A LOT LIKE LOVE (PG-13) Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet star in a romantic comedy following two friends as they slide in and out of each other's lives over the course of seven years, only to eventually look deep into each other's eyes and arrive at the conclusion that, after all those years of looking for love in the wrong places, the two of them are actually? Aw, but that would be giving it away (as if you didn't already know). Also stars Kathryn Hahn and Kal Penn. (Not Reviewed)
MELINDA AND MELINDA (PG-13) Woody Allen's latest film offers what purports to be two versions of a single story, as a pair of playwrights sit around a dinner table spinning alternate takes, one comic and one tragic, on the same basic scenario. This would appear to be an ideal framework for Allen, whose best work has always skillfully balanced those twin poles and whose entire career has often been reductively framed as a battle between the "funny/good" early Woody and the "serious/boring" later Woody. Unfortunately, the movie never lives up to its intriguing premise, with neither of the stories featured in Melinda and Melinda amounting to much or dovetailing with the other in particularly interesting ways. Probably to no one's surprise, it all takes place in Woody's beloved Upper East Side, a place exclusively inhabited by clean, cultured and deeply neurotic New Yorkers, and a feeling of deja vu is inescapable. A game try, but definitely minor Allen. Also stars Radha Mitchell, Amanda Peet, Chloe Sevigny and Jonny Lee Miller.
MILLIONS (PG) Millions is a fairytale and proud of it, a sweet, heartfelt story of children navigating the adult world, and of the perils and pleasures of lost and found treasure. Our heroes are 7-year-old Damian (Alexander Etel) and his slightly older brother Anthony (Lewis McGibbon), two Liverpool lads who, the week before the UK's conversion to the Euro, find a bag of soon-to-be-worthless English pound notes that must be spent in a very short period of time. Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) finds both humor and emotional resonance in the boys' mostly bungled attempts to satisfy their materialist fantasies, even as they're unable to resist throwing pizza parties for the homeless or stuffing wads of cash through the mail slots of neighbors. And then, of course, there's the shifty-eyed creep with his own claim to the money, an ominous Big Bad Wolf who comes calling at the most inopportune times, turning the kids' dreams to nightmares and the movie, briefly, into a retooled Night of the Hunter. Despite some artsy flourishes, Millions never seems like it's condescending to its own simple, storybook logic, and the movie almost always connects on the most basic levels. It's all good fun and, by the final act, the mad rush to spend the money takes on a life of its own. Also stars James Nesbitt, Daisy Donovan and Christopher Fulford. 1/2
NOBODY KNOWS (PG-13) Based on a true story that shocked Japan in the late '80s, Nobody Knows offers a refreshingly unsentimental and unsensationalized account of four young brothers and sisters getting by more or less or their own. Twelve-year-old Akira (Yagira Yuya) is the man of the house, while a flaky, promiscuous mom flits in and out of the kids' lives, disappearing from the scene altogether by the film's mid-point. Abandoned and unschooled, both formally and in the ways of the world, the kids create their own insular community, and Nobody Knows takes place almost entirely within that private world of the children's apartment, with only occasional forays into the outside world. Director Kore-eda Hirokazu (After Life, Mabarosi) coaxes some amazingly rich and natural performances from his young, non-professional actors, adding to the documentary-like effect created by Yutaka Yamazaki's supple but never slick, handheld camerawork. Also stars Kitauru Ayu, Kimura Hiei, Shimizu Momoko and Japanese pop star You (yep, that's her name) as the mother.