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click to enlarge Kiddos, don't try this at home! Super Troopers gets stupid.
  • Kiddos, don't try this at home! Super Troopers gets stupid.

*Amlie (R)
The love child of French director Jean Pierre Jeunet who, in the past, has frightened and mesmerized with Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children. Though his characteristic blackness is still apparent, it seems Jeunet has finally decided to make a sweet film. Screen grabber Audrey Tautou, an ingenue with the neck and eyes of Audrey Hepburn, plays the winsomely beautiful and impish Amlie who has an overwhelming urge to help mankind by bringing lonely people together and healing the wounds of those hurt in love. The film's many subplots are endearing but her cat-and-mouse game with her own love interest -- designed to show us the emotional toll of her damaged heart -- is ultimately annoying and overly diverting. Altogether, Amlie is a pleasant confection, stylishly filmed and nicely acted. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Kimball's Twin Peak Theater

*A Beautiful Mind (PG-13)
With this film, director Ron Howard honors the kind of intellect that has long fascinated him. Who else would see the sexiness and intrigue of a Princeton graduate student who scribbles mathematical equations on the leaded glass windows of his dorm room? Russell Crowe seems born to play the part of Nobel Prizewinning mathematician John Nash who is also schizophrenic. And the beautiful Jennifer Connelly gets her breakthrough role here as Alicia, the physics graduate student who will eventually become Nash's wife, more than holding her own against Crowe's formidable presence. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Big Fat Liar (PG)
Although none of Big Fat Liar is particularly compelling, neither is it terribly noxious (aside from the rampant product placement). You could easily take your 10-year-old daughter, niece, neighbor, whatever, and not look at your watch. That's hardly a ringing endorsement, but it could be worse. -- Andrea Lucard

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Black Hawk Down (R)
Aside from the fact that this is the most viscerally real war film I've ever seen, what struck me most about Black Hawk Down is its timeless, apolitical look at battle. Unlike so many Vietnam films such as Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and Dead Presidents, which all comment heavily upon the absurdity of America's foreign war in a moral vacuum, Black Hawk Down refuses to judge the validity of the 1993 Special Forces operation in Mogadishu, Somalia. Instead, it focuses entirely on the way the soldiers must behave under fire. Please note: If you do not wish to see, or revisit, the realities of war, I highly recommend you skip this film. -- Noel Black

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Brotherhood of the Wolf (R)
Clearly fans of all manner of genre films, scriptwriter Stephan Cabel and director Christophe Gans smushed them all together in what might have been a really clever homage. Building off of apparently verifiable attacks on a French village in 1765 by something that probably was a wolf, but might not have been, the writers created hero Grgoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan), a biologist sent by the king of France to investigate the mysterious attacks. As befits a big-budget film, the cinematography is excellent, especially in the lush outdoor sequences filled with rain and snow and sun. However, the movie makes several fatal missteps: It takes itself too damn seriously and it perpetuates ridiculous and outmoded stereotypes. So, overall, what could have been a truly amusing, bang-up genre-bender ends up falling flat. -- Andrea Lucard

Kimball's Twin Peak Theater, Tinseltown

*Gosford Park (R)
A classic Dorothy Sayerstype murder mystery with a soupon of class and historical consciousness in the mix. The film takes place in 1932 at the home of Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon), a wealthy and lecherous English gentleman married to the beautiful and cold Lady Sylvia (Kristen Scott Thomas), where their extended family has come for a weekend shooting party. Like most of Robert Altman's films, this is a star-studded, extremely effective cast playing well-drawn characters with intersecting agendas. The unfolding plot can be confusing, even toward the end, but no matter; you're in the hands of a master so just sit back and be entertained. It's a glorious, pitch-perfect British romp. -- Andrea Lucard

Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

*In the Bedroom (R)
Director Todd Field's debut feature film quietly takes your heart and squeezes it with an iron fist. Based on the late Andre Dubus' chilly short story, "Killings," In the Bedroom portrays parental grief and loss more effectively and more thoroughly, possibly, than in any American film since The Sweet Hereafter. Nick Stahl is just the right mix of hormonal glee and youthful innocence as Frank; Marisa Tomei is tone perfect as Natalie, the working-class young mother trying to put a life together; William Mapother makes your skin crawl as Natalie's husband Richard, especially when he tries to be friendly or conciliatory. The performances of Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek as Frank's adoring parents, Matt and Ruth Fowler, are triumphs of subtlety and depth. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Tinseltown

*Lord of the Rings (PG-13)
Director Peter Jackson makes brilliant use of the camera to enhance the action, and the sets, costumes and digital animation speak for themselves magnificently in this triumphant film adaptation of the Tolkien classic. The acting suspends disbelief for all but a few moments. Let the fanatics hash out the discrepancies with the book in their chat rooms. Peter Jackson did it. And this film is cool. Very cool. -- Noel Black

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*The Man Who Wasn't There (R)
See full review, page 22.

Kimball's Twin Peak

*Monster's Ball (R)
See full review, page 22.

Tinseltown

The Mothman Prophecies (PG-13)
Thriller starring Richard Gere as Washington Post reporter John Klein who searches for the meaning behind his dying wife's last words. Also starring Debra Messing and Laura Linney. -- not reviewed

Cinemark 16

Rollerball (PG-13)
A remake of a 1975 sci-fi fantasy starring Chris Klein, LL Cool J and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as teammates forced to play the killing sport of rollerball. -- not reviewed

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*The Royal Tenenbaums (R)
The oddball brains behind the head-scratching hit Rushmore and the Sundance breakthrough Bottle Rocket, Wes Anderson has a new film under his belt, one that's no less remarkable and perplexing. The Royal Tenenbaums, co-written with long-time friend and actor/collaborator Owen Wilson, tells the story of a dysfunctional New York dynasty a la Woody Allen with a brood of baby geniuses. It showcases Anderson's peculiar talent -- an ability to sneak stealthily back and forth across the Berlin Wall that divides comedy and drama while building plots on characters who just as deftly tread the line between caricature and humanity. -- Noel Black

Tinseltown

Super Troopers (R)
Whether or not you'll like Super Troopers will depend upon a number of factors: Are you now, or have you ever been, a stoner? Are you now, or have you ever been, a frat boy? Do you think fat jokes are funny? Are you white? Do you think drunken brawls are funny? Have you ever hazed someone? Are you between the ages of 12 and 25? And most importantly, are you male? If you answered "yes" to two of the above questions, chances are about 50-50 that you'll find this film amusing. If you answered "yes" to all of the above, you are guaranteed to split your sides laughing. If you answered "no" to most of the above, stay far, far away. -- Andrea Lucard

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

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