- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 2, 2007


• Civic Duty (2006) (No MPAA rating; Adult subject matter). A low-budget suspense melodrama about an accountant (Peter Krause of “Six Feet Under”) who begins to suspect his neighbor, an Islamic graduate student, of terrorist activities. Directed by Jeff Renfroe from a screenplay by Andrew Joiner.

• The Flying Scotsman (2007) (PG-13). A British sports melodrama, directed by Douglas Mackinnon, about an eccentric Scots cyclist of the 1990s, Graeme Obree, who breaks the one-hour speed record on a homemade bike. After weathering a period of mental illness, he returns in hopes of setting new records. Not reviewed.

• Lucky You (2007) (PG-13: Some adult language and sexual humor) Eric Bana stars in this oft-delayed drama about a poker pro who meets an aspiring singer (Drew Barrymore) and sparks fly. Complicating matters is the poker ace’s father (Robert Duvall), a legend in gambling circles. Directed by Curtis Hanson (“L.A. Confidential”).

• The Page Turner (2006) (No MPAA rating: Adult subject matter). A French psychological melodrama about a young woman who nurtures a grievance against a concert pianist for more than a decade, then places herself in a position to get even by becoming her target’s page turner. In French with English subtitles. Exclusively at the Landmark E Street Cinema.

• Spider-Man 3 (2007) (PG-13). The new installment in Sam Raimi’s elaborate movie updates of the comic book superhero, again portrayed by Tobey Maguire, whose double life is further complicated by two potential sweethearts, Kirsten Dunst and Bryce Dallas Howard, and a pair of superadversaries, Thomas Haden Church and Topher Grace. There’s also trouble in the wardrobe area: something about the spider suit seems to be inducing a personality disorder.


• 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) — ***. 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) — ***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

• Condemned (2007) (R). World 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 (2007) (R: profanity, drug use, sexual content) — **1/2. An independent feature about the efforts of traditional Long Island clam-digging families to sustain their livelihood as the Hamptons are transformed by developers and wealthy newcomers in the 1970s. For all its poignancy and note-perfect visual detail, “Diggers” too often feels contrived — not that there’s anything wrong with that. — Scott Galupo

• 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

• 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.

• 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

• 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

• 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.

• The Invisible (2007) (PG-13). A supernatural 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. Not reviewed.

• Kickin’ It Old Skool (2007) (PG-13). 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.

• 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

• 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

• Next (2007) (PG-13). 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. Not reviewed.

• The Rules of the 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) — ***.. A revival engagement 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. Resented in the summer of 1939, when France was nearing social collapse and military defeat, the movie became a revered classic after being reevaluated 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.

• Something 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.

• 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 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.

• 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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