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click to enlarge Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp in Blow
  • Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp in Blow

Along Came a Spider (R)
Along Came a Spider favors surprisingly futile plot twists over character and story development. The film lays a trail of suspense thriller clichs so meticulously that you can almost hear the screenwriter sweating over how to kick sand over the predictable plot. But because Morgan Freeman is an unshakable actor capable of youthful athleticism, dignified logic and emotional depths far greater than the script provides, he is the sole reason to see this otherwise unsatisfying exploitation thriller. See full review. -- Cole Smithey

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Blow (R)
Part social portrait and part biopic, Blow plays like an essential predecessor to Steven Soderbergh's Traffic. Johnny Depp gives a spellbindingly naturalistic performance as George Jung, the real-life main character whose alliance with the Colombian cocaine cartels during the '70s and '80s landed him behind bars for drug trafficking. Director Ted Demme puts a sympathetic face on an intensely individualistic man whose propensities for crime brought him immense riches but eventually cost him everything he cared about. See full review. -- Cole Smithey

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Bridget Jones's Diary (R)
Bridget Jones's Diary, the movie, leaves most of the funny parts of the novel intact. Bridget is still a 30-something single woman bent on self-improvement who swears she will find herself a nice, adult man for a serious relationship, and immediately finds herself in bed with her charming and ne'er-do-well boss. The movie's great strength is in the casting. Rene Zellweger is dead-on perfect as the perpetually injured, hopeful and feisty Bridget. Hugh Grant is utterly delightful as her slimy and sexy boss, Daniel. See full review. -- AL

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*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, Cinemark 16

*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

*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. See full review. -- KCE

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Hannibal (R)
In Hannibal, sequel to the wildly successful Silence of the Lambs, we follow Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to Florence where he surfaces after a few post-escape years in exile. Hopkins is completely disarming with his greasy charm, and Julianne Moore works well as the matured, toughened FBI agent Clarice Starling, but director Ridley Scott loses his way early in the film, allowing it to become a lurid, overblown comic book adventure featuringthe grossly disfigured Mason Verger (Gary Oldman) and his henchmen as the bad guys. Any suspense is drowned out by the oddly giddy blood antics and, for the most part, we end up being mildly entertained by the lovely art direction and camera work. Any discourse about the nature of evil is lost in the spectacle. See full review. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

Josie and the Pussycats (PG-13)
In this remake a spin-off girl comic, Josie and the Pussycats is a band that can get gigs only at the local bowling alley in Riverdale, USA. That is, until the three-boy band Dujour, the latest rock 'n' roll rage, disappears in a plane wreck; then the Pussycats' fortunes suddenly change. What Josie et al. don't realize is that their music has become a cover for a far-reaching plot to get teenagers to buy one faddish thing after another... Ultimately, Josie and the Pussycats is more interesting than it might have been, but still falls far short of the mark. See full review. -- AL

Chapel Hills

A Knight's Tale (PG-13)
See full review.

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Memento (R)
Directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Guy Pearce, Memento is a startling murder mystery in the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock, and a bundle of promise for everything that follows from Nolan. The story: Leonard Shelby (Pearce) lost his wife in a brutal murder/rape, and with the police uninvolved, is determined to solve the crime himself. But he's severely handicapped: Due to brain damage suffered while fighting his wife's attacker, he can remember everything that happened prior to the accident, but everything since is forgotten -- over and over again. The most strategic device in the film is an inverted timeline. The story begins at the end and works backward, giving us -- and Leonard -- tiny clues to discover how the tumultuous plot pieces together. We experience Leonard's frustration; like him, we have no memory of what has come before. You have to promise to see this movie. Memento is inventive, compelling, and worth seeing twice. See full review. -- Patton Dodd

Kimball's Twin Peak

*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 last year. See full review. -- KCE

Tinseltown

One Night at McCool's (R)
There's just enough senseless death, lacking morals, and bad hair-dos to condemn this movie as one Tarrantino knock-off too many. If it weren't for the film's wise casting choices (Matt Dillon, Paul Reiser and John Goodman), the movie's already lacking entertainment value would be less than zero. It's a predictable dark comedy centered on three men's recollections of disastrous events caused by their meeting the same woman, Jewel (played by Liv Tyler), at a bar called McCool's. Unfortunately, there isn't enough of a synergy between the characters to reveal much about them as characters, much less people an audience would care about. See full review. -- Cole Smithey

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Save the Last Dance (PG-13)
While it doesn't exactly revolutionize race relations in the U.S., the interracial romanceSave the Last Dance is well-intentioned, well-crafted and well-acted. 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

*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. 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. And there isn't a gun in the whole dang movie. 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, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Tailor of Panama (R)
See full review.

Chapel Hills, Kimball's Twin Peak

Town and Country (R)
Is there anything more embarrassing than watching an over-the-hill casanova try to put some pep in his step by ceaselessly bird-dogging young, attractive women? That is the experience of watching Town and Country, the ill-fated comedy from British director Peter Chelsom starring Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn and Garry Shandling. More than enough has been written about the production woes of Town and Country -- over budget, over schedule, re-shot, re-cut and re-edited -- but in the end, it's little more than a 90-minute long humiliation for stars and audience alike. See full review.

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16

*Traffic (R)
With Traffic, director Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich) delivers his most complex, pertinent, gritty, opinionated and well-acted film to date. 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. See full review. -- KCE

Tinseltown

*You Can Count on Me (R)
Screenwriter and director Kenneth Lonergan won top honors at Sundance last year, and for good reason. You Can Count on Me is an artfully crafted tale in which a young brother and sister are orphaned by a car accident, leaving the two children to rely upon one another. The story picks up with Sammy (Laura Linney), as the single mother of seven-year-old Rudy (Rory Culkin), in the weeks when her much beloved but ne'er do well brother Terry (Mark Ruffalo) comes back to the family home in upstate New York. The movie focuses on character more than action, and explores the complicated love that grown siblings can share. See full review. -- AL

The Broadmoor, Silver Cinemas

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