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

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. Contains numerous foul-mouthed interpretations of a single filthy joke. Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse.

-- Michael O'Sullivan

{sstar} CAPOTE (R, 98 minutes) -- It is a comical image: fey, mincing, piping little Truman Capote in his vicuna coat and cashmere scarf tiptoeing around the bleak wheat-field burg of Holcomb, Kan., in the wake of some horrific murders about which he admits he doesn't really care. Capote had come to Kansas to investigate the 1959 murders of a wealthy farmer named Clutter and his wife and two kids and to write what became his brilliant "nonfiction novel," "In Cold Blood." As Capote, Philip Seymour Hoffman makes you believe in the man. It's a performance, not an impersonation. The movie makes its points in brief scenes simply composed, without fretwork or flash. Contains violent language and images. Area theaters.

-- Stephen Hunter

{sstar} CHICKEN LITTLE (G, 78 MINUTES) -- Based on the old tale, and the image of ardent, mythological stupidity -- the chicken who thought the sky was falling when an acorn fell on its head -- this computer-animated gee-whizzer takes the story one more crank toward the literal. When the thing hits Chicken Little, it turns out it is a piece of the sky, the sky is falling. The movie then wittily finds a way to morph into a fabulous parody of "War of the Worlds," possibly a bit intense in parts for the smallest of beings. The animators are fabulous and full of mischief, weaving enough ironic amusements into the story for the longer of tooth. Contains scenes that may be too intense for small or easily frightened children. Area theaters.

-- S.H.

{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. 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. Contains sexuality, gore and violence. Loews Tysons.

-- S.H.

DOOM (R, 95 minutes) -- A square-jawed, bull-necked leader named Sarge (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) heads a rapid response team of Marines dispatched to investigate a calamity at a remote scientific facility on Mars. The killer mutants they find there will be familiar to the many fans of the Doom video game. The Rock is an enjoyable presence, not just for his statuesque build but for his occasionally comic moments. But for the most part, "Doom" is a loud, standard-issue sci-fi action film. Contains profanity and intense violence. Area theaters.

-- D.T.

{sstar} DREAMER: INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY (PG, 98 minutes) -- This horse-race drama, in which young Cale Crane (Dakota Fanning) nurses a wounded horse back to racing shape, harnesses the Rules of Cute and Fuzzy Horse Movies and rides them all the way to the Breeders' Cup. But will her formerly hobbled horse win, despite the terrible odds, when Cale has staked all her hopes and dreams into that special horse (named Dreamer)? Writer-director John Gatins and his actors fulfill the engaging-family requirement. This is a family to root for, as much as the horse. Contains mild profanity and a disturbing horse injury. Area theaters.

-- D.T.

{sstar} THE DYING GAUL (R, 101 MINUTES) -- This stylish, nervy, neo-noir thriller boasts a cast to die for -- Campbell Scott, Patricia Clarkson, Peter Sarsgaard -- in a minor-key chamber piece about a Hollywood producer (Scott), his screenwriter wife (Clarkson) and an aspiring young filmmaker (Sarsgaard) who comes into their lives and changes them forever. The movie is a small, self-contained gem of incisive writing, superb acting and rich, expressive visuals. Contains strong sexual content and profanity. Avalon and Landmark's E Street Cinema.

-- Ann Hornaday

ELIZABETHTOWN (PG-13, 123 minutes) -- Cameron Crowe's misfired romance features Orlando Bloom as shoe designer Drew Baylor, whose latest creation has led to his firing, and Kristen Dunst as life-affirmative flight attendant Claire, who meets him on the plane he has to take to Elizabethtown, Ky. His father, while visiting his home town, just died there. It's Drew's duty to deal with the body and make nice with his estranged Southern relatives. Claire gives him driving directions to Elizabethtown and that other destination: her big, home-fried heart. There's not much specialness between Bloom and Dunst. Sweet delay before the inevitable coupling is a mainstay in every romance, but Crowe turns that delay into the waiting room from hell. Contains profanity and some sexual references. Loews Tysons, National Amusements Fairfax and Regal Countryside Stadium.

-- D.T.

