Friday, July 28, 2006
The Philadelphia Inquirer (MCT)
ARMY OF SHADOWS 4 stars. Jean-Pierre Melville's taut 1969 study of the French Resistance movement during World War II — and a small band of men (and a few women) who risked to fight the Nazi occupation — is nothing short of a masterpiece. 2 hrs. 25 No MPAA rating (violence, profanity, adult themes) — Steven Rea.
THE BREAK-UP 2 stars. Though the Vince Vaughn-Jennifer Aniston vehicle is marketed as a romantic comedy, this war of nerves is a mostly melancholy saga about a prickly pair who would rather play head games than house. Comic support comes from Jon Favreau and Judy Davis. 1 hr. 47 PG-13 (brief nudity, profanity, sexual candor) —Carrie Rickey
CARS 2 stars. It was bound to happen. After a spectacular 11-year run that produced a fleet of instant family classics ("Toy Story 1 and 2," "The Incredibles," "Finding Nemo," "Monsters, Inc."), Pixar finally rolled out a clunker. Although "Cars" is directed by John Lasseter, the creative force behind the computer animation studio, this feels more like an assembly-line kiddie flick than anything else. 1 hr. 57 G —Steven Rea.
CLEAN 3.5 stars. Maggie Cheung stars as a junkie rock-star widow trying to go straight and regain custody of her little boy. Nick Nolte is the granddad who has the kid, and is understandably reluctant to let him go. A quiet, keenly observed portrait of addiction, with brilliant performances from Cheung and Nolte, under the direction of French filmmaker Olivier Assayas. 1 hr. 30 R (drugs, profanity, nudity, adult themes) —Steven Rea
CLICK 1.5 stars. Adam Sandler stars in this cold, crude reworking of "It's a Wonderful Life," updated for the TiVo generation. As an overworked architect who gets handed a supernatural remote control gizmo, Sandler's character push-buttons his way through — with sappy, serio-comic results. 1 hr. 38 PG-13 (profanity, drug references, comic violence, adult themes) —Steven Rea
THE DA VINCI CODE 2 stars. Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou run around Europe, delving into dark churches and darker secrets, chased by French cops and an albino killer monk, in this plodding adaptation of the mega-selling Dan Brown theological thriller. It may be controversial and blasphemous, but worse still it's deathly dull. 2 hrs. 29 PG-13 (violence, profanity, religious mumbo-jumbo, adult themes) —Steven Rea
DEEP SEA Produced by Michele Hall and Toni Myers; directed by Howard Hall. Narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. Distributed by Warner Brothers, 45 mins. No MPAA rating (predatory behavior) —David Hiltbrand
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA 3 stars. This droll comedy stars Meryl Streep at her Cruella DeVil-ish best as editor Miranda Priestly, one of fashion's most powerful women. 1 hr. 49 PG-13 (sexual candor) —Carrie Rickey
THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT 2 stars. A misunderstood loner with a lead foot (Lucas Black) is shipped to Tokyo, where they conduct their street races a little differently. The car culture translates well to Japan, but the "Fast and Furious" franchise is out of gas. 1 hr. 44 PG-13 (violence, profanity) —David Hiltbrand
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH 3.5 stars. Armed with strategic energy reserves and a PowerPoint presentation, Al Gore discusses the perils of global warming in this engaging and challenging documentary from Davis Guggenheim. 1 hr. 40 PG (suitable for those 10 and older) —Carrie Rickey
THE KING 2.5 stars. Gael Garcia Bernal stars in this biblically themed noir about a young stranger, just out of the Navy, who comes into a Texas pastor's world and upends it, in dark and devilish ways. With William Hurt, Pell James and Paul Dano — all of whom are terrific. Chilling and compelling stuff. 1 hr. 45 No MPAA rating (sex, nudity, violence, adult themes) —Steven Rea
LITTLE MAN 2.5 stars. A diminutive jewel thief (Marlon Wayans) passes himself off as an infant in this uproarious if rather obvious slapstick comedy. 1 hr. 30 PG-13 (profanity, crude and sexual humor, drug references) — David Hiltbrand.
