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click to enlarge Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) trails journalist Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep), seeking to find a way to adapt her book The Orchid Thief to the screen in  Adaptation
  • Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) trails journalist Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep), seeking to find a way to adapt her book The Orchid Thief to the screen in Adaptation

*About Schmidt (R)
The story of a browbeaten insurance salesman rendered with loving disenchantment by Jack Nicholson. The role is new territory for Nicholson -- easily his most interesting film since the sexual dramas of the '70s. About Schmidt's a prime pick of an otherwise unremarkable Academy Award homestretch. -- John Dicker

Cinemark 16

*Adaptation (R)
The story of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Nicholas Cage) and his struggle to adapt New Yorker writer Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief into an honest, faithful screenplay. It's a meditation on the creative process, a reproach against self-scrutiny, and a load of fun. -- John Dicker

Tinseltown

*Antwone Fisher (PG-13)
See full review, page 27.

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Catch Me If You Can (PG-13)
From its stylish, animated opening credits to its peppy John Williams score, Catch Me If You Can exudes the innocence that colors many Spielberg efforts. Though its central character, Frank Abagnale, Jr., is a notorious con-man, he is portrayed as a boy wonder, a Spielbergian creation enamored of life's endless possibilities. And it works, due largely to impeccable casting. Leonardo DiCaprio is perfect in this role and it's a relief to watch him charm his way through the film after seeing him strain ineffectually for three hours in Gangs of New York. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Chicago (PG-13)
Directed by musical theater veteran Rob Marshall, Chicago's more a filmed stage play than a movie musical in the classic sense. Characters don't burst into song while hanging the laundry out; Chicago is about showbiz and most of its numbers occur onstage. The social commentary is biting and apt if slightly clichd: Fame is fleeting; the media is fickle. But who cares? Chicago is really about the old bump and grind. Catherine Zeta-Jones is cold and powerful as Velma Kelley, a hoofer with a heart of steel. Her singing is top-notch and her dancing is lurid and assured. Rene Zellweger gives it her all as Roxie Hart, but her singing pales next to Zeta-Jones and supporting star Queen Latifa, and her dancing, while technically adept, appears tight and somewhat strained. Richard Gere is suitably smarmy as attorney Billy Flynn and John C. Reilly is Chicago's most pleasant surprise, turning in a tour de force performance as Roxie Hart's hapless and devoted husband Amos. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Tinseltown

*Die Another Day (PG-13)
As Pierce Brosnan has remarked in an interview, Die Another Day is like one-and-a-half Bond films in one. The film's most concrete secret weapon is Halle Berry, who has signed a three-movie spin-off deal for her character Jinx. -- Cole Smithey

Cinemark 16

*Drumline (PG-13)
This story of a Harlem boy who enters the legendary world of show marching bands at fictional Atlanta A&T University rocks in the tradition of the 2001 cheerleading flick Bring It On. Booty-shaking and life affirming, it is, unlike its predecessor, populated with characters that look and feel like real people. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills

Gangs of New York (R)
Martin Scorsese's epic historic fantasy of the "hands that built America" is a mesmerizing, bloody slog through the mean streets of mid-19th-century New York City. As a spectacle, it works. As a coherent statement about the conflicting elements that built a neighborhood, a city and ultimately a nation, it fails. A revenge drama, it comes equipped with the required characters and plot -- slain hero (Liam Neeson), avenging son (Leonardo DiCaprio) and brutal villain/face of evil (Daniel Day-Lewis), with a pretty damsel (Cameron Diaz) thrown in for good measure. DiCaprio is adequate as a scrappy street fighter turned revolutionary, but his character is grossly overshadowed by the psychotic freak show that is Day-Lewis' performance as Bill the Butcher. Ultimately, the film is beautiful, bloody, confusing and overwhelming. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Just Married (PG-13)
That '70s Show goofball Ashton Kutcher teams up with Brittany Murphy in this romantic comedy. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Kangaroo Jack (PG)
A musician and his childhood friend, a New York hairstylist, get mixed up with the mob and must go to Australia to deliver $100,000. They're put to the test when a kangaroo runs off with the money. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (PG-13)
Allow me to state without equivocation that Peter Jackson's The Two Towers is the best film about hobbits, elves, orcs and wizards since last year's Fellowship of the Ring. But seriously, Jackson does a masterful job of stitching together three separate plots and though the story itself doesn't advance much, it almost sustains its three-hour length. Jackson's strength in The Two Towers is combining a visual realization of Middle Earth's inhabitants, and utilizing the New Zealand landscapes to instill a sense of pending dread and ephemeral beauty. -- John Dicker

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Maid in Manhattan (PG-13)
A sweet Cinderella story turned into a lazy piece of hog slop, sugarcoated and caramelized to make it go down easy. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, 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

Cinemark 16

*Narc (R)
See full review, page 26.

Tinseltown

*Real Women Have Curves (PG-13)
Sundance Audience Awardwinner Real Women is being compared to My Big, Fat Greek Wedding, but that comparison is not apt. Where Greek Wedding lampoons its ethnic roots, Real Women digs in for some meaty cultural analysis. America Ferrera is Ana, a second-generation Mexican-American teen-ager in East L.A., eager to broaden her horizons and leave home for college. But her stubborn mother Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros) won't hear of it, insisting that Ana must take her place in the family's garment factory, overseen by sister Estela (Ingrid Oliu). Ana knows a sweatshop when she sees one and battles her family's expectations furiously. Leavened with some much-needed humor, the film is basically a mother-daughter coming-of-age tale, sensitively told. The production quality is rough, as are some of the supporting performances, but the film's honesty and good intentions outweigh aesthetic considerations. Highly recommended for young girls. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Kimball's Twin Peak Theater

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