Movies

Opening This Week

These movies open Friday unless noted.

Bug Ashley Judd stars as a lonely waitress who makes the mistake of starting a romance with an eccentric drifter (Michael Shannon) whose demons take the form of insects that only he can see.

Paris, Je T'Aime Frédéric Auburtin, Alfonso Cuarón, the Coen brothers and Wes Craven are among the many directors who team up in this ode to the City of Love. English and French with subtitles.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are all back for the latest installment in the adventure series. This time up, they battle the notorious Capt. Sao Feng (Yun-Fat Chow).

Excellent (****)

Reviewed by critics Carrie Rickey (C.R.) and Steven Rea (S.R.). W.S. is a wire-service review.

Killer of Sheep Rerelease of the 1977 drama set in the Watts section of Los Angeles, where a slaughterhouse worker finds himself growing numb to his surroundings because of the brutality of his job. Henry G. Sanders stars. 1 hr. 23 No MPAA rating - C.R.

The Lives of Others Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's astonishing debut feature, a duet for a bohemian and a bureaucrat who never meet, but whose lives decisively intersect in 1984 East Berlin, is illuminated by Ulrich Mühe's performance as the functionary. 2 hrs. 17 R (sex, violence, profanity) - C.R.

Very Good (***1/2)

Away From Her

A couple who have been married for 40 years (Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent) find themselves having to deal with the reality of Alzheimer's disease. 1 hr. 50

PG-13

(sexual references, adult situations) -

C.R.

The Hoax Richard Gere stars in this smart, witty tale based on a stranger-than-fiction yarn that really, truly occurred: Clifford Irving's legendary 1971 scam in which he persuaded a publisher to pay him almost $1 million for the exclusive, authorized biography of billionaire recluse Howard Hughes. 1 hr. 56 R (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Into Great Silence A transcendental film that takes the stoical, observational approach of Frederick Wiseman and adds a painterly visual aesthetic, Philip Gröning's documentary zooms in on a French monastery, and the shaven- headed monks who go about their days working, praying and living a life devoted to God. 2 hrs. 49 No MPAA rating - S.R.

Meet the Robinsons A wonderful, whiz-bang digital 'toon inspired by children's-book author/illustrator William Joyce's A Day With Wilbur Robinson and presented in many theaters in 3-D. Its hero is a 12-year-old orphan inventor who travels to the future, where he encounters a wild and wacky family - and a dinosaur, an octopus, a robot, and some talking (and singing) frogs. 1 hr. 32 G (mildly scary images) - S.R.

The Namesake Mira Nair's adaptation of the Jhumpa Lahiri novel follows two generations of a Bengali family living in America: the parents who brought their culture and traditions from India, and the children who rebel against them. Bollywood stars Irrfan Khan and Tabu and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle's Kal Penn are all terrific in this rich, revelatory drama. 2 hrs. 02 PG-13 (sex, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Offside Six Iranian girls dress as boys and try to sneak into a Tehran stadium to watch a soccer match in a country where women are barred from sporting events. Farsi with subtitles. 1 hr. 33 PG (some harsh language) - C.R.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley Cillian Murphy stars as a young Irishman who sacrifices a promising medical career and joins with friends and family to fight occupying British forces in Ken Loach's close-up look at the Irish revolt of 1920. Powerful, heartbreaking stuff. 2 hrs. 04 No MPAA rating (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Also on Screens

Delta Farce *

Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall and D.J. Qualls star as three inept Iraq-bound National Guardsmen who are mistakenly dropped off in Mexico. 1 hr. 30

PG-13

(crude, sexual humor) -

W.S.

Disturbia *** Rear Window gets YouTubed in this mostly clever, jump-and-scream thriller about voyeurism, murder, and stuff going on behind closed (garage) doors. Shia LaBoeuf stars as a teen under house arrest who starts spying on his neighbors - one of whom he suspects is a serial killer. Sarah Roemer, David Morse and Carrie-Ann Moss costar. 1 hr. 44 PG-13 (violence, sex, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Georgia Rule **1/2 Jane Fonda as the Idaho grandma who prays and does good works; Felicity Huffman and Lindsay Lohan as her estranged California daughter and granddaughter who live, love and drink hard. The actresses are super, but filmmaker Garry Marshall so sugarcoats the tragic elements of the plot that his sweetness and light left a bad taste in the mouth. 1 hr. 53 R (profanity, extreme sexual candor) - C.R.

Shrek the Third ** On his third time out, Swamp Thing is adrift. The prospect of succeeding his father-in-law on the throne doesn't appeal to him. The prospect of a Shrekling even less. So he sets sail on a quest, letting subordinate characters hijack his story. This isn't a movie, but the extension of a brand. PG (double-entendres, cartoon violence) - C.R.