FLIGHTPLAN (PG-13, 88 minutes) -- In "Flightplan," a 6-year-old girl vanishes on a jumbo jet, 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 projects strength and vulnerability in equal measure. Striking just the right balance between claustrophobia and terrifying emptiness, 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

THE FOG (PG-13, 100 MINUTES) -- There may be more narrative explanation and higher-priced special effects in this remake of horrormeister John Carpenter's 1980 ghost story, but there are far fewer chills, plenty of dead spots and some genuinely bad acting. An island community off the Oregon coast plans to honor its founding fathers with the unveiling of a statue. Not so fast, though. A boatload of vengeful 19th-century spirits rises from the sea and moves upon the place in a roiling, spectral, insidious fog that picks and chooses where it will seep, engulf and kill. Only Selma Blair as the island's chatty radio DJ brings zip to the proceedings. Contains stabbings, drownings, people on fire, pierced by glass shards, or just plain disintegrating. It also includes an understated sexual situation and some profanity. Area theaters.

-- Jane Horwitz

{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. Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse and Universal Mall Theatres.

-- 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). 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. Contains language, sexuality and brief violence. Magic Johnson Theater.

-- A.H.

{sstar} GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK (PG-13, 93 minutes) -- George Clooney, who directed (as well as co-wrote), retells the classic story of crusading journalist Ed Murrow, who stood up to braying political bully Joe McCarthy. The stylizations of '50s TV drama, including black-and-white cinematography, are terrific. Clooney casts himself as Murrow's producer, Fred W. Friendly, but hardly registers. Neither do any of the other CBS minions. Only two people register, David Strathairn as Murrow and Joe McCarthy as Joe McCarthy. (The red-baiting senator from Wisconsin is shown in archival footage.) Strathairn's Murrow dominates the movie with furious intelligence, guts, will and nobility. It's a pleasure to sit through something this brisk and mesmerizing. Contains psychological intensity and mild profanity. Area theaters.

-- S.H.

GOSPEL (PG, 105 minutes) -- David Taylor (Boris Kodjoe), a successful, egotistical R&B star, returns to his estranged father, the Rev. Fred Taylor (Clifton Powell), to find him suffering from a terminal illness. Not only that, David's longtime enemy Frank (Idris Elba) is poised to assume the bishop's duties. Should David return to his music life or deal with more urgent matters? Intended for gospel- and faith-appreciating audiences, this is a movie about the struggles for virtuousness in a world of temptation and compromise. Unfortunately, Rob Hardy's writing and directing don't soar quite as high as his spiritual intentions. Contains suggestive themes of sexuality and mild profanity. Area theaters.

-- D.T.

THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED (PG, 120 minutes) -- The story was so strong, you wonder, why did the director, actor Bill Paxton, kill it to death and then wrap a four-iron around the corpse's neck with so many overwrought stratagems? Did we have to ride every putt into the hole courtesy of computer imagery in his re-creation of the 1913 U.S. Open? Whether or not you agree that young amateur Francis Ouimet's playoff win in that event over two stalwart British pros, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, was the greatest game ever played, you have to say it was extraordinary. But Paxton can't let the superb performances (by Shia LaBeouf as Ouimet and Stephen Dillane as Vardon) carry the story. Everything is teased, tricked and forced. Contains some brief cursing. University Mall Theatres.

-- S.H.

{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. Majestic Cinema, University Mall Theatres and Regal Gallery Place.

-- D.T.

IN HER SHOES (PG-13, 131 minutes) -- Curtis Hanson's movie about two sisters may be one better than "chick lit," but it's about two worse than drama. In a pedestrian display of opposites, Rose (Toni Colette) has a law firm career, money and smarts but few men. Party girl Maggie (Cameron Diaz) lands the guys but always ends up drunk, penniless and miserable on Rose's sofa. When Maggie casually steals Rose's smooth-operator boss, Jim (Richard Burgi), sisterly tension becomes official breakup. The women branch off into self-discovery subplots. Maggie buses to Florida to confront (and cadge money from) estranged grandmother Ella (Shirley MacLaine). Rose quits her job, walks dogs and realizes former co-worker Simon (Mark Feuerstein) may be Mr. Right. When the sisters meet again, it's not a harmonic convergence. It's just the end of 131 minutes. Contains thematically disturbing material, language and some sexual content. Area theaters.

-- D.T.

