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Movie Picks


*American Beauty (R)

American Beauty proves, once again, that you don't have to have a new plot to make a fresh story. Instead, a strong visual style, fabulous acting, and quirky writing can all conspire to create an erotic, humorous, captivating film. Kevin Spacey is given a funny, dry script by screenwriter Alan Ball and uses it confidently, moving between bumbling idiot, threatening asshole, and tender father with ease; Annette Bening perfectly captures the manic acquisitiveness and just-below-the-surface despair of professional-class America with a physical, comedic presence that most actresses would never dare attempt; Wes Bentley portrays the disturbed boy next door with a quiet gravity that intensifies every scene he graces. First-time film director Sam Mendes has done a remarkable job of learning the vocabulary of filmmaking and using it to create a multilayered visual and psychological delight. -- AL

Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown

Angela's Ashes (R)

Director Alan Parker clearly reveres Frank McCourt's memoir of his impoverished Irish childhood, but Angela's Ashes, the film, is a dour excursion from start to finish. How many times do we need to see a member of the McCourt family vomit graphically, to understand their sour stomachs or the stench of their living quarters? The point, of course, is that poverty stinks and is humiliating. We get it, already. The child actors who play Frank at three different stages are all fetching, and the film actually picks up in spots where we are allowed entre into their perverse little heads. McCourt's depiction of the haggard, beaten-down Angela are among the book's most moving, but Emily Watson (Angela), who is great at playing eccentrics, feels too flimsy to carry the weight of the character. She simply looks bored. In spite of the exquisite filming, the tone and flavor of McCourt's memoir are buried in the squalor. -- KCE

Chapel Hills; Citadel Terrace

*Anna and the King (PG-13)

Unlike the 1956 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, this retelling of Anna Leonowen's (Jodie Foster) story is rather serious in its treatment of the relationships between Asia and the British during the age of British expansion. Jodie Foster's work is subtle and well informed. Acting opposite Chow Yun-Fat (playing King Mongkut) must have been a great pleasure, for the man is not only easy on the eyes but has a wonderful command of facial expression that underscores the trials of an intelligent, regal ruler struggling to keep his country out of the hands of foreign domination. Go to be captivated by the kind of spectacle that Hollywood alone can create, the organizational and visual feats of lush scenery, beautiful costuming, and good special effects, and you won't be disappointed. -- AL

Chapel Hills; Citadel Terrace

The Bachelor (PG-13)

Pleasant enough and originally conceived in the beginning, The Bachelor sacrifices itself to the groaning weight of a grandiose Hollywood production scene in the end. Chris O'Donnell is fresh and attractive as Jimmy Shannon, a declared bachelor who must give up his freedom to meet the requirements of his grandfather's will, and Renee Zellweger is the love of his life, Ann. The Bachelor aspires to be a fresh take on romantic comedy -- as seen from the guy's point of view -- and almost succeeds. But the director just couldn't resist the appeal of a massive chase scene down the streets of San Francisco, involving, gulp, 1,000 screaming women in bride's dresses. It's hard not to be off-put by this excess, when the film could have been a tight, fresh take on the romantic conundrum. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*Crazy in Alabama (PG-13)

Crazy in Alabama is a decent debut film for actor turned director Antonio Banderas. Peejoe (Lucas Black) is a young orphan living with his grandmother when his aunt Lucille (Melanie Griffith) arrives with a car full of children, begging her mother to take her kids and allow her a month to become a movie star. Soon after, Peejoe witnesses the murder of a young black boy by the local sheriff (Meatloaf) for the crime of swimming in the public pool. Melanie Griffith always plays the girly girl, so her casting and acting was no surprise here, but I derived more pleasure from the supporting characters, most notably the town's two undertakers, Peejoe's uncle Dove (David Morse), the white undertaker, and Nehemiah (John Beasley), the black undertaker and father of the murdered boy. Both of these men lend the film a quiet gravity, underscoring the danger of living in Industry, Alabama, circa 1963. -- AL


