Ask the Dust
(R) Colin Farrell, Salma Hayek, Donald Sutherland, Eileen Atkins, Idina Menzel. Renown screenwriter-director Robert Towne realizes a decades-long dream by adapting John Fante's 1939 novel about the relationship between a struggling writer (Farrell) and a haughty waitress (Hayek) in Depression-era Los Angeles. Towne has crafted a film that is as compelling as it is flawed. What he gets right, he gets very right (the cast, the visuals, the atmosphere and the score), and what he gets wrong (terribly fragmented dialogue and a flat ending) isn't enough to undermine the project, though it comes close. Ask the Dust is a very easy movie to watch, despite the bad parts. 117 minutes. At Landmark Keystone Art Cinema. - EJO
(R) Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe. Spike Lee directs the story of a tough cop, Detective Frazier (Denzel Washington), who matches wits with a clever bank robber, Dalton (Clive Owen), in a tense hostage drama. As the dangerous cat-and-mouse game unfolds, a wild card emerges: Madeline (Jodie Foster), a power broker with a hidden agenda, who injects even more instability into an already volatile situation. 129 minutes.
Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector
(PG-13) Larry the Cable Guy, Iris Bahr, Eric Esteban, Tom Hillmann, Bruce Perkins. Vermin jokes. Fart jokes. Butt crack jokes. Ladies and gentlemen, we are talking comedy with a capital "C" here! Larry the Cable Guy is a health inspector assigned to investigate a series of food poisoning incidents at the city's top restaurants. 89 minutes.
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
(NR) Julia Jentsch, Fabian Hinrichs, Gerald Alexander Held, Johanna Gastdorf, André Hennicke. The true story of Germany's most famous anti-Nazi heroine is brought to life by Julia Jentsch (The Edukators), who gives an ward-winning performance as the young coed-turned-fearless activist. Armed with long-buried historical records of her incarceration, director Marc Rothemund re-creates the last six days of Sophie Scholl's life: a tense journey from arrest to interrogation, trial and sentence. Winner of three German Film Awards, including Outstanding Feature Film, the Audience Award for German Film of the Year and Best Actress (Jentsch). Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. 117 minutes. At Landmark Keystone Art Cinema.
(PG-13) Jon Foster, Samaire Armstrong, Frankie Muniz, Sophia Bush, Adam Goldberg. After the mysterious, brutal death of an old friend, a group of teen-agers find themselves in possession of Stay Alive, an ultra-realistic 3-D videogame based on the chilling true story of a 17th century noblewoman, known as "The Blood Countess." The gamers don't know anything about the game other than they're not supposed to have it ... and they're dying to play it. Not able to resist temptation, the kids begin to play the grisly game but soon make a chilling connection - they are each being murdered one-by-one in the same way as the characters they played in the game. 85 minutes.
(R) Presley Chweneyagae, Mothusi Magano, Terry Pheto, Percy Matsemela, Jerry Mofokeng. Set amidst the sprawling Johannesburg township of Soweto - where survival is the primary objective - Tsotsi traces six days in the life of a ruthless young gang leader who ends up caring for a baby accidentally kidnapped during a car-jacking. 94 minutes. At Landmark Keystone Art Cinema.
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
(R) Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper, Julio Cesar Cedillo, January Jones, Dwight Yoakam, Melissa Leo. When ranch foreman Pete Perkins (Jones) discovers that bad-ass border patrolman Mike Norton (Pepper) killed his friend Melquiades Estrada (Cedillo), he kidnaps Norton, makes him dig up the body and lead him deep into Mexico so Estrada can be interred in his hometown. The film, which marks the feature directorial debut of Jones, fits his persona to a T: It's rough and tough, and though it has a heart, it doesn't blather on about it. There is considerable brutality and a lot of grisly business involving a corpse (Sam Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is a clear influence). There also is a streak of dark humor that kicks in at the damnedest times. 120 minutes. At Key Cinemas Beech Grove for one week only. - EJO
(R) Bruce Willis, Mos Def, David Morse, David Zayas, David Sparrow. What seems like an easy job for a hump of a drunken cop (Willis) turns into a dramatic and predictable adventure on the mean streets of New York. While Willis - complete with a porno mustache - and Morse do a good job here and Mos Def is only somewhat annoying, the movie doesn't do much and pales in comparison to cop dramas we see every day on TV. - Jim Walker
(PG) Emma Roberts, Joanna "JoJo" Levesque, Sara Paxton, Jake McDorman, Arielle Kebbel. One for the girls. Following a violent storm, a beautiful and sassy mermaid named Aquamarine washes ashore and into the lives of two teen-age girls. After Aquamarine falls for a local, hunky lifeguard, she enlists the girls' help to win his heart. 109 minutes.
