December 18, 2002

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film

Film listings are edited by Cheryl Eddy. Reviewers are Robert Avila, Meryl Cohen, David Fear, Dina Gachman, Susan Gerhard, Dennis Harvey, Johnny Ray Huston, Patrick Macias, and Chuck Stephens. See Rep Clock and Movie Clock for theater information.

Opening

About Schmidt See "Wheezy rider" (2:04) California, Presidio.

*Adaptation See "Double Trouble" (1:52) 1000 Van Ness, Metreon, Shattuck.

Antwone Fisher Moviegoers have little patience for melodrama these days, but the rules governing realistic plot lines must obviously be modified when the film in question is based on a true account. Take the story of Antwone Fisher, written by the title character about his own life. See, all those terrible things really did happen to him, one after the other, and he really did triumph over all that adversity to end up happy and accomplished. So there's no foundation for the complaint that his story is unrealistic, or sentimental, or downright sappy. Perhaps Denzel Washington chose this script to be his directorial debut because he thought audiences (and critics), disarmed of the long-cultivated cynicism they consistently carry into the theater, might simply be uplifted by an inspiring tale of survival in the face of tremendous obstacles, and of the power of human kindness. Or maybe he just has a thing for sap. (2:00) Metreon. (Cohen)

Gangs of New York See "Meaner Streets." (2:57) Century Plaza, Century 20, Jack London, Oaks.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Last year's Fellowship of the Ring seemed to have done everything right, thus pleasing mass audiences and millions of J.R.R. Tolkien armchair historians. With the follow-up, The Two Towers, director Peter Jackson and his collaborators again hit the bull's-eye when they adhere to the original source material. The melodious sound of dialogue ripped verbatim from the page is unmistakable, especially when contrasted to new cringe-worthy "comic relief" lines supplied to Gimli the Dwarf (John Rhys-Davies). But the quest becomes perilous whenever the filmmakers stray from Tolkien's path (the main blame falls on a time-wasting love triangle between king-to-be Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), his elvish paramour Arwen (Liv Tyler), and newcomer Lady Éowyn (Miranda Otto); also, Tolkien's own double whammy climax is absent). Still, the cast continues to carry all of this potentially Monty Python and the Holy Grail material with enormous dignity. The CGI-created Gollum mines emotional depths where no pixel has gone before. The production design continues to be utterly mind-blowing in its conception and realization. And Towers' heroic depiction of the battle of Helm's Deep and the subsequent flooding of Isengard make for outrageously orgasmic fantasy-movie moments. (2:59) Century Plaza, Century 20, Empire, Grand Lake, Jack London, Orinda. (Macias)

On Guard Director Philippe de Broca (Cartouche, Le Cavaleur) is back in swashbuckler territory with this story of romance, heroism, and swordfights in France in the 1700s. Feisty Lagardere (Daniel Auteuil), an orphan who was raised by fencing instructors, strikes up a friendship with the wealthy Duke of Nevers (Vincent Perez) and quickly becomes his bodyguard and trusted friend. When Nevers finds out the woman he loves has had his child, he rushes out to marry her, Lagardere at his side. But royalty has its downfalls: Nevers's corrupt cousin wants his woman and his wealth, so he kills him. The infant heir ends up in Lagardere's arms; he raises the child and swears to restore her to her title. On Guard overflows with suspense and intrigue and sex – and who doesn't love to watch a good swordfight? (2:08) Lumiere. (Gachman)

Two Weeks Notice Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant have a love-hate relationship as attorney and client in this romantic comedy. (1:40) Century Plaza, Century 20, Grand Lake, Oaks.

The Wild Thornberrys Movie See Critic's Choice. (1:19) Century Plaza, Century 20, Jack London, Shattuck.

Ongoing

Analyze That When we left neurotic psychiatrist Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal), he was treating notorious mob boss Paul Vitti (Robert DeNiro) for his unresolved childhood issues. Two years later, the incarcerated gangster has regressed to a full-blown infantile state (symptoms include shameless mugging to the camera) after an attempt on his life, and Sobel has to take Vitti into his home to treat him. Will he drive the good doctor and his long-suffering wife crazy? Is Vitti really nutso, or just faking it to get out of prison? Does it matter past an excuse to play up tired mensch-in-the-mafia shtick? This sequel to the surprise 1999 hit delivers more of the blandly same: DeNiro still descends into game self-parody, Crystal still grates with smugness, Lisa Kudrow reminds us she could be this generation's Jean Arthur if given half a chance, and jokes that "worked" the first time are recycled ad nauseam. Unless you like your comedy toothless and sitcom-sanctioned, you might just want to fuhgeddaboudit. (1:35) California, Jack London, Kabuki, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness, Orinda. (Fear)

Ararat (1:55) Embarcadero.

