Upcoming Releases

CRAZY LOVE (R) It's not your typical romantic fantasy. Boy meets girl; girl dates boy but then rejects him when she begins to suspect he's a deceitful, abusive psychopath; boy throws acid into girl's face, disfiguring and blinding her; boy gets out of prison many years later, pursues girl again and finally gets her to marry him. A love story so bizarre it could only be true, the documentary Crazy Love tells the strange, nearly half-century-old-and-counting affair of Burt and Linda Pucach, two deeply neurotic individuals whose relationship exists in a shadowy place where catastrophic freak show meets suburban banality. Director Dan Klores relies heavily on talking heads to tell his story, the main heads being a now elderly Burt and Linda (a creepy, Lynchian spectacle, her bewigged, wizened face dominated by big, flamboyant dark glasses). This creates a certain amount of frustration, as the movie doesn't really go in for supplying commentary or insights, and Burt and Linda aren't particularly credible witnesses to their own lives — he's about the most unreliable narrator ever, and she's so guarded that it often simply seems like nobody's home behind those dark glasses. Still, with material this juicy you don't particularly need someone connecting the dots, and Crazy Love gives us a story that basically tells itself. Opens July 27 at Tampa Theatre. Call theater to confirm. 3 stars

I KNOW WHO KILLED ME (R) Lindsay Lohan, cast against type as a model citizen and perfect student, escapes from the clutches of a serial killer only to insist that she's not who people think she is and that the real victim is still in mortal danger. Also stars Julia Ormond and Neal McDonough. Opens July 27 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

RESCUE DAWN (PG-13) Enigmatic German director Werner Herzog takes one step toward the mainstream and two steps back into that intriguing gray zone where fiction and nonfiction filmmaking blur. Based on his 1997 documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly, an account of a U.S. pilot shot down over Laos in 1965, Rescue Dawn re-imagines the tale again, this time with a bigger budget, a bit of star power and freed from the constraints and stigmas of the documentary format. Stars Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies and Galen Yuen. Opens July 27 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

THE SIMPSONS MOVIE (PG-13) 20th Century Fox, to their eternal discredit, denied critics an advance peak at this baby, but I'm hoping against hope that's no reflection on The Simpsons Movie's suckability factor. This is the first full-length big-screen feature based on the best and funniest TV show, like, ever — so is there any way you can not see this? Featuring the voices of Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith and Hank Azaria. Opens July 27 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)


1408 (PG-13) Paranormal investigator and confirmed skeptic Mike Enslin (John Cusack) meets his match when he checks in the titular room at a Manhattan hotel and finds all hell literally breaking loose. Based on a short story by Stephen King, 1408 is a welcome change from the Saw/Hostel splatterfests currently in vogue, but the film's approach isn't exactly old-school psychological-horror either. Director Mikael Hafstrom throws a steady stream of somewhat incongruous elements at the wall hoping something will stick, and while there's plenty of eerie atmosphere and surreal visions here, there are also lots of cheap tricks, with the equivalent of somebody jumping out of a closet and yelling "Boo!" every few minutes. Cusack is on screen nearly every moment here, and he's quite good, but the film is a mixed bag — for better or worse, a spot-on translation of King's compulsively watchable and eminently disposable style. Also stars Samuel L. Jackson and Mary McCormack. 3 stars

28 WEEKS LATER (R) 28 Weeks Later is largely headache-inducing stuff — frenetic, synapse-shredding, strobe-light-and-amyl-nitrate horror. The movie picks up some months after its predecessor (28 Days Later), with the zombie-inducing epidemic of the original film apparently contained and American-led NATO forces moving in to help rebuild a devastated Britain. Everything soon enough goes to hell, of course, and the bulk of the film is pure chaos, as masses of frightened human survivors and infected, flesh-craving zombies run amok through the streets of London. There are some clever turns here, but the movie mainly just tosses out a series of faceless characters for its zombies to chow down on. Stars Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Catherine McCormack, Imogen Poots, Makintosh Muggleton and Idris Elba. 2.5 stars

