A capsule review of "The Memory of a Killer" in the Sept. 30 Weekend section and a full review in the Sept. 23 section incorrectly identified the language of the film. It is in Flemish and French. (Published 10/1/2005)

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A star ({sstar}) denotes a movie recommended by our critics.

2046 (R, 125 minutes) -- Chinese director Wong Kar-Wai revisits the characters from his famous "In the Mood for Love." In "2046," writer Chow Mo Wan (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) eats, drinks and makes merry in the Hong Kong of the '60s. He is having a fling with a beautiful woman, but he has time as well for the prostitute next door in Room 2046, Bai Ling, played by the wondrous Ziyi Zhang. She's pretty much the whole movie -- funny, spunky, fiery, erotic, and it's hard to sympathize with Chow, who values her less than the audience. Kar-Wai is more interested in intense emotional states than in precise narrative, and you keep wanting the film to add up to more. As a kind of erotic fever dream, instead of a straight-ahead story, it's provocative if a little long. Contains sexual matter. Avalon Theatre.

-- Stephen Hunter

{sstar} THE ARISTOCRATS (Unrated, 87 minutes) -- The joke whose punch line lends this documentary its title isn't especially funny. Filthy, yes, but not a laugh riot, except in the way its structure lends itself to extended riffs of jazz-like improvisation on the part of the 100 or so comedians who line up to tell it. What makes us laugh is the joke's sheer excess. Far more fascinating, however, than its many tellings and retellings, is the footage of comics like Bob Saget and Sarah Silverman talking about the joke, which has been a staple of backstage banter among comedians since vaudeville. Sometimes analyzing why something's funny is enough to kill it, but here it's what makes "The Aristocrats" most interesting. Contains numerous foul-mouthed interpretations of a single filthy joke. AFI Silver Theare and Landmark's E Street Cinema.

-- Michael O'Sullivan

{sstar} BATMAN BEGINS (PG-13, 140 minutes) -- Director Christopher Nolan, who gave us the backward classic "Memento," and his co-writer David S. Goyer (the "Blade" creator) have taken the bubble gum out of those previous "Batman" movies and returned to the dark spirit of comic book creator Bob Kane's work. This prequel about the early days, is slow-moving in many respects, but it's more narratively entrancing than the Michael Keaton-type flicks. And Christian Bale makes a credible Bruce Wayne, who undergoes rigorous training under the tutelage of mystical warrior Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson). It's fun to watch how this Wayne creates Batman from scratch, complete with the power body armor, the bat cave and that awesome batmobile. Makes you want to see him take on the Joker next. Katie Holmes is respectable though not that memorable as the assistant district attorney who becomes fascinated with Batman. Contains intense action violence and some disturbing images. Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse and University Mall Theatres.

-- Desson Thomson

{sstar} BROKEN FLOWERS (R, 106 minutes) -- Bill Murray is a charm as Don Johnston, who learns from a mysterious letter that one of his liaisons, 20 years earlier, produced a son. So he takes a road trip to look up some old flames, including Laura Miller (Sharon Stone), whose teenage daughter, Lolita (Alexis Dziena), thinks nothing of parading around the house naked; Dora (Frances Conroy), who has married a cheesy real estate salesman; and Carmen Markowski (Jessica Lange), who communicates with animals. Murray's enigmatic expressions suggest a hangdog Mona Lisa, who's as much a mystery as his quest. What's going on in there? His deadpan is the lure. Take this trip with him and chances are, you'll find the journey increasingly funny and touching. Contains nudity, sexual situations, obscenity and some violence. Area theaters. Landmark's Bethesda Row and Landmark's E Street Cinema.

-- D.T.

THE BROTHERS GRIMM (PG-13, 118 minutes) -- More enchanted than enchanting, filmmaker Terry Gilliam's adventure reimagines real-life brothers Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm not as the doughty German folklorists they were, but as British-accented con men (Matt Damon and Heath Ledger) who make money by pretending to "exorcise" barns of nonexistent witches, goblins and sprites. When they stumble upon a village whose children seem to have been abducted by a malevolent -- and very real -- boogeyman, their patience is sorely tested. Unfortunately, so is ours, in a story that is supposed to be all about the power of storytelling but is really only about itself. Contains spooky, supernatural goings-on, some gruesome imagery and occasional obscenity. Annapolis Harbour.

-- M.O.

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (PG, 115 minutes) -- People enamored with Gene Wilder's manic, sweet performance in the 1971 "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" may be disappointed in Johnny Depp's oddball eccentricity as this Wonka. Depp's version is an unsettling amalgam of Michael Jackson, Edward Scissorhands and Lisa Kudrow's Phoebe from the TV show "Friends." But there are other watchable delights: Director Tim Burton takes us on a ride of over-the-top proportions, entertaining us while tacitly scolding our mass consumptiveness. Wonka's factory is a wonderland of chocolate lakes and candy-grass banks. There are some hilarious routines performed by the diminutive Oompa Loompas (their songs created by Burton's regular collaborator, Danny Elfman). And Freddie Highmore is a charmer as Charlie, a poor kid who wins a ticket to tour Wonka's factory. Contains offbeat humor and situations, and some mild obscenity. AMC Tysons Corner.

-- D.T.

