DELIVER US FROM EVA (R, 105 minutes)
A sort of hip-hop version of "The Taming of the Shrew," this is about the super-nasty Eva (Gabrielle Union), who is perfect to her three sisters (Essence Atkins, Robinne Lee and Meagan Good), but a haughty, sarcastic and meddlesome pain to just about everyone else. We're talking restaurateurs (she's an over-eager health inspector) and, most particularly, the three sisters' men (Mel Jackson, Dartanyan Edmonds and Duane Martin). Their plan: pay their super-player friend Ray (LL Cool J) to seduce this horse-riding, choir-singing, man-killing perfectionist, and then dump her. Supposedly, this will keep her too busy to get into other people's lives. Predictably, Ray and Eva fall for each other a little too hard. And their perfect love comes back to haunt the men, whose wives think everyone should follow the same model. Writer-director Gary ("The Brothers") Hardwick clearly wants to make this more than another hip-hop comedy, but that desire evaporates in the face of loopy storytelling (including a nutty kidnapping plot), one-dimensional archetypes, too much predictability and not enough comedy. Contains obscene language and sexual situations. Area theaters.
-- Desson Howe THE HIDDEN WARS OF DESERT STORM (Unrated, 72 minutes)
Like castor oil, this antiwar documentary by Audrey Brohy and Gerard Ungerman is probably good for those people who need a purgative to the heavy rhetoric some feel the U.S. government is dishing out about the necessity of war with Iraq. And like that bad-tasting home remedy, "Hidden Wars" is equally hard to swallow. Let's face it: The "axis of evil" is sexy. Allegations of governmental double-talk and cover-ups are, unfortunately, boooring -- at least when the filmmakers present them like medicine. After briefly recapping our "victory" in Kuwait, "Hidden Wars" narrator John Hurt pauses to intone a cautionary "however . . . ." What follows is an hour-long litany of howevers, as the film alternates footage of dull talking heads -- pro and antiwar -- with shots of unidentified carnage and poverty, presumably a result of U.S. malfeasance. Brohy and Ungerman are not the first to suggest that the price and availability of oil may have something to do with U.S. foreign policy, as they make the case that our war plans now, as 12 years ago, are less noble than they seem. But it doesn't help their argument to suggest, as the film does in almost so many words, that the only reason Saddam Hussein has been branded a terrorist is that he decided to nationalize his oil fields, as have other countries in the region. Maybe the Iraqi leader isn't the bogeyman we've made him out to be, but the film doesn't quite succeed in its efforts to portray him as an innocent victim either. Contains footage of the diseased and dead. At Visions Cinema/Bistro/Lounge.
-- Michael O'Sullivan
HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS (PG-13, 112 minutes)
Trust me: "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" isn't as bad as it looks. Faint praise, I know, but then again, what do you expect me to say about a movie that walks you down the same path a thousand other romantic comedies have taken? At least it's a pleasant walk, with attractive people and nice conversation. Kate Hudson plays Andie Anderson, a columnist at a Cosmopolitan-style magazine who decides to write a first-person account of what not to do when dating. In other words, she has to bag a man, then turn off the charm, driving him away in a week and a half. Unfortunately, the man she sets her sights on dumping, ad exec Benjamin Barry (Matthew McConaughey), is dead set on keeping her, seeing as he made a bet with co-workers that he could make any woman fall in love with him in 10 days. The possibilities are rife for japery, as Andie proceeds to go "Fatal Attraction" clingy, in addition to introducing all manner of girly nonsense to Benjamin's life. She forces him to attend a Celine Dion concert, names his sex organ "Princess Sophia" and fills his bachelor pad with lace and teddy bears and his medicine cabinet with a pharmacy's worth of unmentionable toiletries. She even makes him go to couples' therapy after behaving, in Ben's words, like a "crack-enhanced Kathie Lee Gifford." (Hey, any movie that disses both Gifford and Dion can't be all bad.) So what if there are a few easy targets and the ending is predictable from the opening credits? I can think of worse ways to spend 10 days. Contains sexual humor and situations, a single punch in the eye and repeated use of a vulgarity for excrement. Area theaters.
-- Michael O'Sullivan
RUSSIAN ARK (Unrated, 97 minutes)
The first feature-length movie ever to contain its entire story in one, uninterrupted shot (87 minutes in duration), this film pays tribute to Russia's great state museum, the Hermitage, and by extension the nation, its cultural treasures and history. With breathtakingly detailed choreography, Russian director Alexander Sokurov leads you through 33 rooms of the museum (Peter the Great's former Winter Palace) and several centuries of artistic and cultural magnificence. During this unblinking inner journey, we meet all manner of characters, both historic and modern. "Ark" is more than a showcase nod to Russian history, or an elaborate technical exercise. It's an extraordinary dramatic experience, a blissful waltz through time without so much as an elliptical hiccup. While you're watching this labyrinthine, indoor epic and especially its climactic mazurka ball in the Hermitage (a reenactment of the last function held in 1913), remember to breathe. Contains nothing objectionable. At the Cineplex Odeon Dupont Circle.
-- Desson Howe
SHANGHAI KNIGHTS (PG-13, 107 minutes)
Oh, why get all hot and bothered about this insipid sequel to "Shanghai Noon," which brings back Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson as, respectively, Chon Wang and Roy O'Bannon. Let's just speak about it as briefly as possible. The odd couple heads to England in the late 1890s, where Chon's sister, Lin (Fann Wong), is hunting for their father's killer. All three get caught up in a ridiculous plot in which the dastardly Rathbone (Aiden Gillen) plans to deep-six the royals for his own power-driven ends. They become friendly with a nervous detective, Doyle (Tom Fisher), who has this idea for a book about a great, pipe-smoking detective, and Charlie, a London lout whose last name is, uh, Chaplin. Puh-leez. Wilson has his surfer-dude moments of humor, but he's doing his best with creatively dead material. Chan, whose age seems to have made him less willing to go stunt-crazy, performs tamer showcase fighting sequences that are more slapstick than stirring. But there is one nice piece of choreography, a fight scene that's an inspired parody of the umbrella-twirling song and dance number in "Singin' in the Rain." It's too bad his imagination and delicacy were wasted in this movie. Contains cartoonish violence. Area theaters.
-- Desson Howe