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In 2006, a woman (Sandra Bullock) gets a great job as a doctor in a Chicago hospital. She moves from a wonderful rural home that literally floats over a lake. Picture architect Philip Johnson’s glorious glass house over water. Are you with me so far? Good. Just before vacating the house, she leaves a letter in the mailbox (an old-fashioned one with a red flag – this will be a visual touchstone through the film) asking the new occupant to forward any excess mail. She apologizes for the dog’s messy paws. The dog will be important later on. The new occupant of the house is architect Keanu Reeves. The two exchange letters because that’s what has to happen to give the movie its so-called life. But, it is hugely possible that Reeves’ character is dead and the letters are a figment of Bullock’s imagination. Reeves may actually be a former occupant of the house. Why? I won’t tell you if you want to see the movie. But it seems that he’s living in 2004. It’s illogical that the two don’t swap telephone numbers or email addresses, but the film avoids logic. The dog likes to have Dostoyevski read to it. You have every right to laugh at that.

Having a wooden actor like Reeves spend a movie reading letters is torturous going. Bullock is okay, but since nobody seems to be connecting with anyone in the film, you have every right not to empathize with what’s going on. Directed by Argentine filmmaker Alejandro Agresti and written by David Auburn, who actually has a Broadway Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize for writing the play “Proof,” “The Lake House” (based on a Korean film) sinks under the weight of total pretentiousness. If it’s a ghost story, somewhere Casper is weeping.

* * * "Keeping Up With The Steins" is a good-hearted comedy about being true to your religion. Director Scott Marshall and screenwriter Mark Zakarin take a lightly satirical jab at the world of Jewish bar mitzvahs that have gotten just too excessive. The film opens with a young boy's coming of age on the Titanic -- as in James Cameron's "Titanic." The parents of another boy -- Jamie Gertz and Jeremy Piven -- have to plan their son's bash and, in the process, tie up some loose family problems involving dad's parents (Doris Roberts and comedy director-writer Garry Marshall, who has the film's wacky nude scene). Daryl Hannah's in it as well. Director Marshall is the son of Garry, which also makes him the nephew of Penny. He knows what to do with the camera and has a good ear for what makes people laugh. His movie is gentle and sweet. "Brick" is a cross between "Heathers" and "River's Edge" and not as good as either. High school cliques are really ugly in this cleverly directed, but weakly written and terribly acted movie. The film's a teen noir caper in which a male student attempts to discover what happened to a girl student who disappeared. Toss in a crippled drug dealer, a mom who pours milk out of a ceramic rooster, a kid called The Brain, a girl with secrets, and a gun-happy bully and you've got a messy stew that never quite comes together. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Brendan, the teen who thinks he's Humphrey Bogart. Writer-director Rian (yes, that's the spelling) Johnson has decided to turn Brendan into a sad sack who is pummeled with fists throughout the film. Director Johnson is good with his camera and jazzy editing, but awful with actors. As spoken, too much of the dialogue is unintelligible. The southern California-set movie cries out for subtitles.

"Cars" is another very clever digital animation adventure about, you guessed it, cars. As in previous Pixar winners, there is good written material for adults. The kids might miss some of the jokes, but they will revel in the colorful visuals and zany action. By Michael Calleri

ALTPRESS Online Movie Editor

I will admit to an inability to fully accept time travel movies in which a character goes back in time to correct a deficiency, eliminate a roadblock to success, or marry a specific person. To me, if said character corrects the problem, then how can the character be what he or she is at the start of the film? If things were changed in the past, then the future (the movie’s present) would also be changed.

This brings me to “The Lake House,” which is as phony a piece of cinematic blather as I’ve seen in a long time. I’m not even sure I can properly describe what goes on in this stilted, failed, meandering romantic melodrama. But, I’ll try.