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On the Screen

****: Excellent

***: Good

**: Average

*: Poor

**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)

****Capote

For a movie about a brutal murder, this film pursues its subject, the relationship between a writer and a killer, in an eerily peaceful mood. Like the lonely house where the murder happened, Truman Capote, a writer for “The New Yorker,” and Perry Ellis, a convicted murderer on death row, are emotionally distant, though they yearn for a connection. In what is unquestionably one of the best films of the year, we watch Capote struggle between his self-interested, manipulated goals as a writer and his honest love of a cold-blooded killer. (Beckett Sterner)

*** 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)

***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 Keira 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)

***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)

** Jarhead

At the beginning of this film, Jake Gyllenhaal sits on the toilet, Camus’ “The Stranger” in one hand, a bottle of laxative in the other. By the end, he’s fought in the Gulf War, and he’s woken up to the world. Sam Mendes’ “Jarhead,” though entertaining, fails to capture complex changes in its main character, and falls short of the high expectations thrust on it. (Kapil Amarnath)

** 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)

Compiled by Kevin Der