- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 26, 2007

OPENING

• Flanders (2006) (No MPAA rating — adult subject matter). A French romantic saga about rural sweethearts, played by Samuel Boidin and Adelaide Leroux, who must endure a prolonged separation when he joins the army. It was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. In French with English subtitles. Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema.

• I Know Who Killed Me (2007) (R). Lindsay Lohan in jeopardy from a serial killer. After being kidnapped, she eludes death and decides to assume a different identity. With Julia Ormond, Neal McDonough and Brian Geraghty.

• My Best Friend (2007) (PG-13). A comedic reunion vehicle for star Daniel Auteuil and director Patrice Leconte, who collaborated eight years ago on “The Girl on the Bridge.” Cast as a successful but arrogant antiques dealer, Mr. Auteuil is goaded into a wager by a business partner who accuses him of being essentially friendless. Challenged to produce a “best friend” in a certain period of time, the protagonist turns to a complete stranger, a jovial cabbie. In French with English subtitles.

• No End in Sight (2007) (R). A documentary polemic about the war in Iraq compiled by Charles Ferguson, relying on former members of the Bush administration to confirm a laundry list of policy miscalculations and misjudgments.



• No Reservations (2007) (PG). A Hollywood remake of a German comedy-tear-jerker of 2002, “Mostly Martha.” Catherine Zeta-Jones inherits the leading role as an ambitious, thin-skinned chef who suddenly finds herself a foster mother when her older sister dies and a niece (Abigail Breslin of “Little Miss Sunshine”) is left in her care. Initially resentful of a rival chef, Aaron Eckhart, hired to lessen her workload, the heroine discovers that he’s both a charmer and a godsend. With Patricia Clarkson as the proprietor of their workplace, a Greenwich Village restaurant.

• The Simpsons Movie (2007) (PG-13). The belated feature debut of the cartoon family, a TV fixture for the better part of a generation. About a dozen writers, including series creator Matt Groening and executive producer James L. Brooks, are credited with the screenplay, which obliges Homer Simpson to imperil and then save the world. Directed by David Silverman, with Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer and other familiar voices on the soundtrack.

• Sunshine (2007) (R: Adult language, violence and mature themes). It’s 2057, and the sun is starting to cool. A team of astronauts, including Cillian Murphy, are sent to the sun to reignite its life-giving flames. Directed by Danny Boyle, who previously gave us “Trainspotting” and “28 Days Later.”

• Vitus (2006) (PG). A beguiling domestic fable from a Swiss filmmaker, Fredi M. Murer. An authentic teenage piano prodigy, Teo Gheorghiu, portrays the eldest version of the title character, a precocious boy who finds it prudent to conceal the full range of his abilities, ultimately a blessing to his overdemanding parents. With Bruno Ganz, soon after his stunning impersonation of Hitler in “Downfall,” as a foxy grandpa. This mentor encourages the boy’s love of flying and provides a wonderful refuge at his farmhouse-workshop. In German with English subtitles.

• Who’s Your Caddy? (2007) (PG-13). An obscure farce about an Atlanta rap-music executive, Big Boi, who encounters resistance to his membership application at a fashionable country club from the stuffed-shirt director, Jeffrey Jones.

NOW SHOWING

• Broken English (2007) (PG-13). The debut feature of writer-director Zoe Cassavetes, daughter of Gena Rowlands and the late John Cassavetes. She casts her mother as the apprehensive mom of lovelorn heroine Nora, played by Parker Posey. A Manhattan concierge attracted to Melvil Poupaud as a vacationing Frenchman, Nora quits her job and takes a chance on a return visit to Paris. With Drea De Matteo as an encouraging best friend. Not reviewed.

• Cashback (2007) (No MPAA rating: Adult subject matter). An independent romantic comedy written and directed by Sean Ellis, expanding on his own dramatic short. Sean Biggerstaff plays a lovelorn art student who works the late shift at a supermarket. He begins to grow fond of both the store and a fellow employee played by Emilia Fox. Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema. Not reviewed.

