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Davide Duchovny and Minnie Driver in 'Return to Me'
  • Davide Duchovny and Minnie Driver in 'Return to Me'

*American Beauty (R)

Strong visual style, fabulous acting, and quirky writing 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 and Academy Award winner Sam Mendes did a remarkable job of learning the vocabulary of filmmaking and using it to create a multi-layered visual and psychological delight. See full review.-- AL

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills; Citadel Terrace

*Black and White (R) Tinseltown; Carmike 10; Chapel Hills

See full review.

*Boiler Room (R)

A deftly told tale of the sleazy underside of the stock market -- Wall Street bottom feeders who get rich selling little known, unreliable stocks to unsuspecting investors. Giovanni Ribisi finally gets the star turn he deserves as Seth Davis, an unsuspecting young trainee who is caught up in the hype of the get-rich-quick scheme. Engaging and fast-paced throughout -- with the exception of a drippy subplot involving Ribisi and his father, a stern judge -- The Boiler Room is a stylish peek into a universe where greed truly rules. Ribisi transcends the bare outlines of his character in the scenes where he goes for the sell, sweating and squirming. Outstanding supporting cast includes Ben Affleck and Nia Long. -- KCE

Tiffany Square

*Cider House Rules (PG-13)

John Irving, who wrote the novel, did an excellent job of paring down his long, Dickensian work into a cogent screenplay that doesn't sacrifice its heart in the translation. The characters' quirks and charms are intact, especially those of Dr. Larch, an eccectric abortionist played by Michael Caine with an overwhelming kindness and vulnerability. His scenes glow with humanity, and Tobey Maguire's low-key performance as Homer, Larch's disapproving proteg, provides an interesting counterpart. A heartwarming film. See full review.-- KCE

Tiffany Square; Tinseltown

*Erin Brockovich (R)

Erin Brockovich succeeds quietly, thanks largely to director Steven Soderbergh's (Out of Sight) sure hand, even with a diva like Roberts in front of the camera. In 1996, a file clerk named Erin Brockovich came across old real estate records that led her to find that a $28 billion utilities corporation had systematically poisoned the community of Hinkley, California, by allowing a pipe-cleaning agent to infiltrate the ground water. Brash and outspoken Brockovich enlisted attorney Ed Masry in what became the largest direct-action legal settlement in American history, winning a $333 million award for their clients. Roberts transcends Brockovich's exploitative wardrobe with a gritty performance, precise comic timing, a foul mouth and intense focus. The impeccable casting of the two lead males -- Finney as Ed, Erin's partner in justice and comic foil; and Aaron Eckhart (In The Company of Men) as the biker next door who becomes Erin's trusted babysitter and lover -- further cements the film's success. Finney enjoys some of the best moments he's seen onscreen for years, and Eckhart's natural bearing and low-key demeanor provide a strong balance to Roberts' inescapable star quality. See full review.-- KCE

Tinseltown, Kimball's Twin Peak; Chapel Hills; Carmike 10

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.See full review. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

Hanging Up (R)

Despite a weak script, Meg Ryan and her co-stars Diane Keaton and Lisa Kudrow do their level best to portray three sisters whose father Lou (Walter Matthau) is succumbing to illness and senility. The film has a strange, mechanical feel to it, as if the writers were just learning screen craft from a text book. Occasionally the movie has some moving moments, but unfortunately, those moments are few and far between, and silliness is allowed to prevail over a film of real potential. This is the underlying flaw of Hanging Up -- real characterization is replaced by a series of facile, surface traits, and real issues are swapped for a fluffy, feel-good gloss. See full review. -- AL

Tiffany Square

*High Fidelity (R)

High Fidelity is based on the 1996 Nick Hornby novel of the same name that follows Rob (John Cusack), a thirty-something owner of a record store who begins a small and delightful Odyssey to find his former girlfriends and find out what went wrong with their relationships. The film is blessed with the great combination of subtle screenwriting and strong performances. Cusack as Rob is funny, self-deprecating, immature but loveable. Rob talks directly to the camera, which has the effect of translating the sensibility of the novel to the screen. Meanwhile beautiful Iben Hjejle, who plays Rob's ex-girlfriend Laura, delivers an understated performance as the girl who has grown up while her boyfriend has not. Working in Rob's store is Dick (Todd Louiso), the arrogant bastard who will fight you tooth and nail over whether a song title begins with a "the," while his counterpart is the insanely shy Barry, beautifully rendered by Jack Black. -- AL

Tinseltown

*Keeping the Faith (PG-13)

See full review.

