Dark Blue -- For those who've seen Training Day, Dark Blue may seem too close to that award-winner, which came from the same writer, David Ayer. Drawn from a short story by the astringent poet of dark-dark L.A., James Ellroy, Ron Shelton's film offers juicy bits for Kurt Russell as a do-it-at-all-costs older cop and Scott Speedwell as his pup of a protege. What sets the film apart is its setting against the backdrop of the days leading up to the 1992 riots that followed the acquittal of the four LAPD officers who beat up Rodney King. Sturdy moralizing, but emphatic acting and rich dialogue as well. With Michael Michelle, Ving Rhames and Brendan Gleason. (RP) Rated: R
Gods and Generals -- Nearly four hours long, this sanitized Civil War drama feels like a mini-series transported to the big screen. Factual details abound, but in terms of moviemaking, the film fails. The men are cardboard figures, and the women, while given decent amounts of screen time, have even thinner roles. Even casting good actors like Robert Duvall and Stephen Lang doesn't help. The screenplay tries asking some big questions, but fails to back them up with dramatic or emotional weight, and the result is a lengthy, fretful ramble. (Marty Demarest) Rated: PG-13
The Life Of David Gale -- The title has an authentic ring, but this is a fictional tale of philosophy professor David Gale (Kevin Spacey), a man staunchly against the death penalty who suddenly finds himself arrested, accused of murder and sitting on death row. Spacey nails the part, as does Laura Linney, as his co-crusader. But Kate Winslet, as a reporter who's allowed to interview Gale, again shows her lack of range. Director Alan Parker, a master of issue films, has put together a solid one, wisely leaving questions without answers for the viewer to haggle over. (ES) Rated R
Old School -- A genuinely funny and sometimes sweet gross-out comedy from the director of Road Trip, Old School is the unlikely tale of three overgrown juveniles who establish a frat house in order to make it with coeds; the results are far from sleazy. With a restrained Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson, Juliette Lewis and Jeremy Piven as a randy dean. (RP) Rated: R
The Slaughter Rule -- Written and directed by twin brothers Alex and Andrew Smith, The Slaughter Rule relates the story of a high school student, Roy (Ryan Gosling), who finds out just days after his estranged father's death that he has been cut from the football team. Against the stark backdrop of rural Montana, Roy is befriended by the local outcast (David Morse), recruited for an outsider six-man football squad and falls in love with a slightly older woman (Clea Duvall). Exploring themes of prejudice, loyalty, trust and compassion, this sensitive portrait of adolescence features stellar performances, gritty cinematography and a country soundtrack written by Son Volt's Jay Farrar. Rated: R. Playing at the Met Wednesday, Feb. 26 and Friday, Feb. 28.
& lt;i & Capsule reviews are written by Ed Symkus (ES) and Ray Pride (RP), unless otherwise noted. & lt;/i &
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The world could always use another cautionary tale about bachelor parties. This time it's Jason Lee as the groom-to-be, who has just woken up next to Julia Stiles (incidentally, not his intended). Rated: PG-13