Movie Picks 

click to enlarge Anywhere but here
  • Anywhere but here

*An Ideal Husband (PG-13)

The story revolves around Sir Arthur Goring, a famous dandy played with chiseled perfection by Rupert Everett. Cate Blanchett plays Lady Chiltern, lifelong pal and former suitor of Goring, and devoted wife of Sir Robert Chiltern (Jeremy Northam). When her ideals are shattered, she must decide whether to stand on principle or stand beside her husband, and many of the film's best scenes belong to her. An Ideal Husband flows effortlessly from scene to scene, courting the audience with its wit and exceptional beauty. Director-writer Oliver Parker's adaptation of the work of Oscar Wilde pays honor and does justice to the master of mannered comedy. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*Anywhere But Here (PG-13)

This mother-daughter buddy film, based on the Mona Simpson novel, feels like a series of withdrawn comments. Because of that, and in spite of two terrific performances by the leads, Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman, Anywhere But Here ultimately feels slight and dishonest. Portman is sublime -- complex and multidimensional. Her performance is grave, weighted and flawless. Sarandon gives it the old college try, pulling off some touching scenes, but in general, her character is less satisfying than Portman's. As written by Alvin Sargent (Julia, The Sterile Cuckoo), Adele fluctuates between wackiness and lovability, mania and depression, but her character never gels as the complex, deeply troubled woman we suspect she is. Many shiny, sun-bleached California scenes, accented by a trippy Danny Elfman score, move the film and the characters along in a kind of PMS fog, and several are endearing. See it for Portman's performance. -- KCE

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills; Carmike 10

The Bachelor (PG-13)

Pleasant enough and originally conceived in the beginning, The Bachelor sacrifices itself to the groaning weight of a grandiose Hollywood production scene in the end. Chris O'Donnell is fresh and attractive as Jimmy Shannon, a declared bachelor who must give up his freedom to meet the requirements of his grandfather's will, and Renee Zellweger is the love of his life, Ann. The Bachelor aspires to be a fresh take on romantic comedy -- as seen from the guy's point of view -- and almost succeeds. But the director just couldn't resist the appeal of a massive chase scene down the streets of San Francisco, involving, gulp, 1,000 screaming women in bride's dresses. It's hard not to be off-put by this excess, when the film could have been a tight, fresh take on the romantic conundrum. -- KCE

Chapel Hills; Tinseltown

*Being John Malkovich (R)

Spike Jonze's bizarre adult comedy, Being John Malkovich, is a wonderfully acted, witty take on the lengths we will go for our 15 minutes of fame. John Cusack is marvelous as Craig Schwartz, a brilliant loser puppeteer who takes a filing job in a bizarre office building where he discovers a secret door. When he crawls through it, he is inexplicably drawn into the body and mind of actor John Malkovich where he remains for 15 minutes, then is spit out into a ditch off the New Jersey Turnpike. If this sounds terribly mundane, be assured it is not. Jonze's direction, the brilliant script by first-timer Charlie Kaufman, razor sharp cinematography by Lance Acord (Buffalo '66) and the outstanding ensemble cast combine to make this one whirlwind of a moviegoing experience. Unexpected turns keep the audience alert and interested, and the payoff is the film's ability to sustain the central conceit. Ingenious casting helps too. Orson Bean as Dr. Lester and Mary Kay Place as his receptionist Floris provide some of the film's silliest and funniest moments. And don't worry, you'll still like John Malkovich when it's all over -- the guy has one helluva sense of humor. -- KCE


Bowfinger (PG-13)

Steve Martin plays the ever hopeful but perennially unsuccessful director Bobby Bowfinger, looking for his big break. His only hope for success is to draw a big-name star to his film that otherwise features a handful of eccentric wannabes. Eddie Murphy is terrific as a neurotic, grandiose superstar, and in a double-turn as his own geeky brother, Jiff. But Heather Graham, as an ambitious starlet, comes across as a stale stereotype. Crowded with too many Hollywood clichs, Bowfinger is simultaneously good-natured and cynical -- a fun romp but not fully successful as a spoof. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

Deep Blue Sea (R)

Deep Blue Sea is a curious hybrid of the mad scientist flicks of the '50s and '60s and the high-tech horrors that started back in the '70s with Jaws. Updated for savvy '90s audiences, the mad scientist is now a woman, the devoted assistant is a hunky guy, and the script keeps us guessing who will be devoured next by the 45-foot long, brain-enhanced shark created in an undersea lab. Despite its overwhelming incredibility, Deep Blue Sea does what it sets out to do: bolts the audience out of their seats with high-pitched action and sends them home to shark nightmares. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*Dogma (R)

Dogma is utterly silly and pleasantly tinged with a mischievousness that's irresistible. Director Kevin Smith's script is typically verbose and vulgar, and the casting works wonderfully throughout, with stellar moments from Alan Rickman as the angel Metatron, nice low-key consistency from the disillusioned Linda Fiorentino, and a wonderful turn by Jason Lee as a demon up from Hell to assist fallen angels Loki and Bartleby (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) in their scheme to get back to heaven. A bit too long, Smith should have foregone the special effects-driven scene that unleashes the demon Golgothan (an excrement slinging monster) and stuck with the delightful cast of characters, but overall Dogma is funny, even affirming in its exploration of the foibles of faith. -- KCE

Kimball's Twin Peak; Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown

*The Insider (R)