Tinseltown, Carmike 10; Tiffany Square

My Dog Skip (PG)

There isn't really much that holds this film together besides a rather ponderous narration that says, "Skip helped me turn from a child to a boy," or "Skip helped me turn from a boy into a man." There are some good performances by Kevin Bacon who plays Willie's dour and over-protective father and Willie himself, played by funny-faced young actor Frankie Muniz. Most compelling of all are the dogs who play Skip -- the wizards of Hollywood animal training are able to teach these dogs to do great things on command, from climbing into a toilet to running wide choreographed circles to disrupt a baseball game. By all accounts, Skip really was a remarkable animal. See full review.-- AL

Chapel Hills; Citadel Terrace; Tinseltown

*Return to Me (PG)

Bob Rueland (David Duchovny) is madly in love with his wife, who dies suddenly in a car crash. Her heart is donated to a anonymous recipient, who turns out to be Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver). Grace works in an Irish-Italian restaurant owned by her grandfather (Carroll O'Connor). Duchovny happens to end up there one day and some miraculous force immediately attracts the two. Despite this silly premise, Return to Me really is a perfectly fine romantic comedy. Both Duchovny and Driver have a good sense of comic timing, Carroll O'Connor mostly keeps his up his Irish accent, and the actors are aided by a sometimes clever script that delivers some funny surprises and some good tear-jerking moments. Like a decent marriage in its middle years, Return to Me is mostly predictable and formulaic, and comforting in its solidity.See full review.

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Gold Hill Theaters

*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. See full review.-- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*Sleepy Hollow (R)

In Director Tim Burton's hands, the tiny Hudson River valley town of Sleepy Hollow becomes a mythical place where gnarled trees silhouetted against a foggy background speak volumes. Johnny Depp brings a humorous finickiness to the character of Ichabod Crane. He is prissy, prim and immaculate, and he doesn't take well to the sight of gore. But Crane's transformation to action hero is palatable too -- Depp moves from prude to swashbuckler with real movie star grace and charisma. And the horseman himself -- massive and shrouded in black -- proves to be a striking central focus of the film, despite his missing head. Burton revels in special effect, and his wild creation, the tree of the dead, is a memorable cinematic marvel. This Sleepy Hollow will, no doubt, prove to be a Halloween video classic. See full review.-- 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. See full review.-- Jim Ridley

Silver Cinemas

*The Whole Nine Yards (R)

A comedy about a retired Mafia contract killer (Bruce Willis) who moves into a quiet Montreal suburban neighborhood. That The Whole Nine Yards is so amusing and unexpected is a tribute to really good writing. Screenwriting newcomer Mitchell Kapner has loaded the film with the kind of funny throwaway lines that you want to remember and repeat to your friends. The humor of the film also gets a lift from some decent physical comedy on the part of Matthew Perry. While the humor is very clever and tongue-in-cheek, the violence of the film is not. All the killing in the midst of the comedy was a little creepy. Squeamishness, and a deep wonder at our warped American psyche aside, however, The Whole Nine Yards is a lightweight, clever comedy, and writer Kapner will be one to watch. See full review. -- AL

Tiffany Square

*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. See full review.-- Cole Smithey

Silver Cinemas


OPENING THIS WEEK

28 Days (PG-13)

Sandra Bullock plays a party girl who parties a bit too hard and ends up in a court-ordered, 28-day rehab program. There she learns that maybe your "inside can match your outside." With Azura Skye, Elizabeth Perkins and Diane Ladd.

Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown

American Psycho (R)

Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a young, white, handsome, Ivy League-educated Wall Street businessman -- and also a brutal serial killer whose ego fuels his frenzied homicidal activities. With Willem Dafoe, Reese Witherspoon and Jared Leto. Based on the graphic and controversial novel by Brett Easton Ellis.

Chapel Hills; Tinseltown

Frequency (PG-13) sneak preview

As a grown man, Dennis Quaid discovers a way to prevent his firefighter father's 1969 death, not realizing that by changing the past he has inadvertently caused a series of long-ago grisly murders, including that of his mother. With Andre Braugher.

Chapel Hills, Sat., April 15, 7 p.m.; Tinseltown, Sat. April 18, 8:15 p.m.

The Manchurian Candidate (PG-13)

After a Korean War vet finally returns home, his nightmare-plagued friends begin to think he has been turned into a killing machine by his Communists captors. With Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury.

Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St. 634-5583. Tues., April 18, 7:30 p.m.

Titus (R)

Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange star as the Roman general and the enemy Queen in the film version of Shakespeare's most violent tragedy, Titus Andronicus.

Kimball's Twin Peak

Where the Money Is (PG-13)

Henry Manning (Paul Newman) was the best bank robber around in his younger days, before he ended up as a catatonic vegetable in a prison nursing home. His nurse (Linda Fiorentino), however, begins to suspect that perhaps Henry isn't exactly as pathetically helpless as he appears. With Dermot Mulroney.

Chapel Hills; Tinseltown

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