{sstar} THE CONSTANT GARDENER (R, 123 minutes) -- Vivid performances drive Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles's fine adaptation of the John Le Carre novel. Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), a mild-mannered junior diplomat in Kenya, is shattered when his wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz), is violently murdered on a "research trip" far up country. He learns quickly enough that Tessa, a social gadfly type, had acquired a "reputation" in the tight world of British diplomacy. The movie chronicles Justin's growth as he begins to understand what sort of a woman he had. Fiennes hasn't looked so good in years, playing a soft man become hard. Weisz is especially good. The quick evocations of diplomatic life, corporate dealings and even the world of anonymous travel off-passport are splendidly done. What is evoked best, though, is Africa, that maddening panorama of beauty, nobility, poverty and corruption. Contains sexuality, gore and violence. Area theaters.

-- S.H.

CRY WOLF (PG-13, 90 minutes) -- In this debut feature from Jeff Wadlow, Owen (Julian Morris), a new student at tony Westlake Prep, falls in with redhead Dodger (Lindy Booth) and a clique of cerebral pranksters. When Owen and Dodger transmit a schoolwide e-mail claiming a ski-masked marauder called Wolf is killing students across the country, it proves (apparently) prescient. A female student is murdered close to campus and suddenly, the prospect that there's a killer among them is thrillingly real. Well, that's the intention anyway. "Cry Wolf" is more taken with the user-friendly technology of the Internet and instant messaging than suspense. Apart from a marginally clever plot twist, and the casting of Jon Bon Jovi as a lecherous professor, there's nothing here to instant-message home about. Contains violence, profanity, a brief drug reference and sexual situations. Area theaters.

-- D.T.

EL CRIMEN PERFECTO (THE PERFECT CRIME) (Unrated, 105 Minutes) -- Department store supervisor Rafael (Guillermo Toledo) lords it over the women's department with Machiavellian swagger. He wears expensive suits and seduces every attractive saleswoman in his department. Rafael's dream to become floor manager is destroyed when rival Don Antonio (Luis Varela) lands the job. Don uses his new authority to humiliate Rafael and eventually fire him. Without giving too much away, let's say Rafael's life becomes a film-noirish nightmare. He needs to get rid of a corpse, then contend with blackmail demands from an unattractive sales clerk (Monica Cervera) with a crush on him. The first 60 minutes of this black comedy are brilliantly sustained, but then director and co-writer Alex de la Iglesia loses his way and the film degenerates into macabre silliness. Contains extreme black comedy violence, profanity, nudity and sexual scenes. In Spanish with subtitles. Landmark's E Street Cinema.

-- D.T.

{sstar} EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED (PG-13, 100 Minutes) -- A better book or movie? In the case of Liev Schreiber's directorial debut, the answer is both: The film more than faithfully honors the trippy appeal of Jonathan Safran Foer's tale of a New Yorker's journey to Ukraine to "collect" objects or information about the shtetl where his grandfather lived before the Holocaust. As Foer's fictional rendering of himself, Elijah Wood is mostly flat. But just as the book was saved by the malapropped English narration of the faux-Foer's Odessan guide, the movie is more than illuminated by Eugene Hutz's comically endearing portrayal of Alexander Perchov -- a nightclubbin' mack daddy wannabe. But when they find the land where the shtetl stood, director Liev Schreiber (who also wrote the screenplay) and his cast take the book's original use of coincidental, emotional symmetry a notch too far; in its strict adherence to literary brilliance, "Everything Is Illuminated" is too precious by a stone's throw. Contains disturbing and violent images and profanity. Area theaters.

-- Hank Stuever

THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE (PG-13, 115 minutes) -- Despite the cast's pedigree, this movie is satisfying neither as a murder mystery nor as a vomit-soaked frightfest. A Roman Catholic exorcist (Tom Wilkinson) is charged with negligent homicide in the death of a possessed college student (Jennifer Carpenter). The film, based on a true story, pits a church-going district attorney (Campbell Scott) against the accused priest's nonbelieving defense lawyer (Laura Linney). Although the film seems to come down on the side of the argument that believes in demons, it's never especially persuasive. Good, if slightly overwrought, performances are drowned in more Sturm und Drang hokum than the "Law & Order" wannabe can withstand. Contains sequences of intense disturbing imagery. Area theaters.

-- M.O.

FANTASTIC FOUR (PG-13, 105 minutes) -- This movie version of the comic book series, which stars Jessica Alba (as Susan Storm), Michael Chiklis (the Thing) and others, feels like a rote adaptation. We go through the opening history and learn how four astronaut-scientists were caught in a wave of radioactivity and became the Fantastic Four team of superfreaks. But the movie lacks oomph. Despite some nice moments of computer-generated imagery, which includes a human fireball and a well-done scene on a Manhattan bridge in which the Thing uses his brute strength to stop a fire engine from plunging into the water, this "Four" ain't so "Fantastic." And the less said about the dialogue the better. The Fantastic Four never topped my personal short list, as far as comic book heroes went. And this so-so movie doesn't do much to change that feeling. Contains intense action and some sexual suggestiveness. University Mall Theatres.

-- D.T.