JARHEAD (R, 120 MINUTES) -- Set in 1991 during the first Gulf War, this movie is a kind of lightweight variation on Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket," with its evocation of the institution known as the U.S. Marine Corps, its love of the profane poetry of sergeants and the bond felt by young men locked in a common ordeal. But it's not quite a war movie because the author of the book on which it's based, Anthony Swofford, didn't quite fight in a war. What is left is a portrait of Swofford and his band of gyrene brothers, wandering haplessly around what seems to be the world's biggest Christo project, looking for action while trying to overcome the soldier's truest enemy, ennui. Jake Gyllenhaal plays "Swoff," as he's called, and what's so good about the movie is Gyllenhaal's refusal to show off; he doesn't seem jealous of the camera's attention when it goes to others and is content, for long stretches, to serve simply as a prism though which other young men can be observed. The movie doesn't hate the corps or the war or the politicians who invented it. So it doesn't have the furious intensity of "Full Metal Jacket" or other screeds, even if it bears an anthropological resemblance. Contains profanity and violence. Area theaters.

-- S.H.

JUST LIKE HEAVEN (PG-13, 101 minutes) -- When David Abbott (Mark Ruffalo) moves into a fantastic San Francisco apartment and is immediately told to move out by its former tenant -- Elizabeth Martinson (Reese 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. University Mall Theatres.

-- A.H.

THE LEGEND OF ZORRO (PG, 130 minutes) -- Proudly flourishing the Z that stands for "zonked," "The Legend of Zero" -- er, "Zorro" -- is dumb like a lox. It's seven years since the original "Mask of Zorro" made Catherine Zeta-Jones a star and Hollywood royalty in the same breath, and nobody connected with this film -- including Zeta-Jones, Antonio Banderas and director Martin Campbell -- really wants to revisit the initial triumph. So they don't. They pretend to make a Zorro film, when they're really making what feels like a sequel to the dreadful big-screen version of "The Wild, Wild West." Where's Agent Jim West when you need him? Surely, it's more his part of the forest than Zorro's to stop a mega-conspiracy plot to sunder the United States into Civil War. There's just a nonsense plot and too many action sequences of no consequence. Contains profanity and scenes of violence. Area theaters.

-- S.H.

{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. Contains penguin slapstick. Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse and University Mall Theatres.

-- D.T.

{sstar} NINE LIVES (R, 115 minutes) -- Writer-director Rodrigo Garcia's new film finds nine women in extremis, all facing various versions of mortality. In tight, sharply written scenes -- each a continuous take lasting between 10 and 14 minutes -- they come to terms with death, loss, connection and continuity. The moments that Garcia has chosen to observe are unforgettable, the women -- played by an ensemble of actresses at the top of their respective games -- indelible. The beauty of "Nine Lives" is that its occasionally overlapping stories feel entirely unforced. Contains profanity, brief sexual content and some disturbing images. Cineplex Odeon Dupont Circle.

-- A.H.

{sstar} NORTH COUNTRY (R, 130 minutes) -- Charlize Theron, as a fictionalized version of the first woman to file a sexual harassment lawsuit in the United States, proves her acting chops yet again in an engrossing, well-crafted story of a grave injustice avenged. Based on a real-life 1984 case in which Lois Jenson sued her employer, a Minnesota mining company, this drama tells the story of Josey Aimes (Theron), a young woman who flees an abusive marriage with two kids in tow, arriving on her parents' doorstep in Minnesota's bleak Mesabi Iron Range. At the encouragement of a friend (Frances McDormand), Josey gets a well-paid job at one of the mines, which have only recently begun to hire women. There, the women are routinely groped, verbally abused and physically threatened, culminating, in Josey's case, in a near-rape on a pile of taconite. Director Niki Caro's depiction of the unspoken tribal codes that hold an insular community together and the severe price of transgressing them is observant, even elegant. Contains profanity, sequences involving sexual harassment, including violence and disturbing dialogue. Area theaters.

-- A.H.

PARADISE NOW (UNRATED, 94 MINUTES) -- This movie takes you behind the terrible curtain of terrorism to find, not too surprisingly, that human beings live there, not necessarily gimlet-eyed extremists. Wisely, Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad doesn't delve too deeply into the political oppression his fellow countrymen feel under Israeli occupation. He focuses instead on the humanity of two likable West Bank auto mechanics, Said (Kais Nashef) and Khaled (Ali Suliman), who are informed, with only 24 hours' notice, that God has chosen them to obliterate themselves and as many bystanders as they can take with them. Their mission is assigned with such religious reverence -- everyone believes the men are headed directly for paradise -- the would-be bombers are hard-pressed to think of their fate as anything but glorious. The audience is lured into discomforting empathy for Said and Khaled, especially when things start going horribly awry. Contains intense thematic material and suspense. In Arabic and Hebrew with subtitles. Area theaters.

