by Inlander Staff **** 21 Grams -- The feel-bad film of the year is a masterpiece of non-linear storytelling. The three main characters -- Sean Penn's Paul is dying, Benicio Del Toro's Jack has accidentally killed some people, Naomi Watts' Christina has lost her family -- are slowly pulled together as their separate stories intertwine. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Amores Perros) has fashioned a dizzying pastiche of sequences that at first make no sense, but eventually become a riveting, moving whole story. Grim and fascinating. (ES) Rated R
** Cheaper by the Dozen -- This cleaned-up version of the 1950s true-life comedy turns more to slapstick than heartfelt humor for its laughs. Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt play the parents of 12 children, all happy enough growing up in "Hicksville." But when Dad gets a new job in the city, family life gets too crazy for all. There are some truly funny scenes, but after awhile, the kids' constant misbehavior becomes more annoying than charming. (ES) Rated PG
**** Cold Mountain -- Directed by Anthony Minghella. There's simmering perfume in the director of The English Patient's adaptation of Charles Frazier's bestseller. Some performances are steeped in sorrow -- Jude Law's - and others are crackerjacks -- Renee Zellweger's hillbilly sprite and Natalie Portman's lonely widow. Nicole Kidman portrays an object of longing, a woman who comes into focus. It's lovely and tragic. (RP) Rated: R
**** House Of Sand And Fog -- Jennifer Connelly is the screw-up who has lost the interest of her husband and now has lost her house. It's bought at auction by a proud and once wealthy Iranian (Ben Kingsley), who wants to improve his family situation by selling the house at a profit. But she wants the house back, and she and her married cop boyfriend (Ron Eldard) are not pulling punches. A fascinating film that plunges into the depths of human misery and emotions gone awry. It's a film you are compelled to keep your eyes on. (ES) Rated R
**** In America -- It's kitchen sink magical realism, or maybe Irish Fellini. Jim Sheridan's beautiful story of an Irish family relocating to New York's Hell's Kitchen in a dreamy, unspecified time will break your heart if you let it. Paddy Considine and Samantha Morton are the parents bearing up under the death of a child; two incredibly gifted and beautiful human beings named Emma and Sarah Bolger play the young daughters who keep them together and push the film's poetry toward memorable greatness. With Djimon Hounsou. (RP) Rated: PG-13
*** Paycheck -- John Woo's non-stop actioner is a version of the Philip K. Dick short story about a man whose engineering research is so secretive that his bosses erase his memory of his work contributions after each project. In return, he gets lots and lots of money. But after Michael (Ben Affleck) wakes up from a three-year work stint, many things have gone very wrong for him, with only an envelope filled with offbeat clues to help. Incredible car chases, many explosions, lots of broken glass, a good Uma Thurman performance ... and doves. (ES) Rated PG-13
*** Peter Pan -- The boy who won't grow up (Jeremy Sumpter) opens up a new world to young Wendy (Rachel Hurd-Wood) and her younger brothers when they all fly off to Neverland to get away from their parents. But unlike any cartoons or musicals before this one, the tale, sticking to the original play, turns dark: Mermaids become deadly, and Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs) kills off those he doesn't like. There's plenty of colorful magic, along with a subtle sexuality that will go over the heads of the very young. A visual treat, even if the film is rather intense. (ES) Rated PG
Young Black Stallion -- With an exclusive engagement at IMAX, Young Black Stallion -- a prequel to the 1979 hit The Black Stallion -- is Disney's first live action foray into large format. Young Neera is separated from her father in World War II-era North Africa. Left to fend for herself in the desert, she befriends a wild young colt - who helps her reunite with her family. But will her traditional grandfather allow her to pilot the black stallion in the annual horse race? Rated: G
**** Don't Miss It *** Worth $8 ** Wait For The Video * Save Your Money
& lt;i & Capsule reviews are written by Ed Symkus (ES) and Ray Pride (RP), unless otherwise noted. & lt;/i &
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The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.