- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 5, 2007


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) (PG-13). The movie version of the fifth novel in J.K. Rowling’s saga of the students at Hogwarts, a private school for juvenile wizards. The movie’s release anticipates the publication later this month of the seventh and final book in the series. Harry and his comrades Ron and Hermione organize a secret defense unit against the Dark Arts when it appears that the administration prefers to ignore the grave threats posed by Lord Voldemort and his minions. With Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and an all-star cast. Opens Wednesday.

The Treatment (2007) (No MPAA rating: Adult subject matter). A romantic comedy of psychoanalysis derived from a novel by Daniel Menaker and directed by Oren Rudavsky. The movie recruits Ian Holm for a flamboyant role as a domineering Freudian who is consulted by Chris Eigeman, a despondent schoolteacher. The patient’s anxieties are intensified by a ravishing consort, a widowed socialite played by Famke Janssen. Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema.


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

m Brooklyn Rules (2007) (R). An independent feature about the influence of mob culture in the middle 1980s, written by “Sopranos” staffer Terence Winter and directed by Michael Corrente. Three friends from Brooklyn — Freddie Prinze, Jr., Scott Caan and Jerry Ferrara — are tempted to apprentice themselves to a neighborhood mobster, Alec Baldwin. With Mena Suvari as the romantic interest for Mr. Prinze. Not reviewed.

Eagle vs Shark (2007) (R: Language, some sexy scenes and mild violence) — …. This debut feature film from New Zealand director Taika Waititi is reminiscent of “Napoleon Dynamite” with its story of nerd love and dry humor, although it has a lot more cursing and adult content — not to mention actors with accents. Geeks Lily (Loren Horsley) and Jarrod (Jemaine Clement) hook up at a dress-as-your-favorite-animal party and a complicated on-again-off-again relationship develops. Watching it unfold is silly, uncomfortable, emotional and poignant. — Jenny Mayo

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

Evening (2007) (PG-13: Some thematic elements, sexuality and language) — … An adaptation of Susan Minot’s beloved novel, reworked for the screen with Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Hours.” Ann Lord (Vanessa Redgrave) lies on her death bed, while the memories surrounding her best friend’s wedding and moments that changed her life come flooding back. Ann’s daughters struggle to make sense of her mutterings, and where one chooses to see them as delusions, the other digs for deeper meaning. Nice performances and picture-perfect visuals abound, but the story promises something slightly more profound than what it delivers. — Jenny Mayo

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) (PG: Comic book violence and mild sexual innuendo) — …. The squabbling superheroes are back, and this time they must protect Earth from an intergalactic planet eater. The film represents a stark upgrade from the first film, although it’s still better suited for younger viewers. — Christian Toto

The Golden Door (2007) (PG-13). An exceptional evocation of Sicilian peasants in transit from a craggy, superstitious homeland to Ellis Island — the most impressive movie of its kind since Jan Troell’s “The Emigrants” 35 years ago. With Vincenzo Amato as Salvatore, a young widower who heads the principal family group, and Charlotte Gainsbourg as an improbable but invaluable love match, an elegant, bilingual Englishwoman traveling steerage class. Written and directed by Emanuele Crialese, whose flair for depiction ranges from historical realism to astonishing fantasy. In Italian with English subtitles. Not reviewed.

Gypsy Caravan — (2007) (Not rated — suitable for all audiences) — …. This glorious, life-affirming documentary follows five bands of Roma musicians from four different countries as they tour North America. With compelling characters — one group’s CD sales brought electricity to their small Romanian village — and irresistible music, “Gypsy Caravan” is a Roma “Buena Vista Social Club” that shows how suffering from centuries of persecution was turned into great art. — 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

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.

License To Wed (2007) (PG-13). A romantic farce about the embarrassments awaiting prospective newlyweds Mandy Moore and John Krasinski, who feel obliged for family amity to enroll in a “marriage prep” course conducted by Robin Williams as a screwball pastor. Christine Taylor is also a member of the cast. Not reviewed.