*Bloody Sunday It started out as a "peaceful march against internment;" it ended up with thirteen dead and turned a town in Northern Ireland into ground zero for "the Troubles." That early morning massacre in Derry on January 30, 1972, has been memorialized in books and song, but it's filmmaker Paul Greengrass's gut-wrenching recreation of the day of infamy that truly captures the sheer horror of the tragedy. Focusing on the events leading up to the shooting of Irish demonstrators and its aftermath, Bloody Sunday incorporates the viewpoints of MP-activist Ivan Cooper (James Nesbitt), nervous soldiers, one of the victims, and several British army commanding officers to present a multi-sided, fragmented perspective. The film's gritty you-are-there verite camera work begs comparisons to The Battle of Algiers, but it's the sequential fade-outs that reduce everything to elements of a nightmarish waking dream, bypassing sensationalism and sentimentality for a dread-filled march towards the inevitability of history. (1:40) Four Star. (Fear)

*Bowling for Columbine In Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore attempts to find out why, exactly, America is so very homicidal. What's so powerful about the film, a truly intelligent departure from the somber stranglehold of the Sept. 11 era on the topic of What's Wrong with America, is what's so powerful about all of Moore's films: his use of location, the comic mise-en-scène that one couldn't dream up in a studio setting, the "reality" of our reality that is truly too strange for words. I mean, after all this time, Who lets this guy in? The camera rolls as Moore makes pit stops that turn into filmmaking coups; by the time the interviews are over, those catch-phrase historic events that had been reduced to very singular meanings – "Columbine," "Oklahoma City," "9/11" – are reinvented as the truly terrible, complex situations they were. Ours is a population easily herded, a fact Moore enjoys as he revisits some of the old ghosts of media frenzy: those "Africanized killer bees" that never arrived, the razored apples poised to kill children on Halloween. Should a country this hyped up on fear be armed? That question is easy. The bigger one – Why are we so afraid? – is largely unanswerable. What's new for Moore is taking on a question so sticky in a time so angry in a country so thought-controlled. (1:59) Act I and II, Embarcadero, Piedmont. (Gerhard)

Captain Pantoja and the Special Services (1:58) Galaxy.

Children of the Century In Diane Kurys's delayed (it's three years old) but still breathless Children of the Century, Gallic scribe George Sand (Juliette Binoche) is already a scandalous success at age 29, six-years-younger Alfred de Musset (Benoît Magimel) an aspiring one when they meet in post-Napoleonic 1832. After demonstrating some foppish wit, he abruptly intones, "Something terrible is happening – I want to kiss you!" Then, naturally, their mouths run like spring brooks over the ripe hillsides of their fine young bodies. Sand soon discovers that the unconcerned de Musset is not just a boho brat and bore, but also a slut. Inevitable tragedy ends matters on a melancholy freeze-frame amid autumnal leaves. Kurys (Peppermint Soda, A Man in Love) tries her best here, but you can sense her doubt that no amount of pseudohearty fucking, pretty pictures, or tantrum sequences can fully exorcise the specter of kitsch. Lensed (by Emir Kusturica's cinematographer Vilko Filac) and costumed (by Christian Lacroix, no less) on "heritage" locations, the movie is equal parts plush and gush. The latter comes largely in a script unafraid to have characters say things like "A moth has a fine life. Just a few days of dancing – they're right to burn!" when perhaps it should be afraid, very afraid indeed. (1:57) Opera Plaza, Rafael. (Harvey)

*Comedian (1:22) Opera Plaza.

El crimen del Padre Amaro Based on an 1875 novel by Portugese author José María Eça de Queiroz, though updated to present-day Veracruz by scenarist Vicente Leñero, the story tallies an almost Sadean checklist of sins, hypocrisies, and abuses, mostly piled by the powerful and purportedly pious on the poor and helpless. Newly ordained young Padre Amaro (Gael García Bernal) arrives in Los Reyes, where he's introduced to its longtime chief papal representative Padre Benito (Sancho Gracia). Amaro soon learns to disdain the older priest's secret affair with café owner Sanjuanera (Angélica Aragón), not to mention Benito's money-laundering for drug kingpin Chato Aguilar (Juan Ignacio Aranda). Amaro is in no position to protest overmuch once he's commenced his own course of horizontal worship with Sanjuanera's nubile young daughter Amelia (Ana Claudia Talancón). Before things have run their course, abortion, murder, alcoholism, blackmail, and plenty of plain old fibbing have joined the story's list of confessable behaviors. How seriously you can take these two hours' histrionics will depend on your own relationship with papal authority. If, deep down, you do now or have ever believed they're somehow above ordinary human failing, then maybe El crimen del Padre Amaro's billing as "one of the most controversial films ever made" will resound as something more than hype. (1:48) California, Embarcadero. (Harvey)