Double Jeopardy (R)

Despite an excellent cast and clever premise, Double Jeopardy is plagued with problems. Ashley Judd is tough, fierce and intelligent as the wronged mother and wife, but her grit and good looks are wasted in an otherwise predictable, formulaic script. Tommy Lee Jones as her parole officer merely tags along. Gorgeous location shots of Vancouver and New Orleans provide momentary visual distractions but add little to the drama, and sloppy sound editing detracts throughout. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo (R)

Why anyone would want to make this into a movie is a mystery. "Lighten up," the proponents of this film have said. "It's only comedy." Yes, well, comedy is funny, little boy, and Deuce Bigalow ain't. -- AL

Silver Cinemas

End of Days (R)

A dreary, exploitative action film in which it's devil time again. The plot has The Dark One (Gabriel Byrne) seeking out a 20-year-old virgin named, of course, Christine (Robin Tunney) who has been predestined to bear the devil a son. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays ex-cop Jericho Cane, who takes it upon himself to protect Christine both from The Man. Director Peter Hyams does nothing to brighten up or energize screenwriter Andrew Marlowe's dull, confusing script. The message that End of Days is supposed to carry is that faith is more powerful than guns. But it's unlikely the message will be heard over all the automatic weapons fire. -- Noel Murray

Silver CInemas

Eye of the Beholder (R)

Eye of the Beholder turns the private eye story on its head by allowing the protagonist, a special agent called The Eye, played by Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting) to fall in love and gradually become obsessed with the woman he's tracking across America. Ashley Judd (Double Jeopardy) plays Joanna Eris, the object of The Eye's attraction, a woman suspected of blackmailing. But Eris turns out to be a deranged murderess who seduces and kills wealthy men, takes on a new identity, then moves on to new prey. Judd maintains a grim, vacuous grief and unchanging facial expression throughout the film. Her husky voice is seductive but monotonous. McGregor fares better. His physical presence -- he hovers somewhere between pimply youth and full-blown maturity -- adds to the sense of his vulnerability in the face of a devastatingly beautiful woman. Had director Stephen Elliott opted for subtlety over flashy style, the film might have worked. But Elliott films it like a purple Fellini-esque mad chase across America, weighing down the film with precious images, an operatic tone and just too much visual heavy-handedness. -- KCE

Tinseltown; Citadel Terrace

The Green Mile (R)

At three hours and ten minutes long, this is one marathon of a movie, and unnecessarily so. The story, based on Stephen King's 1996 serial novel, is oddly compelling: A death row prison guard in the mid-1930's deep south, Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) is delivered a 7-foot tall, black, simple-minded but apparently clairvoyant inmate (Michael Clarke Duncan), convicted for murder. Duncan's characterization, though spare, is powerful. And Hanks, as Edgecomb, is his usual measured, affable self -- the soul of fairness. The Green Mile is a worthy exploration of good and evil, human suffering, the cold inevitability of death and the redeeming power of love. But because the strength lies in the simple nature of the story, the earthy vernacular and the colorful characters, the director's tired dramatic approach feels like little more than excessive padding. -- KCE

Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Academy Station 6

*The Hurricane (R)

Veteran filmmaker Norman Jewison tells Rubin Hurricane Carter's story powerfully and with a steady gaze in The Hurricane. In May of 1967, Carter, a rising professional boxing champion, was convicted of the murders of three white people in Paterson, New Jersey, and was sentenced to three life terms in prison. For the next 20 years, Carter remained incarcerated, wrote an autobiography and continued to petition the courts for his freedom. There are no groundbreaking camera tricks or imaginative twists in this biopic -- the story is a stunner on its own. As Carter, Denzel Washington's performance perfectly captures Carter's evolution -- as he is ripped from the world of notability and locked in seclusion, both his grief and his compassion expand. Both the movie and its formidable star succeed at dramatizing the hideous injustice of Carter's imprisonment, and the excruciatingly painful passage of time behind bars. -- KCE

