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October 13, 2006|By Michael Sragow and Chris Kaltenbach | Michael Sragow and Chris Kaltenbach,Sun Movie Critics

Capsules by Michael Sragow and Chris Kaltenbach. Full reviews at baltimoresun.com/movies.

All the Kings Men, -- stars Sean Penn as Willie Stark, a veiled portrait of Louisiana Gov. Huey Long. The movie fails to capture Stark's electric connection with the voters, or how a democratic mass movement can turn fascistic; it also suffers from flat pacing, a pseudo-literary tone and a total waste of a promising cast. (M.S.) PG-13 128 minutes C-

The Departed -- illuminates the tangled roots of urban corruption when a Boston Irish kingpin (Jack Nicholson) puts a mole (Matt Damon) in the State Police and the cops put a mole (Leonardo DiCaprio) in the mob. The direction (Martin Scorsese) and the writing (William Monahan) burst with exposed-wire energy; so does the ensemble, including the scene-stealing Mark Wahlberg as a police sergeant. (M.S.) R 149 minutes A

This Film Is Not Yet Rated -- performs a great service: shining a light on the Motion Picture Association of America and its ratings board. But director Kirby Dick can't tell his story straight. (C.K.) Unrated 97 minutes B-

Flyboys -- are red-blooded young Americans who become members of France's Lafayette Escadrille to fight the Germans in the air before the U.S. enters World War I. But the characters are like stick figures from a game of hangman - you just wait for them to prove themselves or die or both. (M.S.) PG-13 139 minutes D+

The Guardian, -- with Kevin Costner as a grizzled Coast Guard vet out to tame and train recruit Ashton Kutcher in the fineries of saving lives, is that rarest of cinematic commodities: an action movie displaying brains and heart. It's also blessed with a commanding star turn from Costner, who brings a hard-earned, rough-hewn edge to his character. (C.K.) PG-13 139 minutes B+

Hamilton -- A slice-of-life drama that follows two young unmarrieds (local actors Stephanie Vizzi and Chris Myers) as they drift through a hot summer day in Northeast Baltimore. The film offers few insights, but many opportunities for audiences to fill in the blanks in the characters' lives. It also offers film lovers a chance to revel in this first effort by a director - Baltimore native Matthew Porterfield - more interested in observing life than sensationalizing it. (C.K.) Unrated 64 minutes B+

Jackass Number Two -- is crude, disgusting, lowbrow comedy, a relentlessly (and proudly) scatological ode to the kind of high jinks that seem screamingly funny in direct proportion to the amount of liquor one has imbibed. Though I'm ashamed to admit it, moments left me chuckling. (C.K.) R 95 minutes C

Jesus Camp -- is a hypnotic, upsetting and bleakly humorous documentary about evangelical children raised in churches and camps that emphasize ecstatic connections to God while blurring the line between church and state. (M.S.) PG-13 87 minutes B+

Jet Li's Fearless, -- according to its star, is his final martial-arts film. If that's true, Li's leaving the genre in glorious style with this magnificent ode to honor, friendship, responsibility, dedication, grace and about a dozen other timeless virtues. Oh, yeah, and at 43, Li can still kick it. (C.K.) PG-13 103 minutes A-

School for Scoundrels -- stars the uber-geek himself, Napoleon Dynamite's Jon Heder, as a woebegone New York parking enforcer who pays $5,000 cash to see if an aggression guru (Billy Bob Thornton) can empower him to combat miscreants and vulgarians and ask out his dream girl (Jacinda Barrett). (M.S.) PG-13 100 minutes C-

The U.S. vs. John Lennon -- John's fight to stay in the United States despite the threat of deportation gives the movie a spine - and co-directors David Leaf and John Scheinfeld put flesh on every inch of it. (M.S.) PG-13 99 minutes A

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