APRIL 2006

FRIENDS WITH MONEY: Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack, Jason Isaacs, Scott Caan, Simon McBurney, Bobby Coleman, K.C. Clyde, Greg Germann (Written and directed by Nicole Holofcener; Sony Pictures Classics) The only friend without money in this comedy-drama by Nicole Holofcener (“Walking and Talking,” “Lovely & Amazing”) is Jennifer Aniston. And that’s not all she’s without. She is also minus a man, as well her steady job as a school teacher (which she has swapped for a risky gig as a house cleaner). Fortunately, she is not above accepting financial handouts and relationship tips from three long-time friends (Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand and Joan Cusack), all of whom are seemingly happily married and have somehow managed not to max out on their credit cards. Which, as it turns out, does not necessarily mean they are rock-solid in every department. Maybe Jen should simply grow up and go it alone? Now Playing

LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN: Josh Hartnett, Ben Kingsley, Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Victoria Fodor, John Ghaly, Kevin Chamberlin, Shira Leigh, Oliver Davis (Directed by Paul McGuigan; Written by Jason Smilovic; The Weinstein Company) In truth, Slevin, the character played by Josh Hartnett, is not all that lucky. He has the great misfortune of holing up in an absent friend’s New York City apartment and, as a result, being mistaken for his pal by a gang of murderous thugs. One of them, a corrupt cop known as The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley), eventually informs Slevin that he has been chosen to bump off the son of an African-American gangster. The good news here is that director Paul McGuigan is a man who knows his way around the underworld, as he demonstrated back in 2000 in the gripping “Gangster No. 1.” To read about more upcoming murder movies, click here; for more Josh Hartnett movies, click here. Now Playing

THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE: Gretchen Mol, David Strathairn, Lili Taylor, Chris Bauer, Jared Harris, Jonathan Woodward, Cara Seymour, John Cullum, Austin Pendleton, Norman Reedus, Tara Subkoff, Kevin Carroll (Directed by Mary Harron; Written by Mary Harron and Guinevere Turner; Picturehouse) If you were around in the fifties and enjoyed flipping through skin magazines, you probably stopped flipping and started lingering over the photos of a stark naked cutie named Bettie Page. Who was she and where did she come from? Bettie (Gretchen Moll), a proper Christian girl, was born, schooled, married (briefly) and then gang-raped in Nashville. She had a somewhat better time once she moved to New York and stumbled into a modeling career that eventually catapulted her into the center of an investigation of the porn industry led by Senator Estes Kefauver (David Strathairn). In the end, she re-connected with Jesus. To read about many more new biopics, click here. Now Playing

UNITED 93: (Written and directed by Paul Greengrass; Universal) Not all four of the planes hijacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001 arrived at their intended destinations. We are reminded of that fact in this docudrama by Paul Greengrass, British director of the Irish-troubles film, “Bloody Sunday.” Actually, more than five million viewers were already reminded in a recent A&E made-for-TV movie that the passengers aboard United Airlines 93, realizing what was about to happen, heroically thwarted their captors' plan and caused the plane to crash outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The Greengrass film, featuring a cast of mostly unfamiliar actors, opened the Tribeca Film Festival--close to where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center once stood--on April 25. Now Playing

FIERCE PEOPLE: Diane Lane, Anton Yelchin, Donald Sutherland, Chris Evans, Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Perkins, Christopher Shyer(Directed by Griffin Dunne; Written by Dirk Wittenborn; Lions Gate) Nobody has it tougher than teenagers these days. Take Finn (Anton Yelchin), a basically decent New York City kid, for example. His father is off in the jungle doing his anthropological thing, and his mother (Diane Lane), a nifty masseuse, is a druggie. When Finn is caught trying to score some coke for mom, the two scurry to a sumptuous country estate where the strung-out masseuse becomes a full-time, hands-on employee of horny but obscenely wealthy Mr. Osbourne (Donald Sutherland). So far, so good. But then Finn discovers that the fine country-club set is not so fine after all. Perhaps mom will turn into a twelve-stepper and shape everyone up. Opens in April