- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

OPENING

• Fay Grim (2007) (R). The suburban New York independent filmmaker Hal Hartley’s sequel to his “Henry Fool” of 1998. The new title character, played by Parker Posey, is the abandoned wife of the original title character, a charismatic opportunist and escape artist responsible for duping his brother-in-law, James Urbaniak as Simon Grim, into a criminal misadventure. The plot resumes with Henry (Thomas Jay Ryan) still a missing person years later. Fay is contacted by the CIA, which wants her to undertake an amateur espionage mission to Paris, where property belonging to her husband has turned up. Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema.

• Provoked (2006) (No MPAA rating: Adult subject matter). An Indian topical melodrama about an abused wife convicted of killing her husband. With Aishwarya Rai, the beauty of “Bride & Prejudice,” as the wife, and Naveen Andrews as her spouse. Directed in English by Jag Mundhra. Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema.

• Shrek the Third (2007) (PG: Crude humor, suggestive content and swashbuckling action). The lovable green ogre is back in this third “Shrek” feature, but the big guy is in all new trouble. Poor Shrek (Mike Myers) must become king of Far, Far Away unless he can convince a bratty teen (voiced by Justin Timberlake) to take his place.

NOW SHOWING

• After the Wedding (2007) (R: Partial nudity, sexual situations and adult language) — ***1/2. Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier directs this wonderful tale of a man (Mads Mikkelsen) who travels to Copenhagen to secure funding for an Indian orphanage. His trip turns sour when he gets invited to a wedding, a joyous event that stirs up old wounds. — Christian Toto

• Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2007) (R: Crude and sexual humor, violent animated images and language) — ***. Based on the successful television series that’s part of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim animation block, “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” follows Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad as the fast-food items try to save their neighbor Carl. The surreal cartoon isn’t for everyone, but those who appreciate this kind of humor will find an easy transition from the small to the big screen. — Kelly Jane Torrance

• Away From Her (2007) (PG-13: Some sexual references) — ***1/2. A deeply intelligent film about the burdens of marriage and memory. Julie Christie, in a bravura performance, stars as Fiona, who moves into a nursing home and seemingly forgets her husband after she’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Her husband Grant (Gordon Pinsent) has to watch his wife form an attachment to another man. Actress Sarah Polley directed and adapted the screenplay from an Alice Munro short story in a stunningly accomplished debut. — Kelly Jane Torrance

• Black Book — (2007) (R: Some strong violence, graphic nudity, sexuality and language) — ***1/2. Paul Verhoeven’s (“Total Recall,” “Basic Instinct”) first Dutch film in 20 years is a marvelous blend of American style and European morals. Carice van Houten and Sebastian Koch star as a Jewish member of the Dutch Resistance and her Nazi lover in this thriller that shows war is hell and so is the cleanup. — Kelly Jane Torrance

• Blades of Glory (2007) (PG-13: Language, some crude and sexual jokes and mild violence) — *. Will Ferrell fans will put up with a lot, but this ice-skating parody may test their commitment to the famous funnyman. He stars as a competitive skater alongside “Napoleon Dynamite’s” Jon Heder, but when a post-competition brawl disqualifies them from the sport indefinitely, their only hope for future gold lies in a loophole: They can team up and enter the pairs division, where they’ll show audiences just how audacious and sexually suggestive it is for two men to embrace each other on the ice. — Jenny Mayo

• Delta Farce (2007) (PG-13). An apparently labored spoof of both the elite commando organization Delta Force and “The Magnificent Seven.” An ill-assorted batch of recruits think they’re bound for Iraq but end up in Mexico, where they defend a village from a ruthless warlord. With Danny Trejo as the villain, plus Larry the Cable Guy, Keith David and DJ Qualls. Not reviewed.