FLIGHTPLAN (PG-13, 88 minutes) -- The baby vanishes. Well, maybe not a baby, but a 6-year-old girl with a resemblance to Miss Froy, the lady who vanished in Alfred Hitchcock's 1938 thriller. In that definitive film, the conveyance on which she disappeared was a train. In "Flightplan," it is a jumbo jet, with all sorts of compartments, bays and hidey-holes for a little kid to crawl into, and the movie gives viewers the impression of being on that plane as Jodie Foster -- playing the girl's desperate mother, who may or may not be mentally unhinged -- tries to lead her fellow passengers in a search. Foster, who projects strength and vulnerability in equal measure, is joined by Peter Sarsgaard and Sean Bean, both excellent. Striking just the right balance between claustrophobia and terrifying emptiness, the young German director Robert Schwentke ratchets up the tension with good taste and quiet, unfussy skill. It all falls apart with the Big Reveal. Contains violence and intense themes. Area theaters.

-- Ann Hornaday

{sstar}THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN (R, 111 minutes) -- Filthy, funny and sweet in equal measure, the feature directorial debut of "Freaks and Geeks" writer-producer Judd Apatow (who co-wrote the script with star Steve Carell) is a Rob Schneider movie with the soul of a chick flick. Wait. That's not actually fair. While it's true that the comedy -- revolving around the efforts of three friends (Paul Rudd, Romany Malco and Seth Rogen) to get their geeky nice-guy co-worker (Carell) deflowered -- has a lot of smutty humor, it's also pretty smart. In the end, the organ it's really all about exercising is not the one you think, but the human heart. Contains raunchy sex humor, drug use, obscenity, partial nudity and glimpses of a porn film. Area theaters.

-- M.O.

FOUR BROTHERS (R, 108 minutes) -- Director John Singleton's Detroit-based Western-without- cowboy-hats pits four thuggish adopted brothers (Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Garrett Hedlund and Andre Benjamin of the musical duo OutKast) against the gangsters who had their saintly mother killed. It's a diverting enough thriller but one that ultimately doesn't expect -- or even want -- its audience to participate in it, except as a passenger. It would be twice as engaging if it spent half as much energy making us care about the vengeance-seeking siblings as it does making us not care about their victims. Contains obscenity, sexual content and violence. Area theaters.

-- M.O.

G (R, 96 minutes) -- This contrived exercise in vanity and product placement is being billed as a modern-day, hip-hop version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel "The Great Gatsby." Summer G (potentially wonderful Richard T. Jones) is a hip-hop producer who has amassed a fortune and moved into a seaside mansion. True to Fitzgerald's original story, G has moved there to win the affection of a social climber who is the love of his life, a woman named Sky Hightower (Chenoa Maxwell), wife of snobby scion Chip (Blair Underwood). Things go wrong, really wrong, meaning not that illusions are shattered or hearts are broken or people are killed -- although they are, they are and they are -- but that the plot is a shambles, the acting is atrocious and there is too much concern with getting Heineken and Ralph Lauren labels in the shot. ("G" was produced by and co-stars Andrew Lauren, son of the Gatsby-esque Ralph.) Contains language, sexuality and brief violence. Area theaters.

-- A.H.

HEIGHTS (R, 93 minutes) -- If there's anything good to be said about this film, it's Glenn Close's strutty, booming performance as Diana, a veteran actress who lords it over her stage and acting students, while she casts a controlling, lascivious eye over a promising new actor (Jesse Bradford). Unfortunately in this Merchant-Ivory production (which marks the second to last film of Ismail Merchant), Diana is about the only character of interest. The others, though played by estimable performers, including Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden and Matt Davis, feel like cardboard-cutout New Yorkers. The movie trades on a secondhand conceit about New York City as the storied citadel of countless artistic dreams. And George Segal, Isabella Rossellini, Rufus Wainwright and Eric Bogosian are thrown into the cast, as if their mutual presence will lend the project a weightier New York mystique. Contains strong language, brief sexuality and nudity. Cineplex Odeon Dupont Circle.

-- D.T.

{sstar} A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (R, 95 minutes) -- Like a Trojan horse, David Cronenberg's film has a hidden and powerful purpose. Seemingly a mainstream shoot-'em-up flick, in which the soft-spoken Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) defends his family against a horde of hoodlums, the movie's really about our Pavlovian conditioning to violence. Life seems permanently asleep in a Midwestern hamlet until two men barge into Stall's diner one night. When Tom tells them it's closing time, he finds himself staring at a drawn gun. Tom emerges the victor, but then the questions begin: How did this unassuming diner owner dispatch the gunmen so effortlessly? Why do more gangsters, led by scar-faced Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris), keep coming for him? Ultimately, though, Cronenberg's drama isn't about western-style heroism; it's about why we're cheering when Tom plugs them dead. Contains extreme violence, sex scenes, nudity and profanity. Area theaters.

-- D.T.

{sstar} JUNEBUG (R, 112 minutes) -- When George (Alessandro Nivola), a Southern transplant to Chicago, brings Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz), his Japanese-born, British-accented new bride, back to his family's North Carolina home for a visit, you'd expect something of a culture clash. What you might not expect is a story that turns gradually from the hilarious to the profoundly moving. At the center of first-time director Phil Morrison's wonderful little fish-out-of-water tale is not Madeleine, but her pregnant sister-in-law, Ashley (Amy Adams), whose humor, simple wisdom and ability to be comfortable in her own skin are the family's -- and the film's -- heart and soul. Contains obscenity and sexual content. Area theaters.

