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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. Morgan Freeman, an unshakable actor capable of youthful athleticism, dignified logic and emotional depths far greater than the script provides, is the sole reason to see this otherwise unsatisfying exploitation thriller. See full review. -- Cole Smithey

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Silver Cinemas, 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 writes daily in her diary the amount of pounds lost and gained, the number of cigarettes smoked, the alcohol units consumed. She swears that 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. Johnny 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

*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. 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

*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

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Josie and the Pussycats (PG-13)
In this remake, Josie and the Pussycats is a band that can get gigs only at the local bowling alley in Riverdale, USA, 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

Silver Cinemas

A Knight's Tale (PG-13)
A silly, light-weight medieval tale set largely in the jousting ring, with combat scenes so innocuous that the clashing of lances at high speed is visually digestible, even for the sensitive viewer. Babe/boy Heath Ledger plays William Thatcher, a tow-headed peasant who assumes the identity of an aristocrat in order to gain entrance to the ring. His successes take him from tournament to tournament, picking up characters along the way. Don't look for a history lesson, though the film tries lamely to sell you one in class warfare, and don't expect to be offended or riled up. A Knight's Tale doesn't have the dramatic power to raise a hair, but it's not a complete waste of time either. See full review. -- KCE

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

The Mexican (R)
The Mexican sports several good performances. Julia Roberts as Sam is predictably decent in her bratty, tough girl way, while Brad Pitt as the hapless Jerry manages some good physical comedy, but most notable is James Gandolfino as Sam's kidnapper. But some seriously troubling aspects to the film keep it from being either a good caper or a decent thriller. The Mexican is a sometimes funny, sometimes exciting, comedy/thriller/road trip flick that you might be glad you saw. Or you might not. See full review. -- AL

The Broadmoor

*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

*Save the Last Dance (PG-13)
While it doesn't exactly revolutionize race relations in the U.S., the interracial romance Save 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 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. 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)
In The Tailor of Panama, a film based on John le Carr's novel of the same name, MI6 spy Andy Osnard (Pierce Brosnan) is dispatched to Panama to learn what is to become of the canal now that it is wholly owned by Panama. In order to gather information in his newfound post, Osnard hooks up with tailor Harry Pendel (Geoffrey Rush), a tailor to all the new luminaries whose shady past makes him susceptible to bribes and blackmail. Unlike the earlier cold war thrillers at which Le Carr so excelled, there never seems to be quite enough at stake in The Tailor of Panama to elicit the heart-stopping, nail-biting response of a true thriller. It is only at the end where we see the cost of Pendel's deceit on his good friends that we realize something real has been lost. See full review. -- AL

Chapel Hills

*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

Silver Cinemas

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