Anger Management, House of 1000 Corpses, Till Human Voices Wake Us, Bend It Like Beckham, Phone Booth

But all that changes when an in-flight misunderstanding escalates into Dave being charged with assaulting a flight attendant and being sentenced to anger-management classes. Thanks to the movie trailer, we all know what happens next: The nutty therapist turns out to be the same buffoon (Nicholson, natch!) who was sitting next to Dave on that plane. His unorthodox therapy requires he move in with Dave, setting in motion some hit-or-miss comic, odd-couple hijinks. No Nicholson movie is ever a complete loss, and "Anger Management" exploits that with devilish delight. ***

"House of 1000 Corpses" — After this film reportedly languished on studio shelves for three years, someone finally decided to unleash on moviegoers this agonizingly bad stab at retro-horror. The first effort from former White Zombie frontman, Rob Zombie, "House" regurgitates — and often badly — bits and pieces from nearly every known cult classic. "House" opens with a group of nerdy B-movie actors stumbling upon the clown-faced Captain Spaulding's Museum of Monsters and Madmen after their car runs out of gas. On Halloween Eve. Oh yeah, in the middle of a nasty storm. Not scary, perversely funny or suspenseful, Zombie's "House" is a horrible mess. *

"Till Human Voices Wake Us" — Attempting to recall the lyricism and mysticism of Australian films of the '70s and '80s, writer-director Michael Petroni's somnambulistic romance falls short. Although the movie's look and feel never fails to intrigue; the frail narrative offers stars Guy Pearce and Helena Bonham Carter little support. Pearce portrays psychoanalyst Sam Franks, a man so haunted by a childhood tragedy he's repressed all emotion. Enter enigmatic, Gothlike Ruby who attempts to plunge to her death one stormy night only to be rescued by Franks. While he tries to figure out who this strange woman is and why she's in his town, the film cuts back and forth from the present to one tragic summer when 15-year-old Franks (Lindley Joyner) fell in love with crippled young Silvy (Brooke Harman). But even this engaging pair of young actors can't make up for the movie's utter lack of drama or suspense. ***

"Bend It Like Beckham" — Terming this Gurinder Chadha movie the feel-good movie of the year doesn't come close to encompassing its charming delights. A multicultural Cinderella tale, "Bend It Like Beckham" introduces us to a South London teenage girl who dreams of goal-scoring glory. She's Jes Bhamra (Parminder Nagra), a British girl of Indian descent with a heavy case of idol-worship for soccer-star David Beckham. While Jes tries to emulate her idol's moves on the soccer field, her very traditional extended family believes her place —as a female — is in front of a stove with lots of wee babies around. Yes, the premise is on the hokey, predictable side, but there's a deeper dimension: "Bend It" serves up a heartfelt message about respecting cultural pride and multiculturalism, old values as well as contemporary individualism. And at the heart of it all is Nagra, an engaging new talent with a great pair of feet. *****

"Phone Booth" (R) — No one will confuse it for art, but as directed by Joel Schumacher, "Phone Booth" is a guaranteed white-knuckle experience. Leading-man-of-the-moment Colin Farrell plays Stu Shepard, a cocky Manhattan publicist who masks his failures by talking trash and lots of 'tude. Though happily married to Kelly (Radha Mitchell), Stu stops at the same phone booth every afternoon to call a budding actress (Katie Holmes) he fancies. But one afternoon, after said actress hangs up, the phone rings. Thinking this might be the moment he's been dreaming of, Stu answers. But on the other end is a moralistic sniper (Kiefer Sutherland) who's been catching Stu's act and deems him unfit to live. If Stu hangs up, he's dead. To prove he means business, he kills an innocent bystander. The police arrive (led by Forest Whitaker) and mistake Stu for the killer. As usual, Stu tries to fast-talk his way out, but the sniper is adamant — only soul-baring honesty and quick thinking will save him.


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