-- M.O.

JUST LIKE HEAVEN (PG-13, 101 minutes) -- All that some filmgoers need to know about this romance is that it features three shots of Mark Ruffalo getting out of the shower. Ruffalo, who has won a following for his roles in such smart movies as "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Collateral," also has carved out a winning sideline as a scruffy, thoroughly charming romantic leading man, in this case the credible love interest for Reese Witherspoon. When David Abbott (Ruffalo) moves into a fantastic San Francisco apartment and is immediately told to move out by its former tenant -- Elizabeth Martinson (Witherspoon), who three months earlier was hit head-on by a truck -- their banter crackles with tart, unforced verve. In a bummer of a bait-and-switch, though, the whimsical romance undergoes a fatal shift in tone, raising troubling end-of-life issues more at home in the pronouncements of Tom DeLay than in a date movie. Contains some sexual content. Area theaters.

-- A.H.

{sstar} KING OF THE CORNER (R, 93 minutes) -- Peter Riegert's 1983 "Local Hero" still holds up as a classic of the fish-out-of-water genre. Riegert is playing an alien again, this time a middle-aged man adrift in his own life. Leo Spivak is a New York marketing consultant who has made a living staging focus groups on products such as spray-on pasta sauce; now in his fifties, he divides his time between his beautiful but distant wife (Isabella Rossellini), his increasingly secretive teenage daughter (Ashley Johnson) and his elderly father, Sol (Eli Wallach), who has moved to an Arizona nursing home. Riegert has developed an appealing, crusty exterior over his native gentleness, and "King of the Corner," which he co-wrote and directed, is a warm, unexpectedly moving portrait of a man on the verge of what could either be a dreadful or delightful second chapter. Contains profanity and sexual references. Landmark's Bethesda Row.

-- A.H.

{sstar} LADIES IN LAVENDER (PG-13, 104 minutes) -- Maggie Smith and Judi Dench give outstanding performances as lonely sisters who nurse an injured young man (Daniel Bruehl) back to health after he washes up on the shore of their Cornish village in this restrained British melodrama about love and letting go. Directed with a sure hand by actor Charles Dance, who clearly knows that the best way to play a scene is often to underplay it, the film never strays into mawkishness, even as it makes palpable the sisters' pain at the memories of love the stranger's presence dredges up and the dignity with which they must ultimately accept what they cannot have. Contains brief crude language. In English, German, Polish and French with some subtitles. Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse.

-- M.O.

LORD OF WAR (R, 122 minutes) -- Surface-to-air missiles, Kalashnikov rifles, hand grenades, bullets: These are the phallic treasures of Andrew Niccol's schizophrenic movie that revels lasciviously in the sins of arms dealing before declaring such activity bad, bad, bad. The weaponry is the stock and trade of Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage), a Ukrainian emigre who is bored and directionless in New York's Little Odessa and realizes that the world operates on bullets almost as much as food. (Warning: American Dream bashing on the way.) He sets himself up as an arms dealer and rises quickly to the top ranks of the international rogue circuit, trying to keep a step ahead of Interpol agent Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke). Yuri has other problems: a trophy wife (Bridget Moynahan) who is in the dark about his job and a brother (Jared Leto, the best thing about the movie) who has discovered the joys of cocaine. Despite its jauntily satirical air, "Lord of War" is never better than dour and smug. Contains strong violence, scenes of drug use, profanity and sexuality. Area theaters.

-- D.T.

MADAGASCAR (PG, 86 minutes) -- The latest offering from DreamWorks Animation SKG, a tale of citified zoo animals who escape to the wilds of Madagascar from the Central Park Zoo, is high in antic energy but low in charm. Voiced with mostly perfunctory delivery by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith, the quartet of, respectively, Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo experience a rude awakening when Alex's carnivorous nature puts their friendships at stake. But the story, which attempts to laugh its way out the fact that some animals eat one another, never really resolves its central conflict, which arises from the inescapable fact that it's a dog-eat-dog world. Contains cartoon violence, some humor centered on excretory functions, a bit of mild vulgar language and thematic material related to the fact that animals eat one another. University Mall Theatres.

-- M.O.

{sstar} MAGNIFICENT DESOLATION: WALKING ON THE MOON 3D (Unrated, 41 minutes) -- The next best thing to going to the moon? Rocketing up there on the Imax screen sporting 3-D eyewear. Narrated by Tom Hanks (also a producer), this gee-wonderful, virtual visit to the arid orb uses ingenious technical sleight of hand to -- let's face it -- fake it beautifully. To create the sensation that we are bounding like gravity-free lambs on the lunar surface with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, director Mark Cowen and crew have culled authentic footage from various kinds of stock -- 16mm, 35 mm and TV Kinescope video -- and blown them up into the 70 mm Imax format. Then, using a combination of computer-generated imagery and live-action reenactments, they've created the illusion we're taking that giant leap for mankind. Contains nothing objectionable. At the National Air and Space Museum.

-- D.T.

