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click to enlarge Lola and schoolmate Ella have a couple of bad hair days in Confessions of a Teen Age Drama Queen.
  • Lola and schoolmate Ella have a couple of bad hair days in Confessions of a Teen Age Drama Queen.

We did not receive schedules for Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15 and Cinemark IMAX. Please call the theaters for times and film information.

50 First Dates (PG-13)
As much as I enjoyed this romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, I want to scold the director for succumbing to gross-out jokes to attract Sandler's core audience. Henry (Sandler), a veterinarian at Sea Life Park, Hawaii, meets Lucy (Barrymore) unaware that she suffers from a brain trauma that causes her short-term memory to erase each night. Henry falls for her and decides that the best thing for Lucy is to face her memory problem. Sandler is to be congratulated for his best role since Punch Drunk Love. But it is Barrymore who holds the film together and has rarely been so captivating. Minus the crudity, 50 First Dates would have been an even better romantic comedy. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Against the Ropes (PG-13)
Female boxing manager Jackie Kallen (Meg Ryan) struggles to make her way in a male dominated sport. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Along Came Polly (PG-13)
The world's most cautious man (Ben Stiller) makes his living analyzing high risks. When he falls in love with a girl (Jennifer Anniston), he takes the risk of cheating on his newlywed wife (Debra Messing). -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16

Barbershop 2 (PG-13)
Another installment of the comedic tale about a barbershop on Chicago's South Side owned by Earnest Calvin (Ice Cube), who is carrying on the family business. Not reviewed.

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Brother Bear (G)
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Butterfly Effect (R)
Ashton Kutcher stars in and executive produced this creepy time-travel tale. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Catch That Kid (PG)
Twelve-year-old Maddy (Kristen Stewart) and her father (Sam Robards) have always shared a love of mountain climbing. When a climbing accident injures her father's spine, Maddy decides to break into a high-security bank (with a vault suspended 30 feet above the floor) in an attempt to steal the money necessary to fund her father's surgery. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16

Cheaper by the Dozen (PG)
Steve Martin coaches a football team and tries to take care of his 12 children while his wife, played by Bonnie Hunt, is out of town. A remake of the comedy classic from 1950. -- Not reviewed

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*Cold Mountain (R)
Although the parts of this film are greater than the whole, scenes with brilliant staging and cinematography, strong performances and a compelling story line make Cold Mountain a worth-see. It tells the story of would-be lovers Ada (Nicole Kidman) and Inman (Jude Law), separated at first blush by the battle call of the Civil War. Many memorable moments never really congeal into a dramatic whole, but those moments -- including a gut-wrenching enactment of the Battle of the Crater; the arrival of Ruby Thewes (Renee Zellweger) at Ada's decrepit doorstep; and episodes from Inman's Homeric odyssey homeward -- gracefully depict the cultural and physical devastation caused by the war, and the unexpected female empowerment experienced by Ada and Ruby as they learn to get by on their own. Zellweger and Law are Oscar nominees for best supporting actress and best actor. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Tinseltown

Confessions of a Teen Age Drama Queen (PG)
Hip New Yorker Lola, freshly relocated to the Jersey suburbs, can't quite fit in at her new school. As Lola guns for the lead role in the school play, she's pitted against the reigning teenage queen, who has a few aces up her sleeve. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Elf (PG)
Will Farrell's brilliant comic turn as a human raised in the North Pole as one of Santa's elves, returned to New York City to reunite with his birth father (James Caan). -- Kathryn Eastburn

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Eurotrip (R)
When Scotty discovers that his online German pen pal is gorgeous, he and three friends travel overseas to meet her. As they travel across Europe, the four friends have comical misadventures. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Girl With a Pearl Earring (PG-13)
The old sarcasm, "That's about as exciting as watching paint dry," takes on new meaning with this lovely but lifeless film. Tracy Chevalier's novel, on which the film is based, is an imaginative treatment of the mysterious subject of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer's 1665 masterpiece "Girl in Turban" aka "Girl With a Pearl Earring." Johannes Vermeer (Colin Firth) and his prissy wife Catharina (Essie Davis) sweep into Griet's (Scarlett Johannson) home and take her away to be their maid. The plot revolves around the painting of Griet, Vermeer's secret unspoken desires and Catharina's jealousy. Every shot in the film is framed and lighted as a potential painting by Vermeer. But the human drama at the center of the film never quite reaches room temperature. The film's most gorgeous scenes are lost in this otherwise cold, bloodless cinematic exercise by first-time director Peter Webber. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Kimball's Twin Peak

Gospel of John (PG-13)
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Haunted Mansion (PG)
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*Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (PG-13)
The final installment of Peter Jackson's epic to end all epics is upon us and the word from the embedded Middle Earth reporter is not good. Tolkienistas will defend this film to their last breath (or until they finally manage to kiss a girl). Jackson will test your devotion to computer graphic beasts, gratuitous battle scenes and dialogue mawkish enough to make daytime television look like some sort of social realist experiment. -- John Dicker

Basically, Return of the King was the bizzity-fo-shizzity-biznomb, and by bizzity-fo-shizzity-biznomb, I mean totally wicked and completely awesome. The fact that Jackson defied everyone but John Dicker by making an impossibly gorgeous, technically improbable film that not only did full justice to Tolkien's final installment of the Rings, but one that also took unthinkable liberties with its plot and still got away with it, is just ... it's just in-friggin'-comprehensibly wonderful. While you may want to bring your hemorrhoid cushion, it's a ride worth the bumps! (Academy Award nominations for best picture, best director, best-adapted screenplay.) -- Noel Black