*Daughter from Danang The first war to be fought in America's living-room TV sets is still being dissected there, where archival footage is showing one era's proudest moments to be another era's sickest jokes. Mining the libraries of the major networks, Bay Area filmmakers Gail Dolgin and Vicente Franco came up with the goods, evidence of American imperialistic hubris at work, through footage of "Operation Babylift," Gerald Ford's 1975 P.R. move to put a happy face on the sinister end of the Vietnam War. Orphaned Vietnamese children were supposedly being "rescued" by this effort, but many of the children weren't orphans: their parents had been coerced into sending them away. Dolgin and Franco's surprising doc intercuts old newscasts with the present-time story of one of those children – Heidi Bub, now a fully assimilated American living in the South with her military husband – going on a trip to reunite with her birth mom. The journey across cultures and through time turns out to be studded with land mines, leaving viewers knee-deep in emotional wreckage. (1:21) Balboa. (Gerhard)

Die Another Day (2:12) Century Plaza, Century 20, Jack London, Kabuki, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness.

*Drumline With locker room beat-boxing, choreographed stepshows, and a wall-to-wall soundtrack that includes everything from "Flight of the Bumblebee" to Trick Daddy, Charles Stone III's Drumline appropriates the formula of Spike Lee's School Daze and cranks it up – and, to quote the main character Devon (Nick Cannon), this flick's "tighter than Spandex." Devon, a talented drummer from Harlem, lands a scholarship at a Southern university and expects to lead its marching band's drumline. Yet Devon's ambitions are hampered by a band director (Orlando Jones) with a baton up his ass who runs a tight ship and doesn't allow for any showboatin'. Throughout, the enjoyable Drumline is packed with show-style school band razzle dazzle, the type that makes a whole stadium get crunk. (1:59) Jack London, Kabuki, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness. (Rachel Swan)

*8 Mile Eminem's stab at big-screen stardom may hew closer to Purple Rain than any of his jokey, off-color videos, but it's hard not to get caught up in Curtis Hanson's 8 Mile, the tale of Rabbit, a scrappy guy from the wrong side of the tracks whose extraordinary rhyme skills are, clearly, his only ticket out of trailer-park hell. The obstacles – a crummy job, a crappy car, stage fright, hostile rivals, a dismal home life, the all-consuming Detroit dreariness – pile up, but even though you know Eminem is eventually going to rock the shit out of the mic, his performance as a quietly determined but often defeated dreamer is enough to make you worry a little bit. And the payoff delivered in the film's final rap battle is so immense that 8 Mile's faults (a few too many one-sided characters, particularly the female ones) are easily swept away by the triumph of the moment. (1:51) Century 20, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness, Shattuck. (Eddy)

*8 Women (2:00) Balboa.

The Emperor's Club (1:49) Balboa, 1000 Van Ness.

Empire It's not enough that this paint-by-numbers take on a drug-dealing kingpin (John Leguizamo) who tries to leave "the game" behind for legit pastures is little more than a grab bag of stereotypes and clichés as generic as the movie's moniker. It's not just that neophyte director Franc Reyes's filmmaking looks like every cash 'n' flash hip-hop video out there, that it revels in the crisp-currency pornography of "the life" (Benjamin Franklin should now be eligible for a SAG card) even while condemning it, or that the typical genre tropes of family, friends, class constraints, and keepin' it real take a backseat to glamorizing Glocks and Gucci. No, when you've made a movie in which Denise Richards, Isabella Rossellini's hairdo, and an empty Chelsea loft tie for the most emotive element present, well ... that goes beyond the guilty pleasures of watchably bad filmmaking and simply beelines for the gutter. (1:40) Century Plaza, Century 20, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness. (Fear)

Equilibrium (1:47) Lumiere.