THE MAN (PG-13, 84 minutes) -- Eugene Levy is Andy Fidler, a dental appliance salesman who gets caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. In a hackneyed "madcap" mismatching, he finds himself an involuntary partner with ATF agent Derrick Vann (Samuel L. Jackson), who's investigating an illegal arms dealer. Levy's a wonderful comedian, but this script never allows him to be more than a third-rate version of his funnier self. Jackson fares even worse. The scowling and verbal snapping that have long become his trademark feel even more tiresome than usual. Contains violence, profanity. Area theaters.

-- D.T.

{sstar} MARCH OF THE PENGUINS (G, 80 minutes) -- In this charmfest of a movie, narrator Morgan Freeman tells us about the habits and tremendous resilience of the emperor penguins, whose procreation quest takes them on an incredible journey on the frozen continent, where on a good day, the temperature is 58 degrees below zero. We're talking journeys of about 70 miles to the most frigid chunk of land on Earth. The film is full of wonderful moments and spectacles, including thousands of penguins huddled en masse, nursing their eggs. The wind moans (sometimes those gusts are 100 mph) and peppers them with snow. But they hold on to those eggs, which would crack and kill the baby inside if they touch the ground. But when those fluffies are born, you understand why the parents go to all that trouble. Contains penguin slapstick. Area theaters.

-- D.T.

{sstar} THE MEMORY OF A KILLER (Unrated, 128 minutes) -- The premise this production is one of existential heartbreak: An aging hit man suffering the onset of Alzheimer's has an urgent moral score to settle before a dark haze engulfs him forever. Angelo Ledda (Jan Decleir) agrees to perform one last job, a double murder. He takes care of the first, a senior government official. But when he learns about the second -- an abused preteen girl -- the old man grapples with his dwindling recall and tries to find, and kill, those who ordered the girl's death. Adapted from writer Jef Geeraerts's novel, "The Alzheimer Case," Erik Van Looy's film becomes convoluted and creaky in its final sections, but we always have vulnerable tough-guy Angelo to pull us through these straits. Contains nudity, sexual situations, profanity and violence. In Belgian with subtitles. Avalon Theatre.

-- D.T.

{sstar} MR. & MRS. SMITH (PG-13, 112 minutes) -- The premise is admittedly slight: Husband-and-wife hit men (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) are hired to kill each other as bullets and romantic sparks fly. Nevertheless, Pitt and Jolie's monumental charisma, coupled with director Doug Liman's stylishly jaundiced staging, makes this allegory of modern love and marriage a summer diversion that's fast-paced, fun and sexy enough for the multiplex crowd and blackhearted enough for those with a taste for something more acidic. It's a grown-up popcorn movie. Contains obscenity, violence and sexual content. Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse and University Mall Theatres.

-- M.O.

{sstar} MURDERBALL (R, 86 minutes) -- This isn't just the best smash-mouth rugby documentary featuring muscular dudes in wheelchairs ever made. It's also a powerful movie by any standard. Actually, the sport, played on basketball courts, is "quad rugby." Four players per team, most of whom suffered injuries to the spine or neck, roll around in "Road Warrior"-style chariots and throw a ball around. We watch likable Mark Zupan and his national teammates take on the world's best, including Canada -- coached by arch rival Joe Soares, who was so miffed at being cut from the American team, the forty-something behemoth became the Canadian coach. Though the movie follows the American-Canadian rivalry in big clashes at the 2002 World Championship in Sweden and the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, "Murderball" isn't just about sports. It's an emotional visit with some determined young men (and one middle-aged guy in major denial) who refuse to accept limitations in every aspect of their lives. Contains sexual content and frank discussion, sports violence and obscenity. Cineplex Odeon Dupont Circle.

-- D.T.

PROOF (PG-13, 100 minutes) -- Where can movies go that theater can't? Close up, and that's where director John Madden parks his camera as Gwyneth Paltrow fights madness and grief in this adaptation of David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Catherine (Paltrow) is the daughter of a legendary math professor who lost his mind (Anthony Hopkins). Now he's dead, and Catherine is a mess: Does she have his gifts? Is she getting his disease? Is there proof? The story, adapted by Auburn and Rebecca Miller, retains the clever twists and entertaining, logic-driven dialogue of the original. For better and worse, "Proof" is now explicitly a star vehicle, and Paltrow will impress a lot of people. Yet by ruthlessly zooming in on Catherine's morbid obsessions, Madden makes Auburn's probing but lively stage material darker, more cloistered and less fun. Contains drug references, profanity and some sexual content. Area theaters.

-- Nelson Pressley

{sstar} RED EYE (PG-13, 85 minutes) -- Filmmaker Wes Craven's airplane-set thriller -- about a traveler (Rachel McAdams) held hostage by a smooth-talking criminal (Cillian Murphy) -- is taut and supple entertainment, especially when it has nowhere to go but inside the characters' heads. Although it doesn't exactly fall apart in the film's final reel, when the action leaves the plane's cabin for the larger world, it does lose some of the pressure-cooker intensity of the film's first hour. Still, like a venti coffee from the airport Starbucks, the movie's caffeinated enough to keep you awake and on the edge of your seat for pretty much the entire flight. Contains obscenity and violence. AMC Hoffman Center, AMC Tysons Corner and Regal Ballston Common.