Russell Crowe turns in the best performance of his career as the beleaguered Jeffrey Wigand -- the corporate whistleblower who brought big tobacco to its knees -- lending his character the heavy, tangible weight of conscience and family responsibility. And as CBS producer Lowell Bergman, Al Pacino gives a fine, modulated performance. Given the opportunity to be holier-than-thou, Pacino frequently stoops to breast-beating, but here he tones down his righteousness. Christopher Plummer is perfectly cast as anchorman Mike Wallace, and Mann's depiction of the journalist paints a picture of a dignified, aging celebrity caught in one of the most difficult moments of his career -- one where he makes the wrong choice, but we are led to understand his flawed reasoning. Director Michael Mann's style with the camera works well with this material -- in most of the movie's scenes, we are made aware that more is happening than just what we see in the foreground. Shots are framed off-center, creating a tension between what we can and cannot see, between what we know and don't know. -- KCE

Chapel Hills; Tinseltown

The Messenger: The Story of Joan Of Arc (R)

What a disappointment. The Messenger is a badly paced, gratuitously violent film that manages to turn one of the most exciting tales of Western civilization into a study of bad special effects and worse psychobabble. How many wonderful stories reside in this tale? Stories of class, gender, faith, politics, physical struggle -- all of these have participated in her legend and made 500-year old history worthy of telling today. Instead of any of these, however, director Luc Besson (The Professional) opts for a medieval retooling of Rambo 5. Unintentionally, The Messenger treads perilously, close to Monty Python and the Holy Grail sans good spirit and humor. Besson paces this movie so poorly (its two-and-a-half hours feels closer to three), and Jovovich delivers virtually all her lines with... the... same... inflection...and...speed.... that the power of moments which should be profound are lost. None of this gives us insight into the remarkable story of the peasant girl visited by god and led by faith to extraordinary feats, and, unfortunately, makes for sorry filmmaking as well. -- AL

Tinseltown; Carmike 10

Runaway Bride (PG-13)

Garry Marshall's heavily hyped re-joining of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Most of the film is merely a set-up for the eventual coupling of Mr. Drop Dead Gorgeous and Ms. Drop Dead Gorgeous, though a star turn by Joan Cusack as Roberts' best friend makes you wish Ike would sweep her away and dump Julia. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*Sixth Sense (PG-13)

Sixth Sense is a fluid, compelling and genuinely scary ghost story starring Bruce Willis as Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist. Willis' character leads a charmed life with his wife (Olivia Williams) and his fulfilling, successful career until the night he gets plugged by a dissatisfied former patient. We next see Crowe, shaken and changed, outside the house of Cole Sear, a little boy with anxious tendencies and, apparently, deep psychological problems. Turns out Cole can see the dead, and those with unfinished business often show up in his bedroom at night. The most startling moments of the film all revolve around the appearance of those ghosts. Haley Joel Osment, the child actor who plays Cole, is tortured, convincing and winning. Willis doesn't make a false move. The film delivers a wonderful punch at the end with an unexpected plot twist. A sure audience pleaser, Sixth Sense is solid, smart, subtle, atmospheric moviemaking. -- KCE

Chapel Hills; Tinseltown

Sleepy Hollow (R)

See full review, page 33

Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Citadel Terrace; Tinseltown

*Stir of Echoes (R)

Kevin Bacon plays Tom Witzky -- an average guy who falls into a dark, spirit-ridden world after being hypnotized -- with delirious muscularity, gruffness and frenetic energy. Seven-year-old Zachary David Cope plays Jake, Tom's clairvoyant son, and holds up favorably in the inevitable comparison to Sixth Sense's Haley Joel Osment. Stir of Echoes captures a classic horror feel right out of the starting gate and moves with unrelenting force for the first solid hour. While nowhere near as slick as Sixth Sense, Stir of Echoes is tough, atmospheric and brimming with danger. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

The World is Not Enough (R)

See full review, page 33

Kimball's Twin Peak; Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Tinseltown


End of Days (R)

When the personification of all that is evil is unleashed, Arnold Schwarzenegger must save the world from destruction.

Tinseltown; Carmike 10

Flawless (R)

Walt Koontz (Robert DeNiro) is an ultraconservative retired security guard who, after suffering a stroke which leaves him partially paralyzed, very reluctantly agrees to a rehabilitative program that includes singing lessons with a performer who lives upstairs -- a street-tough drag queen named Rusty.


Mumia Abu-Jamal: Case for Reasonable Doubt (not rated)

A documentary outlining the facts surrounding the 1981 arrest of the Philadelphia radio journalist, Black Panther and supporter of the anti-government Natural Law MOVE organization. The case was never fully investigated and many believe a new trial should be heard due to police misconduct. He was scheduled to die Dec. 2, but a stay of execution was issued due to international pressure and a habeus corpus appeal.

Boulder Theater, Boulder. Wednesday, Dec. 1, 8 p.m. $5.25, 303/786-7030.

Toy Story 2 (G)

Buzz Lightyear, Slinky Dog, Mr. Potato Head, Rex and Hamm must save Woody after he is kidnapped by an obsessed toy collector while Andy is away at camp. Sequel to the computer-animated 1995 blockbuster, featuring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Dn Rickles, Jim Varney and John Ratzenberger.

Gold Hill Theaters; Tinseltown; Chapel Hills


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