Upcoming Releases

BEE MOVIE (PG) Jerry Seinfeld returns from the stand-up comedy wilderness with this CGI-animated offering about a spunky little bee who wants more (as apparently do all animated creatures these days). The voice cast alone might be reason enough to investigate: Besides Seinfeld, Renee Zelwegger, Matthew Broderick and John Goodman, there's an eclectic ensemble including Rip Torn, Sting, Oprah Winfrey and Larry King. Opens Nov. 2 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

MADEINUSA (NR) A strange and beautiful little film set in an isolated village tucked away in the mountains of Peru, where the local custom is to indulge all manner of sins during Easter weekend — a time when anything goes since "God is dead and cannot see." Into this festive, perverse and luxuriously surreal environment stumbles a big-city photographer (Carlos de la Torre) who forms a connection with the title character (Magaly Solier), a beautiful teenager who plans to spend the weekend engaged in incestuous liaison with her father, the town's mayor. First-time director Claudia Liosa displays confidence and bold originality in a film that effortlessly fuses humor, humanism and apocalyptic darkness in a manner that might have made Bunuel himself take notice. Also stars Ubaldo Huaman and Yiliana Chong. Plays Mon., Nov. 5 at 7:30, one show only, as part of Tampa Bay's Festival of the Americas at Tampa Theatre. 4 stars

MARTIAN CHILD (PG) Lonely and quirky widower John Cusack adopts an even lonelier and quirkier child in this sappy time-waster about loving the alien inside us all. Cusak's new kid (Bobby Coleman) claims to be from Mars, and with his pasty skin and big bug-eyed sunglasses, he certainly looks the part — he's actually called a "mini-Warhol" at one point but is really a closer match to Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth. The whole "Martian" thing is, of course, simply the script's exclamation point on the boy's outsider status, but nothing really happens here to convince us that the kid's half as troubled as he's supposed to be. The movie plods along as adult and child bond over Lucky Charms and baseball, with time out for a food fight or two and the death of a beloved family pet, set to Cat Stevens music. In the end, the kid actually does turn out to be from Mars, shape-shifts back into his original form of a 12-foot insect with venomous fangs and bites off Cusack's head. Just kidding. Also stars Amanda Peet, Joan Cusack, Oliver Platt, Richard Schiff and Sophie Okonedo. Opens Nov. 2 at local theaters. 2 stars


THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (R) A languorous art-western in the fabled mold of McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Heaven's Gate and Pat Garret and Billy the Kid, Andrew Dominik's two-hour-and-40-minute The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a love-it-or-hate-it proposition. Some will see it as a pretentious slog, others as sheer poetry, but one thing's for sure: They don't make 'em like this anymore. The film presents Jesse James (Brad Pitt) as an early contender in the Cult of Personality — he and Mark Twain were the only Americans known in Europe in the late 19th century — and much is made here of the urge to bask in the outlaw's celebrity, of people wanting to hang around him, even to be him. Meandering back and forth through time, the movie lays out its elliptical story assisted by a melancholy, matter-of-fact voice-over that gives up its details as methodically as Robert Bresson making his case in The Trial of Joan of Arc. The movie throws out much of the James legend, meditating upon its anti-hero as he goes through wild mood swings, alternately depressed, buoyant and unhinged, and ultimately even takes on a weirdly Christ-like aspect, wondering which of his squabbling gang members is going to betray him. James' Judas turns out to be Robert Ford (Casey Affleck), a confused hanger-on whose obsession borders on the homoerotic and whose titular act of violence briefly makes him even more famous than the celebrity killer he kills. An appreciation of The Assassination of Jesse James hinges less on suspension of disbelief than on suspension of our reliance on snappy pace and linear plotting, but those who do give themselves over to the film's demanding poetry may find themselves well rewarded. Also stars Sam Shepard, Paul Schneider, Sam Rockwell, Jeremy Renner, Garret Dillahunt, Mary-Louise Parker and Michael Parks. 4.5 stars

DAN IN REAL LIFE (PG-13) Steve Carell stars as single dad with a house full of girls and a serious crush on his brother's girlfriend (Juliette Binoche). Also stars Dane Cook, John Mahoney and Emily Blunt. (Not Reviewed)

THE DARJEELING LIMITED (R) Wes Anderson's new movie often seems closer to fever dream than real life, but it's cohesive in ways that the director's previous film, The Life Aquatic, wasn't. The color-coded confusion and calculated whimsy that got the better of Life Aquatic still occasionally creep in, but Darjeeling is a funnier and more focused trip, giving us three strangers on a train — semi-estranged brothers Francis (Owen Wilson), Jack (Jason Schwartzman) and Peter (Adrien Brody) — reunited for what the eldest promises will be a "spiritual journey" across India. (It's a promise made so solemnly it's impossible to mistake for anything other than totally absurd, like most everything that transpires here.) The brothers indulge themselves in synchronized chain-smoking, keep themselves buzzed with potent Indian painkillers, squabble and engage in virtually nonstop non sequiturs and poker-faced kvetching. The squabbles occasionally mutate into physical brawls, pepper spray and poisonous snakes are produced, the snake gets loose on the titular train, and Schwartzman plays passive-aggressive sex games with a sad-eyed stewardess in the train's bathroom. Anderson applies meticulously measured rhythms to even the film's most screwbally impulses, occasionally punctuating them with dreamy, slo-mo passages, so that The Darjeeling Limited often feels like a Marx Brothers movie on Thorazine. Also stars Amara Karan, Waris Ahluwalia and Anjelica Huston. 3.5 stars