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Movie Picks

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Lemony Snickets A Series of Unfortunate Events, based - on the childrens book series and starring Jim Carrey, - opens this week.
  • Lemony Snickets A Series of Unfortunate Events, based on the childrens book series and starring Jim Carrey, opens this week.

After the Sunset (PG-13)
Following a successful last score, a master thief (Pierce Brosnan) retires to an island paradise. His lifelong nemesis, a crafty FBI agent, washes ashore to ensure he's making good on his promise. Not reviewed

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Alexander (R)
Colin Farrell's Irish accent wrestles against Angelina Jolie's faux Russian intonation like a cat and a monkey fighting in a burlap bag in this three-hour sword and sandals epic directed by Oliver Stone. For all of its attention to detail in two reasonably good battle scenes, Stone's movie fails to tell the complex story of one of the most enigmatic conquerors in history. -- Cole Smithey

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Being Julia (R)
Annette Bening gives a sparkling performance as Julia Lambert, a 1930s stage actress with a mid-life crisis in this pleasant adaptation of a Somerset Maugham novella, set in a fashionable London theater district. Bening perfectly captures the weariness of a woman in her prime, looking past it to the unknown. Wonderful costumes brighten the film and Bening glows in every scene. Being Julia is not a feast; it's a plate of chilled oysters with a champagne chaser -- light, bubbly and easy to digest. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Kimball's Twin Peak

Blade Trinity (R)
Wesley Snipes returns as the day-walking vampire hunter in this third and final film in the Blade franchise. Framed by the Vampire Nation in a series of murders, Blade joins forces with the Nightstalkers, a clan of human vampire hunters, for a fight that eventually leads to Dracula. Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason (R)
Apart from discovering that her boyfriend is a conservative voter, Bridget (Renee Zellweger) has to deal with a new boss, a strange contractor and the worst vacation of her life in this sequel, also starring Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Not reviewed

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Casablanca (PG)
The immortal war-time love story starring Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart as star-crossed lovers. Here's lookin' at you, kid ...

Lon Chaney Theater at City Auditorium, Friday, Dec. 24 at 8 p.m. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres at 7 p.m.

Christmas with the Kranks (PG)
Tim Allen portrays Luther Krank and Jamie Lee Curtis is his wife in this family comedy with a holiday twist. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Closer (R)
The beautifully photographed but self-absorbed and cruel characters in director Mike Nichols' film never stop lying to each other. They thirst for love, but their preoccupation with sex and perceived betrayal leaves them hollow and tangled in a series of love triangles. In the hands of a lesser director, the disjointed unraveling of events could've been clunky and confusing. But Nichols succeeds in preserving the plot while detaching the viewer from the characters, allowing the viewer the emotional clarity to observe their words and actions. This is important, as the film, ultimately an exploration of human folly, is only able to unfold a step back from the intensity of the characters' selfishness. The characters want love and they want to be closer to their lovers, but love is trumped by obsession, and Nichols wants you to notice. -- Dan Wilcock

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16

*Finding Neverland (PG)
A whimsical, warmhearted and heart-wrenching film about J.M. Barrie, the playwright who wrote Peter Pan, that builds to a moving climax like a teakettle over a flame. A film set apart from Hollywood's standard sex-and-violence fare for adults, it's a story about never growing up, and never giving up on a place called Neverland. Starring Johnny Depp as Barrie; co-starring Kate Winslet. -- Dan Wilcock

Chapel Hills 15, Tinseltown

The Forgotten (PG-13)
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*Friday Night Lights (PG-13)
Director Peter Berg's scrappy adaptation of H.G. Bissinger's 1990 book about the cult of high school football in a dying West Texas town. Billy Bob Thornton's acting range is remarkable ; Lucas Black and country music singer Tim McGraw contribute strong support. -- Kathryn Eastburn

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The Incredibles (PG)
A family of superheroes in hiding is forced to reveal themselves to save the world, again. Pixar Animation Studio's 6th digitally animated feature. -- Not reviewed

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Napoleon Dynamite (PG)
Napoleon Dynamite's protagonist (Jon Heder) is a teenager whose mouth is forever agape and whose disposition hops between extreme dopiness and standard-issue adolescent indignation. While the indie film is littered with hilarious bits and pieces, they add up to only a few hard laughs and not much else. -- John Dicker

A Very Long Engagement opens at Kimballs Twin Peak - this weekend.
  • A Very Long Engagement opens at Kimballs Twin Peak this weekend.