EVAN ALMIGHTY (PG-13) A sequel to Bruce Almighty minus Jim Carrey, in which Steve Carell goes all Noah-esque when God (Morgan Freeman) tells him to build an ark. Also stars Lauren Graham, Wanda Sykes, John Goodman and Steve Oedekerk. (Not Reviewed)

EVENING (PG-13) A chick flick with a serious pedigree, Evening offers up Vanessa Redgrave as an aging, ailing matriarch whose deathbed dreams revolve around a balmy weekend many decades past with her first great love. As flesh and consciousness slip into a place of pure memory (which is where the movie mostly occurs), Redgrave relates her tale to her grown daughters (Toni Collette and real-life Redgrave offspring Natasha Richardson), but mostly to herself. Claire Danes plays Redgrave's younger self (and though they look nothing alike, both women have the commanding presences to make this a good casting choice), who finds romance at a friend's wedding nearly a century ago. The object of Redgrave/Danes' affection is Patrick Wilson (who performed a similar function recently in Little Children), but then again, it seems like just about everybody is in love with this golden boy — from the soon-to-be-bride (Mamie Gummer) to her possibly-gay brother (Hugh Dancy). The entire movie basically just becomes a waiting game for the sparks to fly, which they eventually do (although not in particularly spectacular or even interesting fashion). There's plenty of estrogen-laced star-power here, and the performances are uniformly solid (with one truly remarkable scene between Redgrave and Meryl Streep that's alone worth the admission price), but the material is nothing special. Also stars Glenn Close, Mamie Gummer and Eileen Atkins. 2.5 stars

FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER (PG-13) As superhero sagas go, this fledgling franchise has yet to prove its bankability, but that could all change with this new installment, which seems hand-designed for the fanboy crowd (those young-ish male louts who rule the box office). Rise of the Silver Surfer promises to be a geek's paradise, with some of Marvel Comics' most popular creations featured, including the titular silvery one and a beyond-good-and-evil nemesis who devours entire planets simply to exist. Oh yeah, and did we mention Jessica Alba? Also stars Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon and Kerry Washington. (Not Reviewed)

HAIRSPRAY (PG) John Waters' mildly subversive 1988 film Hairspray became a popular Broadway musical in 2002, and the project now comes full-circle through the looking glass, transformed into the big, bouncy and thoroughly nonthreatening all-singing, all-dancing spectacle currently playing at a multiplex near you. Hairspray takes place in 1962 in Waters' pleasantly seedy home turf of Baltimore, a time and place where the emerging momentum of the youth culture (embodied in the film by big hair and rock 'n' roll) is heading for a showdown with the repressive mores of the old guard, particularly the pervasive racial segregation of the time. Our hero is pudgy, teenaged misfit Tracy Turnblad (newcomer Nikki Blonsky), and Hairspray has good, semi-wholesome fun charting her almost accidental progress from chubby underachiever to unlikely rebel with a cause. The movie looks good, full of groovy colors and some engagingly plotted dance sequences, but the music is an uninspired pastiche of early '60s pop and show tunes, and Hairspray often spells out its messages with far too little humor or subtlety. Also stars John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden, Queen Latifah, Elijah Kelley, Brittany Snow and Zac Efron. 3 stars

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (PG-13) The fifth installment in J.K. Rowling's series about the resilient young magician is considerably darker than its predecessors. Harry (played by Daniel Radcliff), his friends, Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix — a secret assembly of dark arts-fighting witches and wizards — are having trouble convincing the magic-practicing public that Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has returned to wreak havoc. It doesn't help that the Ministry of Magic not only denies Voldemort's return but is determined to discredit Harry by any means possible. While filmmaker David Yates (best known for TV dramas like Girl in the Café) gets the dark, gritty ambiance of the story right and reveals Harry's discontent in the most general sense, he fails to deliver the charming magical quality that the other four films possessed and the visually spectacular moments for which the Harry Potter franchise is so well known. British star Imelda Staunton plays loathsome Ministry Agent Dolores Umbridge with great skill and Helena Bonham Carter's cameo as psychotic Azkaban prison escapee Bellatrix Lestrange is quite memorable, but the plot has been oversimplified to such an extent that formerly fleshed-out characters come off as two-dimensional caricatures of themselves. Also stars Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon and Gary Oldman. 2.5 stars —Leilani Polk