Evelyn Based on a true story (brace yourself for dramatic license galore), this shameless slice of cinematic cabbage details the story of Desmond Doyle (Pierce Brosnan), a beleaguered single father circa 1950s Ireland whose children, including the adorably plucky titular heroine (Sophie Vavassuer), are whisked away to an orphanage. Not even Ireland's supreme court laws will keep them apart, however, and Desmond, armed with only the love of a good woman (Julianna Marguiles), a crack team of lawyers, and a songbook full of Irish folk songs (!!!), takes on the judicial system with a vengeance. Guess who wins? The inherent Lifetime-channel leanings of the material still might have yielded some decent dramatic fuel if director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy) hadn't pulled out every Irish Tragedy 101 stop imaginable. (Abusive nuns! Cantankerous-yet-cuddly grandfathers! A sassy lass! Pub sing-alongs aplenty!) The film is so bereft of subtlety that it comes off as sheer genre parody; the damage Evelyn does shoving its triumph-of-the-spirit message down your throat pales compared with the unintentional assault it mounts on your funny bone. (1:34) Kabuki, Shattuck. (Fear)

*Far from Heaven Set in suburban Connecticut circa 1958, Todd Haynes's Far from Heaven primarily pays homage to Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows, but Far from Heaven is more than a semiotic Hallmark card to melodrama – it's an unashamedly florid expression of movie love. Within the meticulous architecture of Haynes's movie, Frank (Dennis Quaid), who reveals he is gay, and wife Cathy (Julianne Moore), who falls in love with an African American gardener (Dennis Haysbert), pass through revolving doors to meet betrayal and take elevator rides – always going down – toward a floor marked divorce. It has been argued that Haynes shows women have the least autonomy of Far from Heaven's triad of '50s outsiders or minorities, but the film isn't interested in weighing injustices so much as revealing how societal structures work to reinforce them. Cathy's and Frank's and Raymond's individual attempts at finding happiness collide, and one character's freedom becomes another's punishing trap. (1:47) Clay, Piedmont, Shattuck. (Huston)

Frida (1:58) Albany, Bridge, Century 20, Piedmont.

Friday After Next (1:25) Metreon.

*Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Happily free from the burden of exposition (see last year's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which spent way too much time grappling with that tiresome-but-necessary task) Chamber of Secrets, again directed by Chris Columbus, is a fast-paced adventure from start to finish. Young wizards Harry, Ron, and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, all spot-on) make like Hogwarts' own Bloodhound Gang, using smarts and spells to unravel a mystery so dangerous it's even got the school's unflappable teaching staff (including Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, and the late Richard Harris) on edge. New faces in Chamber of Secrets include Jason Isaacs as the sinister Lucius Malfoy and the particularly hilarious Kenneth Branagh as the smug, self-obsessed Professor Lockhart. A few scary scenes (including one involving giant, hungry spiders) may make younger kids a little nervous, but the film's magical elements, in the forms of a flying car, a hair-raising Quidditch match, chatty ghosts, screaming letters, clumsy owls, and much more – not to mention an underlying message about friendship and loyalty – are what lingers after the lights come up. (2:41) Century 20, Empire, Grand Lake, Jack London, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness, Orinda. (Eddy)

*Heaven (1:46) Balboa.The Hot Chick (1:41) Century Plaza, Century 20, Kabuki, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness.

*The Last Kiss Writer-director Gabriele Muccino's The Last Kiss, a tender look at the realities of growing up and settling down, is also a modernized take on the traditional Italian sex comedy. Less about raw lust (though there's no shortage here) than about the restlessness that permeates contemporary relationships, the film ultimately paints love as a state of perpetual confusion and repeatedly asks whether it is ever possible to recognize happiness once you've found it. Muccino accomplishes this through the interwoven stories of a group of college buddies on the verge of hitting 30: Carlo (Stefano Accorsi, also of the Italian import The Son's Room) is secretly petrified of marrying his pregnant girlfriend, Paolo (Claudio Santamaria) can't seem to get over his domineering ex, and Alberto (Mario Cocci) is beginning to question the value of an endless string of one-night stands. Well-structured and well-acted, The Last Kiss deftly canvasses the gamut of human emotions, from the joys of childbirth to the dizzying fear that somehow, somewhere, a better life is passing us by. (1:44) Four Star. (Cohen)

