Stop-Loss (Paramount) is an Iraq movie, something that undoubtedly hurt its chances at the box office. But it's also a Kimberly Peirce movie, and that makes a world of difference. Peirce's long-awaited follow-up to Boys Don't Cry is an achingly romantic, politically charged drama that finds the pathos and heartbreak in good soldier Ryan Phillippe going AWOL after getting stop-lossed back into another tour of duty in Iraq. In sharp contrast to most Iraq War movies, it never lets its anti-war politics get in the way of telling a quintessentially human story of the sometimes-tricky intersection of honor and duty…

While The Ruins (DreamWorks) is a relatively faithful adaptation of Scott Smith's capable pulp novel about four American tourists who run afoul of a sentient killer vine in Mexico, the movie takes most of the horror out of the story by rushing through plot points as if working haphazardly from a checklist. Clumsy exposition, silly dialogue, minimal characterization, indifferent cinematography and performances, interchangeable meat-grinder-grist characters, and an overall air of apathy make this more campy than creepy…

The Date Movies of the universe have so lowered standards and expectations for film parodies that "surprisingly not bad" now constitutes high praise. Craig Mazin's shockingly not-terrible Spider-Man spoof Superhero Movie (Weinstein) eschews the lazy Mad Libs-style reference-as-punchline aesthetic in favor of an older, more genial brand of silliness popularized by the Zucker brothers. This shouldn't be surprising, since David Zucker produced, and Leslie Nielsen shows up in a supporting role…

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Has there ever been a project that typifies the whimsical la-la-land of Indieville more than Flakes (IFC)? The hero, played by Aaron Stanford, is a New Orleans musician who logs time behind the counter of a hangout that only serves retro cereal. Shaded just a bit off center, the film could be a satire of blinkered hipsterdom, rather than an example of it…

In the perversely miserablist indie drama Sleepwalking (Overture), flaky screw-up mom Charlize Theron (in deglammed mode) walks out on her family, leaving her equally messed-up brother (Nick Stahl) to care for her precocious daughter. Evicted and not knowing where to turn, Stahl takes the girl on a "vacation" to a farm run by his dad (Dennis Hopper), knowing full well that the old man is a cold, abusive slave-driver who will work them both to the bone. Why does Stahl go there? Maybe because he's as into being kicked around as the viewers who watch this movie will be.