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Movie Picks

'N Sync members fell out of sync in this lame teenie-bopper flick On the Line
  • 'N Sync members fell out of sync in this lame teenie-bopper flick On the Line

*Bandits (PG-13)
Barry Levinson (Diner,Rainman) might seem an unlikely director to helm a bank heist comedy in which a couple of escaped prisoners become outlaw heroes. Pratfalls, snappy dialogue and snazzy character work make Bandits a laugh-out-loud movie that even manages to pull off a surprise ending. The real treat at the bottom of the cinematic box of this film is Billy Bob Thornton's comic physicality and controlled vocal range. Bruce Willis stays in his signature mannered mode, allowing Thornton to steal scenes at will.-- Cole Smithey

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Captain Corelli's Mandolin (R)
Director John Madden has plenty of good material to work with here -- genuine historical context, a fine cast, breathtaking location, and the boundless cinematographic skills of John Toll (Braveheart). But he's managed to goof it all up by using all those goods in service of a trite romance. Starring Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz. -- Patton Dodd

Silver Cinemas

Corky Romano (PG-13)
Corky (played by Saturday Night Live's Chris Kattan) is a yellow, pink and turquoise kind of a guy working as a veterinarian assistant when his previously distanced, crime-embroiled father (Peter Falk) and two tough brothers (Chris Penn and Peter Berg) send him inside the FBI as an ace undercover man to steal incriminating evidence against them. Nothing near hilarity ensues. -- Cole Smithey

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Don't Say a Word (R)
A glorified kidnap thriller that bundles together gaudy New York City atmospheres with worn-out detective story plot devices in the hopes of creating suspense and surprise. The plot never crystallizes because there's never any doubt about how it will end. As an exercise in performance, Michael Douglas helms the movie with characteristic driving dedication while Brittany Murphy as not-so-insane psychiatric patient Elisabeth Burrows is all over the place as a teenaged girl hiding behind mental disease. -- Cole Smithey

Cinemark 16

The Glass House (PG-13)
As anyone who saw the previews for this slick piece of nothing knows, The Glass House is supposed to be a thriller. Unfortunately, the thrill is gone about 15 minutes into the movie when we understand, without having to think too hard, how the story is bound to play out. Bottomline: skip the overpriced ticket to this stinker; wait until it comes out on video or DVD. -- Kathyrn Eastburn

Silver Cinemas

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (R)
Director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy) apparently set out to retire his two best known characters, Stoner Jay (Jason Mewes) and his wide-eyed side kick Silent Bob (Smith), by deliberately making the worst film imaginable. Amazingly, the shtick works. A heist/road flick packed with guest appearances by Smith's actor and director friends (Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Gus Van Sant, Wes Craven and others), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is crude, rude, and funny as all get-out. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Silver Cinemas

K-Pax (PG-13)
See full review, page 54.

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

The Last Castle (R)
A year after his self-written and directed milestone The Contender, Rod Lurie falls inside Hollywood's movie machine to direct a lackluster prison/military action picture. Robert Redford exerts his standard workaday acting technique as General Irwin, a three-star General sentenced to a maximum-security military prison where he leads an uprising against the prison's immoral warden, Colonel Winter (James Gandolfini). -- Cole Smithey

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Monty Python and The Holy Grail (PG)
Parents, treat your adolescent children to some classic comedy -- reclaim the sublime hilarity of this 1975 spoof on King Arthur and company, religious practice, political doctrine and scientific inquiry by cult comedians Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. Your children will thank you. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills

*Mulholland Drive (R)
Director David Lynch returns with a vengeance to the lovely and depraved vision that made movies like Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart such stunning examples of the director's palpitating nature. Set in the area surrounding the famous Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, Mulholland Drive is, in the director's words, "a love story in the city of dreams." But one woman's dreams are another woman's amnesia-fueled nightmare as Betty, a struggling actress, and Rita, a shell-shocked and amnesia-ridden car crash victim, become love-locked duelists in a modern noir quest to find Rita's true identity and Betty, fame. Production designer Jack Fisk gives the film an immaculately crisp look that is well supported by composer Angelo Badalamenti's non-intrusive score. But the big surprises are the pitch-perfect offerings by Naomi Watts as Betty and Laura Elena Harring as Rita. Both actresses give finely tuned naturalistic performances in roles that demand micro to macro character shifts while maintaining glamour that is all Hollywood. -- Cole Smithey