Maid in Manhattan Single mom Marisa Ventura (Jennifer Lopez) commutes from the Bronx to Manhattan every day to work as a maid at a five-star hotel frequented by the likes of rich bitch Caroline (Natasha Richardson, pleasantly over-the-top) and blandly suave Senate hopeful Chris (Ralph Fiennes, effectively canceling out his role as the Red Dragon baddie). Marisa doesn't plan to be a maid forever (she's just applied to the hotel's management program), but fate further complicates things when, in a rare playful moment on the job, she tries on one of Caroline's outfits and is spotted by the lovestruck Chris, who mistakes her for a wealthy hotel guest. Soon, she's similarly smitten, and a major mistaken-identity crisis ensues. It would be beside the point to demand more depth from a movie like Maid in Manhattan, which – despite the presence of director Wayne Wang (The Center of the World) – wants nothing more than to please viewers with its fluffy, fairy-tale ways. It's Lopez who disappoints – not necessarily with her performance, which is heartfelt enough, but by signaling that she's truly forsaken what was once an interesting acting career (Out of Sight, U-Turn, even Selena) in favor of total world domination. (1:43) Century Plaza, Century 20, Jack London, Kabuki, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness. (Eddy)

Minority Report (2:24) Galaxy.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2:01) Galaxy, Shattuck.

*Personal Velocity The stories in Rebecca Miller's Personal Velocity hurtle along at the speed of thought, despite the occasional abrupt backtracking and pauses spent examining details. The half-hour tales have an omniscient narrator (The Sopranos' John Ventimiglia) who's alternately cool, detached, sarcastic, and judgmental – all with a very literary, authorial tone. Yet despite these devices and mediators (or maybe because they all combine into something oddly like spontaneity), we enter the three central female characters (played by Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey, and Fairuza Balk) from the inside out – examining the world from their temporarily less-than-clear gaze, as they grope toward some inconclusive (but improving) insight, a process that seems both messily organic and razor-sharp. Shot like a wandering mind's eye by Ellen Kuras and brilliantly edited and acted, Personal Velocity reminds you that U.S. indie cinema is supposed to be about original voices, not the chorus of imitators struggling to mimic what was popular at Sundance seasons ago. (1:26) Act I and II, Embarcadero. (Harvey)

Punch-Drunk Love (1:37) Albany, Balboa.

*Real Women Have Curves If 18-year-old Ana (America Ferrera) had gone to work in her sister's East L.A. garment factory 25 years ago, she and the other workers would be eyeballing the dresses and complaining they'd never be able to afford them. Ana would have given up plans for college and joined the movement, fighting for social and economic justice. But in Real Women Have Curves, set in the present day, the women are concerned about not fitting into the gowns, and Ana's contribution is to let them know their full-figured frames are fine just they way they are. You know from the beginning Ana's going to college despite familial pressure, but it's what happens along the way that matters. Director Patricia Cardoso offers East L.A. as a kaleidoscope of color, sound, and energy, and Ferrara's infectious Ana is impossible to resist. If feel-good flicks bother you, pass this up. But if you're looking for something to smile at – that's going around these days – here's something a little different to make you do just that. (1:25) Embarcadero, Shattuck. (J.H. Tompkins)

The Ring (1:45) Metreon, 1000 Van Ness.

*Rivers and Tides (1:30) Fine Arts Cinema, Rafael, Roxie.

Roger Dodger First-class lout Roger Swanson (Campbell Scott) uses his gift of dizzying gab to become the top copywriter in his advertising firm – and to woo every female who strays into his sight line. But the cruelest joke of all is that this self-proclaimed ladies' man really doesn't know dick about the fairer sex; his one truly intimate relationship is with his own self-loathing. So when his precocious teenage nephew, Nick (Jesse Eisenberg), shows up looking for tips on the art of seduction, you can practically hear the backbone-snap of innocence lost coming like a far-off thunderclap. Words are also first-time director-writer Dylan Kidd's main ace in the hole, as he's constructed a film consisting of one riff of whirling verbiage after another with a self-conscious case of antsy Cassavetes-camera jitters. Mainly, it's the performers' line readings of Kidd's hyperbolic prose that makes Roger Dodger worth a look, giving the budding filmmaker's love of nihilistic patter a life even in a third act of diminishing returns. (1:45) Opera Plaza. (Fear)

The Santa Clause 2 (1:45) Century 20, Jack London.