• Evan Almighty (2007) (PG: Mild rude humor and some perilous situations) — …. This sort-of sequel to the Jim Carrey hit “Bruce Almighty” features Steve Carell as a congressman chosen by God (Morgan Freeman) to build an ark. The family-friendly comedy offers just enough laughs for the adults, thanks to a strong supporting cast, including Wanda Sykes. — Christian Toto

• Goya’s Ghosts (2007) (R: Violence, disturbing images, some sexual content and nudity) — … “Goya’s Ghosts” is not really about Goya — or anything else, for that matter. It’s ostensibly about the Spanish artist assisting a model caught in the wheels of the Spanish Inquisition, but with a plot that’s all over the place, it lacks the thoughtfulness and humor of Milos Forman’s previous look at artistic creativity, “Amadeus.” — Kelly Jane Torrance

• Hairspray (2007) (PG: Some language, suggestive content and teen smoking) — …. Director-choreographer Adam Shankman takes inspiration from the 1988 John Waters film and subsequent Broadway show. Full-figured teen Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) finally gets her chance to be on “The Corny Collins Show,” but soon learns she’s not the only person facing discrimination in ‘60s-era Baltimore. Also starring John Travolta, Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah, Zac Efron and more. Not as poignant as Mr. Waters’ work, but cheekier and a whole lot more music-centric. — Jenny Mayo

• Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) (PG-13: Fantasy violence and frightening imagery) — … The madly popular series continues, and so do wicked Lord Voldemort’s plans for revenge. The powers that be at Hogwarts Academy don’t believe Voldemort’s return is imminent, putting poor Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) at a perilous disadvantage. “Phoenix” marks the series’ low point, a confusing affair with very little magic in its storytelling. — Christian Toto

• I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007) (PG-13: Crude sexual humor, nudity, adult language and drug references) — … Adam Sandler and Kevin James play a pair of straight firefighters who pretend to be a same-sex couple to receive domestic-partner benefits. The intermittently amusing film staunchly defends homosexual rights while maligningthe women in the cast and insulting an Asian character. — Christian Toto

• Introducing the Dwights (2007) (R: Sexual content and language) — …. Something of an Australian “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Introducing the Dwights” offers another hilariously dysfunctional family. Jean (Brenda Blethyn) is a washed-up comedienne trying to get her career on track while desperately holding onto her soon-to-be-grown sons. — Kelly Jane Torrance

• Knocked Up (2007) (R: Adult language, sexual situations, drug use and mature themes) — …1/2. Writer-director Judd Apatow (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”) strikes again with this very adult, very funny comedy. A mismatched pair (Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl) hook up one drunken night and later learn they’re going to be parents. — Christian Toto

• Lady Chatterley’s Lover (2007) (No MPAA rating: Adult subject matter). A French movie version of the D.H. Lawrence erotic classic, adapted and directed by Pascale Ferran, whose efforts were rewarded with the Cesar for best movie. Another award went to leading lady Marina Hands. Her co-stars are Hippolyte Girardot and Jean-Louis Coulloch, cast as the husband and gamekeeper, respectively. The running time approaches three hours. In French with English subtitles. Exclusively at the Landmark Bethesda Row and E Street Cinema. Not reviewed.

• La vie en rose (2007) (PG-13). A flamboyant, warts-and-all biographical chronicle of the life and career of French singer Edith Piaf, portrayed from street waif to tenacious wreck by Marion Cotillard in what should prove a durably stirring performance. Written and directed by Olivier Dahan, the movie interweaves time frames and ignores certain chapters of the Piaf saga entirely. Most conspicuous omission: World War II. Despite the lapses, Mr. Dahan’s passion for the subject is undeniable, and the musical and histrionic highlights are formidable. With Gerard Depardieu, Sylvie Testud, Emmanuelle Seigner, Catherine Allegret and, as boxer Marcel Cerdan, Jean-Pierre Martins. In French with English subtitles. Not reviewed.

• Manufactured Landscapes (2007) (No MPAA rating: Adult subject matter). A documentary feature by Jennifer Baichwal, who chronicles a trip to China by the industrial and landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky, seeking images of the current economic and industrial transformation. Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema. Not reviewed.