Spider-Man 3 **1/2 Peter Parker, also known as that Spidey guy, wrestles with evil, romance, his own exploding ego, and the burden of coming up with new stuff to satisfy millions of fans. Kirsten Dunst returns as sweetheart Mary Jane in this overstuffed third installment of the mega-movie franchise, and Thomas Haden Church, James Franco, and Topher Grace are the super-freaky bad dudes. 2 hrs. 20 PG-13 (violence, mayhem, adult themes) - S.R.

28 Weeks Later . . . *** Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's sequel to Danny Boyle's 2003 sleeper hit is a bloody, button-pushing shot of adrenaline. 1 hr. 39 R (extreme violence, gore, profanity ) - C.R.

Theater

Reviewed by critics Wendy Rosenfield (W.R.), Howard Shapiro (H.S.), and Toby Zinman (T.Z.).

Opening This Week

Carousel

(Walnut Street Theatre) The glorious Rodgers and Hammerstein musical love story includes the favorite songs "You'll Never Walk Alone," "If I Loved You" and "June Is Bustin' Out All Over." Preview Tuesday, opens Wednesday.

The Four of Us (1812 Productions at St. Stephen's Theatre) Itamar Moses' complicated comedy about success and friendship. Preview Tuesday, opens Wednesday.

Hair (Prince Music Theatre) Revival of the landmark peace-love-rock musical when hippies were hip and musicals were political. Previews start Saturday, opens June 2.

Side by Side by Sondheim (Walnut Studio) A revue of songs from Stephen Sondheim's shows - the best of the best. Opens Thursday.

Skin in Flames (InterAct) From the Catalan playwright Guillem Clua, this play is a debate about the marketing of war through images of violence between an ambitious young journalist and a famous photojournalist. Previews begin Friday, opens May 30.

Continuing

The Adventures of a Boy and His Dog

(Mum Puppettheatre) A family show featuring puppets by Robert Smythe. Through June 10.

Chicago (New Candlelight Theatre) A surprisingly strong production of the Kander-Ebb-Fosse classic about murderous molls in the jazz age. Through July 15. - W.R.

Doubt (Merriam) John Patrick Shanley's play won the 2005 Tony for best play, and no wonder; a provocative, ambiguous drama about a formidable nun and a questionable priest. The splendid Cherry Jones starred in it then and stars in it now. Ends today. - T.Z.

Ferdinand the Bull (Arden) The favorite children's book adapted for the stage in a sweet, if tame, flamenco musical. Through next Sunday. - T.Z.

The Giver (People's Light & Theatre) A solid, though dark, adaptation of Lois Lowry's science fiction novel about a boy's awakening to the dystopia behind the utopia he's always known. Ends today. - W.R.

I Sent a Letter to My Love (Act II Playhouse) A musical by Jeffrey Sweet and Melissa Manchester. Through June 10.

Orson's Shadow (Philadelphia Theatre Company) A fairly tedious backstage comedy, more gossip than history, whose characters include Orson Welles, Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright and Vivien Leigh. Adding to the hullabaloo is famous critic Kenneth Tynan. Through June 3. - T.Z.

Lookingglass Alice (Arden) A surreal, gymnastic riff on the famous Lewis Carroll stories, full of surprising effects and performed by five talented and agile actors. Not for little children. Through June 10. - T.Z.

Menopause: The Musical (Society Hill Playhouse) New cast in this long-running, popular show about The Change. Open-ended run.

Mrs. Packard (McCarter Theatre, Princeton) Emily Mann's new play, based on the story of a real 19th-century woman whose husband committed her because of her beliefs, offers up a Mrs. Packard so constantly outspoken she's hard to pin down, with some cardboard characters surrounding her. A thoroughly professional cast is able to run with it. Through June 10. - H.S.

Oklahoma! (Media) A well-costumed, fleet-footed cast honors Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1943 show with fine performances. Through next Sunday. - H.S.

Out of Sight (Shubin Theatre) Sara Felder's solo show is an eclectic combo of juggling, autobiography, storytelling, Israeli-Palestinian politics, and singing - but it's really a love letter to her blind mother. Odd and intermittently charming. Through next Sunday. - T.Z.

Splittin' the Raft (People's Light & Theatre, Malvern) This adaptation of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn incorporates writing by Frederick Douglass to give the old tale new life and perspective. Through June 10. - W.R.

The Taming of the Shrew (Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival) Shakespeare gets a fabulous makeover as director Domenick Scudera guides the Bard deftly through a '40s-era version of the comedy about love and marriage. Ends today. - W.R.

True West (Luna Theatre) Sam Shepard's funny, violent play about two brothers, one a screenwriter and one a drifter, gives two actors the chance to go over the top and they take it. Through June 3. - T.Z.

Video

Venus ***1/2

Peter O'Toole gives a sly and touching performance as a fading British thespian who strikes up an improbable friendship - and courtship - with a foul-mouthed 19-year-old (Jodie Whittaker). Sounds smarmy, but it's not. The film, full of wisdom, sadness and raunchy humor, is really about the deep need for connections, for intimacy, for understanding. 1 hr. 34

R

(sex, profanity, nudity, adult themes) -

S.R.