Nicolas Cage plays a hit man in Thailand who befriends a deaf-mute pharmacist. Not screened for critics anywhere. 100 minutes. R: Violence, language and some sexuality.
FROZEN RIVER ***
Melissa Leo and Misty Upham play mothers with absent husbands who agree to smuggle illegal immigrants across the border from Quebec to New York, in order to make enough money to hang onto their kids. Writer-director Courtney Hunt has caught the mutual resentment that may exist when whites and native Americans live alongside each other in poverty: The Indians feel whites exploit them or are automatically born into privilege, and the whites feel Indians get away with misbehavior because tribal authorities won't keep them in check. The mothers take a while to understand each other, and there's no chance they'll become the best of friends. But in this case, understanding is enough. 97 minutes. R: Some language.
THE LITTLE RED TRUCK
This documentary shows what happens when Missoula Children's Theatre comes to town to help 60 children stage a full-scale, one-hour musical in six days. The film records emotional highs and lows of more than 250 kids in five communities, who work under the direction of two professional actor/directors who come with the touring truck. 98 minutes. PG: Some thematic elements.
Vin Diesel escorts a woman from Russia to America; unknown to him, she's host to an organism that a cult wants to harvest to produce a Messiah. 90 minutes. PG-13: Intense sequences of violence and action, language and some sexuality.
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.
High school seniors visit a college campus they may wish to attend and get into trouble. 94 minutes. R: Pervasive crude and sexual content, nudity, language, drug and alcohol abuse.
DEATH RACE * 1/2
The year is 2012, with prisons privately run for profit and the warden of Terminal Island (Joan Allen) holding fatal auto races for 70 million TV viewers. Stone-faced Jason Statham plays an unjustly imprisoned man forced to drive; Tyrese Gibson is his deadly opponent. Writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson smashes things into one another and, if that gets boring, rams some minor character's head onto a metal spike. 89 minutes. R: Strong violence and language.
Spoof of disaster movies, with people bombarded by catastrophic events. 90 minutes. PG-13: Crude and sexual content throughout, language, drug references and comic violence.
A professor and cultural critic (Ben Kingsley) finds his life thrown into romantic chaos by a grad student (Penélope Cruz). Isabel Coixet directed and Nicholas Meyer wrote this adaptation of Philip Roth's “The Dying Animal.” 113 minutes. R: Sexuality, nudity and language.
HAMLET 2 **
A high school drama teacher stages a naughty musical to raise money to save his program, becoming a national cause célèbre. Steve Coogan, so funny in British films, continues his string of half-baked American comedies. Director Andrew Fleming followed the same template in “Dick” and his remake of “The In-Laws”: He starts with a zany idea, carried out with energy and mild anarchy; but then the film loses steam and settles for a conventional ending that doesn't give us a payoff. 92 minutes. R: Language including sexual references, brief nudity and some drug content.
THE HOUSE BUNNY
Anna Faris plays a Playboy bunny who's tossed from Hugh Hefner's mansion and falls in with clueless sorority women. 97 minutes. PG-13: Sex-related humor, partial nudity and brief strong language.
THE LAST MISTRESS
Catherine Breillat directed this film about love/sex among 19th-century French aristocracy. Asia Argento, Roxanne Mesquia and Fu'ad Ait Aattou star.104 minutes. Unrated.
THE LONGSHOTS ***
Gastonia native Fred Durst, the once-growling rocker from Limp Bizkit, and Ice Cube, the once-scowling rapper, show their softer sides as director and star of this inspirational movie about a middle schooler (played well by Keke Palmer) who becomes the first female quarterback to reach the national championships in Pop Warner football. They give us an unforced, sweet-natured tale of people who find ways to touch each other and rediscover the good in themselves. 94 minutes. PG: Some thematic elements, mild language and brief rude humor.
MAN ON WIRE *** 1/2
In 1974, French wire-walker Philippe Petit crossed back and forth between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. This delightful documentary explains how, if not why, he pulled off this amazing feat with the help of a strange band of cohorts. Director James Marsh borrows cleverly from the style of Oscar-winner Errol Morris, blending black-and-white recreations with grainy real footage from 1974. 90 minutes. PG-13: Some sexuality and nudity, and drug references.
An ex-cop (Kiefer Sutherland) and his family are attacked by evil forces that use mirrors to enter their home. 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 uses him. 102 minutes. PG-13: Drug and sexual references, nudity and language.
Bollywood musical. 139 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.
TELL NO ONE *** 1/2
French director Guillaume Canet has adapted New Jersey writer Harlan Coben's novel, moving the setting to his own country. A pediatrician (François Cluzet) gets e-mails that appear to come from the wife (Marie-Josée Croze) who reportedly died eight years ago. Canet does a good job of conveying the atmosphere of fear, rage, bewilderment and helplessness in the face of danger that are staples of film noir. 125 minutes. Unrated: Violence, language.
This thoughtful (if often implausible) drama asks us to re-think the way we see Muslims, to conceive that their loyalty to America may be as intense as their enemies' loyalties to jihad-inspired terrorists. Don Cheadle plays a devout man who's also an undercover FBI agent; he's chased by other agents (Guy Pearce and Neal McDonough) who wrongly believe he's selling explosives to Yemeni extremists. Writer-director Jeffrey Nachmanoff relies on howlingly improbable events to hold the story together but pulls off something more daring and perhaps more important than a tightly constructed plot: He gets us to look with fresh eyes at the brown-skinned people we often lump together. 110 minutes. PG-13: Intense violent sequences, thematic material and brief language.
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.
THE DARK KNIGHT (PG-13) ****
HANCOCK (PG-13) ***
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (PG-13) ***
KUNG FU PANDA (PG) *** 1/2
MAMMA MIA! (PG-13) *** 1/2
THE MUMMY; TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR (PG-13) * 1/2
PINEAPPLE EXPRESS (R) ** 1/2
SPACE CHIMPS (G)
STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (PG) **
STEP BROTHERS (R)
SWING VOTE (PG-13) ***
VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA (PG-13) * 1/2
WALL-E (G) *** 1/2
WANTED (R) ***
Film capsules are written by Lawrence Toppman. If there's no star rating, he hasn't seen the movie.
Grades: **** = excellent, *** = good, ** = fair,
* = poor.