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Movie Picks

  • Bandits

*Bandits (PG-13)
Barry Levinson (Diner, Rainman) might seem an unlikely director to helm a bank heist comedy in which a couple of escaped prisoners become outlaw heroes. But the key word here is comedy. Pratfalls, snappy dialogue and snazzy character work make Bandits a laugh-out-loud movie that even manages to pull off a surprise ending. The real treat at the bottom of the cinematic box of this film is Billy Bob Thornton's comic physicality and controlled vocal range. Bruce Willis stays in his signature mannered mode, allowing Thornton to steal scenes at will. The movie zigs and zags just where you don't expect, and that gives you enough time to laugh without missing the next gag. -- Cole Smithey

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Corky Romano (PG-13)
Corky (played by Saturday Night Live's Chris Kattan) is a yellow, pink and turquoise kind of a guy working as a veterinarian assistant when his previously distanced, crime-embroiled father (Peter Falk) and two tough brothers (Chris Penn & Peter Berg) send him inside the FBI as an ace undercover man to steal incriminating evidence against them. Nothing near hilarity ensues. -- Cole Smithey

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*The Deep End (R)
Be glad Silver Cinemas has brought this quiet psychological suspense tale back to town. Filmed on the shores of Lake Tahoe, The Deep End tells the story of Margaret Hall (Tilda Swinton), a lonely housewife whose husband is always away on Navy business while she takes care of their three kids and his father. When a dead body washes up onshore, Margaret discovers that it is her oldest son Beau's abusive male lover. And when a stranger appears at her door with information that might incriminate Beau, Margaret catapults into mother-protector mode. Swinton's performance is stellar, and the stranger, Alec, is played with smoky intensity by ER's Govan Visnjic. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Silver Cinemas

Hearts in Atlantis (PG-13)
By all counts, this film should be a winner. It stars Anthony Hopkins, an actor I'd be happy to watch sleep for two hours. It was directed by Scott Hicks, who catapulted to Hollywood fame with Shine. It's the cinematic retelling of a Stephen King non-horror tale (think Green Mile), is amply budgeted, lovingly shot and features the fascinatingly pale and slightly off-kilter actress Hope Davis (Next Stop, Wonderland). But Hearts in Atlantis disappoints on a number of counts, one being that it is mistakenly told as a flashback, which, in this case, is plodding and painfully slow, adding little if anything to the slim story at the core. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Cinemark 16

*Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (R)
Director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy) apparently set out to retire his two best known characters, Stoner Jay (Jason Mewes) and his wide-eyed side kick Silent Bob (Smith), by deliberately making the worst film imaginable. Amazingly, the shtick works. A heist/road flick packed with guest appearances by Smith's actor and director friends (Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Gus Van Sant, Wes Craven and others), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is crude, rude, and funny as all get-out. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Silver Cinemas

The Last Castle (R)
See full review, page 61.

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Monty Python and The Holy Grail (PG)
Parents, treat your adolescent children to some classic comedy -- reclaim the sublime hilarity of this 1975 spoof on King Arthur and company, religious practice, political doctrine and scientific inquiry by cult comedians Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. Your children will thank you. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills

*Mulholland Drive (R)
Director David Lynch returns with a vengeance to the lovely and depraved vision that made movies like Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart such stunning examples of the director's palpitating nature. Set in the area surrounding the famous Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, Mulholland Drive is, in the director's words, "a love story in the city of dreams." But one woman's dreams are another woman's amnesia-fueled nightmare as Betty, a struggling actress, and Rita, a shell-shocked and amnesia-ridden car crash victim, become love-locked duelists in a modern noir quest to find Rita's true identity and Betty, fame. Both Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring give finely tuned naturalistic performances in roles that demand micro to macro character shifts while maintaining glamour that is all Hollywood. -- Cole Smithey

Kimball's Twin Peak Theater

*"O" (R)
This modern-day rendition of Shakespeare's Othello is set in an elite private school in South Carolina, where the classic tragedy of jealousy and manipulation plays out among teammates on the school's highly competitive basketball team. Because the rhythm of the film and the arc of the story are voiced so thoroughly in cinema language, "O" is the closest I've seen a Shakespeare movie come to making you forget that it's Shakespeare. Director Tim Blake Nelson, most widely recognized as the goofy convict Delmar in O Brother, Where Art Thou? has a natural sense for the grit of tragedy and the film has a compulsive leanness and purity that cradles blistering performances by Mekhi Phifer, Josh Hartnett and Martin Sheen. -- Cole Smithey

Silver Cinemas

*The Others (PG-13)
Atmospheric storytelling, rich lighting, a superb set and a strong ensemble cast combine to make Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar's The Others a successful, though not particularly terrifying, psychological thriller. Starring Nicole Kidman. -- Kathryn Eastburn


Riding in Cars with Boys (PG-13)
See full review, page 61.

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Serendipity (PG-13)
Serendipity is sweet but ultimately flavorless. John Cusack stars as Jonathan Tragar who bumps into lovely Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) while both are Christmas shopping at Bloomingdale's. It's clear to the audience that they are meant to be together, but naturally, it doesn't happen quite that simply and seven years later, Jonathan and Sara begin to dwell on what might have been. 0When it's finally all over, we wish that Sara and Jonathan had hooked up about an hour earlier. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Shadow of the Vampire (R)
E. Elias Verhige's witty and beautifully filmed Shadow of the Vampire stars John Malkovich as the great German film director F.W. Murnau. The film is a fictional take on the making of Murnau's greatest work, the vampire film Nosferatu. The vampire of the film, everyone is told, is an unknown Russian actor, Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe), a Stanislawski disciple who Murnau assures them "will be completely authentic." In fact, we soon come to realize that Schreck is an actual vampire. He promises to perform in the film in exchange for the blood of the leading lady, a morphine-addicted diva played with aplomb by Catherine McCormack. -- Kathryn Eastburn

First Congregational Church Film Series, 20 E. St. Vrain St. Free, 471-8215. Fri., Oct. 26, 7 p.m.

*Training Day (R)
Training Day is a brilliantly written and directed urban blood bath set in Los Angeles's mean streets of drug dealers, gang bangers and undercover detectives. Denzel Washington is brutally cruel as Alonzo Harris, a corrupt narcotics detective taking advantage of rookie officer Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) on his first day of training for an elite detective squad. As Washington's character sinks deeper into completing his own cash-fueled agenda, Hawke's character is forced to fight a very different battle against crime than he anticipated at the start of the day. -- Cole Smithey

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Zoolander (R)
I adored Ben Stiller's fluffy take on male models, narcissism and the utter ridiculousness of our fashion-obsessed culture. I even loved the blatant product placement/name dropping, especially Zoolander's wonderful Aveda commercial. Costumed as a mermaid, burbling underwater, he murmurs meaningfully, his pouty lips pursed: "Moisture is the essence of wetness. Wetness ... is the essence of beauty." The fatal gasoline fight scene won't escape any viewer's memory any time soon. The laughs keep coming in this silly satire, and I, for one, was grateful to be able to guiltlessly guffaw at a piece of harmless, very funny entertainment affectionately set in New York City. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

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