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National Treasure (PG)
Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) descends from a family of treasure hunters who have long looked for a chest hidden by the founding fathers of the United States. When he learns of a plot to steal the treasure, his only option is to find it and steal it first. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Ocean's Twelve (PG-13)
See full review on p.59.

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Passion of the Christ (R)
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*The Polar Express (G)
A Christmas classic for the wired generation. Breathtaking state-of-the-art computer animation combined with a fast-paced storyline make for dazzling eye candy, and Tom Hanks (who plays most of the characters) and director Robert Zemeckis craft a worthy homage to the Christmas movie genre that people of all ages really can appreciate. The plot visits standard Christmas special themes -- who's been naughty and nice, what's really up there at the North Pole and the big question: does Santa Claus really exist? It's the latest and most technologically advanced film in a long tradition of animated Christmas movies. -- Dan Wilcock

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Cinemark 16 IMAX, Tinseltown

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (G)
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*Ray (R)
The much awaited film biography of America's beloved soul man, Ray Charles, who died earlier this year at the age of 73. The surprise of Ray is not the music; it's fabulous. It's not Jamie Foxx's performance -- tour de force is putting it mildly. The surprise is that despite a blocky, chronological, somewhat plodding story line, the development of a public character we all felt we knew well contains revelations that, while not particularly pretty, enrich the legend of Ray Charles, bringing him a bit closer to the ground. The 20 years depicted in the film are spent predominantly on the road, with Ray womanizing, shooting up and making glorious music born of a complicated and utterly unique genius. One of the most engrossing glimpses into the life of a musician on the road that I can remember. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Picture Show

*Riding Giants (PG-13)
If Riding Giants is the best surf movie ever made, as many critics have described it, it can only be so in the sense that it does what past films in the genre have done before, only better. The cinematography is simply breathtaking, the plot has a semblance of purpose, and the interviews, containing the "'surf 4 life" spiritual rhetoric as-seen-in every surf film ever made, are well phrased. If you're new to the genre, prepare for a treat. If you're not, sleep through the interviews and drool over the spectacular visuals. -- Jackson Solway

Kimball's Twin Peak

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (R)
The cult classic, audience participation flick where audience members are encouraged to dress in character and bring props. No open flames allowed, but flashlights are OK. -- Not reviewed

Saturdays at midnight, Lon Chaney Theater, City Auditorium

Shark Tale (PG)
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*Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (PG)
A slick, sepia-toned love letter to vintage 1930s serial adventures, Sky Captain plays like a kid movie wrapped in the skin of an experimental art film. Sky Captain opens in 1939 New York City with a dirigible flight, a frightened scientist and two mysterious vials. But before we get to the bottom of things, there are giant robots marching through Manhattan on an unknown mission. Sky Captain clips along at a brisk pace, taking our heroes from New York to Nepal to the middle of the ocean while still keeping the story simple and the action beats regular. -- Scott Renshaw

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*Sideways (R)
In his films, director Alexander Payne chronicles the losing side of life as experienced by ordinary people who believe in the potential for something better. Sideways is a buddy movie framed by a road trip, featuring old college roommates Miles and Jack, characters defined by their flaws and limitations. Miles, as played by the gnomish, perpetually grouchy Paul Giamatti, can only express positive emotions when referring to wine. Jack, played by Thomas Haden Church, is literally a blockhead, a guy led by his wanker through a series of sexual misadventures. Jack's pathetic and self absorbed but energetic and funny; Miles is neurotic but possibly salvageable. Director Payne's smugness intrudes subtly into the film's overall effect, leaving a slightly bitter taste. As Miles would put it, this film is "quaffable" but not a great vintage. Marvelous flavor, however, is added by the two supporting actresses, Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh. Kathryn Eastburn

Kimball's Twin Peak

Spanglish (PG-13)
A woman and her daughter emigrate from Mexico for a better life in America. Unfortunately, they find work in la Casa de Adam Sandler. Not reviewed

Sneak Peeks on Saturday, Dec 11:

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie (PG)
SpongeBob Squarepants (from Nickelodeon's animated show) takes leave from the town of Bikini Bottom in order to track down King Neptune's stolen crown. -- Not reviewed

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Surviving Christmas (PG-13)
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