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Looney Tunes: Back in Action (PG)
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*Lost in Translation (R)
Films like this deserve a special MPAA rating of BP: Be Patient. Bill Murray stars as Bob, a whiskey company spokesmodel on assignment in Tokyo. There he hooks up with lonely young newlywed Charlotte, played by Scarlett Johansson. Directed by Sofia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides) who refreshingly avoids what could easily descend into a staid midlife crisis film about yet another older-man-younger-woman tryst. It's Bob and Charlotte's spark of desperately needed connectivity and recognition of their respective desperation that sets it apart. Lost in Translation is also quite funny, complete with an understated slapstick sensibility rarely seen in the American art house. Bill Murray on a treadmill. Billy Murray with a thickly accented Japanese hooker. Bill Murray at a karaoke bar. The laughs come to those who wait. BP. -- John Dicker

Tinseltown

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (PG-13)
Academy Award nominee for best picture, best director (Peter Weir). Stars Russell Crowe. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16

Miracle (PG)
Kurt Russell stars as the coach of the U.S. National Hockey team, led to Olympic victory over the seemingly invincible Russian team. Based on a true story. Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Mona Lisa Smile (PG-13)
1950s, Wellesley College, Julia Roberts, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kirsten Dunst. Need we say more? -- Not reviewed

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*Monster (R)
The monster in the title of this shudder-inducing film is not Aileen Wuornos, highway prostitute and serial killer, played by Charlize Theron. "The Monster" was a big Ferris wheel with red and yellow lights that Wuornos, as a teen-ager, was too terrified to ride, a symbol of her adolescent vulnerability and the childhood she never had. Wuornos, as portrayed in Monster, was a woman with a history of poverty and dreadful abuse who made a long string of bad choices, culminating in her first murder, and then escalating into a prolonged madness. She was not a monster, but a profoundly damaged human. Theron plays Wuornos' decline into blind rage and murderous despair with a world-worn ache rarely seen onscreen. This is simply one of the purest, deepest, emotional immersions into a character in movie history. It is a rare occasion in the movies when an actor becomes a character, and this is one of those extraordinary occasions. The rest of the actresses who received Oscar nominations might as well sit back in their designer gowns, because Academy Award night this year belongs to Charlize Theron. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Kimball's Twin Peak

*Mystic River (R)
Based on a Dennis Lehane novel, Mystic River is a triptych character study and a mournful noir that flirts with being a traditional thriller, but thankfully is not. It's about damaged men and their grief, laced with the haunting questions of "what if?" Director Clint Eastwood does a remarkable job of balancing his characters' salt-of-the-earth machismo with equal amounts of recrimination and regret. Oscar nominations for best picture, best director, best actor (Sean Penn), best supporting actor (Tim Robbins) and best-adapted screenplay (Brian Helgeland). -- John Dicker

Tinseltown

Paycheck (PG-13)
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The Passion of the Christ (R)
See interview, page 34.

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Peter Pan (PG)
Take a trip back to Never Never Land with real actors and every favorite character from the all-time classic: Tinkerbell, Peter and your favorite evil pirate: Captain Hook. -- Not reviewed

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*Something's Gotta Give (PG-13)
Diane Keaton, at 57, gives the best performance of her career as Erica, a successful playwright in her 50s who thinks she's "closed for business" when it come to love and sex, until she meets Harry (Jack Nicholson), a lecherous 63-year-old who happens to be dating her 20-something daughter (Amanda Peet). Keaton has already won best actress accolades from the National Board of Review and the Golden Globes, and garnered a best actress Oscar nomination for her depiction of the emotional vulnerability and volatility, the just-below-the-surface sorrow that comes with aging. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Cinemark 16

Stuck on You (PG-13)
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Timeline (PG-13)
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*Triplets of Belleville (PG-13)
You don't have to be an animaniac, a Francophile or a freedom-frying Francophobe to appreciate Sylvain Chomet's first feature, The Triplets of Belleville. Chomet's animation is dark, almost macabre, with richly textured cityscapes that keep your eyes scanning for hidden details. And Triplets' plot is simple: A boy known only as Champion has grown up in a small, quickly urbanizing French town with his doting grandmother, Madame Souza, and Bruno, a dog obsessed with barking at trains. Champion grows into a professional cyclist with bulging calves hilariously disproportioned to his emaciated torso and a mouth ever panting for air. Bruno grows ridiculously plump, while Madame Souza remains bent on training her grandson for the Tour de France. Though Triplets is a French-language film, it contains no subtitles because there's almost no dialogue. It's hard to explain why Triplets is so delightful through a plot summary. What makes it work is the interplay between visually complex animation and a simple plot line. -- John Dicker

Kimball's Twin Peak

Welcome to Mooseport (PG-13)
Gene Hackman, a former President of the United States, retires to Mooseport, Maine to write his memoirs. Local townspeople convince him to run for mayor and he goes up against a popular hardware store owner, Ray Romano. The competition becomes intense as Hackman develops an interest in Romano's girlfriend (Maura Tierney). -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

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