KNOCKED UP (R) This is the new one from Judd Apatow, writer-director of the painfully funny The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and although I'm not quite ready to go out on a limb and suggest that Apatow is the Thinking Person's Bobby and Peter Farrelly, Knocked Up feels a lot like what the Farrelly's movies might have been like had their films continued to get better after There's Something About Mary. The unlikely event fueling all the wackiness here is an unwanted pregnancy, the result of a drunken one-night-stand involving dumpy, unemployed pothead Ben (Seth Rogan) and go-getter Jessica Simpson look-alike Alison (Katherine Hegel), classically mismatched characters that a smart script and naturalistic performances help us believe could actually wind up together. Be warned, though. Knocked Up has a split personality, and although the humor here is mainly character-driven and quite clever, it can also be crude enough to make Kevin Smith blush. Also stars Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann and Jonah Hill. 4 stars

LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD (PG-13) Old action movies don't die, they just fade away, and ditto for their stars. Bruce Willis is back as John McClane, now an agent with Homeland Security, but still a magnet for dastardly bad guys and the photogenic explosions caused by enormous vehicles smashing into even larger vehicles. Yippie-kay-ay. Whatever. Also stars Justin Long, Maggie Q, Timothy Olyphant and Jonathan Sadowski. Opens June 29 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

A MIGHTY HEART (R) Bearing a surface resemblance to David Fincher's Zodiac — another police procedural more interested in blind alleys than investigative (or emotional) pay-offs — A Mighty Heart details the search for Daniel Pearl, the American journalist who was famously kidnapped and beheaded by Islamist nut jobs back in 2002. The movie unfolds from the perspective of Pearl's wife, Marianne (Angelina Jolie), a smart strategy that invites us to share her bewildered anxiety, while director Michael Winterbottom shoots the movie in what often feels like panic mode, hand-held cameras madly whirling and few shots lasting longer than a couple of seconds. Jolie is surprisingly credible here in a discreetly altered, dressed-down version of herself that moves among the movie's other characters without seeming too terribly out of place. Winterbottom is rigorously neutral in laying out the highly charged politics implicit in Pearl's story, but while A Mighty Heart touches upon some extremely sensitive ground, it never touches down for long, and the movie's refusal to take a stand begins to feel like a failure of nerve. Also stars Dan Futterman, Archie Panjabi, Irrfan Khan, Will Patton, Denis O'Hare, Adnan Siddiqui and Gary Wilmes. 3.5 stars

MR. BROOKS (R) A portrait of an all-American model citizen who's secretly a BTK Killer-like basket case, Mr. Brooks all but burns the Nuclear Family in effigy. Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner) appears to be an upstanding member of the community, but inside he's wrestling with demons, and soon enough, he'll be putting a bullet in the brain of yet another unfortunate, then rushing home to duly beg God for forgiveness. There are an awful lot of other narrative balls in the air, though — most notably, a kinky photographer (Dane Cook) who discovers Brooks' secret and blackmails the serial killer into letting him tag along on future murder sprees. It's hard to know what to make of most of this, since the film covers some seriously over-the-top ground with barely a trace of irony or self-reflexive subtext. Mr. Brooks recycles key elements from American Psycho and Natural Born Killers without appearing to have fully understood or digested its sources. In absence of being able to laugh at itself, the movie leaves us no choice but to do some snickering ourselves. Also stars Demi Moore and Marg Helgenberger. 2 stars

