Critical Moment

East Is East The marvelous Om Puri plays a proud Pakistani patriarch in swinging '70s London whose seven children rebel against his traditional ways, with his English wife (Linda Bassett) caught in the middle. A funny, crowd-pleasing comedy of cultural and generational warfare. D.A.
Three Stars

Love and Basketball This movie about the rising sport of women's basketball, a first feature by writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood, is a soap opera driven by cliche situations. Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps are appealing as romantic hoopsters, but the movie clunks off the rim.
Two Stars

The Virgin Suicides Sofia Coppola's directorial debut is based on the novel about five sisters whose lives (and deaths) transfix the neighborhood. The movie drags a bit and doesn't entirely jell, but there are fine performances from Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett and James Woods, as well as many lovely, knowing images of adolescence and the '70s.
Three Stars

The Corner (HBO, April 16-May 21) Six one-hour fixes of family life in a drug-ridden Baltimore neighborhood. Based on an acclaimed nonfiction book, director Charles S. Dutton's potent mix of brutal honesty cut with astounding acting will leave you altered.
Four Stars

Martha Sherrill, 'The Buddha From Brooklyn' (Random House) Washington Post reporter Sherrill testifies to the charisma of Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, nee Alyce Zeoli, but we see an apparent fraud: channeling, abusing credulous devotees, living high off their money. That Sherrill herself, despite doubts, takes vows with Jetsunma's Tibetan Buddhist sect seems preposterous. D.G.
One Star

Nick Tosches, 'The Devil and Sonny Liston' (Little, Brown) Alleges that big, bad Sonny threw both fights with Muhammad Ali and was murdered by the mob for his trouble. Tersely told, occasionally pretentious ("chthonic"), and short on hard evidence. P.P.
Three Stars

Benjamin Lebert, 'Crazy' (Knopf) A lightly philosophical debut about a partially paralyzed German kid who breaks out of boarding school with buddies. The author's 18. "Crazy," which was a best seller in his homeland, isn't a masterpiece, but it's got a sweet, Salingeresque charm. J.G.
Three Stars

Lou Reed, 'Ecstasy' (Reprise) Rubes will mistake personae (the childish adulterer in "Mad") for Reed himself; we'll all go to our graves wondering if his pompous awkwardness is deliberate and brave or just godawful. But who's better at rock-guitar grime? D.G.
Three Stars

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