs are a formidably matriarchal society celebrated by artists like Miguel Covarrubias and Frida Kahlo. She doesn't always find a way into the inner lives of these people, but even the outer lives are something to see. (At AMC Empire 25 in New York). Grade: A-
- Peter Rainer

The Tenants (R)

Director: Danny Green. With Dylan McDermott, Snoop Dogg. (95 min.)

Bernard Malamud's 1971 novel finally makes it to the screen. It's about two rival writers, a Jewish man and a black man, who occupy the same abandoned tenement in the Bronx and are passionate about the same woman (Rose Byrne). The stage is set for a full-scale racial conflict, but neither actor is really up to the task - McDermott seems lost in his voluminous beard and Snoop Dogg spits his lines out. Despite its sociopolitical pretensions, the film's real message seems to be: Don't get romantically involved with a writer if you want to stay sane. (Showing at Cinema Village in New York). Grade: C-
- P.R.

Still in Release
Big Momma's House 2 (PG-13)

Director: John Whitesell. With Martin Lawrence, Nia Long. (99 min.)

FBI Agent Malcolm Turner (Lawrence) again dons his Big Momma disguise to pose as a nanny in the home of an executive implicated in government computer hacking. Credible plotting is not the movie's strong suit, but it's surprisingly innocent given the PG-13 rating, and it has a few good laughs. Grade: C
- M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 4 instances of innuendo. Violence: 6 scenes. Profanity: 24 mild expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 2 instances of drinking.

Something New (PG-13)

Director: Sanaa Hamri. With Sanaa Lathan, Simon Baker, Mike Epps, Alfre Woodard. (100 min.)

Kenya (Lathan) and three friends are so afraid they may end up among the 42.4 percent of African-American women who never marry, that they vow to follow a self-help maven's advice to be more open toward potential mates who come their way. Kenya knows exactly what qualities she's looking for, and her new gardener (Baker) has all of them - but "blue-eyed blond" is not on her list. How will he fit in with family and friends? If this romance isn't totally believable, the film's social commentary is relevant, painless, and sometimes hilarious. Grade: C+
- M.K.T.

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