Live Free or Die Hard (2007) (PG-13: Adult language, intense violence and mature themes) — … Bruce Willis is back as John McClane, the put-upon cop who saved the day in three “Die Hard” films. Here, he’s trying to stop a techno-terrorist out to shut down the United States’ computer systems. Some riveting action can’t save this mostly inept sequel. — Christian Toto

A Mighty Heart (2007) (R: language) — … Murdered journalist Daniel Pearl was a compelling character, but you wouldn’t know it from watching “A Mighty Heart.” Though with fine performances and a talented director, the film is nothing so much as a missed opportunity, as it focuses on his wife Mariane (Angelina Jolie) to the detriment of a fascinating man and story. The question of how a British-born-and-raised Muslim turned into a murderer is never even addressed. — Kelly Jane Torrance

Nancy Drew (2007) (PG: Mild violence, thematic elements and brief language) — ..1/2. Emma Roberts is charming as the industrious, intelligent sleuth that’s captivated girls for decades, making the changes from the books easier to swallow. Nancy Drew looks like she’s stepped out of one of the 1960s books, but the movie is an update on the classic tales as Nancy travels from River Heights to L.A. to solve a mystery while attending high school. — Kelly Jane Torrance

Ocean’s Thirteen (2007) (PG-13: Brief sensuality) — ..1/2. The “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Twelve” boys are back in town — Vegas, that is — for director Steven Soderbergh’s third installment. Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his capering crew (including Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle) try to avenge their bankrolling buddy, Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould), by bringing down the man who swindled him, Willy Bank (Al Pacino). The flick is replete with star power, sumptuous colors and sets, and a few zingers. Plot-wise, however, the payoffs are more in line with slots than the blackjack table. — Jenny Mayo

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

Paprika (2007) (R: Violent and sexual images) — …. Anime master Satoshi Kon’s (“Tokyo Godfathers,” “Perfect Blue”) cinematic translation of a Yasutaka Tsutsui sci-fi novel, which chronicles the invention of a new psychotherapy tool that allows doctors to enter their patients’ dreams. This device could be disastrous if it fell into the wrong hands — which, of course, it does. Animation is the perfect medium for this adult-themed fantasy vs. reality battle. — Jenny Mayo

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) (PG-13: Intense sequences of action/adventure violence and some frightening images) — … The hugely profitable “Caribbean” series returns to cap the trilogy, and the final installment is as muddled as the last one. For chapter three, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) must save Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from the clutches of Davy Jones. — Christian Toto

Private Fears in Public Places (2006) (No MPAA rating: Adult subject matter). Alain Resnais’ second feature derived from an Alan Ayckbourne comedy, adapted for a French setting and six French characters, including a real estate agent named Thierry, his lovelorn sister Sophie, a prospective client named Nicole and her fiance, Dan. In French with English subtitles. Exclusively at the Avalon. Not reviewed.

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 a nice one for kids, but the flick lacks the Pixar “pop” seen in earlier undertakings like “Toy Story 2.” — Jenny Mayo

Show Business: The Road to Broadway (2007) (No MPAA rating: Adult subject matter). Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema. A documentary chronicle of the backstage trials of four musicals produced for the 2003-04 Broadway season: “Wicked,” “Taboo,” “Avenue Q” and “Caroline, or Change.” The participants observed and interviewed by director Dori Berinstein include Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Boy George, Tony Kushner, Raul Esparza, Idina Menzel and Rosie O’Donnell. Not reviewed.

Shrek the Third (2007) (PG: Crude humor, suggestive content and swashbuckling action) — ..1/2. The lovable green ogre is back in the least engaging film in the “Shrek” trilogy. This time, poor Shrek (Mike Myers) must become king of Far, Far Away unless he can persuade a bratty teen (voiced by Justin Timberlake) to take his place. Christian Toto

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 can certainly 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

Spider-Man 3 (007) (PG-13: Sequences of intense action violence) — …. Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is still living a double life as Spider-Man in this third installment about 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. — Jenny Mayo

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 itself 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

Transformers (2007) (PG-13: Stylized action, brief sexual humor and adult language). 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 actors Shia LaBeouf and Josh Duhamel) caught in the balance. — Christian Toto

You Kill Me (2007) (R). Director John Dahl showcases Ben Kingsley and Tea Leoni as offbeat co-stars, the former as a contract killer from Buffalo who has been ordered to disappear in San Francisco and lose his drinking problem. He meets the hard-boiled Miss Leoni while working at a mortuary, and she becomes indispensable to his salvation during a return trip to settle unfinished business. With Bill Pullman, Luke Wilson and Philip Baker Hall. Not reviewed. MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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