Heights

R, 2005, 93 minutes, Columbia Tristar Home Video. Contains strong language, brief sexuality and nudity.

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 at 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.

* Extra: Commentary by Close and the director.

-- Desson Thomson

{sstar} Millions

PG, 2005, 98 minutes, Fox Home Entertainment. Contains mature themes, some peril and sensuality but ultimately nothing too objectionable.

In Danny Boyle's delightful modern fairy tale, two young English brothers discover a bag of money. Anthony, the 9-year-old (Lewis Owen McGibbon), wants to spend it. But 7-year-old Damien (Alexander Nathan Etel), who happens to experience regular visions of saints, insists on giving it to the poor. Witty, sweet and charming but never sappy, the movie joins the heady company of such extraordinary child-centered movies as "The 400 Blows," "My Life as a Dog" and "Au Revoir Les Enfants" ("Goodbye, Children"). In all these films, reality is seen from a young perspective, but there is no condescension in the exercise. A magical movie.

* Extra: Commentary by the director.

-- Michael O'Sullivan

The Perfect Man

PG, 2005, 96 minutes, Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Contains a joke about flatulence and mildly suggestive humor.

Loosely based on a true story, in which a teenage girl courted her own single mother by means of a fictitious suitor the girl had created, "The Perfect Man" is disturbing on many levels. Unfortunately, it doesn't even have the good sense to know how disturbing it is and have a little fun with it. As a result, the fluffy romantic comedy, starring Hilary Duff as the girl, Holly, Heather Locklear as her mother and Chris Noth as Holly's unwitting co-conspirator, is something even worse: creepy and boring.

* Extra: Duff and Locklear talk about their onscreen mother-daughter relationship.

-- Michael O'Sullivan

Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith

PG-13, 2005, 140 minutes, Twentieth Century Fox Home Video. Contains sci-fi violence.

In this final installment of the "Star Wars" mega-ology, we learn about the circumstances that led to the creation of Darth Vader. But this most potentially compelling episode of all is marred by the disappointingly ordinary Hayden Christensen, whose evolution from Anakin Skywalker to the baddest, heavy-breathing villain in sci-fi popular culture amounts to a sort of tizzy fit. It seems he just can't get invited to the inner circle of Jedi knights, run by Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and all, so he joins forces with Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who doubles as the hissable Sith Vicious, uh, Darth Sidious. There are some enjoyable spectacles involving lightsaber battles between Obi-Wan and Anakin. But the whole subplot between Anakin and his wife, Padme (Natalie Portman), is dramatically flat, and the story shows us nothing that we didn't expect.

* Extra: Director George Lucas traces the myth of Darth Vader.

-- Desson Thomson

{sstar} Tropical Malady

Unrated, 2005, 120 minutes, Strand Releasing. Contains nudity, some violence and themes of sensuality. In Thai with subtitles.

Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul pulls you into an otherworldly, enchanting garden of sensuality and mythology, while portraying Thailand's connections to the mystical past and tacky present. Split into two distinct chapters, the strange modern fable starts out as the evolving romance between two Thai men -- Keng (Banlop Lomnoi), a forest patrol soldier, and Tong (Sakda Kaewbuadee), a farmer -- but evolves into something deeper: a film about the atavistic wildness within people. When Keng is dispatched into the jungle to track a mysterious beast that has been attacking and killing local livestock, his mission (in the movie's second half) becomes a mythical journey to the heart of Tong's darkness. And the lurking creature, you realize, in the dream state portion of this challenging, extraordinary movie, might well be the spirit of Tong himself.

* Extra: Commentary by the director and film critic Chuck Stephens.

-- Desson Thomson