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•SAW III (R) Like watching the leaves turn color and fall, the release of a new Saw film in late October has become an annual autumn tradition. In the third installment, directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, serial killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) introduces an apprentice to his dismembering mind games.
•SHORTBUS 2 stars (NR) Beware directors who say they're going to make the definitive sex movie. With just one (albeit an exceptional one) film under his belt, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, John Cameron Mitchell feels it's time to tackle porno-quality sex married to an actual art-house story. The explicit sex is frank, all right -- much of it placed front and center in the film's introduction -- but is tied to a corny, shallow story about sexy New Yorkers who are having a hard time in bed. Sex therapist Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee) is unable to achieve orgasm and former hustler James (Paul Dawson) is unable to deeply connect to the man he loves. Mitchell suggests post-Sept. 11 angst is to blame, but cardboard characters and dialogue out of a '60s encounter session may be the real problem. -- Feaster
•SHUT UP AND SING (NR) This documentary blends performance footage and behind-the-scenes sequences to recount the firestorm that surrounded country music stars the Dixie Chicks following singer Natalie Maines' criticism of President Bush during a 2003 concert.
•STRANGER THAN FICTION 3 stars (PG-13) Dull IRS agent Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) learns that he has inadvertently become the lead character in a book being written by reclusive author Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson). Despite the innovative premise, this never matches the existential, mind-bending depths of, say, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and remains resolutely mainstream, with flights of fancy that lightly tickle the brain but never really challenge it. The upside is that this allows a love story to take root amid the high concept, and as enacted by Ferrell and Maggie Gyllenhaal (playing a baker who awakens Harold's dormant passions), it's both charming and disarming. -- Matt Brunson
•TENACIOUS D IN THE PICK OF DESTINY 2 stars (R) See review.
•THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED 3 stars (NR) Documentary filmmaker Kirby Dick takes aim at the secrecy and de facto censorship practices of the Motion Picture Association of America, which gives American movies their ratings from "G" through "NC-17." The film raises provocative questions about "acceptable content" when it reveals the MPAA's biases toward the major studios and independent filmmakers, and toward gory violence over realistic sexuality. Dick's decisions to hire a private investigator, literally root through garbage and reveal the MPAA's raters on camera raise all kind of ethical red flags, but undeniably make for compelling viewing, particularly when he submits the documentary-in-progress to the MPAA. -- Holman
•UNKNOWN (R) Five men awaken in a locked warehouse with no memories of who they are in a plot that suggests Reservoir Dogs by way of Saw. The cast includes James Caviezel, Joe Pantoliano, Barry Pepper and Greg Kinnear