- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2007

OPENING

• After the Wedding (2006) (R). The latest from the intriguing Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier, who observes the homecoming of an exiled Dane called Jacob, played by Mads Mikkelsen (one of the villains in “Casino Royale”). Residing in India, where he manages an orphanage, Jacob returns to Copenhagen at the request of a major benefactor, Jorgen (Rolf Lassgard), who then invites him to be a guest at his daughter’s wedding. It turns out that Jacob has more of a history with this prominent family than he realized. Dialogue in Danish, Swedish and Hindi with English subtitles.

• Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2007) (R). The feature-length version of a satirical animated series about superheroes derived from snack foods: Meatwad, Frylock and Master Shake.

• Disturbia (2007) (PG-13). A suspense thriller about a troubled teenager, Shia LaBeouf, who is placed under house arrest after assaulting a teacher. While confined, he begins to develop “Rear Window” syndrome and suspects one of his neighbors of murder. With Sarah Roemer, Carrie-Anne Moss and David Morse.

• Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams (2006) (No MPAA rating: Adult subject matter). A first feature by Bosnian filmmaker Jasmila Zbanic, who depicts the struggles of a widowed cocktail waitress and her adolescent daughter in post-war Sarajevo. With Mirjana Karanovic as the mother and Luna Mijovic as the girl. In Bosnian with English subtitles. Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema.

• Pathfinder (2007) (R). An early medieval adventure saga about a Norse orphan, raised by a North American Indian tribe. He matures into the chief defender of his adopted kinsmen during a Viking invasion. With Karl Urban as the hero, plus Russell Means, Clancy Brown and Moon Bloodgood.

• Perfect Stranger (2007) (R). A suspense thriller starring Halle Berry as an intrepid reporter who goes undercover as an office temp to investigate the murder of her best friend. She suspects ad executive Bruce Willis and relies on pal Giovanni Ribisi.

• Slow Burn (2007) (R). A melodrama about the trials of district attorney Ray Liotta, who may have a killer on his staff. With LL Cool J, Mekhi Phifer, Taye Diggs, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jalene Blalock.

NOW SHOWING

• Are We Done Yet? (2007) (PG). A sequel to the Ice Cube comedy of 2005, “Are We There Yet?” Directed by Steve Carr, it reunites the star with leading lady Nia Long and juveniles Aleisha Allen and Philip Daniel Bolden. The hero has now married Miss Long’s character, becoming a stepfather to her children. The new family encounters fixer-upper problems after acquiring a house in the suburbs and hiring an irrepressible contractor, John C. McGinley. Not reviewed.

• 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

• Bridge to Terabithia (2007) (PG: Mild peril and a really sad ending) — ***. Katherine Paterson’s beloved children’s book hits the big screen in an adaptation co-written by her son, David. Jess Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) and Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb) become friends in a rural community and invent a magic kingdom called Terabithia, over which they rule. Director Gabor Csupo adds some major special effects to keep audiences interested — but thankfully, they don’t spoil the novel’s lovely understatedness and innocence. A sad ending, but a happy addition to the children’s film genre. — Jenny Mayo

• Color Me Kubrick (2006) (Not rated) — ***. The true story of Alan Conway, who impersonated legendary director Stanley Kubrick, is told in this witty, eclectic film made by former Kubrick associates. John Malkovich puts in an inspired performance as the chameleon con man. Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema. — Kelly Jane Torrance

• Firehouse Dog (2007) (PG). A prompt reappearance by Josh Hutcherson, the admirable co-star of “Bridge to Terabithia,” now playing the boy who adopts a missing celebrity pooch, whose canine character improves with a new identity — mascot at a San Francisco fire station. The boy’s dad, Bruce Greenwood, is one of the firefighters. Not reviewed.

• First Snow (2007) (R: Language, some violence and sexuality) — ***. This noirish thriller from “Children of Men” writer Mark Fergus stars Guy Pearce as a New Mexico salesman who gets some bad news from a fortune teller. — Kelly Jane Torrance

• Glastonbury (2006) (R) — A documentary compilation by Julien Temple and Michael Eavis consisting of highlights from a pop-music and performing-arts festival held annually in southwestern England since 1971. The headliners include David Bowie, Bjork, Richie Havens, the Velvet Underground, Radiohead, the Cure, Oasis and many others. Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema. Not reviewed.

