the best of the rest

Capsules by Michael Sragow. Full reviews are at

American Teen: **** This documentary about a handful of high school seniors in Warsaw, Ind., shows how even teens who superficially fit the labels of jock and geek have inner lives and outer ambitions that break up any stereotypes. The movie has the sureness and nuance of a tiptop novel. PG-13 95 minutes


Elegy: *** An aging critic and academic (Ben Kingsley) sees an intoxicatingly beautiful student (Penelope Cruz) as his last chance for ecstasy; Kingsley is miscast, but Cruz and the supporting players (Patricia Clarkson, Peter Sarsgaard and Dennis Hopper) are superb. R 107 minutes

Hamlet 2 : *** 1/2 The drama coach at a Tucson, Ariz., high school tries to save his program by mounting the wildly ambitious Hamlet 2 - like The Godfather Part II, both a sequel and a prequel to a work of genius. Ace British comic actor Steve Coogan gets his best chance so far to strut his smart-silly stuff in an American movie, and he nails it; he creates a character whose exuberance knows no limits. Neither does his bad taste. R 92 minutes


Hellboy II: The Golden Army : *** Guillermo del Toro designs this follow-up to his 2004 Hellboy as a battle between the magical and fearsome creatures who roamed J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth and C.S. Lewis' Narnia and a handful of agents from the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, including the burly red demon Hellboy (Ron Perlman). Del Toro stuffs the film with wit and wonderments. Yet, it often plays like a lovingly crafted synthesis of the superhero and fantasy sagas we've been seeing all decade and especially this summer. PG-13 120 minutes

Star Wars: The Clone Wars : ** 1/2 Lucasfilm's new feature-length cartoon gives fanboys and fangirls their chance to see sweeping big-screen images of the Jedi using their clone armies to protect the Republic against the Dark Lords of the Sith and their droid armies. It's not exactly thrilling, and it doesn't cover much new ground, but young audiences will lap it up like ice cream, and its good humor and faith in the Force will put adults in a Saturday-morning frame of mind, even at midnight showings. PG 98 minutes

Tell No One : **** On the eighth anniversary of his wife's abduction and apparent murder, a Paris-based pediatrician (Francois Cluzet) receives an e-mail containing a link to a video Web site where he thinks he spots her alive. The e-mail comes with the warning "tell no one," because people will be watching. The movie, like its hero, is shrewd about the small lies and mini-corruptions that can lead to major crimes. Unrated 125 minutes

Vicky Cristina Barcelona: **** In seductive Barcelona, romantic complications swirl around an artist (Scarlett Johansson), a grad student (Rebecca Hall), a painter with a past (Javier Bardem) and the painter's ex-wife (Penelope Cruz). Woody Allen's affectionate, enlightening and blissfully entertaining movie shows how much residue sexual desire or experience leaves in the brain and gut and heart. It's a summery idyll. PG-13 97 minutes

WALL-E: **** It's the first dystopian parable that's actually ecstatic fun. The hero is a beeping, whirring Waste Allocation Load Lifter, Earth class, or WALL-E. He's the sole survivor of a mammoth cleanup operation, and he's lonely - until a sleek female robot named EVE comes looking for signs of organic life. G 90 minutes

no screening

Bangkok Dangerous : - an action film about a hit man (Nicolas Cage) whose life takes an unexpected turn on a trip to Thailand - was not screened for critics.