NANCY DREW (PG) Adorable Emma Roberts, whose aunt is herself an adorable movie star (by the name of Julia), steps into the perfectly shined shoes of the famous tweener detective much loved by female readers of a certain age. Also stars Josh Flitter, Max Thierot, Rachael Leigh Cook and Tate Donovan. Opens June 15 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

OCEAN'S 13 (PG-13) Who says star power is dead? The Ocean's movies may lack the fancy special effects and unadulterated escapism of other summer enterprises, but it's hard to deny the glossy appeal of Messrs. Clooney, Damon, Pitt and company, this time bolstered by the iconic presence of some guy named Pacino. Celine Dion's here too, but don't let that scare you away. Stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, Bernie Mac, Ellen Barkin and Scott Caan. (Not Reviewed)

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END (PG-13) One more go around — and, reportedly clocking in at over two and a half hours, a very long go around — for Johnny Depp and company. The mega-budgeted third part in a swashbuckling franchise of almost Bollywood-like over-abundance (Adventure! Comedy! Horror! Romance!), this latest installment also boasts appearances by Chow Yun-Fat and, as Depp's swaggering, slurring pop, Keith Richards. Also stars Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush and Bill Nighy. (Not reviewed)

RATATOUILLE (G) Pixar's latest contribution to the annals of animation history is a sweetly perverse retooling of Disney's Cinderella, as retold for the Age of Conflicted Foodies — with Cindy reborn as a rat who wants to be Rachael Ray. The rat's name is Remy, and he even has his own fairy godmother — a floating Paul Bocuse figure who cheers him on with the shining motto "Anyone can cook!" — and by the end of this Paris-set rags-to-riches fable, glass slippers are found on all the right feet and rodent-inspired haute cuisine is the hit of the land. The latest creation of genius-boy director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles), Ratatouille is as clever as it is entertaining, although this may well be the first Pixar film to actually connect more powerfully with grown-ups than with their kids (not withstanding that rare 8-year-old who yearns to hear talking animals wax poetic on the glories of saffron and wild mushrooms). Also features the voices of Patton Oswald, Iam Holm, Lou Romano, Brian Dennehy and Janeane Garofalo. 4 stars

SHREK THE THIRD (PG) There's no use denying that the bloom is off the rose, but don't for a minute think that means Shrek the Third stinks. After the sustained comic brilliance of Shrek and Shrek 2, maybe we should be thankful for the breather supplied by a little water-treading. The zingers still fly thick and fast — with all the rapid-fire asides and absurdities, this latest Shrek often seems one step removed from the frenetic desperation of a Naked Gun flick — but the story this time out is clearly aimed more at satisfying kids than engaging grown-ups. The basic plot here involves a couple of bargain-basement Joe Campbell hero's quests paralleling one another: Shrek overcoming obstacles in order to own up to the responsibility of parenthood, while a young, untested Arthur (voiced by Justin Timberlake) jumps through similar hoops in a journey to become king. Meanwhile, anything-but-charming Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) enlists a gaggle of storybook villains to help him exact revenge on Shrek and snag the crown for himself. The odds are good that you can guess how it all turns out. Features the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Rupert Everett and Justin Timberlake. 3 stars

SICKO (PG-13) Michael Moore's documentary on the business of U.S. medical insurance mounts a righteously angry, alternately sentimental, blowhardy and often-effective argument. Useing anecdotal evidence and occasional numbers, Moore makes the case that U.S. health insurance companies, in the words of one e-mailer, "flat suck." Again taking up the cause of the working class victims and heroes he's made his focus since Roger & Me, Moore offers up some familiar villains. The first versions of medical profiteering trace back to the Nixon administration, specifically a 1971 conversation between John Erlichmann and the president (courtesy of the White House tapes) concerning Edgar Kaiser's proposal that health insurance could make money — lots of it. The film includes brief digs at Ronald Reagan (who appears to have been a paid spokesperson for the industry, before he was president) and "little lady" Hilary Clinton, who famously fought back, for a minute. Cute as well as accusatory, the bit connects fear and money by way of politics. It's an incisive analysis in its way, more nuanced than the most obvious conclusion, that congresspeople are greedy, conformist or categorically unthoughtful. Here the system, recounted by victims as well as former workers within it, looks dismal and dishonest. 3.5 stars —Cindy Fuchs

