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Movie Picks

Erika Christensen stars as a drug-addicted teen in Traffic
  • Erika Christensen stars as a drug-addicted teen in Traffic

*Blow (R)

See full review.

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

*Bridget Jones's Diary (R)

See full review.

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Brothers (R)

For a movie that is all about sex and romance, The Brothers is remarkably dull and didactic. Writer and director Gary Hardwick has forgotten the golden rule of screenwriting: the pages should be mostly white space. Instead, he has cluttered up his film with one overly-long conversation after another discussing the ins and outs of African-American love in the upper echelon. Despite some funny lines and occasionally amusing scenes, The Brothers came across like a well-meaning group therapy session full of type-cast characters and Crate and Barrel furniture. -- AL

Carmike 10, Tinseltown

*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. Hanks is touching, funny, painfully human, passing his time on a desert talking to a volleyball, washed ashore in a FedEx package. 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. Director Robert Zemeckis missteps and gives us what we don't want, but we can forgive him because the moments on the island were so entertaining, so beautifully executed and so remarkably well acted. See full review. -- KCE

Chapel Hills

*Chocolat (PG-13)

This latest endeavor by director Lasse Hallstrom (My Life as a Dog, Cider House Rules) is a charming little movie that follows the story of Vianne (Juliette Binoche), a free-spirited single mother who, along with her daughter Anouk (Victoire Thivisol) blows into a small French town in the 1950s. The actors in the film are quite delightful, if cast and costumed in the most stereotypical melodramatic ways. Depp is delicious as the romantic leading man, Judi Dench is her usual subtle and magnificent self as a crotchety landlady and abandoned grandmother, and Carrie-Anne Moss radiates betrayal and hurt as her widowed daughter. See full review. -- AL

Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

*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, and is filmed in Chinese dialects with English subtitles. The astonishing fight scenes have warriors catapulting across rooftops, through the branches of trees, and flying over waterfalls. For all of its profound beauty, Tiger 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

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Down to Earth (PG-13)

Chris Rock plays Lance, a bike messenger cum amateur comedian who dies too early and demands a second chance. "The boss" agrees, and puts him in a loaner body until a more suitable one shows up, so he ends up as Charles Wellington III, a wealthy and sleazy scion of New York society whose wife has just killed him. Fundamentally, Down to Earth has a good comedic structure and, by rights, should be an amusing send up of black, white, rich and poor. But Chris Rock, who co-wrote the screenplay, relies too heavily on stereotypes instead of characters, and the romantic story arc ends up trumping the comedic one. See full review. -- AL

Silver Cinemas

*Enemy at the Gates (R)

A World War II film that does not feature American soldiers is a rarity, and this one succeeds at bucking any number of Hollywood war-movie stereotypes. By choosing Vassili Zaitsev, a shepherd turned sharpshooter, as its hero, director Jean-Jacques Annaud is able to at once fascinate us with the spectacle of history we haven't seen before and draw us into the psychic conflicts of a boy who must suddenly become a man. Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley) hits all the right notes as Zaitsev. Ed Harris as Major Konig, the Germans' secret weapon, performs with a pointed zen-like intelligence. Some missteps in the dialogue may cause a snicker or two, but overall the drama of the film's central stories and the superb staging and filming overcome that handicap. See full review. -- KCE

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Extreme (not rated)

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. Backed up by a killer soundtrack from Soulfood featuring everything from world music to hip hop. -- John Lindsay

Cinemark 16 IMAX

*Heartbreakers (PG-13)

If you're longing for a robust comedy, full of audacious sight gags and surprises, then look no further. Director David Mirkin aces this inspired farce-parody about a mother and daughter con team who get in over their heads when love interrupts their marry-and-divorce-for-payoff schemes. Sigourney Weaver is a consummate comedienne as mother Max (and her incarnations Ulga and Angela) and Jennifer Love Hewitt, playing her big eyes and full lips, sends semaphore signals to the back row. There isn't an ounce of fat or an inch of slack in this snappy script. Heartbreakers is howling, naughty good fun. See full review. -- Cole Smithey