-- M.O.

ROLL BOUNCE (PG-13, 107 minutes) -- If you were a junior-higher back in the day, the '70s and early '80s, then your idea of a hot Saturday night was hanging out at the local roller rink, and director Malcolm Lee captures that time, with the insult-a-thons, the preening and posturing of polyester-clad lotharios and the angst of young love. And for the most part, he got the cast right, with rapper Bow Wow as X, a young Chicago teenager with a jones for skating, and the sturdy Chi McBride as his widowed father (though supporting players Khleo Thomas, Rick Gonzalez and Jurnee Smollett prove much stronger, more natural actors than Bow Wow). What Lee doesn't pull off is the story: The film can't get its rhythms right, fluctuating wildly between comedy and pathos. Contains profanity and crude humor. Area theaters.

-- Teresa Wiltz

{sstar} SARABAND (R, 120 minutes) -- August Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, 87, produces another existentially charged gem, bringing back Marianne and Johan (Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson), the embittered couple of his 1974 "Scenes From a Marriage" who had a troubled relationship for 16 years before their divorce. When Marianne breaks a 30-year absence to visit her ex-husband, they learn that time has sharpened their honesty but has also made them more accepting. This maturation yields a bounty of revelations between them until the very last frame. Perhaps it's Bergman saying that time may be running out for all of us, but the heart never stops its desperate ticking. Contains brief nudity, language and a violent image. In Swedish with subtitles. Landmark's Bethesda Row.

-- D.T.

{sstar} SAVING FACE (R, 97 minutes) -- Ambitious doctor Wilhelmina Pang (Michelle Krusiec) and dancer Vivian Shing (Lynn Chen) meet cute but awkward in writer-director Alice Wu's affecting tale of overcoming love's obstacles. Set in the Chinese immigrant community of Flushing, Queens, where Wil, as she's known, faces quiet parental disapproval for her lesbianism -- even as her divorced mother (Joan Chen) is ostracized for getting pregnant by a mystery man -- "Saving Face" isn't really about saving face at all. At heart, what this romantic comedy is really about is showing face, or, in other words, about being who you really are. Contains sexual content, partial nudity and brief obscenity. Cineplex Odeon Dupont Circle.

-- M.O.

SKY HIGH (PG, 99 minutes) -- "Sky High" is a slight but sure-footed, live-action comic fantasy from Disney. Director Mike Mitchell deftly blends two genres -- the high school romance and the special-effects-laden superhero comic book adaptation -- and manages to spoof yet salute both with a refreshing lack of pretension. Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), son of Captain Stronghold (former Disney kid star Kurt Russell in blustering, eye-crinkling form) and Josie Jetstream (Kelly Preston), knows his parents expect him to follow in their world-saving path. Will arrives at Sky High, a school for superheroes' kids, without powers, but that begins to change. The younger actors all avoid ham-acting, and their more seasoned colleagues have fun with the witty material. University Mall Theatres.

-- Jane Horwitz

THE THING ABOUT MY FOLKS (PG-13, 94 minutes) -- Paul Reiser's look at an emotional tiff in an extremely upscale, otherwise mostly problem-free Manhattan family, is treacly and manipulative and, if occasionally funny, more often annoying. Reiser -- writer, star, executive producer -- examines the difficulties stalking the family Kleinman. Ben (Reiser) is a writer who lives in a large, beautiful West Side apartment with wife (Elizabeth Perkins) and daughters. His father, Sam (Peter Falk), shows up one night, much befuddled as his wife of 40 plus years has left. Thus son and dad go on a road trip, ostensibly to investigate a farm house Ben is thinking of buying, and most of the film follows Ben and Sam "bonding." Every character is an idealization, every lesson a homily, every incident preposterous. Contains profanity. Cinema Arts Theatre and AMC Mazza Gallerie.

-- S.H.

TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE (PG, 76 MINUTES) -- The Corpse Bride is indeed dead. Sure, she's cute, but she has a wayward eye that pops out at inopportune moments, thanks to the talking maggot renting space in its socket. Not exactly marriage material, as Victor, voiced by Johnny Depp, discovers when he's dragged from the Land of the Living by the Corpse Bride (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter). Will true love -- with a living lass (voiced by Emily Watson) -- prevail over the Corpse Bride's ferocious determination? The movie is breathtaking viewing, shot in sumptuous shades of blacks, whites and grays, using not computerized means but older-school stop-motion animation. The film is tongue-in-cheek and wry, with kitschy musical numbers. But we can't quite figure out whom the film is intended for: Animated talking maggots does not a kiddie movie make. Contains scary images. Area theaters.

-- T.W.

TRANSPORTER 2 (PG-13, 88 minutes) -- In this lollipop for adolescent, unsocialized males, the lean, crisp Jason Statham reprises his role as Frank Martin, ex-Special Forces, now a specialized "driver" who guarantees that if it absolutely, positively has to be there on time, he will get it there on time. Frank has the no-nonsense demeanor of a Marine gunnery sergeant crossed with Jackie Chan, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood before he had a name. The Transporter is tasked with delivering the son of an anti-drug czar (Matthew Modine) to and from school in Miami. The boy is kidnapped as the fulcrum in an ambitious plot against his daddy, and Frank decides to get him back, even if the Miami police think he's the kidnapper. The fights are all fun -- Statham specializes in kickboxing moves, and the scissors nips and slashes that Hong Kong fight choreographer Corey Yuen has mapped out look fast and deadly. "Transporter 2," though sometimes over the top, isn't a bad piece of candy. Contains some profanity, partial nudity, sexual content and vigorous yet bloodless action sequences. Area theaters.

