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Movie Picks

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*All the Pretty Horses (PG-13)

Billy Bob Thornton's film version of Cormac McCarthy's award-winning novel, All the Pretty Horses, succeeds admirably, due largely to a superb screenplay adaptation by Ted Tally, best known for his screen adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs. Tally recognized the brilliance of McCarthy's spare, regional dialogue and kept most of it intact, resulting in an epic Western populated by a cast of characters who are heart-wrenching in their honesty. Matt Damon is absolutely credible as John Grady Cole, the last of a line of Texas ranchers whose family land is sold, and who sets out for Mexico in search of life as an authentic cowboy. And the strange young horse wrangler who joins them along the way, as played by Lucas Black, is one of the most startlingly fresh characters I've seen onscreen since Black's debut in Thornton's Slingblade. See full review. -- KCE

Chapel Hills; Cinemark 16

Bedazzled (PG-13)

The real delight of this film is Brendan Fraser. Each time he finds himself in a new ridiculous situation, Fraser demonstrates amazing comic talent, using a very plastic face and a slightly awkward physicality to produce radical transformations. The film almost falls flat at the ending, where the writers couldn't seem to resist the temptation to moralize. Fortunately, however, this blip doesn't destroy the film, it just makes the comedown from hilarity a little abrupt. Otherwise, Bedazzled is a genial comedic take on Faust, and a good showing by a talented actor. See full review. -- AL

Silver Cinemas

*Bring it On (PG-13)

With one foot firmly planted in the sexed-up teen genre, Bring It On is a perky and often hilarious take on the world of competitive cheerleading. Adorable Kirsten Dunst is head cheerleader Torrance. Coming up with a new routine in time for the nationals provides the central conflict of the movie, but the peculiar brand of adolescent sexiness native to cheerleaders dominates the film. The cheering is terrific, the teen-speak dialogue relentless, the camera moves supple and graceful, and the climax is sweet and satisfying. See full review. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*Cast Away (PG-13)

Cast Away is not a great film -- it wanders in the end and loses dramatic momentum almost fatally -- but Tom Hanks' is a great performance. At the beginning of the film, he is a hyperactive Fed Ex efficiency expert -- irritatingly smart, glib and precise. But his comeuppance is surviving a plane crash that kills all the other passengers and washing up on an island where he is helpless against the elements. Here, Director Robert Zemeckis' skill comes to play, creating a place where the viewer is drawn to feel as if she is actually there, partaking in the action. Hanks is touching, funny, painfully human. When he is finally rescued and returns to civilization, we don't give a damn about what will happen with his girlfriend at home, nicely played by Helen Hunt, we just want to see how he will adjust his life, given what he has learned. Zemeckis missteps and gives us what we don't want, but we can forgive him because the moments on the island were so entertaining and so remarkably well-acted by Hanks. See full review. -- KCE

Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16; Gold Hill Theaters

Charlie's Angels (PG-13)

This Charlie's Angels is no television throwback, but a tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top female martial arts fantasy in which every uttered word is a sexual innuendo -- and a funny one at that. Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore are utterly engaging as three gorgeous chicks with all the usual hangups who just happen to also be secret agents capable of dismantling the high-tech world's most sophisticated security system. Don't worry about the plot; it doesn't matter. All that matters is the pace and the ass-kicking which are both non-stop, cleverly filmed and arresting in a very Jackie Chan-ish manner. Diaz, in particular, shows terrific comic flair. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (PG-13)

With Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, director Ang Lee resurrects a popular form -- the swordplay kung-fu film of 1960s Hong Kong -- and turns it into something so beautiful that we forget we've been watching a martial arts flick. The story depicts the struggle for the soul of a disciple, filmed in Chinese dialects with English subtitles. In his exacting fashion, Ang Lee has seen to it that the words that cross the screen are perfectly choreographed. The translation is matched to the rhythm of speech, so that reading it becomes as natural as watching the action on the screen. The astonishing fight scenes have warriors catapulting across rooftops, through the branches of trees, and flying over waterfalls. All of Crouching Tiger is beautifully filmed, and it's one of those movies that offers images that stay with you. Still, it does not pretend to be profound; it's loaded with humor and tongue-in-cheek bows to Hollywood traditions. If I could choose only one film of 2000 as an absolute must-see, I'd go with the resplendent Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. See full review. -- KCE

