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Movie Picks

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A compelling heartwarming piece of true Americana  The Majestic
  • A compelling heartwarming piece of true Americana The Majestic

*Ali (R)
Two things you should know going into the film biography Ali: 1) If you're a fan, you won't know any more coming out than you did going in; and 2) It's a long film, so set aside plenty of time. If you don't know the dope on Muhammad Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, go out and rent the superb documentary When We Were Kings which explains far more about the man and his boxing strategies than this film. Otherwise, just sit back and enjoy Michael Mann's (The Insider) fight direction and Will Smith's superb performance as the outspoken, former heavyweight champion.

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

American Pie 2 (R)
The first American Pie was one of the funniest, most original teen flicks of last year. Unfortunately, the sequel plays to the lowest common denominator. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Silver Cinemas

*A Beautiful Mind (PG-13)
See full review, page 43.

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Kimball's Twin Peak, Tinseltown

Behind Enemy Lines (PG-13)
Behind Enemy Lines is a glorified chase-and-rescue war movie that compensates for its clich-wallowing tendencies with a blend of supercool spectacle and eye-popping attention to rapidly expanding minutiae. Owen Wilson is properly cast as Lt. Chris Burnett, a standard-issue naval aviator shot down in war-ravaged Bosnia after he and his pilot overstep their mission's boundaries for a digital photo recon. In the course of making it to his pickup location, Burnett dodges so many bullets and land mine trip wires that any hope for suspension of disbelief is completely lost. But that's not to say that Behind Enemy Lines isn't entertaining, even in the muck and mire of its guffaw-inducing use of clichs. But it's absolutely in spite of its hackneyed formulas that the movie succeeds with its war romp design. -- Cole Smithey

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 and Peter Berg) send him inside the FBI as an ace undercover man to steal incriminating evidence against them. Nothing near hilarity ensues. -- Cole Smithey

Silver Cinemas

*Harry Potter (PG)
It is a strange damning-with-faint-praise to say that this movie was faithful to the book. Sadly, neither book nor movie form is particularly well served by this attempt. The movie feels pedestrian and literal, too timid to explore the possibilities of a world where, although parallel to ours, nothing is quite the same. The book, in turn, is tarnished by a movie that stuffs all the lovely spaces populated, decorated and embellished by the imagination. All that said, I'm not going to warn you off the movie. After all, you don't want to be the sole American who hasn't seen the darn thing, and your kids will love it. -- Andrea Lucard

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Heist (R)
Heist is worth seeing for the pleasure of watching three actors at the top of their game. Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito are equally devilish, hamming it up with writer/director David Mamet's flowing, brutish dialogue. Ricky Jay as Pinky Pincus is their perfect comic foil, and his performance is among the best supporting work we've seen on film this year. (Be warned: the eponymous heist involves an airliner hijacking set at Boston's Logan Airport; though the plane is grounded, it will undoubtedly invoke uncomfortable memories for some viewers.) -- Patton Dodd

Silver Cinemas

Imposter (PG-13)
A psychological thriller set in 2079 by the author of Total Recall and Blade Runner. Directed by Gary Fleder and starring Gary Sinise, Madeleine Stowe and Vincent d'Onofrio. Not yet reviewed.

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Joe Somebody (PG)
A vehicle to explore the difficulties of being a man in today's world that takes itself far too seriously. Tim Allen stars as Joe Sheffer, a schmuck who has three weeks to buff up and get tough after challenging a macho colleague to a fight. The movie stoops to lame didacticism, trying to explain why the old ways won't work any more, but this message works against itself at every turn. Even the occasional amusing scene or interesting tidbit can't rescue Joe Somebody from its determined self-consciousness. -- Andrea Lucard

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Be prepared for a wild departure from reality with Vanilla Sky.
  • Be prepared for a wild departure from reality with Vanilla Sky.

*Kate & Leopold (PG-13)
A time-traveling romance tale that hugs the corners of its funky twists and turns as much as its actors hold fast to its punchy and upbeat script. Writer/director James Mangold works as a conductor of plot and character, accenting the story with bursts of quick jokes and light social criticism. Hugh Jackman plays time-transported 19th-century bachelor Leopold, the Third Duke of Albany, who's brought into the 21st century by Stewart, a scientist and former boyfriend to ad executive Kate McKay (Meg Ryan). The movie makes or breaks on Jackman's ability to maintain a royal tone without condescending or hamming too much, but he's a supple enough actor to sustain the character's air of time-disjointed experience without overdoing it. Jackman and Ryan put a warm spin on the opposing attraction between their characters with charisma to spare in this light farce. -- Cole Smithey