Kimball's Twin Peak Theater

*"O" (R)
This modern-day rendition of Shakespeare's Othello is set in an elite private school in South Carolina, where the classic tragedy of jealousy and manipulation plays out among teammates on the school's highly competitive basketball team. Because the rhythm of the film and the arc of the story are voiced so thoroughly in cinema language, "O" is the closest I've seen a Shakespeare movie come to making you forget that it's Shakespeare. Director Tim Blake Nelson, most widely recognized as the goofy convict Delmar in O Brother, Where Art Thou? has a natural sense for the grit of tragedy and the film has a compulsive leanness and purity that cradles blistering performances by Mekhi Phifer, Josh Hartnett and Martin Sheen. -- Cole Smithey

Silver Cinemas

On the Line (PG)
See full review, page 54.

Cinemark 16

*The Others (PG-13)
Atmospheric storytelling, rich lighting, a superb set and a strong ensemble cast combine to make Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar's The Others a successful, though not particularly terrifying, psychological thriller. Starring Nicole Kidman. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Riding in Cars with Boys (PG-13)
Director Penny Marshall has created a perfectly passable film that nonetheless misses the boat. Riding in Cars with Boys gets sidetracked by too many small issues to fully explore the common, but still poignant, story of Beverly (Drew Barrymore) who, in 1965, gets pregnant by a perfectly nice but rather dull-witted Ray (Steve Zahn), when she is only 15. Barrymore does an OK job, though she really needs more work with her physicality; she relies too heavily on her face to do the acting work. The truly compelling acting comes from Steve Zahn who makes you love him even when you hate him, and who manages, with little help from the script, to convey the subtle pain of a man who wants to do his best but simply cannot. The raw material here was terrific but the adaptation did not do it justice. -- Andrea Lucard

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Serendipity (PG-13)
Serendipity is sweet but ultimately flavorless. John Cusack stars as Jonathan Tragar who bumps into lovely Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) while both are Christmas shopping at Bloomingdale's. It's clear to the audience that they are meant to be together, but naturally, it doesn't happen quite that simply and seven years later, Jonathan and Sara begin to dwell on what might have been. The movie enters a hide-and-seek, cat-and-mouse chase formula which annoys more than anything else. When it's finally all over, we wish that Sara and Jonathan had hooked up about an hour earlier. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Training Day (R)
Training Day is a brilliantly written and directed urban blood bath set in Los Angeles's mean streets of drug dealers, gang bangers and undercover detectives. Denzel Washington is brutally cruel as Alonzo Harris, a corrupt narcotics detective taking advantage of rookie officer Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) on his first day of training for an elite detective squad. As Washington's character sinks deeper into completing his own cash-fueled agenda, Hawke's character is forced to fight a very different battle against crime than he anticipated at the start of the day. Director Antoine Fuqua (The Replacement Killers) builds the film's ever increasing tension to a series of gut wrenching crescendos that put the movie on a par with Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant. -- Cole Smithey

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Zoolander (R)
I adored Ben Stiller's fluffy take on male models, narcissism and the utter ridiculousness of our fashion-obsessed culture. I even loved the blatant product placement/name dropping, especially Zoolander's wonderful Aveda commercial. Costumed as a mermaid, burbling underwater, he murmurs meaningfully, his pouty lips pursed: "Moisture is the essence of wetness. Wetness ... is the essence of beauty." The fatal gasoline fight scene won't escape any viewer's memory any time soon. The laughs keep coming in this silly satire, and I, for one, was grateful to be able to guiltlessly guffaw at a piece of harmless, very funny entertainment affectionately set in New York City. -- Kathryn Eastburn


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