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Fired! (No rating)

Director: Chris Bradley and Kyle LaBrache. With Annabelle Gurwitch. (71 min.)

Actress-comic Annabelle Gurwitch was fired from a play by Woody Allen and has been making something of a cottage industry out of the experience ever since. Having written a book about being fired, she has now made a documentary as well, and it's something of a mess. Gurwitch interviews lots of funny show biz people, including Fred Willard, Judy Gold, and Anne Meara, but she often cuts away from them just as things start to get interesting. She provides reenactments of her Woody Allen debacle, stages a firing scene using puppets, and talks to former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who tries to get Gurwitch to help his stand-up comic son. He might have been better off talking to Woody Allen. Grade: C
Peter Rainer

Still in Release
Babel (R)

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu. With Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett. (142 min.)

"Babel" has four separate narratives that are supposed to interlock, but never really do. The odyssey begins when a Moroccan goat herder buys a hunting rifle and leaves it with his two sons. One of the boys unthinkingly fires on a tour bus and hits a tourist (Blanchett), vacationing with her husband (Pitt). Meanwhile, the couple's children in Los Angeles are being cared for by their Mexican nanny, who transports them across the border to attend her son's wedding. The conclusion doesn't justify all the heavy lifting it takes to get there. Grade: B
– P.R.

The Departed (R)

Director: Martin Scorsese.With Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio. (152 min.)

"The Departed" is about both crooks and cops, although some of the cops are, well, crooks. What really links the police and the perps is their almost Joycean love of language. An argument could certainly be made that "The Departed" is not much of a stretch for Scorsese. But how can you complain when you're having so much fun? Grade: A
– P.R.

Letters From Iwo Jima (R)

Director: Clint Eastwood. With Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya. (141 min.)

This companion piece to "Flags of Our Fathers" is in almost every way superior. In "Letters," drawn from missives sent home by Japanese soldiers, Eastwood shows us the same battle from the Japanese perspective, and his intention is simpler: He wants us to recognize the humanity of the enemy. In order to achieve the utmost verity, he filmed the entire production using Japanese actors whose dialogue is subtitled in English. Grade: A–
– P.R.

Pan's Labyrinth (R)

Director: Guillermo del Toro. With Ivana Baquero, Sergi López. (112 min.)

Guillermo del Toro's nightmare fable is an achievement, but not one intended for small children. Its imagery is far too upsetting. For everyone else, this picture is required viewing. Set in Franco's Spain just after the civil war, the story is told through the eyes of 13-year-old Ofelia, whose beautiful but sickly mother has married a vicious Fascist captain. To escape her life, Ofelia imagines an underground cavern filled with satyrs, ogres, and trolls. In tone, "Pan's Labyrinth" resembles a cross between "Alice in Wonderland" and H.P. Lovecraft, with some Buñuel thrown in for good measure. It's a tribute to – as well as a prime example of – the disturbing power of imagination. Grade: A
– P.R.

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