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· NORTH COUNTRY **** (R) Charlize Theron is a mother of two who escapes an abusive marriage only to find more brutality when she takes a job at a mine where women are viewed as unwanted intruders in a male domain. Though the film comes with a conventional stand-up-and-cheer courtroom denouement, its portrait of the pervasive cruelty of both men and women who conspire to keep women in their place should inspire some soul-searching about both the good and the bad that society supports. -- Feaster

· PRIME (PG-13) Ben Younger, the writer/director of Boiler Room, tries his hand at romantic comedy in this tale of a New York businesswoman (Uma Thurman) who falls for a younger man -- who happens to be the son of her therapist (Meryl Streep).

· ROLL BOUNCE (PG-13) The artist known as Bow Wow stars in this coming-of-age comedy set primarily in a 1970s roller rink. If you've been longing for a throwback to the era of Roller Boogie, this is your chance.

· SAW 2 (R) "Parts is parts" in this sequel to last year's hit low-budget dismemberment thriller, as the sadistic "Jigsaw Killer" traps his latest victims in a booby-trapped shelter.

· SEPARATE LIES (R) Emily Watson and In the Bedroom's Tom Wilkinson star in this English marital drama about secrets and passions that erupt following a car accident. It's directed by Gosford Park's Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes.

· SHOPGIRL ** (R) With two shallow characters and a blandly gloomy story line, this adaptation of Steve Martin's novella feels like Pretty Woman putting on airs: a wistful, therapy-culture fairy tale for the New Yorker crowd. Martin, who is 60, plays a wealthy man who sweeps a pretty Saks Fifth Avenue clerk (Claire Danes, age 26) off her feet -- a lingering mystery considering Martin's performance as a corpse-like, unctuous moneybags. The only pleasure comes from Jason Schwartzman as a clueless slacker who vies with Mr. Big for the shopgirl's affection. -- Feaster

· STAY *** (R) Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland) is a director with a singular, fascinating obsession: death. His distinguished film career is defined by an appreciation for the glory days of 1960s and '70s filmmaking and the sense that every day of his life is steeped in grief and longing. Ewan McGregor stars as a psychiatrist with a patient (Ryan Gosling) who plans to kill himself in several days despite McGregor's ceaseless efforts to stop him. Forster operates within the conventions of the thriller, but that slick, superficial genre does not suit his penetrating treatment of grief. Despite the film's flaws, the final scene is worth waiting for. -- Feaster

· WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT *** (G) Inane inventor Wallace (voiced by Peter Sallis) and his silent, sensible dog, Gromit, take on an oversized rabbit-monster before their town's beloved vegetable competition. Compared to Chicken Run and the claymation duo's short films, Were-Rabbit's script feels thin and puns feel forced, but the film's brilliant set-pieces wittily lampoon horror-film clichés. -- Holman

· THE WEATHER MAN *** (R) Divorced, depressed TV weatherman David Spritz clings to career advancement as the key to improving his relationship with his ailing father (Michael Caine) and unhappy children. Despite outbursts of humor -- including a funny running joke involving Spritz being pelted with junk food -- the film maintains a surprisingly quiet tone as it examines the weather man's life of unquiet desperation. -- Holman

· WHERE THE TRUTH LIES *** (NR) An ambitious young writer (Alison Lohman) tries to uncover the secret behind the breakup of a hugely popular, Martin-and-Lewis-esque comedy team (Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon). Switching from the fizzy '50s to the jaded '70s, Atom Egoyan's showbiz mystery drips with mood and features a pair of canny performances from Firth and Bacon as troubled stars. Lohman's sequences, unfortunately, drag down the rest of the film, which proves mannered and self-conscious despite its insightful (and steamy) portrayal of the risky relationship between celebrity and fan. -- Holman

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