Tinseltown; Carmike 10; Tiffany Square

*Man on the Moon (R)

This strange and ultimately affecting movie is the rather perfunctorily told tale of comic Andy Kaufman's short, brilliant career and short, bizarre life. In the hands of director Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The People vs. Larry Flynt) Kaufman is treated as a rare genius who was misunderstood. It is fitting that Kaufman be played by Jim Carrey, the great gagster of his generation. Carrey's depiction is physically uncanny -- he perfectly captures Kaufman's googly eyes and frumpy posture, and mimics precisely many of Kaufman's best-known skits. But the writing and direction of Man on the Moon is pedestrian. Except for a lame attempt at a fake-out in the opening sequence, the story is told as straight screen biography. See it for Carrey's terrific impersonation, and for the moments on screen when, even if just for a brief moment, you can feel Kaufman's inexplicable spirit leaking through. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

The Omega Code (PG-13)

With Springs actor, Ziggy Wagrowski.

Silver Cinemas

*Sixth Sense (PG-13)

A fluid, compelling and genuinely scary ghost story starring Bruce Willis as Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist. Willis' character enjoys a charmed life with his wife (Olivia Williams) and a fulfilling, successful career until the night he gets plugged by a dissatisfied former patient. We next see Crowe, shaken and changed, outside the house of Cole Sear, a little boy with anxious tendencies and, apparently, deep psychological problems. Turns out Cole can see the dead, and those with unfinished business often show up in his bedroom at night. The most startling moments of the film all revolve around the appearance of those ghosts. Haley Joel Osment, the child actor who plays Cole, is tortured, convincing and winning. Willis doesn't make a false move. The film delivers a wonderful punch at the end with an unexpected plot twist. A sure audience pleaser, Sixth Sense is solid, smart, subtle, atmospheric moviemaking. -- KCE

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills

*The Straight Story (G)

At first blush, David Lynch, director of such creepy stories as Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, is the last director you would imagine being attracted to this true story of Alvin Straight, a 73 year-old man who rode 350 miles on a John Deere lawnmower to visit his brother. So many elements work beautifully in The Straight Story. Lynch opts to tell the story, well, straight, without even a breath of cynicism. Richard Farnsworth is perfect in the role of Alvin -- expressive, reserved and grizzled with no trace of makeup or beautification to him. Sissy Spacek as his daughter Rose is equally plain, beautiful and poignant. It's the pacing, though, that I found miraculous. Under Lynch's careful guidance, and that of screenwriters John Roach and Mary Sweeney, we slow down from our hectic world and share Alvin's simple pleasures. By following the pilgrimage of Alvin, Lynch has managed to give us a gorgeous vision of America as it is and as it has been. We are lucky to be allowed to share the director's vision, and to experience, once again, the world at two miles per hour. -- AL


*The Talented Mr. Ripley (R)

Anthony Minghella meticulously recreates the feel of the 1950s jazz era in Italy where everyone loves anything American. Matt Damon delivers a fine, nuanced performance that grows on the viewer. As Tom Ripley, a deeply disturbed young man who longs to be someone other than himself, Damon moves from fumbling geek to smooth expatriate with boyish intensity and dark charm. Brit Jude Law is a revelation as Dickie Greenleaf, object of Ripley's lustful admiration, a rich American kid who spends his days soaking up the sun and his nights in smoky jazz clubs. Glowing cinematography, a rich musical soundtrack, well-rounded characters, a literate narrative and nail-biting suspense are combined by Minghella to produce one of the richest, old-fashioned in the best sense of the word, films out of Hollywood this year. -- KCE

Chapel Hills; Carmike 10

*Three Kings (R)