-- D.T.

{sstar} PRIME (PG-13, 105 minutes) -- This romance, starring Meryl Streep, Uma Thurman and Bryan Greenberg, follows a familiar boy-meets-girl scenario, but filmmaker Ben Younger turns the routine into combustible fun. That's why, for instance, the two lovers in our story are the thirty-something Rafi (Thurman) and the 23-year-old David (Greenberg). It's also why Rafi talks openly about her romantic issues with a therapist, Lisa (Streep), who happens to be David's very devout Jewish mom and would disapprove of this union with an older shiksa. Neither woman makes the David connection for a while, and that's uncomfortably amusing enough. But when Lisa finds out and insists on continuing the sessions (while Rafi remains in the dark), the movie really becomes "Prime." Contains sexual scenes and profanity. Area theaters.

-- 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. AMC Tysons Corner and the Avalon.

-- Nelson Pressley

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. 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. Magic Johnson Theater.

-- Teresa Wiltz

SAW II (R, 91 minutes) -- We have eight folks trapped inside a grim house, all raging at one another as if this is some reality TV show gone criminally insane. They must negotiate their way through deadly booby traps to get out -- all this before they succumb to the noxious gas flowing through the vents. Their only escape clues come from prerecorded tapes made by the bass-voiced Jigsaw, who gamely suggests they collaborate. Their only hope from the outside comes from detective Eric Mason (Donnie Wahlberg). The most horrifying moment is when you realize things have been set up for another sequel. Contains grisly violence and gore, terror, language and drug references. Area theaters.

-- D.T.

{sstar} SERENITY (PG-13, 119 minutes) -- When Joss Whedon's imaginative sci-fi series, "Firefly," was canceled, fans went into deep mourning. But thanks to their enthusiastic snapping up of the show's DVDs, Universal ponied up $40 million for "Serenity," a movie version that brings back Capt. Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and his lovable, outer-space mercenaries. In the retelling, writer-director Whedon has boiled off a lot of the complexity and introduced a new character, the ruthless Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor), an agent for the evil Alliance, the Big-Brotherish federal government that runs Mal's galaxy. The result is a sort of amphetamine-fueled reprise, designed to give fans their sentimental jolt but also drum up new devotees. It's entertaining, especially because of Mal's colorful followers and Whedon's snappy, witty and often poignant pen. Contains sci-fi violence, sexual situations and profanity. Regal Fairfax Town Center.

-- D.T.

SHOPGIRL (R, 105 minutes) -- Deft but slight, the new Steve Martin film is a case of precise observation of nothing. From his own screenplay, based on his own novella, the movie watches listlessly as old rich guy Ray Porter (Martin) begins a pointless, clearly doomed affair with shopgirl Mirabelle Buttersfield (Claire Danes), who sells gloves at Saks in Beverly Hills. Slight age diff: He's fifty-something, she's twenty-something. Is this harmless or a species of child abuse? On this issue the movie is silent. It's a film concerned with cool surfaces. It's hip, it's now, it's happening, it's dull. The movie never explains the nature of this relationship. Contains nudity and sexual suggestion. Area theaters.

-- S.H.

{sstar}THE SQUID AND THE WHALE (R, 81 MINUTES) -- Set in Brooklyn 1986, this movie is piercing and forthright. When Bernard (Jeff Daniels) and Joan (Laura Linney) Berkman inform their children, 16-year-old Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) and 12-year-old Frank (Owen Kline), they're getting a divorce, it's the beginning of an emotional whirlwind for four very different people. Bernard shacks up with a student (Anna Paquin). Joan dates an eccentric tennis instructor (William Baldwin). The children have their share of issues, too. The movie is so brutally honest at times, you can almost sense the real Baumbachs squirming. Whatever their reaction, this story doesn't just belong to them anymore. This richly observed, sometimes heartbreaking movie has become ours, too. Contains strong sexual content and graphic profanity. Area theaters.

-- D.T.

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. 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. The film is tongue-in-cheek and wry. 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. Loews Tysons, Regal Ballston Common and Regal Countryside.

-- T.W.

