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Hannibal Rising (R)

Director: Peter Webber. With Gaspard Ulliel, Rhys Ifans, Li Gong (117 min.)

For those hardy souls who can't get enough of the Hannibal Lecter ethos, Hannibal Rising is here to sate your jaded palate. Even more so than with the other Lecter movies, this prequel you should plan on seeing after you've eaten dinner. Better yet, skip the movie altogether and have dessert. We learn why Hannibal (Gaspard Ulliel) became a cannibal and, truth be told, one can only sympathize with the poor guy. Gong Li plays a Japanese woman of mystery who teaches him how to swing a samurai sword. Thomas Harris adapted his own bestseller and Peter Webber, who previously directed "Girl with a Pearl Earring," had the unenviable task of trying to give this glop, which is too gruesome to be campy, a high gloss. It should be called Man With a Severed Head. Grade: C–
– Peter Rainer

Becket (Not rated)

Director: Peter Glenville. With Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole (148 min.)

Back in 1964 when it was first released, Becket, starring Peter O'Toole as King Henry II and Richard Burton as the Archbishop of Canterbury, was acclaimed as an actors' showcase par excellence. Seen today, in a rerelease that is making its way around the country, it has both the virtues and flaws of the standard "quality" Hollywood movie. Director Peter Glenville and screenwriter Edward Anhalt (adapting Jean Anouilh's play) are overly studious craftsmen and the psychosexual relationship between the two protagonists is heavily sanitized. But Burton is extraordinary in one of his rare good movie roles and O'Toole is regally madcap and larger than life. No doubt his Oscar-nominated appearance in Venus has prompted this rerelease of Becket. They make a fascinating then-and-now combination. Grade: B+
– P. R.

Norbit (PG-13)

Director: Brian Robbins. With Eddie Murphy, Thandie Newton, Cuba Gooding Jr. (102 min.)

Norbit (Eddie Murphy) grows up in a combination orphanage and Chinese restaurant run by Mr. Wong (played by an almost unrecognizable Murphy) and marries the cruel and enormous Rasputia (Murphy again, in fat suit). Rasputia cheats on Norbit but is insanely jealous when his childhood sweetheart Kate (Thandie Newton) returns. Meanwhile, Kate's fiancé (Cuba Gooding Jr.) conspires with Rasputia's thuggish brothers to steal Kate's money. Murphy does well juggling three roles, but the movie (from a story co-written with his brother Charles) isn't worthy of his talents. A lively finale is not enough to redeem the 100 boring minutes that have gone before. Grade: D
– M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 17. Violence: 16 (all intended to be funny). Profanity: 90, mostly milder expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 9.

Still in Release
Blood and Chocolate (PG-13)

Director: Katja von Garnier. With Agnes Bruckner, Hugh Dancy, Olivier Martinez (98 min.)

After fleeing werewolf hunters who wiped out her family in Colorado, Vivian Gandillon (Agnes Bruckner) grows up Bucharest, where swear words are all but unknown, and werewolves make chocolate, absinthe, and arrests (they run the police department). Vivian catches the eye of a graphic novelist (Hugh Dancy) who wants to make her the werewolf heroine of his next adventure, not realizing she's the real deal. This low-budget thriller, charming in its modesty, is more Romeo and Juliet in Romania than horror film, where wolves snarl, bare fangs, and tug at pant legs, but you want to pet them and say, "Nice doggie." Grade: C+
– M.K.T.

Sex/Nudity: 2. Violence: 11. Profanity: 8 mild expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 5 scenes with drinking, mostly absinthe.

Because I Said So (PG-13)

Director: Michael Lehmann. With Diane Keaton, Mandy Moore (102 min.)

Daphne Wilder (Diane Keaton) is a single mother hen with three grown daughters, the youngest of whom, Milly (Mandy Moore), is unmarried and unlucky with men. So Daphne decides to place an ad in the online personals to find Milly the perfect guy. You can see where this is going – nowhere interesting. When Jason (Tom Everett Scott), a good-looking, successful architect shows up, Daphne lights up. Meanwhile, Johnny (Gabriel Macht), a free-spirited lounge musician decides he's interested in Milly, too. Milly ends up dating both of them. Daphne is more than a meddling mother, she's a walking disaster area. She uses Milly's predicament to right her own life's wrongs, and, in a smarter movie, this situation might have been the occasion for more than just a load of bad jokes and gloppy heart-to-heart confabs. Grade: D
– P. R.

Sex/Nudity: 16. Violence: none. Profanity: 26 mild expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 11 scenes with drinking. 

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