• Once (2007) (R: Language and some mature themes) — ….. Irish writer-director John Carney’s “modern-day musical” is about a Guy (Glen Hansard, lead singer of the Irish rock band the Frames) who busks in the streets of Dublin and meets a Girl (Frames contributor Marketa Irglova) who plays piano and takes a liking to his tunes. As their friendship grows, they become professional partners, but both carry residual relationship baggage that may get in the way of a more serious (and sensual) commitment. Featuring Mr. Hansard and Miss Irglova’s lovely singer-songwriter fare, the film seamlessly melds dialogue and ditties in a way that redefines the term “musical.” — Jenny Mayo

• Ratatouille — (2007) (G: Nothing objectionable — except very minor peril and a whole lot of rats in the kitchen) — ..1/2. Pixar’s latest, written and directed by Brad Bird of “The Incredibles.” Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) is a sewer rat with dreams of culinary greatness. Linguini (Lou Romano) is a bumbling boy who snags a job toting trash at a five-star restaurant. Together they amount to gastronomic genius, but will someone in the kitchen smell a rat? The animation is fantastic, and the moral is a nice one for children, but the flick lacks the Pixar “pop” seen in earlier undertakings such as “Toy Story 2.” — Jenny Mayo

• Rescue Dawn (2007) (PG-13: Some scenes of intense war violence and torture) — …. Werner Herzog revisits the subject of his 1997 documentary, “Little Dieter Needs to Fly,” in this dramatic re-creation of German-born U.S. Navy pilot Dieter Dengler’s escape from a Laotian POW camp. Christian Bale (“The Prestige”) gives a top-notch performance as Dieter, who teams up with his fellow captives (played by Steve Zahn and others) to stage a dangerous and elaborate prison break, then finds himself facing new perils as a freed man lost in the jungle. It’s a powerful journey that’s hard to watch at times but one that ultimately recognizes the beauty of the human will to survive. — Jenny Mayo

• Sicko (2007) (PG-13: Brief strong language) — .. Michael Moore’s latest documentary barely qualifies as such. In his look at what ails health care in the U.S. and how other countries provide it, he doesn’t document real life but rather his own selective, misleading experience of it. Mr. Moore certainly can entertain, but he’s not using his talent to provide an honest appraisal of a flawed system and what could be done to fix it. — Kelly Jane Torrance

• Surf’s Up (2007) (PG: Some minor peril and crude humor) —…. In this faux documentary-style computer-animated film, surfing penguin Cody Maverick (Shia LaBeouf) travels from his Antarctic home to exotic Pen Gu Island to compete in the Big Z Memorial Surf Off, where he befriends Chicken Joe (Jon Heder) and a mysterious Mr. Miyagi-like character (Jeff Bridges) who teaches him all the surf-wax-on, surf-wax-off secrets he needs to know to be a serious contender. The story is solid, but the angle and effects — borrowed as much from Ken Burns as Christopher Guest — make this film stand out from other animated fare. — Jenny Mayo

• Talk to Me (2007) (R: Profanity, adult situations and some sexual content) — …1/2. A straight-from-the-shoulder biopic about the late disc jockey and TV host Petey Greene, who emerged from an armed-robbery sentence at Lorton to become a charismatic fixture at Washington’s WOL-AM in the late 1960s and a calming influence in the aftermath of the 1968 riots. With standout performances from Don Cheadle as Mr. Greene and Chiwetel Ejiofor as WOL’s program director, as well as a stellar soundtrack that makes up for a non-climactic ending. — Robyn-Denise Yourse

• Transformers (2007) (PG-13: Stylized action, brief sexual humor and adult language) — ..1/2. The 1980s cartoon favorite hits the big screen, courtesy of bombastic director Michael Bay (“Pearl Harbor”). Two warring robot squads, each with the ability to shape-shift, renew their hostilities with humanity (including actor Shia LaBeouf) caught in the balance. Terrific first half is followed by inane, numbing finale. — Christian Toto

• 12:08 East of Bucharest (2006) (No MPAA rating: Adult subject matter). A Romanian social comedy that emerged as a prizewinner at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. Writer-director Corneliu Porumboiu imagines a Bucharest television station with an anniversary brainstorm: a special to commemorate the overthrow of the Ceausescu dictatorship — but the producers find it a struggle to round up credible eyewitnesses. In Romanian with English subtitles. Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema. Not reviewed.

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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