• Disturbia (2007) (PG-13: Some violent scenes and sensuality) — ***. This suspenseful thriller draws viewers into its current swiftly, then picks up speed slowly before finally leaving its audience to gasp on the other side of the finale’s ripping rapids. After his father’s death leads him down a troubled path, Kale (the talented young Shia LaBeouf) finds himself under house arrest, where he learns to amuse himself with what’s outside his windows — particularly his creepy and possibly serial-killer next-door neighbor Mr. Turner (David Morse). — Jenny Mayo

• The Ex (2007) (PG-13). A romantic comedy-melodrama about the vicissitudes of a young couple, Zach Braff and Amanda Peet, who have just had their first child and relocate to the Midwest, where the husband takes a job with his father-in-law, Charles Grodin. The firm also employs a resentful snake-in-the-grass, Jason Bateman, still carrying a torch for Miss Peet and eager to sabotage Mr. Braff. Supporting players include Mia Farrow, Donal Logue, Amy Poehler and Amy Adams. Not reviewed.

• The Flying Scotsman (2007) (PG-13: Some mildly violent scenes, dark themes and language) — **1/2. Jonny Lee Miller (“Afterglow,” “Trainspotting”) stars as legendary Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree in this British-made biopic about the athlete’s struggles to conquer world records as well as his own depression. Around the tumultuous main storyline — by turns quite dark and quite uplifting — the script’s supporting characters (played by Brian Cox, Billy Boyd and more) create a lighter counterpoint. — Jenny Mayo

• Fracture (2007) (R). Anthony Hopkins echoes Hannibal Lecter again while cast as a suspected murderer who relishes interrogation by Ryan Gosling, a young assistant D.A. Director Gregory Hoblit’s first successful movie was in this genre — “Primal Fear,” where client Edward Norton outwitted criminal attorney Richard Gere. The cast includes David Strathairn, Embeth Davidtz and Rosamund Pike. Not reviewed.

• Georgia Rule (2007) (R: Sexual content and some language) — *. In director Garry Marshall’s Mother’s Day weekend offering, Lindsay Lohan stars as Rachel, a misunderstood bad girl whose mother (Felicity Huffman) banishes her to small-town Idaho, where grandma Georgia (Jane Fonda) runs a strict Christian home. But the so-called “Georgia rules” won’t save the lusty, rebellious Rachel from herself, nor save this soap-operatic film from itself. — Jenny Mayo

• Grindhouse (2007) (R: Nudity, gore, violence, adult language and disturbing imagery) — ***. Directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino direct two films in the exploitive grind house mode of yore. “Planet Terror” stays closest to the template with its gruesome zombies and purposely silly action. “Death Proof” features Kurt Russell but proves Mr. Tarantino’s dialogue isn’t always as snappy as it was in “Pulp Fiction.” — Christian Toto

• The Hip-Hop Project (2007) (PG-13). A documentary feature that affirms hip-hop as “a vehicle for self-discovery and redemption.” Exhibit A is Chris “Kazi” Rolle, aligned with a New York City program called Art Start. He encourages teenagers to rise above their troubles by writing and distributing music albums. Not reviewed.

• The Hoax (2007) (R: Some nudity, language, mature themes) — ***. Though not entirely historically accurate, “The Hoax” delivers a fascinating if slightly fabricated portrait of Clifford Irving (Richard Gere), the man who had a nation believing he’d obtained Howard Hughes’ exclusive memoirs. The well-acted film seems less a recollection of the real story than an extended hypothesis about how one man’s quest for notoriety, the public’s thirst for celebrity gossip and human willingness to trust can turn one little white lie into a white-hot wildfire that threatens all who encounter and enable it. — Jenny Mayo

• Home of the Brave (2007) (R). This week’s serious movie about American soldiers, a quartet who return home after a tour of duty in Iraq that culminated in a deadly mission. Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Biel, Curtis Jackson and Brian Presley have principal roles. Not reviewed.

