Movie Guide

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NEW RELEASES

Baadasssss! (R)

Director: Mario Van Peebles. With Mario Van Peebles, Ossie Davis, Nia Long, Bill Cosby. (108 min.)

Sterritt *** A docudrama account of how African-American film pioneer Melvin Van Peebles used a flash of Hollywood success to launch a production of his 1971 hit "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song," recognized as a key event in modern independent moviemaking. This colorful time capsule of a movie was directed by Van Peebles's son, who appeared in "Sweetback" as a child and doesn't minimize the difficulties his father's underfinanced dream entailed for his hard- pressed family and friends.

The Day After Tomorrow (PG-13)

Director: Roland Emmerich. With Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sela Ward, Ian Holm. (123 min.)

Sterritt ** See review.

The Five Obstructions (Not rated)

Director: Lars von Trier. With Lars von Trier, Jorgen Leth, Patrick Bauchau, Majken Algren Nielsen. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** In one of his most ingenious cinematic stunts, Trier digs out an experimental short called "The Perfect Human," directed by Leth in 1967, and asks his former mentor to remake it five times in accord with instructions designed to guarantee bad outcomes, unless Leth manages to make a virtue of adversity. This movie equivalent of Robert Rauschenberg's artwork "Erased de Kooning" is funny, ornery, and ultimately inspiring. In English, Danish, French, and Spanish with English subtitles

Raising Helen (PG-13)

Director: Garry Marshall. With Kate Hudson, John Corbett, Joan Cusack, Helen Mirren. (119 min.)

Sterritt * Kate Hudson gets top billing in the role of Helen, a chic fashion-industry star whose carefree lifestyle is interrupted when a car crash kills her older sister. Entrusted with caring for her nephews and nieces, she finds the elan knocked right out of her. To her surprise, a dashing Lutheran priest (Corbett) offers a hand. Great premise, but the ensuing trials and tribulations - not to mention hapless attempts at comedy - are as off-key as a karaoke scene in which Hudson sounds worse than any audition Simon Cowell has ever had to sit through. By Stephen Humphries

Saved! (PG-13)

Director: Brian Dannelly. With Jena Malone, Macaulay Culkin, Mandy Moore, Heather Matarazzo. (92 min.)

Sterritt *** See review.

Union Square (Not rated)

Director: Stephen J. Szklarski. With Mike Hatten, Cheyenne Webber, Ron Keppler. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** Nonfiction visits with seven young hard-drug addicts who hang around a large Manhattan park. The material is vivid and harrowing, although the movie provides little analysis or larger- scale context.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE

Breakin' All the Rules

Director: David Taplitz. With Jamie Foxx, Morris Chestnut, Jennifer Esposito, Peter MacNicol. (85 min.)

Staff **1/2 Magazine editor Quincy Watson (Foxx) gets a shock at his engagement party: His fiancee is eloping to Paris with somebody else. Quincy's so upset he writes a sort of Breaking Up for Dummies manual, resulting in a romantic mix-up involving at least seven people, including his cousin Evan (Chestnut), who wants to dump his girlfriend Nicky. Snappy dialogue and a charming cast largely make up for lightweight material and scattered direction. By M.K. Terrell

Control Room (Not rated)

Director: Jehane Noujaim. With Sameer Khader, Lt. Josh Rushing, Deema Khatib. (84 min.)

Sterritt **** An inside look at the Qatar-based TV network Al Jazeera, bringing out the mixed feelings many of its journalists have toward aspects of conflict between the United States and the Middle East, and underscoring the deeper message that all media reportage is controlled by editors, producers, and ideologies before it gets to its audience. Although it enters a spin room of its own at times, the movie is generally more fairer and more balanced than much day-to-day TV programming. …