Bold, adventurous and in-your-face. Director-writer David O. Russell (Spanking the Monkey) has penned a tight, provocative script that combines some of the best elements of a good war film with heavy doses of contemporary social commentary. George Clooney plays Special Forces Captain Archie Gates, cynical, worn-out and two weeks from retirement. Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube play reservists with dead-end jobs back home, called up for the Gulf War. Spike Jonze is Private Conrad Vig, an overgrown juvenile delinquent from Texas who alternates between a sort of lovable stupidity and delirious combat lust. Dwelling on the crass commerciality of the Gulf War and the narrow perception at home of the damage wrought to Iraqi citizens by our carpet bombing and premature pullout there, Three Kings disturbed me all over again, and comforted me in an odd way. I couldn't help hoping George Bush gets a chance to see it. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*Toy Story 2 (G)

Toy Story 2 manages to construct even wilder gags, and to stretch even further the idea of the secret life of toys than the first, but it also leaves an even more bittersweet aftertaste. At its most heart-wrenching, this chipper cartoon is also a parent's stricken fantasy of being outgrown by their children. The mix of silliness, affection, and piercing nostalgia -- and yes, artistry -- keeps kids and adults engaged simultaneously. -- Jim Ridley

Citadel Terrace

*The Whole Nine Yards (R)

See full review, page 41

Carmike 10; Academy Station 6; Tinseltown

*The World is Not Enough (R)

Pierce Brosnan can do no wrong. He gleams with all the requisite savoir-faire and charisma that James Bond demands. Robert Carlyle does a brilliant turn as the ruthless terrorist Renard. Michael Apted, best known for his fantastic 7 Up documentary film series and Coal Miner's Daughter, more than hits his directorial marks.The World Is Not Enough is, pound for explosion, a great return on your entertainment dollar. -- Cole Smithey

Chapel Hills


Boiler Room (R)

Giovanni Ribisi stars in the story of the rise and fall of Seth Davis, a college dropout who takes a job making cold calls in the "boiler room" of a small stock brokerage firm. When he masters the art of the sale and begins to make serious money, he enters a world of corruption, greed, lust and power. With Nia Long, Ben Affleck and Vin Diesel.

Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Tiffany Square

Boys Don't Cry (R)

1999 Academy Award nominee for Best Actress and Golden Globe Winner Hillary Swank plays Teena Brandon, a young transsexual who successfully becomes Brandon Teena, a male brutally murdered when his sexual identity is revealed. Also starring Chloe Sevigny (nominated for Best Supporting Actress), Peter Sarsgaard and Brendan Sexton.

Kimball's Twin Peak

Hanging Up (R)

Meg Ryan, Lisa Kudrow and Diane Keaton deal with love, the telephone and their wild Casanova of a father's (Walter Matthau) impending death in this comedy, directed by Keaton.

Carmike 10; Academy Station 6; Tinseltown; Tiffany Square

Pitch Black (R)

A pilot must crash-land her spaceship on a planet where monsters, aliens, murderers and other creepy-crawlies won't hurt you -- as long as you stay in the light. Starring Vin Diesel.

Chapel Hills; Academy Station 6; Tinseltown

Pulp Fiction (R)

Quentin Tarentino's long, strange trip into the world of drugs, sex, love, pimps and dance contests starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel and Bruce Willis.

Colorado Music Hall, 2475 E. Pikes Peak. Wed., Feb 23, 7:30 p.m. Free, double feature with Reservoir Dogs. Wear a black suit/black tie and get $1 Miller High Life.

Reservoir Dogs (R)

Modern noir crime classic by Quentin Tarentino, starring Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Eddie Bunker and Kirk Baltz as diamond thieves whose heist goes wrong when police kill two of their cohorts, and one of the survivors is found to be a traitor.

Colorado Music Hall, 2475 E. Pikes Peak. Wed., Feb 23, 7:30 p.m. Free, double feature with Pulp Fiction. Wear a black suit/black tie and get $1 Miller High Life.

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