PEACEFUL WARRIOR 1.5 stars. Nick Nolte stars as a sage old grease monkey offering spiritual counsel to a troubled young gymnastic star in this jaw-droppingly dippy adaptation of Dan Millman's New Age memoir. 2 hrs. 01 PG-13 (adult themes, Be-Here-Now-isms) — Steven Rea.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST 2 stars. Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom are back — along with several boatloads of bearded buccaneers and ghostly mutant fish people — in this unfortunately long, tedious, convoluted followup to 2003's rollicking high seas hit. Dark and disappointing, with half the cast covered in barnacles. 2 hrs. 30 PG-13 (supernatural scares, violence, mayhem, adult themes) —Steven Rea
A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION 2.5 stars. Small-beer radio pros face their final broadcast with a smile on their face, a song in their hearts, and a biscuit in their belly. Inspired by Garrison Keillor`s militantly folksy radio show, this Robert Altman movie written by and starring Keillor is an ode to professionalism. With Maryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Lindsay Lohan and Kevin Kline. 1 hr. 45 PG-13 (raunchy humor) —Carrie Rickey
THE ROAD TO GUANTANAMO 2.5 stars. This docu-dramatic account of dehumanization is told entirely from the perspective of British nationals of Pakistani heritage held prisoner at the American military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 1 hr. 35 R (profanity, physical and psychological torture) —Carrie Rickey
ROVING MARS 2 stars. This Imax documentary captures the 2003 NASA mission to land two working "robot geologists" on the surface of Mars. A dull film about an astounding accomplishment. 40 mins. G —David Hiltbrand
RUSSIAN DOLLS 3 stars. In this sequel to "L'Auberge Espagnole, filmmaker Cedric Kapisch drops in again on the Xavier, the pouting Parisian writer who struggles at both love and writing. 2 hrs. 09 No MPAA Rating (nudity, sex, profanity, drugs, adult themes) —Steven Rea
A SCANNER DARKLY 2 stars. Keanu Reeves plays a narc who is losing touch with reality in Richard Linklater's quasi-animated film, a faithful if fatuous adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel. 1 hr. 40 R (violence, profanity, sexual and drug content) — David Hiltbrand.
STRANGERS WITH CANDY 2 stars. The central joke in the sporadically amusing parody of `70s "AfterSchool Specials" — 20 minutes of good material stretched to feature length — is that it takes place during school hours. The film weds the shapeless ramble of a Rodney Dangerfield monologue with the outcasts-are-in assumption of a John Waters movie. 1 hr. 27 R (profanity, sexual candor, some drug material) —Carrie Rickey
SUPERMAN RETURNS 3.5 stars. If you mess with Supey, you better mess right, and director Bryan Singer has messed right: a spectacularly satisfying reworking of the superhero legend, with cool special effects and a surprising twist on the Lois Lane-Superman romance. Kevin Spacey is arch-nemesis Lex Luthor, with Kate Bosworth as Lois. 2 hrs. 34 PG-13 (violence, mayhem, adult themes) —Steven Rea
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING 3.5 stars. Mercilessly funny satire about a tobacco industry lobbyist (Aaron Eckhart) unapologetically selling his wares, and, perhaps, his soul. Based on the Christopher Buckley novel, with William H. Macy, Maria Bello, Robert Duvall and Katie Holmes. 1 hr. 32 R (profanity, sex, adult themes) —Steven Rea
WAIST DEEP Tyrese Gibson plays a reformed gangsta trying to rescue his kidnapped son in this shabby and shapeless action mess. 1 hr. 37 R (violence, profanity, drug references) —David Hiltbrand
WASSUP ROCKERS Focusing on a group of Los Angeles high schoolers who talk casually about gang wars and rocket their boards around the barrio, the film follows Johnny (Jonathan Velasquez) and his six buddies in a dawn-to-dawn odyssey from their run-down neck of the woods to the tony enclaves of Beverly Hills. 1 hr. 51 R (profanity, violence, sexual content, teen drinking) —Steven Rea
WATER 4 stars. Deepa Mehta`s exquisite tale, set in 1938 at the dawn of modern India, frames a young girl`s struggle for freedom with that of Mahatma Gandhi seeking India`s independence from England. In Hindi with English subtitles. 1 hr. 54 PG-13 (mature themes) —Carrie Rickey
WORDPLAY 2.5 stars. A composite portrait of the estimated 50 million Americans weekly — including Bill Clinton, Bob Dole and Jon Stewart — who clear the cobwebs from their mental machinery by completing a crossword. 1 hr. 30 PG (profanity, mild thematic elements) —Carrie Rickey
X-MEN: THE LAST STAND 2.5 stars. United in the last installment, the mutant heroes are divided here over a proposed "cure" to heal their super powers. Filmmaker Brett Ratner takes over the franchise previously helmed by Bryan Singer. Where Singer conceived the action on the model of a killer chess match, Ratner's model is the demolition derby. With Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen and Kelsey Grammer as a furry mutant with a cabinet-level post. 1 hr. 44 PG-13 (sexual situations, superhero violence, explosions) —Carrie Rickey
YOU, ME AND DUPREE 2.5 stars. Owen Wilson, Matt Dillon and Kate Hudson star in this amiable if ragtag comedy about a down-on-his-luck houseguest (Wilson) upending the newly wedded bliss of his best friend and best friend's wife. Michael Douglas isn't as amusing as he should be as the imperious father-in-law boss, but then the whole movie's not as amusing as it should be. 1 hr. 48 PG-13 (sex, profanity, drugs, comic mayhem, adult themes) — Steven Rea.
RATINGS: 4 stars: Excellent; 3 stars: Good; 2 stars: Fair; 1 star: Poor
(c) 2006, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
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