-- S.H.

UNDERCLASSMAN (PG-13, 95 minutes) -- Pretty early on, we started checking off the cop cliches: young rebel police officer, dearly departed detective dad, cantankerous boss. Baby-faced but streetwise officer (the multi-talented Nick Cannon) goes undercover at a posh prep school, ostensibly to sniff out nefarious activities. All sorts of complications ensue when said cop starts to bond with his high school brethren, played by late twenty-somethings trying to skew young. "Underclassman" has cliches to spare, but it also has Cannon, who produced the film. Even when he's overdoing it in the acting department and cracking a little too wise, he has that indefinable "It" factor that, for a certain segment of the audience, is worth the price of admission. Contains violence and sexual and drug references. Magic Johnson Theater.

-- T.W.

AN UNFINISHED LIFE (PG-13, 100 minutes) -- Robert Redford and Jennifer Lopez are in the open country of gorgeous. A gentle meander of a story about the bad blood between a single mother and her estranged father-in-law, its characters are weighted down by grudges, sorrow and ennui. The authenticity is undone by the stars, who are reprising roles we've seen them play before: Lopez in a slight variation of the ain't-gonna-take-it-no-more abusee from 2002's "Enough"; Redford, again the soft-spoken, craggy stoic; Morgan Freeman as best pal, the wise old salt who gets to the heart of the matter. Enjoy this for the scenery, not the story. Contains some violence, including domestic abuse and profanity. Area theaters.

-- D.T.

VALIANT (G, 76 minutes) -- This World War II-set animated adventure about a plucky carrier pigeon (voice of Ewan McGregor) is proof that it isn't easy to make movies that appeal both to kids and their parents. Too reliant on a knowledge of Nazi history for children, and too short and tepid for the grown-ups who will get the references to old war movies, the movie makes a valiant attempt to be a double agent, but ultimately hasn't figured out who it really wants to work for. Contains some slapstick violence, avian predation and war themes. Majestic Cinema and Manassas Cinema.

-- M.O.

{sstar} WEDDING CRASHERS (R, 119 minutes) -- Jeremy (Vince Vaughn) and John (Owen Wilson) are scoundrels who crash weddings so they can score with women in this often-funny caper. But when they attend a big-time Washington wedding party for the daughter of Secretary of the Treasury William Cleary (Christopher Walken), things change. John falls a little too sincerely for Claire (Rachel McAdams), one of the secretary's daughters. And Jeremy gets in a little over his head with another Cleary daughter, Gloria (Isla Fisher), who soon declares her undying, bunny-boilingly permanent love for Jeremy. Vaughn is definitely the best man in this wedding comedy. As Jeremy, he's a cad and a half who can motormouth like a machine gun, spraying men, women and children with manic, rat-a-tat outbursts of toxic insincerity. It's often dirty, yes. But it's also manic and inspired. Contains nudity, sexual scenes, obscenity and slapstick violence. Area theaters.

-- D.T.

WILD SAFARI 3D (Unrated, 45 minutes) -- Untrue to its name, this Imax tour of some of the most beautiful parks and game preserves in South Africa is pretty tame, harmless but surprisingly thrill-free. It takes viewers on a photographic hunt for Africa's "Big Five." And filmmaker Ben Stassen bags his elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos and cape buffalo, along with a few zebras, giraffes and sundry antelopes thrown in for good measure. Still, the 3D that "Wild Safari" was filmed in proves to be more of a distraction than a benefit in a movie that, while photographed with the same amazing detail and intimacy that has made "March of the Penguins" such a hit, never reaches out to grab viewers, literally or figuratively. Contains a very brief shot of animals doing what comes natural and brief carcass eating. National Museum of Natural History.

-- A.H.

Repertory

AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM/DOWNTOWN -- At the Lockheed Martin Imax Theater: "Fighter Pilot," daily at 11:25, 1:25 and 4. "Magnificent Desolation: Walkling on the Moon (3D)," daily at 10:25, 12:25, 3 and 5. "To Fly!," daily at 2:25. At the Albert Einstein Planetarium: "Infinity Express," Friday, Sunday, Monday and Wednesday at 10:30, 11, 11:30, 12, 12:30, 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3, 3:30, 4, 4:30 and 5; Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30, 11, 11:30, 12, 12:30, 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3, 3:30, 4 and 4:30. "The Stars Tonight," Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday at 5. Seventh and Independence SW. 202-357-1686.

AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM/DULLES -- "Fighter Pilot," daily at 11, 1 and 4. "Space Station," daily at noon, 3 and 5. "To Fly!," daily at 2. 14390 Air and Space Museum Pkwy., Chantilly. 202-357-2700.

