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click to enlarge As beautiful as it is passionate  Frida is the story of painter and pop icon Frida Kahlo starring Salma Hayek
  • As beautiful as it is passionate Frida is the story of painter and pop icon Frida Kahlo starring Salma Hayek

*8 Mile (R)
The fact is Eminem's as talented and charismatic on screen as he is on his records and in concert. That's what got him where he is -- and that alone is enough to keep you in your seat for Curtis Hanson's 8 Mile. As I'm sure you've heard, the plot follows the same underdog-done-good formula as Rocky. Instead of a beef-pummeling Italian meatball coming up from the ghetto in Philadelphia, we have a bumper-pressing white-trash rapper coming up from the ghetto in Detroit. Instead of fists, we've got lips. Instead of a boxing match, we've got an MC Battle. Etc., etc. ... As far as the acting goes, Eminem is able to stay just far enough outside his various personas to seem almost like the person I would imagine "the real Marshall Mathers" might be. Brittany Murphy plays a perfect hot-'n'-slutty-feminist-out-for-herself type and Mekhi Pfifer, Evan Jones, Omar Benson Miller and D'Angelo Wilson form a believable coterie. Kim Basinger (as Stephanie, the mom) is adequate. But what ultimately makes 8 Mile most interesting and entirely likable is that it makes a valiant and competent attempt to dramatize and put a face on a new generation of class struggle. White "middle class" is now waking up to find itself where most American minorities have been all along -- in poverty -- and Eminem's giving a voice to those issues. -- Noel Black

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Die Another Day (PG-13)
See full review, page 32

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Emperor's Club (PG-13)
See full review, page 32

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Far from Heaven (PG-13)
See full review, page 33.

Kimball's Twin Peak

*Frida (R)
For a movie whose pre-release publicity promised visual innovation and imaginative treatment, Frida tells the life story of Mexican painter and pop culture icon Frida Kahlo in a surprisingly straightforward, chronological fashion. Salma Hayek certainly has the look for the starring role, and dressed in bright folk costumes with elaborately braided hair ornaments, she captures all that we know of Kahlo except her despair, her worldliness, her sophistication and her passion as a painter. Hayek's range as an actor, as well as the script (penned by at least four screenwriters -- always a bad sign), ultimately limit the film's emotional effect. That said, what's worthwhile -- indeed sublime -- about Frida is the production design, the art direction and the exquisite musical soundtrack. Here we see great imaginative leaps: news collages come to life, portraits melt into their real-life subjects, and life exists in a whirl of color, tone and motion. And Alfred Molina as the larger-than-life, muralist Diego Rivera practically steals the movie. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills, Kimball's Twin Peak

Friday After Next (R)
Comedy starring Ice Cube and Mike Epps as Craig and Day-Day, who get robbed by a phony "ghetto" Santa and are forced to work as low-rent security guards while they try to track him down. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Half Past Dead (PG-13)
A criminal genius tries to sneak his way into a high-tech prison to get an inmate on death row to tell him the location of $200 million in gold from an unsolved heist. Starring Morris Chestnut, Steven Seagal and Ja Rule. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (PG)
Let's accent the positive: this film is a better movie than its predecessor, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. However, the two movies, while sturdy and workmanlike, haven't yet captured the charm and magic of the Harry Potter books. Part of the problem lies in their too-faithful rendition of the books onto screen; part of the problem lies in pacing, with too much emphasis laid upon special effects (granted, they're great, but that's not the point) and not enough on story -- the movie is almost three hours long and still the ending is confusing. That said, when a movie sets out to be sequel-ized, a special dynamic sets in; the artists and the audience understand they're in it for the long haul and, with each movie, the world and the characters within it stand less on their own -- and the strength or weakness in the work becomes visible through accretion, film by film. So, go see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and then wait and see. You may not be able to tell whether this movie works until, let's see, perhaps 2010, when the series is finally put to bed. -- Andrea Lucard

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

I Spy (PG-13)
Loosely based on the late-'60s TV show, this comedy stars Owen Wilson as a CIA agent whose assignment is to recover the Air Force's newest weapon: a stealth bomber. Eddie Murphy plays his reluctant partner. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Jackass: The Movie (R)
The big-screen version of the MTV series featuring Johnny Knoxville and his pals performing a series of questionable stunts. -- Not reviewed

Tinseltown

*My Big Fat Greek Wedding (PG)
A delightful confection of a film. The pacing of the first half of the film is a little slow, but it picks up nicely when the whole crazy extended family gets into the act. Romantic comedies require a deft touch, and the writing of Nia Vardalos (who also plays the lead) provides it. -- Andrea Lucard

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Ring (PG-13)
A remake of a 1998 Japanese thriller about a journalist (Naomi Watts) who finds and watches a videotape with a disturbing history -- everyone who has watched it has died within seven days. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Santa Clause 2 (G)
Eight years after the original, Tim Allen returns as Santa. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones (PG)
Only five theaters in the country will be showing Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones on the IMAX screen and Colorado Springs is one of them.

Cinemark IMAX through Dec. 1

Sweet Home Alabama (PG-13)
After watching Sweet Home Alabama, I couldn't remember a thing I had seen in the last two hours and couldn't stop singing that obnoxious song for two days. Reese Witherspoon is so chipper and attractive that she almost carries Sweet Home Alabama off, but the actress who swept us away with her brilliant performance as the bratty good girl in Election is nowhere apparent here. That script demanded smart acting and a keen understanding of character. This script relies on pretty faces, cliches and soggy stereotypes. In the end, you don't care if her character comes home or not. You just want to get out of the theater before that blasted song starts again. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Cinemark 16

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