• Hot Fuzz (2007) (R: Violence, gore and adult language) — ***. The minds behind the zombie spoof “Shaun of the Dead” return with a tale of a hot-shot London officer Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) tracking a serial killer in a sleepy British hamlet. “Fuzz” loses steam in the final reel, but until then it’s a comic delight. — Christian Toto

• Lucky You (2007) (PG-13: Some adult language and sexual humor) — *1/2. Eric Bana stars in this oft-delayed drama about a poker pro who meets an aspiring singer (Drew Barrymore) and sparks fly. The romantic angle is tepid, but no more so than the father-son tension between Mr. Bana and a bored Robert Duvall. — Christian Toto

• The Namesake (2007) (PG-13: Sexuality/nudity, some disturbing images and brief language) — **1/2. Jhumpa Lahiri’s acclaimed novel has been made into a lush family saga by director Mira Nair. Though the title character’s story never really gets off the ground, the tale of the arranged marriage between Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli, who move from Calcutta to New York, is a compelling immigrant saga. — Kelly Jane Torrance

• Offside (2006) (No MPAA rating). The latest film from Iranian writer-director Jafar Panahi, who again draws attention to the regime’s sexual prejudice by depicting the efforts of soccer-loving girls to crash a World Cup qualifying match in Tehran. Attendance is limited to men only. When apprehended, the girls are detained in a part of the stadium where sounds of the game still tantalize prisoners and the young soldiers guarding them. In Farsi with English subtitles. Not reviewed.

• The Page Turner (La Tourneuse de pages) (2006) (Not rated — adult themes) — **1/2. This French film is a tale of revenge lying in wait, as a child patiently waits until adulthood to retaliate against the concert pianist who as an examination judge ended the girl’s career. The intriguing premise and solid performances don’t quite add up, however, and “The Page Turner” finally becomes a thriller without the thrills. In French with English subtitles. — Kelly Jane Torrance

• Snow Cake (2007) (Unrated: Strong language and sexual content) — ***. Alex Hughes (Alan Rickman) reluctantly offers a ride to a punkish hitchhiker named Vivienne Freeman (Emily Hampshire), but after a car accident claims her life, Alex grows close to her autistic mother, Linda (Sigourney Weaver). While he’s in her hometown trying to make amends and heal, things heat up between him and the libidinous Maggie (Carrie-Anne Moss). The film’s a bit plodding and at times trite, but packs some solid performances and lovely little moments. — Jenny Mayo

• Spider-Man 3 (2007) (PG-13: Sequences of intense action violence) — **. Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is still living a double life as Spider-Man in this third installment of the popular Marvel comic book character. This time, he’ll have four villains to fight: New Goblin (James Franco), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), Venom (Topher Grace) and a mysterious black gook that’s taking control of his Spidey suit. Too many characters muddle the script, but the film does offer tremendous special effects, high suspense and silly humor, plus some fine acting performances. — Jenny Mayo

• 28 Weeks Later (2007) (R: Gore, violence, adult language and disturbing imagery) — **1/2. The 2002 zombie hit “28 Days Later” gets extended in this ambitious horror sequel that can’t quite match the original. An international force is set to repopulate England in the wake of the “rage virus” outbreak, but the plague’s life may not be over yet. — Christian Toto

• The Valet (2007) (PG-13: Sexual content and language) — ***1/2. The valet of the title can’t believe his luck when a millionaire asks him to live with his supermodel girlfriend to throw his wife off the lovers’ trail. This French farce is a riot, courtesy of a witty script by director Francis Veber. In French with English subtitles. — Kelly Jane Torrance

• Waitress (2007) (PG-13: Sexual content, adult language and thematic elements) — ***. “Felicity’s” Keri Russell is delightful as a put upon waitress whose life gets even worse when she learns she’s pregnant. The film’s as sweet and fluffy as the pastries the main character creates, but the ending will leave audiences with a toothache. —Christian Toto

• Year of the Dog (2007) (PG-13: Some suggestive references, adult language and mature themes). — ***. Molly Shannon shines as a single woman who becomes depressed when her beloved dog dies accidentally. She seeks solace in a fellow dog lover (Peter Sarsgaard) while taking dating tips from an aggressive co-worker (Regina King). “Dog” is anything but typical, but its shrewd, comic dialogue reveals plenty about the main character’s pain. — Christian Toto

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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