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click to enlarge Shaft open this week
  • Shaft open this week

*Center Stage (PG-13)

Themes of loss of innocence, fierce physical training vs. fun, talent vs. determination, real life vs. art, the sexy lead male dancer vs. the earnest up-and-coming rookie are all played out with intelligence and style in Center Stage. Best of all, they are largely staged on the dance floor and enacted by a whirlwind cast of beautiful, talented young dancers, including American Ballet Theater's rising star, Ethan Stiefel. Director Nicholas Hytner's (The Madness of King George, The Crucible) staging and camera work are exemplary. We are treated to overhead shots that emphasize the patterns of the ballet; foot level shots that reveal the intricacies of the dance; long shots, short shots and swirling crane shots that embrace the beauty and difficulty of ballet with affectionate and knowledgeable vision and virtuosity. See full review.-- KCE

Chapel Hills

*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. And the film tells a whopper of a true story. Roberts transcends Brockovich's exploitative wardrobe with a gritty performance, precise comic timing, a foul mouth and intense focus. See full review.-- KCE

Silver Cinemas

Frequency (PG-13)

Director Gregory Hoblit knows how to create tension, and succeeds here with dark lighting, a cast of compelling characters and the magnetic charm of late 1960s New York summer nights. Unfortunately, Hoblit was swayed somewhere in the production process, and gradually the threads of the story he set out to tell begin to unravel as he throws in too much new stuff -- like cheap special effects in the climactic scene -- and succumbs, finally, to a completely illogical and smarmy happy, happy and totally implausible ending.See full review. -- KCE

Citadel Terrace

*Gladiator (R)

Russell Crowe (The Insider) acts up a righteous storm in his Roman get-up, proving once and for all that his versatility as an actor matches his prowess. Though director Ridley Scott would like you to think Gladiator is about strength, honor, duty, democracy and the danger of mob rule, in truth, it is an old-fashioned revenge drama -- and a pretty good one at that. Crowe as Maximus, beloved general of Roman troops turned slave, then gladiator, and Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus, insecure usurper to the throne, make marvelous foes. Unfortunately, Scott is so enamored of his production team's ability to show heads, hands and other body parts being severed, that the fight scenes become clamorous and redundant. See full review.-- KCE

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

*Keeping the Faith (PG-13)

Gifted young actor and now director Edward Norton comes forward with a sweet Gen-X piece in which three childhood best friends -- Brian (Norton), now a Catholic priest; Jake (Ben Stiller), now a rabbi; and Anna (Jenna Elfman) -- are reunited at the crest of real adulthood, just as they turn 30. When Anna returns to New York City, Jake and Brian hook back up with her, and both of them immediately fall hopelessly in love. The resulting complications echo classic screwball romances of the 1940s. The three young actors maintain a believable, warm rapport throughout the film, and their story is absolutely endearing. See full review.-- KCE

Tiffany Square

*M: I-2 (Mission: Impossible 2) (PG-13)

Mission: Impossible 2 revels in the seductiveness of masculine super action with all the bells and whistles of techno-gadgets, fast cars and explosions attached. It's more romantic than anything in a James Bond movie and boasts better Kung Fu scenes than The Matrix. Director John Woo keeps similarities to director Brian De Palma's 1996 Mission Impossible to a minimum in this very dissimilar sequel by incorporating his signature slow motion, ballet-of-bullets action sequences against the taut resolve of Tom Cruise's most ambitious action performance to date. Cruise performed his own stunts, much to the chagrin of Paramount studio execs. The film's realism of danger allows it to operate on a higher level of believability and determination. See full review. -- Cole Smithey

Tinseltown; Citadel Terrace; Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Gold Hill Theaters

*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 an 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. Like a decent marriage in its middle years, Return to Me is mostly predictable and formulaic, and comforting in its solidity. See full review.-- AL

Silver Cinemas

Where the Heart Is (PG-13)

Director Matt Williams has a solid handle on the rough-hewn, working class sensibility of white middle America, but shows here he knows far less about structuring a movie whose story spans almost six years. Screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel treat Letts' book like a serial sit-com, lining up all the funny tales in a row, interrupting the flow of what's good in the movie -- namely, the cast. Natalie Portman is Novalee Nation, a pregnant 17-year-old who gets dumped by her boyfriend outside an Oklahoma Wal-Mart. She plays the part well but, ultimately, is miscast. Her inate coolness and sophistication make it impossible to believe her as a free-spirited, dirt poor savant who has managed to survive in spite of a compete lack of worldliness. Stockard Channing is marvelously spaced-out and eccentric as Sister Husband, a mother hen type who takes in Novalee. Ashley Judd is solid (though also too sophisticated) as Lexie Coop, a local woman with a brood of babies named after snack foods, who can't seem to find or keep a decent man. Pleasurable but irreparably harmed by its choppy structure. See full review.-- KCE

Tiffany Square

  • Our reviewers' recommendations for films showing on Colorado Springs area screens.

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