Capsule reviews of recently released movies

Bridge to Terabithia, Factory Girl, Ghost Rider

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VOLVER (NR) Pedro Almodovar's abiding obsession with female mystique reaches a whole new level in Volver, a film that seems to take place in a world entirely depopulated of males. The setting is modern day Madrid, actually, where we quickly discover that the women outlive the men by miles — a truism demonstrated when the movie's first (and practically only) male character appears at the 14-minute mark, only to get knocked off (by one of the resident females) barely five minutes later. That murder provides one of the central plot points around which Volver's various and sundry females scurry, although all of the undeniably amusing or odd twists and turns don't really add up to much. The director achieves a seemingly effortless blend of his standard elements here — comedy, farce, melodrama, a touch of kitsch, even a bit of Hitchcockian noir — all delivered with his customary wit and style. But Volver doesn't approach the levels of depth and focus that we've come to expect from latter-day Almodovar and winds up a watchable but distinctly lighter-than-air concoction. Stars Penelope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Duenas, Blanca Portillo and Yohana Cobo. 3.5 stars

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