A documentary about five seniors in Indiana who embody most of the dilemmas in the average life of a high-schooler. 95 minutes. PG-13: Some strong language, sexual material, some drinking and brief smoking – all involving teens.
BACHNA AE HASEENO
155 minutes. Not rated.
BIGGER, STRONGER, FASTER
Director Christopher Bell condemns America's win-at-all-cost culture in this documentary, examining how he and his two brothers became members of the steroid subculture in an effort to achieve their dreams. 105 minutes. PG-13: Thematic material involving drugs, language, some sexual content and violent images.
This feature is based on a true story from 1976, in which a California wine of no famous vintage defeated the greats of France in a blind taste test. With Bill Pullman, Chris Pine, Alan Rickman and Rachael Taylor. 110 minutes. PG-13: Brief strong language, some sexual content and a scene of drug use.
A young Bangladeshi woman arrives in 1980s London, leaving behind her beloved sister and home, for an arranged but loveless marriage and a new life. She feels trapped in East London but meets a man who wants to turn her life around. 102 minutes. PG-13: Some sexuality and brief strong language.
ENCOUNTERS AT THE END
OF THE WORLD
Director Werner Herzog shot this documentary about Antarctica, studying nature and men who live there, shooting both aboveground and underwater. 99 minutes. G.
HENRY POOLE IS HERE ** 1/2
A dying man refuses to believe the pattern on his stucco wall is the face of Jesus, though people who touch it achieve miraculous results. Luke Wilson, Radha Mitchell and Adriana Barraza star in this examination of faith, which cops out with an ending that says, “It's whatever you think it is.” 100 minutes. PG: Thematic elements and some language.
An ex-cop (Kiefer Sutherland) and his family are attacked by evil forces that use mirrors to enter their home. Not screened for critics anywhere. 110 minutes. R: Strong violence, disturbing images, language and brief nudity.
Rainn Wilson plays a drummer who's kicked out of a 1980s hair band and has a second chance 20 years later, when his nephew's high school band grabs him. With Christina Applegate. 102 minutes. PG-13: Drug and sexual references, nudity and language.
THE CLONE WARS **
The plot involves Jedi knights and Count Dooku trying to return Jabba the Hutt's kidnapped baby in order to gain his support in a galactic conflict. This pilot-style movie for the animated TV series might prove indispensible to diehard fans but inconsequential for the rest of us, who already know what's going to happen to Anakin, Obi-Wan, Padme and the rest. 98 minutes. PG: Sci-fi action violence throughout, brief language and momentary smoking.
TROPIC THUNDER *** 1/2
Pampered actors shooting a Vietnam War movie in an Asian jungle find themselves under real fire when they meet heroin distributors in this action comedy. The leads are Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Nick Nolte and Robert Downey Jr., who's hilarious as a method actor so obsessive he dyes his skin black to play Sgt. Lincoln Osiris. This satire doesn't bite the Hollywood hands that feed it quite hard enough, but it's consistently funny in spoofing the vanity and bad taste of actors and producers. 107 minutes. R: Pervasive language including sexual references, violent content and drug material.
VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA * 1/2
Two young American women, a failed filmmaker and a graduate student who's not in touch with her feelings (Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall), have summer flings with a bohemian painter in Spain (Javier Bardem). Penélope Cruz plays his ex-wife, a jealous Latina spitfire, who's as clichéd as everyone else here. 96 minutes. PG-13: Mature thematic material involving sexuality, and smoking.
BRIDESHEAD REVISITED ***
Matthew Goode, Hayley Atwell and the terrific Ben Whishaw form the love triangle at the heart of this story about an Oxford student who takes an interest in a classmate and the man's sister between the two world wars. Significant deviations from Evelyn Waugh's novel don't keep the film from getting at psychological truths about a society that straitjackets its members by class, one where religion is taken so seriously that a clash in views imperils marriages and “the love that dare not speak its name” drives a promising young man to alcoholism. 135 minutes. PG-13: Some sexual content.
THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR *
Brendan Fraser and Maria Bello (embarrassingly made up to look and sound like Rachel Weisz, who wouldn't come back) phone in performances in this tale of a 2,000-year-old emperor who comes alive in the China of 1947. The drab actors, laughable computer-generated effects, threadbare plot, continuity lapses and one-liners that repeatedly fall flat might make this the worst sequel ever to a good action film. 112 minutes. PG-13: Adventure action and violence.
MY WINNIPEG ***
If you enjoy Guy Maddin's strange meditations on love and loss, you will probably respond positively to “My Winnipeg.” If not, you may feel as if you've stepped into a surreal snowdrift and can't climb out. It lacks even the loose narrative thread of “The Saddest Music in the World” or “Dracula: Pages From a Virgin's Diary.” The Canadian writer-director meditates on his childhood in Manitoba's largest city, and the movie is a mixture of reflection, reverence and revilement. 80 minutes. Unrated: Brief nudity, profanity.
THE PINEAPPLE EXPRESS ** 1/2
Judd Apatow has produced and/or written six movies released in the last nine months, and the formulas are wearing thin. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (who wrote “Superbad”) scripted a first-draft comedy about a process server (Rogen) who sees a drug dealer and a crooked cop whack a member of an Asian gang; the process server goes on the run with a stoned dealer (James Franco, very funny). David Gordon Green directed, and the film – a crazy quilt of pot jokes, sarcastic putdowns and pop culture references both obvious and obscure – turns violently ugly in the last 20 minutes. 111 minutes. R: Pervasive language, drug use, sexual references and violence.
SINGH IS KINNG
Romantic comedy about a criminal gang transformed by one good guy and his love for a beautiful girl. 150 minutes. Unrated.
THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS 2
Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, Blake Lively and Amber Tamblyn return as four friends discussing love affairs and school. 117 minutes. PG-13: Mature material and sensuality.
SWING VOTE ***
A Capra-esque comedy (and gentle political satire) about Bud, an unemployed alcoholic who (by a ridiculous turn of events) will elect the next U.S. president with his vote. Kevin Costner is always good when he's playing an amiable rogue, and Madeline Carroll has appealing dignity as the daughter who's trying to straighten him out. Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper play the presidential candidates, who adjust party platforms to suit Bud's whims and offhand remarks. The filmmakers want to inspire rather than depress us, and they do. 100 minutes. PG-13: Language.
THE WACKNESS * 1/2
Another fake-edgy Sundance favorite bites the dust. High school drug dealer Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) has a loyal client in his psychiatrist, Jeff Squires (Ben Kingsley), who fires up bongs during skull sessions and encourages depressed Luke to solve his problems with sex – as long as it doesn't involve Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby), his promiscuous stepdaughter. 95 minutes. R: Pervasive drug use, language and some sexuality.
THE X FILES:
I WANT TO BELIEVE * 1/2
In what, though? Surely not this drab movie, which comes 10 years after the first “X-Files” film and proves director Chris Carter (who produced and wrote the script with Frank Spotnitz) has nothing left to share. Mulder and Scully (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson) help the FBI investigate the disappearance of an agent; the plot is a mash-up of a procedural police thriller, a B-grade mad scientist movie of the 1950s and mumbo-jumbo about God's influence. It hasn't one real shock or surprise, though Anderson tries to elevate the material. 104 minutes. PG-13: Violent and disturbing content and thematic material.
THE DARK KNIGHT (PG-13) ****
GET SMART (PG-13)
HANCOCK (PG-13) ***
HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY (PG-13) ** 1/2
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (PG-13) ***
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (PG)
KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL (G) **1/2
KUNG FU PANDA (PG) *** 1/2
MAMMA MIA! (PG-13) *** 1/2
MEET DAVE (PG)
SEX AND THE CITY (R) * 1/2
SPACE CHIMPS (G)
STEP BROTHERS (R)
THE VISITOR (PG-13) *** 1/2
WALL-E (G) *** 1/2
WANTED (R) ***
THE X FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE (PG-13) * 1/2
Film capsules are written by Lawrence Toppman. If there's no star rating, he hasn't seen the movie.
Grades: **** = excellent, *** = good, ** = fair,
* = poor.