(R) Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins Jr., Chris Cooper, Bruce Greenwood, Bob Balaban, Mark Pellegrino, Amy Ryan. Capote focuses on the years Truman Capote spent writing his greatest book, In Cold Blood, the story of a murdered family in Kansas. Here we get to see the minutiae that made the man Capote a real piece of work. Philip Seymour Hoffman's Capote is as big a queen as Elizabeth II without any of the grace. As much of a character, even caricature, as Hoffman is in this movie, he somehow remains believable. Director Bennett Miller keeps scenes intense, slow and detailed, which balances out the large and sudden jumps in time. 98 minutes. - Lisa Gauthier
(R) Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Linda Cardellini, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams, Randy Quaid. The much ballyhooed "gay cowboy movie" is a sad, beautiful story of two young men tending sheep in 1963 Wyoming who have sex with each other one cold, liquor-laced night. So what does one cowboy say to the other on the morning after? Not much. "You know I ain't queer," Ennis mutters, to which Jack states, "Me neither." But the sex continues and turns to love, though they are unable to verbalize their feelings. Ang Lee (The Ice Storm) is a polite filmmaker, and he is perhaps a bit too polite with his adaptation of Annie Proulx's superb 1997 short story. Still, the production, packed with great acting (especially by Ledger and Gyllenhaal) in front of gorgeous scenery is a very good film, one of the best of 2005. 134 minutes. - EJO
(R) Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Lester Makedonsky. Completely befuddling yet beguiling entertainment. The film opens with a many-minutes-long, absolutely static shot of the exterior of their building, which we eventually discover is a surveillance videotape recorded by ... who knows. Georges and Anne (Auteuil and Binoche) watch the tape, mystified; subsequent tapes torque the enigma further as the content becomes more personal to Georges. Great fun puzzling over its mysteries, but don't work too hard; after all, the title is Caché, meaning "hidden." - Jim Poyser
(G) Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore, David Cross, Eugene Levy, Dick Van Dyke. The beloved little monkey from the children's books gets his own movie. The filmmakers maintain the tone of the books nicely. Young children should have a good time, but grown-ups will likely be bored to tears once the initial warmth of nostalgia passes. 82 minutes. - EJO
(PG-13) Alyson Hannigan, Adam Campbell, Jennifer Coolidge, Tony Cox, Fred Willard. Send-up of boy-meets-girl romantic comedies, from some of the creators of Scary Movie. The film is not being screened for critics, which is usually a very bad sign. But who knows, perhaps the film is so incredibly funny that the studio felt that reviews were unnecessary. 85 minutes.
Dave Chappelle's Block Party
(R) Dave Chappelle, Kanye West, Erykah Badu, Dante "Mos Def" Smith, Talib Kweli. Acclaimed comic Dave Chappelle presents a Brooklyn neighborhood with a once-in-a-lifetime free block party. The combination of comedy and music was shot on location. In addition to Chappelle performing all-new material, the roster of artists includes Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Dead Prez, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, the Roots, Cody ChesnuTT, Big Daddy Kane, and - reunited for their first performance in over seven years - the Fugees. 103 minutes.
