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A Good Woman; Imagine Me & You; Manderlay; Rang De Basanti; Something New; When a Stranger Calls; The World's Fastest Indian

For a film that supposedly examines racial differences in fresh ways, it's ironic how unoriginal Something Newis. Black workaholic Kenya (Sanaa Lathan) insists she's too busy for love, but nonetheless feels lonely on Valentine's Day. Agreeing to a blind date, she meets Brian (Simon Baker), a sweet, sexy, charming landscaper who has only one critical flaw—he's white. Deciding she'll never see him again, she later runs into Brian at a party and, feeling guilty for brushing him off earlier, she hires him to redo her back yard. Because she's high strung (and black) and he's laid-back (and white), she initially resists his advances, but soon enough the two begin a tentative relationship. First-time director Sanaa Hamri can't do much with first-time screenwriter Kriss Turner's sitcom dialogue, and while none of the actors embarrass themselves—well, except for Alfre Woodard, who should be above playing shrill, disapproving mother characters—the film drifts through a comfortable miasma of predictable romantic complications and resolutions made only slightly more memorable because of the underlying questions about racial politics in the bedroom. There's no denying that we still live in a world where interracial dating is frowned upon in some circles, but Something Newnever feels remotely like the world we live in—it's a fabrication of a gauzy romantic-comedy movieland where people of all colors can be equally trite and dull. (Tim Grierson)(Countywide)

Dafoe and Howard do America.
Dafoe and Howard do America.
Ride, Tony, Ride!
Ride, Tony, Ride!

Director Simon West's remake of the 1979 thriller amounts to an assault of jarring music cues and peek-a-boo scares that starts off mechanical and ends up utterly desperate. The original film's first act concerned a babysitter (Carol Kane) who, tormented by a sadistic anonymous caller, discovers that the threatening calls are coming from inside the house and narrowly escapes with her life. In the new version, the entire plot revolves around that memorable opening—since no one remembers what happened after that part anyway—gruelingly extending the sequence's running time without adding much in terms of character or twists. Here, it's blandly hot Jill (Camilla Belle) who's spending the night in a rich couple's impossibly opulent home in the middle of the Colorado forest when the heavy-breathing calls begin. But despite composer James Dooley's overly caffeinated score, there's no actual suspense—Stranger is one long tease that, instead of building tension around Jill's efforts to outwit her mysterious stalker, instead has her run around the house, unsuccessfully calling every friend, cop and family member she knows, before she finally confronts her nemesis in one of those battle-to-the-death endings Scream perfectly parodied 10 years ago. While waiting for that predictable finale to arrive, our only consolations are architectural porn shots of the home's exquisite interior—oh yeah, baby…check out that atrium…oh yeah—and our stray recollections of Belle's superior performance as Daniel Day-Lewis's burgeoning teenage daughter in The Ballad of Jack and Rose. (Tim Grierson) (Countywide)

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