SPIDER-MAN 3 (PG-13) There's eye candy aplenty and tons of nutrient-free fun, but there are simply too many villains for comfort in this summer blockbuster, and they come crawling out of the woodwork with scant regard for rhyme or reason. The basic template here seems to be those more-is-more, super-powered free-for-all's that began taking over the Batman movies right around the time of Batman Returns and nearly sunk the franchise. There's nothing nearly as pointless as those Bat-fiascos here, but the script for Spider-Man 3 does show clear signs of franchise fatigue, making the mistake of confusing true spectacle with the process of simply piling on one damn thing after another. Where Spider-Man 2 felt richly textured and, at its best, primal (or at least as primal as a movie about a guy in spider tights can be), this year's version too often feels overstuffed and shapeless. In any event, it's not what we deserve from a movie that reportedly cost more to make than the GNP of some countries. Stars Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace and Bryce Dallas Howard. 3 stars

SURF'S UP (G) Before you decide to read no further — Omigod, not another penguin movie! — allow me to suggest that the film isn't nearly as painful as what you may be imagining. Surf's Up's humor generally aims closer to droll spoofery than teeth-gnashing cuteness, with the movie assuming the form of an animated mockumentary revolving around the absurdist premise that surfing was invented by the talking penguins who are the film's subjects. These birds aren't the most charismatic or adorable animated characters you'll ever meet, but they're as engagingly self-conscious in front of a camera as anybody on The Office, and their gags often benefit from a seemingly improvised quality in keeping with the whole "reality filmmaking" approach. Sadly, Surf's Up drifts away from its mockumentary premise during a long, overly generic middle section, but the tone is set by a sprinkling of surprisingly clever sequences, quasi-hip music and even a slyly self-referential appearance by The Dude himself, Jeff "Lebowski" Bridges. All in all, the movie doesn't stray too terribly far from the expected formula, but it's nevertheless a pleasant surprise to see penguins that rarely mug, hug or otherwise pander. Also features the voices of Shia LaBeouf, Zooey Deschanel, Jon Heder, Jane Krakowski and James Woods. 3 stars

TRANSFORMERS (PG-13) Armageddon and Pearl Harbor director Michael Bay plays with the most expensive toys in the planet in this loud, destructive live-action version of the Hasbro properties. The plot, themes and characterization are laughable at best (except for Shia LaBeouf's ingratiating, steadying work in the leading "human" role), but the special effects extravaganza of giant robots whaling on each other is kind of awesome. 3 stars — Curt Holman

WAITRESS (PG-13) A slight and sweetly quirky affair, Waitress is an oddball fairy tale with a faintly naughty undertow. The movie's title refers to not one but three colorful women living lives of varying degrees of dissatisfaction while working in a curiously idealized dive called Joe's Pie Diner. The principal "pie genius" here is Jenna (Keri Russell), a pregnant backwoods beauty trying to figure a way out of her marriage to a bad-tempered jerk named Earl (Six Feet Under's Jeremy Sisto). The weirdo whimsy is sometimes a bit forced and it doesn't always fully mesh with the more "real" reality that periodically rears its head — but, at the risk of conjuring up tired old words like "bittersweet," it's quite a feat that director Adrienne Shelly manages to put a sunny and even silly face on material that might just have easily slipped into tragedy. Shelly's awkward characters and stylized cadences owe much to the skewered sensibilities of indie filmmakers like Hal Hartley and Jim Jarmusch, and the movie's connection with reality often seems so loose as to be a matter of convenience, a hook for the audience. Also stars Nathan Fillion, Adrienne Shelly, Cheryl Hines, Andy Griffith and Eddie Jemison. 3.5 stars

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