Movies

Excellent (****)

Reviewed by critics Carrie Rickey (C.R.) and Steven Rea (S.R.).

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

An audacious tale of greed, infidelity and murder from top-of-his-game director Sidney Lumet, this jewelry-store-heist melodrama involves two brothers (Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman), their agitated dad (Albert Finney), and Marisa Tomei as an unfaithful spouse. It's a horror show of hatred and festering psychic wounds. So why is it so much fun? 1 hr. 48

R

(violence, profanity, drugs, sex, nudity, adult themes) -

S.R.

Very Good (***1/2)

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Julian Schnabel's impish and pitiless profile of Jean-Dominique Bauby, a Parisian rake who suffers a massive stroke that leaves him almost completely paralyzed. In this portrait of the artist who creates despite physical restraints, Mathieu Amalric plays Bauby, who dictates a memoir one letter at a time by blinking his eye to his secretary. In French with English subtitles. 1 hr. 52

PG-13

(nudity, sexual content, profanity) -

C.R.

Enchanted

Supercalifragilistic. Amy Adams is a delight as the cartoon princess from Andalasia who falls down a well, climbs up a sewer and finds herself - a real live woman now - smack in the middle of Times Square, searching for true love's kiss. With Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden, songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. 1 hr. 47

PG

(innuendo, mild cartoon violence) -

C.R.

Juno

A 16-year-old girl (sensational Ellen Page) has an unplanned pregnancy and plans to give up the baby for adoption. Improbably endearing comedy about a decidedly unfunny situation. Also starring J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman and Michael Cera. 1 hr. 31

PG-13

(sexual candor, procreative candor, mild profanity) -

C.R.

The Kite Runner

Moving adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's beloved best seller about the interwined lives of Afghan boys whose friendship - and lives - are forever altered one day before Soviet tanks and then Taliban fundamentalists roll into Kabul. With the splendid Homayoun Ershadi and mournful Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada. 2 hrs. 02

PG-13

(mature themes, sexual violence) -

C.R.

No Country for Old Men

The Coen brothers' taut, terrific adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel about a psycho killer, a Vietnam vet, a Lone Star sheriff, and the bag of money that brings them together in the stark borderlands of 1980 West Texas. With Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem. 2 hrs. 02

R

(violence, profanity, adult themes) -

S.R.

The Savages

The superb Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman costar in Tamara Jenkins' mordant and poignant portrait of siblings caring for the ailing parent (Philip Bosco) who abandoned them in childhood. 1 hr. 53

R

(profanity, sexual candor) -

C.R.

Also on Screens

Alvin and the Chipmunks **1/2

The harmonizing rodents are back, this time in CGI, with Jason Lee as their live-action dad in this diversion for 6-year-olds and their babysitters. 1 hr. 31

PG

(Mild vulgarity) -

C.R.

Charlie Wilson's War ***

Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman star in this true-life tale of a party-hearty Texas congressman who orchestrated one of the largest covert operations in U.S. history, funding the fight against the Soviets in 1980s Afghanistan. Anything but a sober history lesson, this Mike Nichols-directed political comedy abounds with sex, drugs and intrigue. 1 hr. 37

R

(sex, drugs, profanity, nudity, violence, adult themes) -

S.R.

I Am Legend **1/2

Will Smith is the last man in Manhattan in this viral sci-fi thriller. It's essentially

28 Days Later . . .

, or

28 Weeks Later . . .

, only with millions more for special effects, and nothing approaching those pics' power and smarts. But Smith is a genuine star, and there are long stretches where his military-scientist dude prowls the streets, a creepy hush in the air, commanding our attention. Warning: plot holes the size of New York potholes. 1 hr. 40

PG-13

(violence, profanity, scares, adult themes) -

S.R.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets *1/2

A thumping, gabby slog of a sequel to the surprise 2004 blockbuster. Nicolas Cage returns as the galavanting historian, this time digging for clues in the diary of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth. An impressive cast - Bruce Greenwood, Ed Harris, Harvey Keitel, Diane Kruger, Helen Mirren and Jon Voight - is wasted. 2 hrs. 04

PG

(action, adult themes) -

S.R.

Sweeney Todd **1/2

Tim Burton adapts Stephen Sondheim's dissonant musical into a splatter operetta starring Johnny Depp as the Barber of Deville, Helena Bonham Carter as his accomplice, and Alan Rickman, sepulchral and sensational, as the corrupt judge who incites Sweeney to seek revenge. 1 hr. 57

R

(blood, gore, sexual candor) -

C.R.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story **1/2

A clump of cinematic silly putty starring John C. Reilly as a musical shape-shifter who, over 50 years, morphs from rockabilly goat to folkie troubadour to rock dinosaur. With Jenna Fischer as the Puritan hottie who sings backup and Tim Meadows as the drummer ever ahead of the curve when it comes to happening drugs. 1 hr. 36

R

(full frontal nudity, sexual candor, sex, double-entendres, and drugs galore) -

C.R.