by THE INLANDER & r & & r & BABYLON A.D. & r & & r & It's a mad, mad Mad Max world in which Vin Diesel lives in the near future of Babylon A.D., and for 45 minutes or so, it's kinda riveting. Too bad the movie's 90 minutes long. (MJ) Rated PG-13


There's nothing menacing about Joe -- which is a problem, seeing as how he's supposed to be a heartless hired killer. This film is filled with a jarring, uneven tone and turns of events so absurd that you'd laugh at them. That is, if you could be bothered to react that much. (MJ) Rated R


I've figured out how Joel and Ethan Coen do it -- how they move so effortlessly from comedy to drama. It's that they don't think about tone or genre: They just think about a character, and see where he takes them. A brilliant but heartless killer like Anton Chigurh is naturally going to take them in one direction, and so we get No Country for Old Men. And a bubble-headed knuckleknob like Chad Feldheimer is naturally going to take them in another direction, and so we get Burn After Reading, which is as gloriously zany as Country was brutally vicious. (MJ) Rated R


Seldom do follow-ups ring so true to the original, then do them one better. Director Christopher Nolan revisits what he did with Batman Begins and improves everything. Christian Bale is gloomier, both as Bruce Wayne and as the Caped Crusader, while Heath Ledger's intense, frightening and funny Joker might make the world forget that Nicholson ever played him. (ES) Rated PG-13


Jason Statham stars in a high-octane remake of the paranoid classic of '70s sci-fi. A NASCAR driver wrongly imprisoned is given a chance at freedom if he can just win Death Race, a competition where convicts try to murder their way to the finish line. (LB) Rated R


Ricky Gervais steals the show as a misanthropic dentist who dies, quickly comes back to life, and finds that he can converse with all of the ghosts in Manhattan, each of whom wants a favor from him. Greg Kinnear plays a slick womanizer who's killed in the opening moments; Tea Leoni is the wife he was cheating on who tries for a new start, only to meet up with the nasty dentist. Plenty of loose ends, but you'll come out feeling good. (ES) Rated PG-13


Written by the people behind Legally Blonde, this is a carbon copy with a Girls Next Door/Hugh Hefner twist. Anna Faris (Scary Movie) stars as a Playboy Bunny who gets kicked out of the mansion and becomes a housemother at a sorority full of freaks. (JS) Rated PG-13


John Cusack plays an Igor. That's right, an Igor. In Malaria, a land of evil geniuses, there's one Igor for every mad scientist. All they're trained to do is pull the switch on whatever nefarious scheme their boss cooks up. (LB) Rated PG


This is a horror movie for grown-ups: no mad slashers. no psychopath playing torture games. Just the plausible pettiness of human nastiness slowly, inexorably building to a tragedy of suburban proportions. Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) are moving into their dream house -- too bad the next-door neighbor (Samuel L. Jackson) is a nightmare. The extraordinary cast and playwright-turned-director Neil LaBute create a slow-burn atmosphere that you dread cannot end well. It doesn't. (MJ) Rated PG-13

Mamma Mia!

Young Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), on the eve of her wedding, has decided that now is the time to figure out who her father is: It could be any one of three former lovers of her mother, Donna (Meryl Streep). (MJ) Rated PG-13


Jason Biggs rushes things with Kate Hudson -- tells her he loves her and, when that scares her, asks if they can move in together, then she dumps him. So he asks his BFF Dane Cook, who happens to get paid to be a jerk to women so they'll go back to their boyfriends, to be a jerk. Trouble is, Dane and Kate soon find themselves falling in a crazy little thing called love. (LB) Rated PG-13


And now, a haiku: Mmmm, the best dope in town. Ooohh, the cops are bad. Bullets fly. Inhale. Laugh. (ES) Rated R


DeNiro! Pacino! They're veteran NYPD officers investigating a serial killer who may be a cop. Too bad director Jon Avnet's latest is too clever by half: it's obvious from the start who the killer is, and the script appears to have been written for much younger actors -- like maybe Donnie Wahlberg and John Leguizamo, who are far more intriguing as a rival team of detectives hunting down the killer. (MJ) Rated R

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Pretty awesome, as overblown Saturday morning cartoons go. It's nonstop battles with a few funny lines thrown in, but the battles are highly entertaining, way more coherent than anything George Lucas created for his recent I-III trilogy. (MJ) Rated PG


Two FBI agents (Guy Pearce, Neal McDonough) think something's kinda fishy about a mysterious fellow (Don Cheadle) who keeps appearing in hot spots around the world just as an "event" takes place. The question is whether the guy, an ex-soldier, is a hero or a (see title) -- or maybe even something else. (ES) Rated PG-13


High-octane action, smartly written satire and wild comedy come together in a story of contemporary actors making a movie about a daring rescue during the Vietnam War; suddenly, they get caught up in dangerous events. Directed by (and co-starring) Ben Stiller. (ES) Rated R


Centers on a black family, half laborers, half business people, and their relationship to a white family -- multimillionaires, Kathy Bates as the matriarch -- which begins to sour as a daughter flirts with using the rich white guy's feelings for her as a way to climb the corporate ladder. (LB) Rated PG-13


Two gal pals (Scarlet Johansson and Rebecca Hall) go to Spain for the summer, where both of them get romantically involved with a carefree fellow (Javier Bardem) who has never come to terms with his beautiful and troublemaking ex-wife (Penelope Cruz). (ES) Rated PG-13


The newest Pixar release jumps some 700 years into the future, offering a look at our garbage-strewn planet, a condition so out-of-control, humankind has left. Worker robots were put in place to clean things up, but they, too, left -- except for clunky little Wall-E. (ES) Rated G


Based on the 1939 George Cukor film about a group of very close female pals who try to help one of them through her husband's cheating. The Women starts off with some annoying overacting, mostly from Annette Bening, but smoothly transitions into a bright and moving portrait of a woman (Meg Ryan, perky as ever) trying to put her life back together. Small parts by Cloris Leachman and Bette Midler make it all even better. (ES) Rated PG-13

Witness to Wartime: The Painted Diary of Takuichi Fujii @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

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