{sstar} USHPIZIN (PG, 90 minutes) -- Ushpizin is Hebrew for "visitors," specifically friends and strangers who may need shelter and sustenance during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. That week-long autumn festival is the setting for this comic drama, about an Orthodox rabbi named Moshe (Shuli Rand) who lives with his wife, Malli (Michal Bat-Sheva Rand), in Jerusalem. The couple is just scraping by while they pray for a son. By twists of fate and faith, their prayers are answered -- sort of -- in the form of two unexpected visitors. The film offers a warm, intimate glimpse of Orthodox Jewish life. As a profession of faith, "Ushpizin" ends on a somewhat troubling proselytizing note, but as a portrayal of an invisible culture, it's an important cinematic milestone. Contains mild thematic elements. In Hebrew with subtitles. Landmark's Bethesda Row, AMC Courthouse and Cineplex Odeon Dupont Circle.

-- A.H.

{sstar} WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT (G, 85 minutes) -- Directed by animators Nick Park and Steve Box, the feature film debut of Wallace and Gromit opens with the dotty English inventor and his quietly superior dog working at yet another ingenious business called Anti-Pesto, which humanely removes four-legged creatures from their town's vegetable gardens. Things are just swell until one of Wallace's schemes goes awry, and the gardens are soon being vandalized by the King Kong of rabbits. Gromit, who might be the most expressive silent movie star since Buster Keaton, is pure magic. Contains nothing objectionable. Area theaters.

-- A.H.

{sstar} THE WEATHER MAN (R, 100 minutes) -- Imagine a newborn taking in that first gasp of air, his terrified eyes trying to absorb the glare of the delivery room lights. That is precisely the expression in Dave Spritz's eyes, whether he's calling the weather or trying to make sense of his disastrous personal life. Dave (Nicolas Cage) may be an adult, but, existentially speaking, this guy's in diapers. Delivering the forecast in the Windy City means a lot of high-spirited patter about the degrees of misery Chicagoans can expect each day. Dave's value as a celebrity is brought into stark relief on the street. Everybody, it seems, either wants to pester him for predictions or toss fast food projectiles at him. The film shines the light on a special kind of heroism -- the guts to face up to yourself and make changes. Contains relentless profanity and nudity. Area theaters

-- D.T.

{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. Contains nudity, sexual scenes, obscenity and slapstick violence. Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse and University Mall Theatres.

-- D.T.


AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM/Downtown -- At the Lockheed Martin Imax Theater: "Fighter Pilot," daily at 11:25, 1:25 and 4. "Magnificent Desolation: Walking 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 (3D)," daily at noon, 3 and 5. "To Fly!," daily at 2. 14390 Air and Space Museum Pkwy., Chantilly. 202-357-2700.

AMERICAN CITY DINER -- "Open Water," Friday at 8. "Pulp Fiction," Saturday at 8. "Anatomy of a Murder," Sunday at 8. "All About Eve," Monday at 8. "Body Heat," Tuesday at 8. "Bonnie & Clyde," Wednesday at 8. "A Perfect Murder," Thursday at 8. 5532 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-244-1949.

ARLINGTON PLANETARIUM -- "Our Place in Space," Friday and Saturday at 7:30; Sunday at 1:30 and 3. 1426 N. Quincy St., Arlington. 703-228-6070.

CHARLES THEATRE -- "Wild Strawberries," Saturday at noon, Monday at 7 and Thursday at 9. 1711 N. Charles St., Baltimore. 410-727-3456.

DC ANIME CLUB -- "Black Heaven," "Samurai Deeper Kyo" and "Full Metal Panic," Saturday at 1. Martin Luther King Library, Room A9, 901 G St. NW. 202-582-2492.

DOCS IN PROGRESS -- "Yale Russian Chorus" and "We Came to Remember," Wednesday at 7. GWU's Media and Public Affairs Building, Jack Morton Auditorium, 805 21st St. NW. 240-505-8696.