Solaris The 1972 Russian Solyaris is nearly three hours of Soviet humorlessness and philosophical luggage, orbiting very slowly in the Mosfilm Studio universe. You could hardly miss that Andrei Tarkovsky's outer space was really inner space. But clear away the hocus-pocus, and Solyaris is just one of the most pompous movies ever made about a failed marriage – no more, no less. So is Steven Soderbergh's version, which mercifully slogs along for only 98 minutes as opposed to 165. An old friend's urgent message gets psychologist Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) picked to rescue a space station that's mysteriously cut off all communication with earthly headquarters. His first onboard sleep summons memories of his suicided wife, Rheya (Natascha McElhone). As he wakes, she turns up at his side, seemingly in the flesh. Whether back from the dead, "copied" by the enigmatic neighboring galactic body Solaris itself, or simply hallucinated, she's just as baffled about this turn of events as Chris is. Solaris is a stab at a cerebral movie about basic emotions, by a writer-director who is smart but not meditative, observant but seldom deeply moved. At least Tarkovsky was working in an idiom where he felt most at home. Soderbergh, cutting himself adrift from all the elements that normally spark his interest, has created pretentious space junk. (1:38) Kabuki, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness. (Harvey)

Sordid Lives (1:51) Balboa.

Spirited Away (2:04) Galaxy, Shattuck.

*Standing in the Shadows of Motown They played on more number-one hits than Elvis and the Beatles combined, providing the instrumentation for such milestones as "My Girl," "What's Going On," and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" – the soul music soundtrack for untold numbers of sweat-drenched backseat conceptions. Yet the names of the house musicians that graced Motown's legendary Studio A have been relegated to footnotes in rock history, obscured by the well-known artists and groups they backed. That's about to change with filmmaker Paul Justman's tributary documentary of the Funk Brothers, Studio A's collective of skin beaters, brass blowers, and ivory ticklers, which puts names and faces to the sounds. The film mixes oral histories of the aging musicians (call them the Motor City Social Club), and of the social climate they provided the score for, with reunion concert footage and event "re-creations." Standing falls just shy of rote as a documentary, but as a musical homage to forgotten heroes, it may be the most infectious, joyous restoration job to grace a Dolby system. (1:48) Lumiere, Rafael. (Fear)

Star Trek: Nemesis The tenth Star Trek big-screen adventure, Nemesis, adds little to the franchise's time-tested mix of rubber forehead appliances, technobabble, and high school ethics class dramatics. Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Data (Brent Spiner) meet their mysterious doppelgängers against the backdrop of a coup d'etat in the Romulan senate, and the threat of yet another one of those ultimate weapons. Along with a dune buggy chase destined to reside in the hallowed halls of bad Trek moments, there are massive plot holes to navigate, most of them revolving around comic book-strength villain Shinzon (Tom Hardy, doing an irony-free Dr. Evil impression). But there are some nice character notes, fierce third-act fireworks invoking The Wrath of Khan, and a disarmingly old-school look and feel throughout (note Bob Ringwood's Dune hand-me-down costumes). At best, Nemesis offers a break from wire-fu and pro-wrestler guest stars – and a tragicomic glimpse of a sci-fi universe still boldly going in circles. (1:57) Century Plaza, Century 20, Empire, Jack London, Kabuki, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness. (Macias)

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2:22) Metreon IMAX.

They (1:30) Metreon, 1000 Van Ness.

Treasure Planet (1:35) Century 20, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness, Shattuck.

Tully (1:42) Galaxy.

*The War Photographer Most people would shudder at the thought of traveling to the world's worst hot-spot battle zones and inserting themselves smack-dab in the middle of militant uprisings and military firefights; for James Nachtwey, considered by many to be the best war photographer working today, it's simply par for the course. This stunning documentary follows Nachtwey on assignment in Kosovo, Jakarta, Ramallah, and several other dodgy locales, ducking bullets and angry mobs, in pursuit of the perfect Kodak moment. Filmmaker Christian Frei's portrait literally puts the viewer behind the lens (thanks to a "micro-cam" attached to the top of Nachtwey's camera), making for some of the most visceral you-are-there moments you're likely to witness. But the film is less about the adrenaline-junkie correspondent circuit than a single humanistic conduit – unflappable, inscrutable, and driven to put himself in harm's way to chronicle the world's misery in pictures far more eloquent and moving than many thousands of words. (1:36) Opera Plaza. (Fear)

The Way Home (1:25) Lumiere, Shattuck.

Rep picks

'Close-Up: Visionaries of Modern Cinema: Gus Van Sant' See 8 Days a Week. Castro.

*'Kung Fu Kult Klassics' and 'Saturday Midnights for Maniacs' This week: Joysticks meet Hot Movies (Wed/18); and Yuen Woo-Ping double-header of 1988's Tiger Cage and 1990's Tiger Cage Part 2 (Thurs/19). Four Star.

'The Silent Movie Picture Show' See 8 Days a Week.Castro.