AMERICAN CITY DINER -- "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?," Friday at 8. "Play It Again Sam," Saturday at 8. "Scent of a Woman," Sunday at 8. "Gentleman's Agreement," Monday at 8. "Spellbound," Tuesday at 8. "North by Northwest," Wednesday at 8. "Tootsie," Thursday at 8. 5532 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-244-1949.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL FILM Festival -- "Darwin's Nightmare," Thursday at 7:30. National Geographic Society's Grosvenor Auditorium, 1600 M St. NW. 202-857-7700.

ANNE ARUNDEL COMMUNITY College -- "Stripped & Teased: Tales from Las Vegas Women," Thursday at 12:30 p.m. Free. Humanities Building Room 112, 101 College Parkway, Arnold. 410-777-2807.

CINEMA ART BETHESDA -- "Seducing Dr. Lewis," Sunday at 10 a.m. Landmark's Bethesda Row Theatre, 7235 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda. 301-365-3679.

FILMS ON THE HILL -- "Five Graves to Cairo," Wednesday at 7. Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 Seventh St. SE. 202-547-6839.

FREER -- "Mudang: Reconciliation Between the Living and the Dead," Sunday at 2. Free, but tickets required. Meyer Auditorium, 12th Street and Jefferson Drive SW. 202-633-1000.

GOETHE INSTITUT -- "POPaganda: The Art & Crimes of Ron English," Friday at 10:55 p.m. "Sao Paolo, A Metropolitan Symphony," Monday at 6:30. 812 Seventh St. NW. 202-289-1200.

HIRSHHORN -- "4," Thursday at 8. Ring Auditorium. Seventh and Independence SW. 202-633-4674.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS -- "Antonio Gaudi" and "Music for the Movies: Toru Takemitsu," Friday at 7. "Fire Festival=Himatsuri," Monday at 7. "Ran," Tuesday at 6:30. "Onimaru=Arashigaoka," Wednesday at 6:30. "Black Rain=Kuroi ame," Thursday at 7. Free. Mary Pickford Theater, 101 Independence Ave. SE. 202-707-5677.

MARYLAND SCIENCE CENTER -- Imax Theater: "Bugs! (3D)," Friday and Tuesday-Thursday at 12:10; Saturday-Sunday at 11 and 4:30. "Fighter Pilot" and "Hubble," Friday and Tuesday-Thursday at 3:20; Saturday-Sunday at noon, 2:10 and 5:30. "Cirque du Soleil," Friday and Tuesday-Thursday at 2:10 and 4:30; Saturday at 1:10, 3:20 and 6:40; Sunday at 1:10 and 3:20. Davis Planetarium: "Entertaining Einstein," Saturday-Sunday at 2 and 4; Tuesday-Thursday at 1 and 4. "Live From the Sun," Saturday at noon. "The Sky: Live!" Saturday at 3 and 5; Sunday at noon and 3; Tuesday-Thurday at 3. "The Sky Above Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," Saturday-Sunday at 1. 601 Light St., Baltimore. 410-685-5225.

NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART -- "Animation Celebration," Saturday at 10:30 and 11:30 and Sunday at 11:30. "Diva Dolorosa," Saturday at 1. "Detour De Seta," Saturday at 3. "Sparrows," Sunday at 4:30. Free. East Building, Fourth and Constitution NW. 202-737-4215.

NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE -- "Safe," Thursday at 6. Lisner Hill Center Auditorium, Building 38A, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda. 301-496-5389.

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN Art -- "Afroargentinos (Afroargentines)," Sunda at 2. Free. Ripley Center's Lecture Hall, 1100 Jefferson Dr. SW. 202-357-4600.

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE American Indian -- "Los Pueblos Indigenas: This is How We Think" and "Desempolvando Nuestra Historia (Dusting off Our History)," Sunday at 1. "Qamasan Warmi (Woman of Courage)," Sunday at 2. "Los Pueblos Indigenas" and "Qulqi Chaleco (Vest Made of Money)," Sunday at 3. Free. Rasmuson Theater, Fourth Street and Independence Avenue SW. 202-633-1000.

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL History -- Johnson Imax Theater: "Into the Deep (3D)," Friday-Saturday at 10:20, 12:10, 2, 3:50 and 6:40; Sunday-Thursday at 10:20, 12:10, 2 and 3:50. "Wild Safari: A South African Adventure (3D)," Friday-Saturday at 11:10, 1, 2:50, 4:40, 5:40 and 7:30; Sunday-Thursday at 11:10, 1, 2:50 and 4:40. Baird Auditorium: "Skin Deep," Saturday at 10:30. "In Custody," Saturday at 3. "Peace Tree," Sunday at 10:30. "Water," Sunday at 2. 10th and Constitution NW. 202-633-7400.

PSYCHOTRONIC FILM SOCIETY -- "Maniac Cop," Tuesday at 8. Dr. Dremo's Taphouse, 2001 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington. 202-736-1732 or 202-707-2540.

SHEPHERDSTOWN FILM SOCIETY -- "Battle of Algiers," Friday at 7. Free. Shepherd University's Reynolds Hall, King Street, Shepherdstown, W.Va. 304-876-1837.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY -- "Hamlet," Monday at 7:30. Van Bokkelen Hall Auditorium, 8000 York Rd., Towson. 410-704-2787.