Kimball's Twin Peak

*Extreme (not rated)

After seeing Extreme in Imax I now know why playing extreme sports must be such a rush. World class surfers, skiers, snowboarders and climbers fill the giant screen, taking the viewer into the world of daredevil sports and into the minds of the people that perform them. Arial views and extreme close-ups are narrated with voiceovers by the athletes, and backed up by a killer soundtrack from Soulfood featuring everything from world music to hip hop. -- John Lindsay

Cinemark 16 IMAX

Family Man

Family Man is a perfectly acceptable takeoff of the Frank Capra/ Jimmy Stewart film It's a Wonderful Life, but alas, it is remarkably ignorant of economic realities. Screenwriters David Diamond and David Weissman have conflated all social classes below the richest of the rich into one giant mush. What is missing is all the substance of its great predecessor: the sense of uplifting spirit, of connection, of community, of dignity and reward in self-sacrifice. Having lost their grasp of economic reality and community life from too long a stint in Hollywood, the creators of The Family Man have in turn lost the essence of one of the great modern Christmas tales. See full review. -- AL

Chapel Hills; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

Finding Forrester (PG-13)

Finding Forrester lags and lurches like an old Volkswagen navigating potholes in a bad neighborhood. Newcomer Rob Brown, an inexperienced, 16-year-old non-actor, does a perfectly respectable job in the role of Jamal, a well-read, basketball-playing, aspiring writer, but doesn't come close to the sophisticated acting level of, say, Joaquin Phoenix. Director Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting) lingers too long on setting up the characters before the story kicks in, and gives an overwrought weight to endless scenes between Jamal and his writing mentor William Forrester (Sean Connery). The top-heavy casting serves to give Sean Connery the floor as a grand master, massaging his role with flourishes and his signature Scottish charisma. After Van Sant's recent controversial remake of Psycho, Finding Forrester is predictable as a bow to the Hollywood powers-that-be to prove that Van Sant is still capable of directing mainstream dramatic hay. See full review. -- Cole Smithey

Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

*Meet the Parents (PG-13)

Within the framework of what, on the surface, looks like a typical family comedy lurks a biting satire on the empty material satisfactions of WASP existence in America. Ben Stiller is a Jewish male nurse who immediately unravels when he has to meet the parents of his girlfriend Pam (Teri Polo). Robert DeNiro gives a pitch perfect performance as Daddy Dearest for whom no suitor of his precious Pammy will ever measure up. Uproarious scenes of physical comic chaos meld with an interesting perspective on the untruths we tell to make ourselves look better in this ultimately sweet and very funny film. -- KCE

Broadmoor; Silver Cinemas

Miss Congeniality (PG-13)

This film is not sublime silliness, but dumb comedy. Nobody does bumbling and endearing better than Sandra Bullock and here she lets it rip. All of Miss Congeniality centers on her hilarious pratfalls and clumsy attempts to fit into the world of beauty pageants, and the laughs are plenty. Unfortunately, the filmmakers decided to rely almost completely on her excellent physical comedy and practically forgot the need for a script. See full review. --

Chapel Hills; Tinseltown; Carmike 10; Cinemark 16

*O Brother Where Art Thou? (PG-13)

See full review.

Tinseltown

Red Planet (PG-13)

Red Planet is a mildly enjoyable excursion, though not particularly mind stretching or dramatically compelling. Four men in the crew of an exploration spacecraft are catapulted onto Mars' surface while the female commander (Carrie-Anne Moss, The Matrix) stays with the crippled ship, trying to figure out how to get them all back to Earth. Val Kilmer brings his trademark low-key humor to the role of Mechanical Systems Engineer Robby Gallagher, the crew's non-intellectual fix-it man. There's nothing new here besides the barely camouflaged notion that once we wreck this planet we can just move on to another one -- the ultimate Mars fantasy. See full review. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

Remember the Titans (PG)

