A MAN APART (R) Sean Vetter (Vin Diesel) and his partner work together as DEA agents fighting in the drug wars that rage along the U.S./Mexican border. An intriguing drama from director F. Gary Gray. Also stars Larenz Tate and Timothy Olyphant. (Not Reviewed)
ANGER MANAGEMENT (PG-13) Another drab installment of recycled humor starring Adam Sandler, the most typecast comic actor of our time. Sandler plays Dave Buznik, a neurotic who struggles to masquerade his angst by being non-confrontational. And after an altercation with a flight attendant, Dave is court ordered to participate in an anger management program. His therapist, Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson), takes an unconventional approach in treating him. Jack Nicholson is the only new element in this formulaic Sandler flick. The plot relies on the same mold as his other films. Reoccurring characters and gags are aplenty. Also stars Marisa Tomei, John Turturro, Kevin Nealon and Woody Harrelson. —Corey Myers
A MIGHTY WIND (PG-13) From Waiting to Guffman to Best of Show to this slight but splendid send-up of resurgent retro-folkies, Christopher Guest's movies have increasingly come to resemble exquisitely crafted miniatures, perfectly detailed and each set in a specific sub-culture of America. These delightful little films are commonly thought of as mockumentaries, but there really isn't all that much mocking going on. Guest and long-time co-conspirators Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Eugene Levy know their subject matter inside out, and — even when it borders on the insipid, as in the ersatz '60s folk music on display here — treat it with great care and affection. The movie plays things loose and naturalistic, with even the best and craziest zingers delivered in a deadpan manner so bone dry it sometimes takes a second or two for the sheer hilarity of what's just transpired to sink in. Even if A Mighty Wind isn't quite up to the standards of Guest's previous work, it's still a treat, and better than 99 percent of what passes for comedies out there in the Megaplexes this summer. Also stars Catherine O'Hara and Parker Posey.
BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM (PG-13) A far more satisfying spin on modern gals grappling with Old World cultural values (and cliches) than My Big Fat Greek Wedding. At the center of the story is Jess (Jesminder to her parents), a nice Indian girl who just wants to follow her dream to play soccer, much to the dismay of dear old mum and dad. Much of what follows is fairly predictable but ultimately winning stuff. Director Gurinder Chadha (Bhaji on the Beach) toys with scores of cliches and conventions, but manages to transcend them all by keeping a firm grip on the bottom line: creating appealing and believable characters, and giving them an interesting and convincing world to live in. The movie gives us a little bit of everything, crossing smoothly from genre to genre and packing all of its elements tightly together in one groovy little package: romantic comedy, coming-of-age drama, sports movie. Stars Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Anupam Kher.
BETTER LUCK TOMORROW (R) Finally, a teen flick that provides a satisfying answer to the burning question "What happens when model students go bad?" Better Luck Tomorrow is an engaging look at a group of smart, successful Asian-American high school kids who, mostly out of boredom, get involved in a series of lucrative scams that become increasingly bigger and more dangerous. The movie tackles racial stereotyping, but only in a roundabout way, which is as it should be; these kids could be anybody. There's no real soapbox here, just some genuinely intriguing characters and an authentic-feeling scenario about nice suburban kids having fun doing bad things. Director Justin Lin shoots and edits the film in a fast, flashy way that drives home the youthful energy. Stars Parry Sheh, Jason J. Tobin and Roger Fan. 1/2
BLUE CAR (R) Karen Moncrieff gives a sensitive nod to girl creativity and suffering in her portrait of two waifs, Meg and Lily, emotionally devastated by their parents, recent divorce. Meg (Agnes Moncrieff) creates poetry out of the emotional ruins, but the nurturing attentiveness of her English teacher (David Strathairn) who coaches her toward an out-of-town poetry competition soon moves from paternal to wolfish. Moncrieff has a fairly straightforward and often predictable approach to this charged material, but conveys an earnest interest in creating an unusual coming-of-age story. —Felicia Feaster
BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE (PG-13) Steve Martin and Queen Latifah star in what the previews reveal to be the standard Hollywood comedy that starts with a wacky Internet match-up but winds up with Ms. Latifah as helper-to-the-rescue a la Mrs. Doubtfire. (Not Reviewed)