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Lord of the Rings (PG-13)
First, director Peter Jackson made brilliant use of the camera to enhance the action. Unlike Harry Potter, which suffered from a framed stasis, this film was shot kinetically with swooping sweeps and dramatic vantages that capitalized on the thematic contrasts in scale. I don't know what to say about the sets, costumes and digital animation other than that they speak for themselves magnificently. As for the acting, I can say that my disbelief was entirely suspended for all but a few moments. Beyond that, I just don't go to fantasy films expecting Oscar moments from the characters. Elijah Wood was just weird enough and cute enough with his new square jaw to pull of the earnest and sweaty Frodo. Liv Tyler looked totally hot in elf ears as Arwen, as did the bow-wielding blonde elf boy Legolas played by Orlando Bloom. And I have to say I'd go see it again just to see Cate Blanchett as Galadriel get all Tales of the Crypt on Frodo. Let the fanatics hash out the discrepancies with the book in their chat rooms. Peter Jackson did it. And this film is cool. Very cool. -- Noel Black

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Kimball's Twin Peak Theater, Tinseltown

*The Majestic (PG)
Jim Carrey stars as Hollywood screenwriter Peter Appleton in this Capra-esque tribute to the golden days of Hollywood with a twist. Just as Pete's first film hits the big screen, he is tagged by the House Un-American Activities as a Communist sympathizer. Pete drowns his sorrows in a local bar, then drives down the coast where a near disastrous auto mishap, amnesia and a small town's collective longing for the return of a local hero conspire to create for him a new life. Martin Landau delivers a transcendent performance as Harry, owner of the dilapidated Majestic theater which Pete helps restore, and screen newcomer Laurie Holden smolders as Pete's love interest, Adele. Carrey was born for this role -- his Pete is an Everyman for the books. Like all of director Frank Darabont's films (Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) The Majestic is too long by about 45 minutes, but altogether it's a compelling, heartwarming piece of true Americana. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Monsters, Inc. (G)
John Goodman is the voice of Sully, the scariest monster of Monstropolis, a parallel world, and Billy Crystal plays his sidekick, Mike Wazowski, a giant neon green eyeball with arms and legs and not much more. There is a ton of tongue-in-cheek humor, and frame after frame is packed with pop cultural references, sight gags and just plain cool action. The writers clearly went to town in amusing themselves. Go see it for the cool factors, but leave your hopes for decent social commentary behind. -- Andrea Lucard

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Ocean's 11 (R)
Director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) goes for all of the sizzling Hollywood gusto he can muster in this snappy Las Vegas--set heist movie. Soderbergh's oft-quoted goal for Ocean's 11 was simply to give the viewer "pleasure from beginning to end." He aptly fulfills that modest demand with sprinkles of comedy, irony, suspense, tasteful music and enough eye-candy to stock a worldwide chain of retail stores. George Clooney masterfully helms the leading man spot, Brad Pitt makes life look more easy and fun than possible, but Julia Roberts emits little more than an apparent desire to get back to her location trailer and be left alone. She just isn't any fun and puts a damper on what should have been a sultry and imaginative character. Still, Ocean's 11 is perfect in that it succeeds at what it sets out to do, which is just to be thoroughly entertaining. -- Cole Smithey

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Riding in Cars with Boys (PG-13)
Director Penny Marshall has created a perfectly passable film that nonetheless misses the boat. Riding in Cars with Boys gets sidetracked by too many small issues to fully explore the common, but still poignant, story of Beverly (Drew Barrymore) who, in 1965, gets pregnant by a perfectly nice but rather dull-witted Ray (Steve Zahn), when she is only 15. Barrymore does an OK job, though she really needs more work with her physicality; she relies too heavily on her face to do the acting work. The truly compelling acting comes from Steve Zahn who makes you love him even when you hate him, and who manages, with little help from the script, to convey the subtle pain of a man who wants to do his best but simply cannot. -- Andrea Lucard

Silver Cinemas

*The Royal Tenenbaums (R)
See full review, page 44.

Tinseltown


Spy Game (R)
Robert Redford and Brad Pitt star in this thriller as CIA operative Nathan Muir and his protege Tom Bishop, who at one time worked closely and formed a bond of friendship. Now, years later, Muir discovers that Bishop has gone rogue -- and has been jailed in China on espionage charges. Also starring Catherine McCormack, Uma Thurman, Kimberly Paige; directed by Tony Scott. Not reviewed.

Cinemark 16

*Vanilla Sky (R)
Director Cameron Crowe delivers a faithful, ambitious remake of Alejandro Amenabar's Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes), the story of an emotional drifter whose life begins to unravel when true love comes his way. Tom Cruise's standard, tense performance works well here, and Penelope Cruz brings just the right amount of humanity to the film. Cameron Diaz simmers as a needy, female stalker. Crowe's visuals offer unusual depth and texture, practically inviting the viewer to come back for a second look. Several scenes could have been edited to speed up the thriller trajectory -- the film is too long by a half hour. Be prepared for a wild departure from reality about halfway through. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

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