February 13, 2006 12:00 PM

Manderlay This is Danish director-provocateur Lars von Trier’s second film in a promised trilogy about the U.S.—a country he has yet to visit. A turgid drama set on a 1930s plantation that still has slaves and is overseen by Bryce Dallas Howard (above, with Willem Dafoe). Manderlay is as dogmatic as 2003’s Dogville. But it’s way less compelling. Give us Mandingo any day. (R)

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story A dandy British comedy, this movie within a movie within a movie—got that?—is a jokey postmodern take on the sprawling titular 18th-century novel. Steve Coogan (below) plays a fictional version of himself who’s starring in a film version of Shandy, despite the fact that neither he nor just about anyone else on the set has ever read the original. Gillian Anderson and Jeremy Northam costar. (R)

Annapolis Oh, to be 15 again and young enough to buy this clichéd hogwash. An Officer and a Gentleman crossed with Top Gun crossed with every boxing movie ever made, this prefabricated drama follows a young shipbuilder (James Franco, above left) as he struggles through his tough first year at the U.S. Naval Academy. Franco tries, but the script gives him no help whatsoever. Tyrese Gibson (above, right) and Jordana Brewster costar. (PG-13)

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