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On the Screen

****: Excellent

***: Good

**: Average

*: Poor

** The 40-Year Old Virgin

Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell) is the consummate dork who collects action figures, bikes to work, and stays far away from women. Without any friends, there’s no one to tell him what he’s missing. The generally artificial scenes and outrageously unbelievable characters are not noticed much because the movie makes you laugh so hard that you can barely put more popcorn in your mouth. (Yong-yi Zhu)

**A History of Violence

After killing two men in his diner out of self defense, Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) is forced by the mob to confront his past. There is a moment during the film when you wonder what it’s all about, not because it’s too deep, but because too many things are happening, and nothing seems to come together. (Yong-yi Zhu)

* The Aristocrats

This film features Hollywood notables delivering and analyzing what co-creator Penn Jilette touts as “the dirtiest joke you will ever hear.” And with the rabid incest, bestiality, child rape, and bodily fluids (and solids), hopefully it is. The joke — too vulgar to repeat in any form here — isn’t even funny. (Kathy Lin)

*** The Constant Gardener

Though this may appear to be a film about the drug companies taking advantage of Africans, it is in fact a story about what a man will do for a woman he loves with every ounce of his strength. If you want a smart film that’s not only well done but is also pleasing to watch, this is a must. (Yong-yi Zhu)

*** Corpse Bride

Tim Burton’s latest feature is a dark-hued romantic fantasy, which combines an unconventional story with subtle satire and unusual cinematographic techniques to deliver a truly delectable treat. Factor in the vocal talents of a remarkable cast and Danny Elfman’s sparkling music, and you have a masterpiece you won’t regret watching over and over again. (Bogdan Fedeles)

***Domino

Loosely based on the true story of Domino Harvey, this well-paced thrill ride recounts the tale of the model-turned-bounty-hunter, disgusted with the pretensions of 90210-ers and wanting to live life on her own terms. Played with rebellious fire by Kiera Knightley, Domino turned her back on a privileged life and became one of the most notorious bounty hunters in Los Angeles, hunting down society’s nastiest criminals and bringing them to the law. (Danbee Kim)

* Doom

This film, starring The Rock as a space marine, was made primarily for fans of the “Doom” computer games, leaving everyone else to suffer through what is essentially a mindless action flick. Fans probably won’t be bothered that the movie has no plot, but anyone else should give it a miss. (Andrew Guerra)

** Elizabethtown

Would you feel like committing suicide if your company lost $972 million on your watch? Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom), is responsible for exactly that at the beginning of this film. When Drew heads home to cope with the death of his father, he falls in love with Claire (Kirsten Dunst), a flight attendant, mends ties with his Kentucky family, and addresses his feelings about the spectacular failure of his line of shoes. (Natania Antler)

***Good Night, and Good Luck

In the era of McCarthyism, one reporter from CBS, Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn), went on the air to take down Senator McCarthy and his fire-and-brimstone tactics. The gaudiness and questionable quality of current national news networks contrasts with the work done by Murrow in this film. It represents a quick break from the onslaught of violent images and biased reporting, providing a model for the highest level in TV broadcasting. (Kapil Amarnath)

** The Greatest Game Ever Played

Think “Cinderella Man” with golf clubs instead of boxing gloves. This movie easily falls short of the greatest golf movie ever made, but it will satisfy your appetite for a feel-good entertaining movie for the better portion of the two hours. (Yong-yi Zhu)

***In Her Shoes

Maggie (Cameron Diaz) is sassy, flirty, and carefree, willing to let her looks pay her way through life. Her sister Rose (Toni Collette) is a self-conscious workaholic who tries to be responsible enough for both herself and Maggie. It isn’t until they learn to step into each other’s shoes and understand their relationship from the other’s perspective that they can fully appreciate their sisterhood.
(Danbee Kim)

* Into the Blue

Hollywood frequently brings us thrillers that fail to weave action and story together into an entertaining film. It’s been a while, however, since I’ve seen one with so little meaning in its story. With shots of treasure hunters swimming around in the Caribbean stumbling across some mystery, this movie is crammed full of cheesy drama and lacks quality action scenes. (Nikhil Nadkarni)

** The Legend of Zorro

The sequel to “The Mask of Zorro,” this film adopts the tried-and-true superhero action formula with the return of the masked Zorro (Antonio Banderas). It is a predictable movie with a predictable ending, but nevertheless enjoyable to watch. (Sie Hendrata Dharmawan)

**Prime

It’s a love story with the finest smattering of smart, funny lines that could pull laughs from any audience. The acting is superb, (Uma Therman, Meryl Streep) and the story is intriguing. There is, however, a wistful sluggishness that makes “Prime” barely fall short of delivering a truly memorable experience. (Danbee Kim)

***Proof

Hollywood once again successfully brings together mathematical genius and mental illness. For the first time on the big screen is a woman whose experiences highlight important challenges facing women in math and science today. (Kathy Lin)

**The Protocols of Zion

Was there a major Jewish plot to bomb the twin towers on September 11? Were there thousands of Jews who didn’t die because they were warned not to go to work that day? These are questions that director Marc Levin sought to discredit in this documentary, which uses a series of vignettes to examine anti-Semitism and the problem of distrust of Jews in the United States. (Yong-yi Zhu)

***Saw 2

This film’s violence and gore is on par with other movies like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and its intensity matches that of traditional slasher films. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is back to his old tracks, once again kidnapping innocent people and forcing them to play sick games he has devised. This thriller pushes the bounds of macabre to new heights. (Yong-yi Zhu)

***Shopgirl

Mirabelle (Claire Danes) is a lonely artist and sales clerk at Saks Fifth Avenue, and soon meets Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman), a goofy artist, and Ray (Steve Martin), a wealthy middle-aged man. This is a drama about life and romance, and it is full of bittersweet challenges and decisions — it’s not a typical chick flick with a happy ending. (Jillian Berry)

*** Serenity

This film, an adaptation of the TV show “Firefly,” is both a fanatic-pleasing romp and an action-packed introduction to a fabulous new world. See it because you’ll experience adventure, laughter, thoughtfulness, intelligence, and damn good storytelling. (Nivair H. Gabriel)

***Stay

This portrayal of mental illness, experienced by Sam (Ewan McGregor) and those around him, is no portrayal at all, but simply visual beauty spinning out of control. The movie pretends that it has a story to tell that will make sense, but in the end it is made of disorientation, about the mind unsheathed and unprotected, highlighting the fragility of sanity and interpretation. (Rosa Cao)

* Two for the Money

This drama about high stakes sports gambling examines a failed football star drawn into the sports betting business. The lack of development leaves the audience feeling cheated and empty, which makes the movie nice to look at but otherwise not so wonderful. (Yong-yi Zhu)

Compiled by Kevin Der