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

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

God love the Coen brothers. What kind of mind imagines Homer's Odyssey set in Depression-era rural Mississippi? This funny, slight idea is lovingly and solidly conceived and executed. George Clooney is pitch perfect as Ulysses Everett McGill, a smart-talking, slick-looking con man who breaks away from a penal farm chain gang and drags along the two guys who happen to be hooked up to him on either side -- dour Pete (John Turturro) and hapless Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson). The Coens create a perfectly imagined universe, inhabited by fiends and angels of all sorts. Tim Blake Nelson's performance is as sweet and friendly as a good old hound dog. Best musical soundtrack of the year. See full review. -- KCE


*Pollock (R)

Here, director and actor Ed Harris tells a story he obviously feels passionately about, and does it respectfully, in classic linear fashion, allowing the acting and the importance of the central figure to carry the film. The results are not completely successful, but Pollock is a film well worth seeing, first for Harris' portrayal of the mercurial painter, but foremost for Marcia Gay Harden's Academy Award-winning performance as Lee Krasner, Pollock's tough, devoted wife. See full review. -- KCE

Kimball's Twin Peak Theater

*Save the Last Dance (PG-13)

Save the Last Dance is well-intentioned, well-crafted and well-acted, and if it doesn't exactly revolutionize race relations in the United States, it does a damn sight better than recent claptrap like The Legend of Bagger Vance. It manages to find its way around stupid racist pitfalls by giving the two main characters -- Sara (Julia Stiles), a white suburban girl, and Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas), a black inner city boy who dreams of getting out of the ghetto -- equal weight. See full review. -- AL

Silver Cinemas

Saving Silverman (PG-13)

Can you say ... disgusting? There's no saving this nasty little vehicle aimed directly at the groin area of 14-to 15-year-old boys. In spite of the terrific comic stylings of Steve Zahn and Jack Black, this buddy flick is so burdened by its attempts to gross out the audience at every turn, that being mildly entertained at the beginning quickly becomes a faint memory. See full review. -- KCE


*Spy Kids (PG)

"Family movies" of the last few years have generally been pretty lame, full of mean-spirited goofiness, appalling gender stereotypes, and dumbed-down humor. What a relief to be treated to the silly, smart, well-conceived Spy Kids, just the kind of story you'd hope to spin yourself. The bad guys are really bad but not too scary, the slapstick humor is funny without being mean, the sets are wonderful fun-house send-ups of children's television. The movie never once talks down to the kids in the audience (or the parents either, for that matter), and it is full of terrific Inspector Gadget-like gizmos. There isn't a gun in the whole dang movie, praise the lord. The very smart and silly story is aided by very good acting on the part of both the adult and kid actors. Antonio Banderas, in particular, does a wonderful job of being both glamorous and campy at the same time. See full review. -- AL

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Chapel Hills

Sweet November (PG-13)

There are more than a few problems with this newest remake of a timeworn tale. It's too pretty to be true, too vapid to be bittersweet, too perfect to be real. Keanu Reeves' character is such a full-blown jerk in the beginning that we can barely swallow Charlize Theron's attraction for him. And her San Francisco apartment rivals the Friends set for charm, but must cost a small fortune in rent. Oh, and did I mention neither she nor he has a job? Theron and Reeves are so pretty onscreen one can almost forgive and forget these quibbles, but the oh-so-irritating dramatic climax devours all the pleasant moments in any film of this Love Story remake genre. See full review. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*Traffic (R)

With Traffic, director Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich) delivers his most complex, pertinent, gritty, opinionated and well-acted film yet. The complex plot is 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, Benicio Del Toro and Don Cheadle are standouts as is Erika Christensen in her feature film debut as a young drug addict. See full review. -- KCE

Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

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

As a story, T-Rex is dull and predictable but, who cares? We are here to see the dinosaurs. Unfortunately, they don't see as much screen time as one would hope. That aside, when the big guys do appear, the 3D effects will have you jumping in your seat. Some scenes may be a little intense for younger kids. -- John Lindsay

Cinemark 16 IMAX

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