At the AFI Silver Theatre (8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring; 301-495-6720): "Zozo," Friday at 6:30 and Saturday at 2:10, followed by a reception. "Consequences of Love [Le Consequenze dell'Amore]," Friday at 9 and Saturday at 9:45. "Aftermath [Lad de sma born]," Saturday at 12:05 and Thursday at 6:20. "Johanna," Saturday at 4:25 and Tuesday at 9:40. "Sophie Scholl: The Last Days (Sophie Scholl: Die Letzten Tage)," Saturday at 6:15 (followed by a reception) and Monday at 8:35. "Innocence," Saturday at 9:05. "Dog Nail Clipper (Koirankynnen Leikkaaja)," Sunday at 12:20 and Wednesday at 6:30. "El Perro Negro: Stories From the Spanish Civil War," Sunday at 1 and Monday at 6:45. "My Nikifor (Moj Nikifor)," Sunday at 2:50 and Tuesday at 7. "Gilles' Wife (La Femme de Gilles)," Sunday at 5. "Fallen (Krisana)," Sunday at 9:15. "Kim Novak Never Swims in Genesaret's Lake (Kim Novak badade aldrig i Genesarets sjo)," Wednesday at 8:35. "Unconscious (Inconscientes)," Thursday at 8:30. "The Wedding Party (Die Bluthochzeit)," Thursday at 9:40.

At the Goethe Institut (812 Seventh St. NW; 202-289-1200): Eight short films from various EU nations, Thursday at 6:30.

FREER -- "The Herd," Sunday at 2. Free, but tickets required. Meyer Auditorium, 12th Street and Jefferson Drive SW. 202-633-1000.

GOETHE INSTITUT -- "The Age of Innocence," Monday at 6:30. 812 Seventh St. NW. 202-289-1200.


For tickets and information, call 301-507-6581.

P&G Old Greenbelt Theater (129 Centerway; 301-474-9745): "A Very Long Engagement," Friday at 1:30. "Festival Express," Sunday at noon and 2.

Municipal Building (25 Crescent Rd.; 301-474-8000): "Bright Leaves," Saturday at noon. Local short films, Saturday at 2 and 4, Sunday at noon. "Exploding the Screen," Saturday at 7. Best of the 48 Hour Film Project, Saturday at 10. "Day of the Wacko," Sunday at 2. "The Same River Twice," Sunday at 4.

Greenbelt Arts Center (123 Centerway; 301-441-8770): "The Same River Twice," Friday at noon. "The Swenkas," Friday at 2. Local short films, Friday at 4. "Exploding the Frame," Friday at 6. "The Studio," Friday at 8 and Saturday at 6. "Day of the Wacko," Friday at 10 and Saturday at 8. "Darwin's Nightmare," Saturday at noon and Sunday at 2. "Living in Oblivion," Saturday at 2 and 10. "Bright Leaves," Saturday at 4 and Sunday at noon. Best of the 48 Hour Film Project, Sunday at 4.

Greenbelt Library (11 Crescent Rd.; 301-345-5800): "Our Daily Bread" and "The City," introduced by librarian Kent Moore, Saturday at noon. "Alice and Oswald" and local children's animated short films, Saturday at 2:15.

GREENBERG THEATER -- "The 11th Day," Friday at 3, 5:30 and 8. 4200 Massachusetts Ave. NW. 800-791-2858.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS -- "Salsa," Monday at 7. "Dead Reckoning," Tuesday at 7. "Serpico," 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," Friday and Tuesday-Thursday at 1 and 4; Saturday-Sunday at 2 and 4. "Live From the Sun," Saturday at noon. "The Sky: Live!" Friday and Tuesday-Thursday at 3; Saturday at 3 and 5; Sunday at noon and 3. "The Sky Above Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," Saturday-Sunday at 1. 601 Light St., Baltimore. 410-685-5225.

NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART -- "Other People's Pictures," Friday and Saturday at 12:30. "Valparaiso mi amor" and " . . . A Valpariso," Saturday at 2. "Palomita blanca," Sunday at 4. "Winslow Homer: The Nature of the Artist," Wednesday and Thursday at 12:30. Free. East Building, Fourth and Constitution NW. 202-737-4215.

NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE -- Short historical medical films, 1920-1970, Thursday at 6. Lister Hill Center Auditorium, Building 38A, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda. 301-496-5389.

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN -- "War Code: Navajo" and "Navajo Women Warriors: Sani Dez-Bah," Friday at noon. "Forgotten Warriors," Friday at 1. 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. 10th and Constitution NW. 202-633-7400.

PSYCHOTRONIC FILM SOCIETY -- "The Eternal Evil of Asia," Tuesday at 8. Dr. Dremo's Taphouse, 2001 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington. 202-736-1732 or 202-707-2540.

SHEPHERDSTOWN FILM SOCIETY -- "Life on Earth," Friday at 7 p.m. Free. Shepherd University's Reynolds Hall, King Street, Shepherdstown, W.Va. 304-876-1837.

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