Deep Sea 3D
(G) Narrated by Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet. A corker, one of the best IMAX movies ever. Filmed over the course of a year, the production introduces viewers to an absolutely incredible array of undersea creatures. Remember the first time you saw the cantina scene in the original Star Wars? Welcome to the underwater version, only the life forms here are even weirder than the freaky denizens of that sci-fi gin joint. What you will see here is far more alien than anything George Lucas ever cooked up. And, thanks to some very effective 3D photography, these alien entities appear to be floating about as close to your face as this newspaper is right now. 40 minutes. At the IMAX Theater in the State Museum. - EJO
(PG) Paul Walker, Jason Biggs, Bruce Greenwood, Moon Bloodgood, Connor Christopher Levins. Disney film about a pack of snow dogs (sans Cuba Gooding, Jr.) left to survive in Antarctica. Inspired by a true story, the film has a March Of The Doggies feel as they survive in the frozen tundra, while the humans, who had to leave their research facility in Antarctica due to really bad weather, try to find them. Paul Walker's performance is good, but he is still upstaged by eight little doggies. Also, these dogs don't talk nor are there tired uses of pop songs with the word "Dog" in the title. Disney must be saving those for their Shaggy Dog remake. 112 minutes - Matthew Socey
Failure to Launch
(PG-13) Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Justin Bartha, Kathy Bates, Zooey Deschanel. Harmless formulaic romantic comedy. Thirtysomething Tripp (McConaughey) is still living with his parents. In desperation, they hire Paula (Parker) to coax/seduce their son out of the house. Guess what happens. McConaughey and Parker can do this kind of stuff in their sleep, which they more or less do. Bradshaw and Bates make an enjoyable set of parents, though. 97 minutes. - EJO
Final Destination 3
(R) Ryan Merriman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Texas Battle, Gina Holden, Dustin Milligan. A third round of Rube Goldberg-style deaths in the morbid horror series. This time, a high school student fails to stop a roller coaster ride that she predicted would cause the deaths of several of her friends. As a result, the Grim Reaper comes a calling once again. As Dead Teenagers Movies go, this is one of the more ingenious ones. The deaths are gruesome, but very imaginative and well-staged. 92 minutes. - EJO
(PG-13) Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Virginia Madsen, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Robert Patrick, Robert Forster, Alan Arkin. Generic action-thriller. Ford plays a computer security specialist at a Seattle bank who is forced to electronically rob his own company when his family is taken hostage by Eurotrash villain Bill Cox (Paul Bettany) and his band of thugs. It plays out like this: Smug, smooth-talking Bettany and his gang terrorize the family. Ford grimaces and seethes, but obeys for a while. Finally, he switches to action-hero mode and kicks major Eurotrash ass. The end. The film isn't awful; it's simply lame and redundant. 105 minutes. - EJO
The Hills Have Eyes
(R) Aaron Stanford, Kathleen Quinlan, Vinessa Shaw, Emilie de Ravin, Dan Byrd, Tom Bower, Billy Drago, Robert Joy, Ted Levine. Update of the 1977 Wes Craven horror story of a family road trip that goes terrifyingly awry when the travelers become stranded in a government atomic zone. Miles from nowhere, the Carters soon realize the seemingly uninhabited wasteland is actually the breeding ground of a blood-thirsty mutant family ... and they are the prey. 105 minutes.
(R) Johnny Depp, John Malkovich, Samantha Morton, Rosamund Pike, Richard Coyle. The Libertine highlights the underbelly of the Britocracy of centuries past. Adapted from the play by Stephen Jeffreys, the plot follows the dastardly debauchery of the Earl of Rochester (Depp). A hedonist who makes Oscar Wilde seem moralistic, the Earl spent his days and nights in beds, brothels and bars, awakening from drunken blackouts only to stumble to the nearest whorehouse. Yet this ravishing rake was also possessed of a predilection for poetry, and turned his escapades into acid-tongued witticisms that pepper the film. 130 minutes.
Madea's Family Reunion
(PG-13) Tyler Perry, Boris Kodjoe, Jenifer Lewis, Tangi Miller, Cicely Tyson. Written and directed by Tyler Perry, and based on Perry's stage play, this film reminds viewers that God can help you through any situation and family can be counted on. Madea, played by Perry, known for her aggressive and violent characteristics, becomes a foster parent to an adolescent that doesn't have a family and needs guidance. Madea doesn't disappoint her fans with her motherly love - but she still breaks out a few punches to keep the audience laughing. The film combines black history, comedy, drama and sneak peeks into the family of Madea. Perry's stage play, Madea Goes to Jail, is currently at the Murat (see page 18). 122 minutes. - TaShaya Robertson
Neil Young: Heart of Gold
(PG) Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Ben Keith, Spooner Oldham, Rick Rosas. Warm, engaging concert film of Neil Young and friends playing music from his latest album, Prairie Wind, and his acoustic greatest hits ("Heart Of Gold," "Harvest Moon," "Old Man") in Nashville. Major kudos for director Jonathan Demme (Stop Making Sense) for letting the cameras stay on stage and giving us time to look at the musicians. No MTV-ADHD-induced editing here. Except for the beginning where the musicians chat, it's all on the stage. Young fans shouldn't miss this and folks who just like a good evening of music should really check this out. 103 minutes. At the Landmark Keystone Art Cinema. - Matthew Socey
