- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2007

OPENING

• Condemnedorld Wrestling Entertainment impresario Vince McMahon is credited as an executive producer of this updated gladiatorial melodrama, starring WWE headliner Steve Austin as a condemned killer who is transported to a remote island where a TV promoter has arranged to stage an illegal spectacle for closed-circuit viewers: a fight-to-the-death tournament among several condemned men. Vinnie Jones is one of the bruisers.

Not reviewed.

Diggers (No MPAA rating: Adult subject matter). An independent feature about the efforts of traditional clam-digging families to sustain their livelihood as the Hamptons are transformed by developers and wealthy newcomers in the 1970s. Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema. Not reviewed.

• The Invisble (2007) (PG-13). A spernatural thriller that envisions a limbo dimension where teenager Justin Chatman is trapped after being assaulted and left for dead by a psycho classmate. While he struggles to find a portal back to the living, his distraught mother, Marcia Gay Harden, desperately searches for her missing boy.

• Kickn’ It Old Skool). A farcical vehicle for Jamie Kennedy, cast as a variation on Rip Van Winkle. An avid break dancer who takes a blow to the head remains in a coma for a generation, awakens to a strange new world and decides to stage a comeback. Not reviewed.

• — Next (2007) (PG-3). A science-fiction mystery thriller derived from a Philip K. Dick story, with Nicolas Cage as a protagonist who discovers he can foresee the future, a mixed blessing. With Julianne Moore and Jessica Biel. .

• The Rules of he Game(1939) (No MPAA rating: Made decades before the advent of the rating system; adult subject matter, with occasional violence and thematic emphasis on infidelity) ****—.Four stars. A revival engageent of Jean Renoir’s famous social comedy about a weekend of hunting, revelry and feckless infidelity among the guests and servants at a country estate. Scorned in the summer of 1939, when France was nearing social collapse and military defeat, the movie became a revered classic after being restored and re-evaluated a generation later. With Renoir himself in a memorable performance as the genial, shambling go-between Octave. In French with English subtitles Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema.

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Somethin To Cheer About (2007) (No MPAA rating). A 64-minute documentary feature that celebrates a legendary high school basketball team, Crispus Attucks of Indianapolis, still racially segregated in 1955 but poised to win a state championship under the leadership of coach Ray Crowe and star player Oscar Robertson. Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema. Not reviewed.

• —Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967) (No MPAA rating: Adult subject matter, with occasional profanity and frequent allusions to prostitution) ***.Three stars.al of Jean-Luc Godard’s semi-documentary impression of Paris under siege by city planning. Marina Vlady was cast as a housewife whose boredom with high-rise apartment-dwelling supposedly triggers “belle de jour” employment as a part-time hooker. This polemical conceit was rudimentary at best, but it facilitated a bittersweet survey of the city that proved evocative. In French with English subtitles. Exclusively at the American Film Institute Silver Theatre.

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 which stirs up old wounds. Christian Toto

• Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2007) (R: Crude and sexual humor, violent animated images and language) —***—.Three stars 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

• —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.

• Black Book — (2007) (R: Some strong violence, graphic nudity, sexuality and language) ***hree and a half stars 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—

• — —Bldes of Glory (2007) (PG-13: Language, some crude and sexual jokes and mild violence) *.One star 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

• Disturbia (2007) (PG-13: Some violent scenes and sensuality) — ***.3 starsThis 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

• — Firehoue 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.

• — 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 r,” where client Edward Norton outwitted criminal attorney Richard Gere. The cast includes David Strathairn, Embeth Davidtz and Rosamund Pike. 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) ***.Three strs 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

• Hot Fuzz— (2007) (R: Violence, gore and adult language) ***ee strs.— 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

• In the Land of Women (2007) (PG-13). A domestic comedy written and directed by Jake Kasdan, offspring of Lawrence Kasdan. Following a romantic break-up, a screenwriter played by Adam Brody leaves Hollywood for suburban Michigan, where an aging grandmother, Olympia Dukakis, needs immediate care. He also becomes absorbed in the problems of a neighbor, Meg Ryan, and her adolescent daughters, Makenzie Vega and Kristen Stewart. Not reviewed.—

• (2006) (No MPAA rating: Adult subject matter). A Mexican documentary feature about the construction crews working on a mammoth elevated freeway in Mexico City. Directed by Juan Carlos Rulfo. In Spanish with English subtitles. Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema. Not reviewed.

• The Lives of Others (2006) (R: Some sexuality and nudity — ****.Four stars Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’scqlished 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

• Meet the Robinsons— (2007) (G: Mild comic violence) stars 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) Two and a half stars 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—

• Pathfinder—(2007) (R: Brutal violence) — —**. Two stars. A young Viking boy is left behind during a battle and is taken in by an American Indian family. The boy grows up to lead the Indians to fight the Norsemen. “Pathfinder” offers a few gripping sequences, but the thin dialogue and one-dimensional acting sink the other scenes. Christian Toto

• 300 (2007) (R: Graphic battle sequences, some sexuality and nudity) —***.Three stars.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

• he TV Set — (2007) (R: Language) *** Anyone who thinks that there’s an awful lot of drivel on television and wonders how it got there should enjoy “The TV Set.” The sharp satire stars David Duchovny as an earnest television writer who watches his pilot go from good to bad. Kelly Jane Torrance

• Vacancy (2007) (R). You can’t avoid the TV trailers. Here’s the whole fright fest, an entrapment horror thriller than isolates Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale, a couple recently devastated by the loss of a child, at a motel rigged with hidden cameras that can observe them being systematically terrorized. Directed by Nimrod Antal from a screenplay by Mark L. Smith. Not reviewed.

• 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

• 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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