Remember the Titans glorifies youth, manhood and the pursuit of football as the best avenues for social justice. The field of justice is, in this case, an Alexandria, Va., high school ordered to desegregate in 1971, where the school board hires a black man, Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) to coach their successful Titans football team. As usual, Washington manages to hit just the right note throughout the film, helping to redeem a fairly cheeseball script and bring out its nobility. Whether the male/war model contributes to lasting change is questionable. But war makes for good un-nuanced drama, and Remember the Titans takes full advantage of that. See full review. -- AL

Silver Cinemas

*Thirteen Days (PG-13)

See full review. --

Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

*Traffic (R)

With Traffic, director Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich) delivers his most complex, pertinent, gritty, opinionated and well-acted film yet. Traffic should probably be viewed twice to appreciate the complexity of the plotting, moved forward by four separate stories that eventually intersect. All illustrate the impossibility of winning the War on Drugs -- a monumental battle resulting in loss of life, personal tragedy, untold loss of public funds thrown at the problem and massive profits for the suppliers. Soderbergh films his outstanding ensemble cast with a handheld camera, upping the immediacy of the action, and colors the segments with different filters, reminding us of where we are and color-coding our emotional response. Among the actors, Don Cheadle is a standout as is Erika Christensen in her feature film debut as a young drug addict. See full review. -- KCE

Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

*T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous (not rated)

The plot is dull and predictable (and contains way too many close-ups of our lead) but, who cares? We are here to see the dinosaurs. Unfortunately, they don't see as much screen time as one would hope -- Jurassic Park this ain't. That aside, when the big guys do appear, the 3D effects will have you jumping in your seat. The 3D effects, augmented by the huge sound system, are stunning. You may even forget that you are wearing special 3D glasses. (Don't worry. These are much better then the flimsy cardboard ones.) Some scenes may be a little intense for younger kids, but overall this should be a great family moviegoing experience.-- John Lindsay

Cinemark 16 IMAX

Vertical Limit (PG-13)

While the film promises a sophisticated thrill-ride, Vertical Limit succumbs to the same hackneyed ideas that weighed down other mountain-climbing movies like Cliffhanger and K2. By the time the fifth nitro-fueled explosion occurs, you may well ask yourself if it was the actors or the audience that the writers were mocking when they wrote the script. The movie does a very convincing job for the most part of placing an audience smack in the middle of cold, high-altitude terrain. But all of the well-observed details in the world can't redeem Vertical Limit for its penchant for explosions. I dare say that if the screenwriters had done away with any and all of them, it would have improved the movie by 50 percent. See full review. -- Cole Smithey

Chapel Hills; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

What Women Want (PG-13)

Gibson plays Nick Marshall, a chauvinistic ad exec whose boss (Alan Alda) passes him over for a promotion in favor of Darcy Maguire (Helen Hunt). When Nick has an accident with a hairdryer and a bathtub that miraculously makes him able to hear what women think, he uses his newfound power to undermine Darcy in her new position. Some cute comedy from Gibson and an empathy-enducing performance by the hapless Hunt who longs for everyone to understand that she isn't really a ball buster, just a nice girl doing a hard job. See full review. -- AL

Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16; Gold Hill Theaters


OPENING THIS WEEK

Chocolat (PG-13)

A small French town is disrupted when a newcomer (Juliette Binoche) opens up shop and begins to satisfy the townspeople's deepest desires with her chocolate confections. With Johnny Depp, Alfred Molina and Dame Judi Dench.

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills

The Gift (R)

Cate Blanchett, Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi, Hillary Swank and Katie Holmes star in the story of a young widowed mother working as a psychic in Savannah, Georgia. When one of her clients turns up dead, the secrets of the town surface and her "gift" is the only thing that can protect her family.

Tinseltown

The Pledge (R)

Sean Penn directs this 1950s thriller in which Jack Nicholson plays a Midwestern cop who promises the mother of a murdered child that he will find the killer. With Benecio del Toro, Hellen Mirren and Robin Wright-Penn.

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills; Cinemark 16

Snatch (R)

Diamond dealers, boxers, gypsies, car thieves and cockfights mingle in London's rough East End. An art comedy starring Brad Pitt,, Vinnie Jones, Benecio del Toro, Jason Statham, Jason Flemyng and Dennis Farina. Directed by Guy Richie.

Kimball's Twin Peak; Chapel Hills; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

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