• 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 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

• The Host (2007) (R: Beasts, violence and language) — ***. Bong Joon-ho’s film takes cues from its creature-feature predecessors but proves there’s also room for elements of comedy and humanist drama as well as political satire and cultural expose. The beast in this case is born in Seoul’s Han River, where it trolls the banks for victims and seems to be spreading some sort of hearty virus. Bumbling shopkeeper Gang-du (Song Kang-ho) and his ill-equipped family will take on the creature after he steals one of their own, embarking on an adventure that is filled with top-notch special effects, emotional moments and refreshing humor. In Korean with English subtitles. — Jenny Mayo

• Into Great Silence (Die Grosse Stille) (2007) (Not rated: Suitable for all audiences) — ***1/2. Philip Groening waited 16 years for permission to film the daily life of the Carthusian monks in France. The result is a poetic documentary with little dialogue and less plot that is utterly engrossing. Minimal French dialogue with English subtitles. Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema. — Kelly Jane Torrance

• The Last Mimzy (2007) (PG: Mild language and some thematic elements) — ***. New Line Cinema founder Bob Shaye returns to the director’s seat in this family-friendly sci-fi film about two children who discover a box of toys from the future, based on a 1943 short story by Lewis Padgett. Noah and Emma (first-timer Chris O’Neil and Rhiannon Leigh Wryn) develop superhuman powers as they interact with the enigmatic objects they discover, which include a stuffed bunny named Mimzy that talks to Emma. With a fast pace, plenty of suspense and fantastic acting from the young leads, the film keeps audiences guessing about what it all means until the very end. — Jenny Mayo

• The Lives of Others (2006) (R: Some sexuality and nudity — ****. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s astonishingly accomplished debut is the best film of 2006 and powerful but understated filmmaking. A Stasi officer in 1984 East Berlin gradually recovers his humanity by spying on a playwright and his actress girlfriend. In German with English subtitles. Oscar for best foreign film.— Kelly Jane Torrance

• The Lookout (2007) (R: language, some violence and sexual content) — **1/2. Scott Frank, the writer of “Out of Sight,” “Dead Again” and “Minority Report,” makes his directorial debut with this modern noir about a bank janitor enlisted to aid a robbery. Joseph Gordon-Levitt puts in a compelling performance, but it isn’t enough to save what ultimately feels like a first-draft film. — Kelly Jane Torrance

• Meet the Robinsons (2007) (G: Mild comic violence) — ***. Disney’s latest CGI-animated feature follows a young inventor who gets caught up in a time-travel jam. An orphan teams up with a boy from the future to thwart an evil character out to alter history. The film unfolds its tricky but well-constructed story without losing its multigenerational audience, all the while delivering some surprisingly rich humor.— 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

• The Reaping (2007) (R: Violence, disturbing images and sexuality) — *1/2. Director Stephen Hopkins’ thriller about biblical plagues that befall a small Southern town and the college professor who tries to scientifically explain them away (Hilary Swank). Given that it’s a particularly religious time of year, perhaps the film’s subversive nature will help sell what is otherwise a middling picture. — Jenny Mayo

• Reign Over Me (2007) (R: Adult language, mature themes and sexual situations) — **1/2. Adam Sandler plays a married father of three who loses his family in the September 11 attacks. “Hotel Rwanda’s” Don Cheadle tries to help him overcome his grief. Touching and at times comical, “Reign” ultimately collapses under the weight of good intentions. — Christian Toto

• Shooter (2007) (R: Extreme violence, adult language, gore and partial nudity) — **1/2. Mark Wahlberg stars as a retired sniper who gets dragged back into action to prevent a presidential assassination. The plan backfires, and he finds himself accused of the crime he tried to stop. Mr. Wahlberg supplies the brains and brawn, but the former is in short supply through much of the film’s running time. — Christian Toto

• Starter for Ten (2007) (PG-13: Sexual content, language and a scene of drug use) — ***. This charming piece of nostalgia follows Brian Jackson (James McAvoy, “The Last King of Scotland”) as he follows his dream to appear on a college quiz show in 1980s Britain. The coming-of-age story features an incredibly talented young British cast and a great New Wave soundtrack. — Kelly Jane Torrance

• 300 (2007) (R: Graphic battle sequences, some sexuality and nudity) — ***. The battle of Thermopylae is brought to life in this action-packed adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novel. A band of 300 men engage in a suicide fight hoping to buy precious time for their countrymen to regroup. Star Gerard Butler makes a formidable King Leonidas, and the film’s comic-style visuals overcome the story’s shallowness. — Christian Toto

• The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006) (Not rated: Frequent violence) — ***. Ken Loach’s beautiful but brutal film explores the 1919-1921 Irish War of Independence and its civil war aftermath. Cillian Murphy shines in this intelligent film that mixes the personal and the political, at a time when war set brother against brother. The title is that of a ballad about an earlier uprising, in 1798. — Kelly Jane Torrance

• Zodiac (2007) (R: Some graphic violence and language) — **1/2. The latest from director David Fincher may not be as fast-paced or gripping (or graphic) as his excellent previous works, including “Seven” and “Fight Club” — in fact, at well over two hours, it crawls along in spots. Yet the well-researched film (based on the book by Robert Graysmith, who became intimately involved in the case) accurately portrays the hysteria that surrounded the San Francisco Bay Area’s real-life Zodiac killer, who claimed at least five lives during his random murder spree in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. — Jenny Mayo MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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