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On the Screen

****: Excellent

***: Good

**: Average

*: Poor

****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)

*** Derailed

One easy message: don’t ever cheat on your wife or your life will fall apart. Clive Owen is Charles Shine, a business executive whose affair with Lucinda (Jennifer Aniston) makes him easy fodder for a blackmailer. Unfortunately, poor acting and zero chemistry result in a movie that is slow to engage and tough to believe. (Yong-yi Zhu)

* 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 is nevertheless enjoyable to watch. (Sie Hendrata Dharmawan)

*** Paradise Now

A certain amount of courage is required to create any sort of portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To depict a conflict so deeply rooted and contentious is to invite controversy, particularly when the portrayal does not clearly favor one side. Through this balanced depiction of a polemical conflict, the film invites viewers to determine for themselves how to view suicide bombing, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and even wider questions on the meaning of dignified life. (Andrew Guerra)

*** Pride and Prejudice

Much as a tender heart can be touched and transformed by love, so your moviegoing experience will be enchanted by the brilliance of Joe Wright’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel. Elizabeth Bennett (Keira Knightley) struggles to find love as a lower class woman in early 19th century Britain. The adaptation is absolutely perfect for the big screen; everything about this film will absolutely dazzle you. (Yong-yi Zhu)

**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 Thurman, 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)

***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