The Pink Panther
(PG) Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Beyonce Knowles, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer. There was no reason for this movie to have been made. It does nothing new, nothing very funny and insults the intelligence of the audience. But it's still No. 1! The movie also serves, quite crassly, as a huge product placement for Beyonce Knowles. If you're in the mood for The Pink Panther, save some money and go rent one from the original series. If you're in the mood for Steve Martin or Kevin Kline, rent one of their good, old movies. If you're in the mood for Knowles, listen to one of her CDs. - Jim Walker
(G) A giant-screen IMAX visualization of an amazing story that is still going on. On the surface of the planet Mars right now - right this very second - there are two manmade robotic vehicles capable of navigating the rocky surface. Powered by solar panels, they explore the red planet, sending information back to eager scientists on Earth. Steve Squyres, lead science investigator at the NASA/Jet Propulsion laboratory, provides commentary for the 40-minute Disney film, recounting the fascinating story of the building, launching, landing and tasks of the space rovers Spirit and Opportunity. The film uses extensive computer animation to present the travels of the separately-launched rovers. Especially fascinating are segments depicting the separation stages following the launches and the complicated - and quite cool - landing procedures. 40 minutes. At the IMAX Theater in the Indiana State Museum through June 8. - EJO
The Shaggy Dog
(PG) Tim Allen, Kristin Davis, Robert Downey, Danny Glover, Zena Grey, Spencer Breslin, Jane Curtin. Tim Allen transforms back and forth between father to family dog in this update of the Disney 1959 comedy of the same name. The original wasn't very good and neither is this one. Want to see Allen hoist his leg at the urinal? Want to see dogs sniff his butt? Me neither. 99 minutes. - EJO
She's the Man
(PG-13) Amanda Bynes, James Kirk, Channing Tatum, David Cross, Alex Breckenridge. Just about everything and everybody in this teenybopper movie is cute. Turns out, that's not so bad. While formulaic and sophomoric, She's the Man - which was inspired by Shakespeare's Twelfth Night - makes good points about girls being able to accomplish what they want and offers a great message about how boys and girls should look past their assumptions and stereotypes of the opposite sex and see everybody as an individual. This is a good film for parents to take their adolescent or teen kids to on a family outing. It's bearable for adults and fun for teens. - Jim Walker
(R) Felicity Huffman, Kevin Zegers, Fionnula Flanagan, Elizabeth Pena, Graham Greene, Burt Young, Carrie Preston. Felicity Huffman of Desperate Housewives shines as a preoperative transsexual forced to take a cross-country road trip with a sullen 17-year-old (Zegers) who has no idea that the woman behind the steering wheel is his father. First-time feature writer-director Duncan Tucker lays it on a bit thick (Note to the filmmaker: Too many quirky characters in one place can wear out the viewer.) and he stretches credulity awfully thin, even by road movie standards (wait until you see how long it takes Toby to figure out who Bree really is), but his missteps are easy to forgive. Transamerica is a sweet, tender and funny look at two people trying to find out where they fit in the scheme of things. 103 minutes. - EJO
(PG-13) Milla Jovovich, Cameron Bright, Nick Chinlund, William Fichtner, Duc Luu. In the distant future, the government wages war against a subculture of disease-modified humans, in whom speed, strength and intelligence are magnified. In the midst of this turmoil a woman finds herself the protector of a 9-year-old boy targeted for death. 85 minutes.
V for Vendetta
(R) Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, John Hurt, Roger Allam, Stephen Fry. Moderately entertaining, highly stylized mystery/drama with impressive art direction and a muddled, overly talky script that is reminiscent of 1984 and Batman Begins. V (Weaving, Neo's most bothersome adversary in The Matrix), his identity hidden beneath a Guy Fawkes mask and, I think, a Cleopatra wig, sets out to topple the fascist government of future-England with bombs and murder and poor Evey (Portman) gets dragged into his crusade. An adaptation of the acclaimed graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd (Moore had his name removed from the film), V for Vendetta offers bold visuals, sweeping movement, but little that will linger after you leave the theater. 131 minutes. - EJO
The World's Fastest Indian
(PG-13) Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Lawford, Bruce Greenwood, Paul Rodriguez, Diane Ladd. Burt Munro (Hopkins) never let the dreams of youth fade. After a lifetime of perfecting his classic Indian motorcycle, Burt set off from the bottom of the world (New Zealand) to test his bike at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. With all odds against him, he set a new speed record and captured the spirit of his times. Munro's 1967 world record remains unbroken and his legend lives on today. 127 minutes.