Movie Picks 

Angela's Ashes (R)

Director Alan Parker clearly reveres Frank McCourt's memoir of his impoverished Irish childhood, but Angela's Ashes, the film, is a dour excursion from start to finish. How many times do we need to see a member of the McCourt family vomit graphically, to understand their sour stomachs or the stench of their living quarters? The point, of course, is that poverty stinks and is humiliating. We get it, already. The child actors who play Frank at three different stages are all fetching, and the film actually picks up in spots where we are allowed entre into their perverse little heads. McCourt's depiction of the haggard, beaten-down Angela are among the book's most moving, but Emily Watson (Angela), who is great at playing eccentrics, feels too flimsy to carry the weight of the character. She simply looks bored. In spite of the exquisite filming, the tone and flavor of McCourt's memoir are buried in the squalor. People who loved the book will be disappointed; people who didn't read it will simply wonder why the movie was ever made in the first place. See full review. -- KCE

Chapel Hills

*Anna and the King (PG-13)

Unlike the 1956 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, this retelling of Anna Leonowen's (Jodie Foster) story is rather serious in its treatment of the relationships between Asia and the British during the age of British expansion. Jodie Foster's work is subtle and well informed. Acting opposite Chow Yun-Fat (playing King Mongkut) must have been a great pleasure, for the man is not only easy on the eyes but has a wonderful command of facial expression that underscores the trials of an intelligent, regal ruler struggling to keep his country out of the hands of foreign domination. Go to be captivated by the kind of spectacle that Hollywood alone can create, the organizational and visual feats of lush scenery, beautiful costuming, and good special effects, and you won't be disappointed. See full review.-- AL

Chapel Hills; Citadel Terrace; Gold Hill Theater

*Cider House Rules (PG-13)

Dr. Larch (Michael Caine), is a man who spends half his life caring for unwanted children and the other performing abortions. When the chance arises, oldest orphan and Larch's unapproving protg in the obstetrics business, Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire), sets off to explore the world with Woody and Candy (Paul Rudd and Charlize Theron), a handsome young couple who have just availed themselves of Dr. Larch's services. Delroy Lindo gives a powerhouse performance as Mr. Rose -- the head of the picking crew on the apple farm owned by Woody's mother -- who has an incestuous relationship with his daughter, wonderfully played by hip-hop artist Erykah Badu. John Irving, who wrote the novel, did an excellent job of paring down his long, Dickensian work into a cogent screenplay that doesn't sacrifice its heart in the translation. The characters' quirks and charms are intact, especially those of Dr. Larch, played by Caine with an overwhelming kindness and vulnerability. His scenes glow with arresting humanity. See full review. -- KCE

Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Academy Station 6

Double Jeopardy (R)

Despite an excellent cast and clever premise, Double Jeopardy is plagued with problems. Ashley Judd is tough, fierce and intelligent as the wronged mother and wife, but her grit and good looks are wasted in an otherwise predictable, formulaic script. Tommy Lee Jones as her parole officer merely tags along. Gorgeous location shots of Vancouver and New Orleans provide momentary visual distractions but add little to the drama, and sloppy sound editing detracts throughout. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*The End of the Affair (R)

Novelist Graham Greene's crankiest, most autobiographical novel is adapted for the screen and filmed by director Neil Jordan with such precision and care, it feels like an original work. The End of the Affair is the story of jaded author Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes); his lover Sarah Miles, played with pale delicacy and depth by Julianne Moore; and her drab husband, civil servant Henry Miles (Stephen Rea). Fiennes is in top form as the disenchanted '40s intellectual, embittered by Sarah's breaking off of their affair when a bomb drops near the London building where the two are making love. Gorgeous period detail, soft-edged cinematography and rich characterization by the three principal actors all serve Jordan's elegant script well. Slow at first, the film gathers intrigue as it progresses, introducing subtly the central religious, moral and philosophical questions while staying focused throughout on the faces and actions of the central figures. Jordan fans will be delighted with his return to form after last year's horrible In Dreams. The End of the Affair ranks right up there with his best works. See full review.-- KCE

Tiffany Square

End of Days (R)

End of Days is a dreary, exploitative action film in which it's devil time again. The plot has The Dark One (Gabriel Byrne) seeking out a 20-year-old virgin named, of course, Christine (Robin Tunney) who has been predestined to bear the devil a son. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays ex-cop Jericho Cane, who takes it upon himself to protect Christine both from The Man. Director Peter Hyams does nothing to brighten up or energize screenwriter Andrew Marlowe's dull, confusing script. The message that End of Days is supposed to carry is that faith is more powerful than guns. But it's unlikely the message will be heard over all the automatic weapons fire. See full review. -- Noel Murray

Silver CInemas

Eye of the Beholder (R)

Eye of the Beholder turns the private eye story on its head by allowing the protagonist, a special agent called The Eye, played by Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting) to fall in love and gradually become obsessed with the woman he's tracking across America. Ashley Judd (Double Jeopardy) plays Joanna Eris, the object of The Eye's attraction, a woman who turns out to be a deranged murderess who seduces and kills wealthy men, takes on a new identity, then moves on to new prey. Judd maintains a grim, vacuous grief and unchanging facial expression throughout the film. Her husky voice is seductive but monotonous. McGregor fares better. His physical presence -- he hovers somewhere between pimply youth and full-blown maturity -- adds to the sense of his vulnerability in the face of a devastatingly beautiful woman. Had director Stephen Elliott opted for subtlety over flashy style, the film might have worked. But Elliott films it as a purple Fellini-esque mad chase across America, weighing down the film with precious images, an operatic tone and just too much visual heavy-handedness. See full review. -- KCE

Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Tiffany Square; Academy Station 6

*Girl, Interrupted (R)

Girl, Interrupted stays relatively true to Suzanna Kaysen's autobiography -- which details her two years spent in a mental institution in the late 1960's after a half-hearted suicide attempt at age 18 -- and is notable for several very fine performances. Winona Ryder as Suzanna uses her enormous brown-black eyes to powerful effect, giving quiet insight into the fine balance between madness and sanity. Whoopi Goldberg plays the long-suffering Nurse Valerie with subtlety and charm, and Angelina Jolie uses every ounce of her obvious magnetism to underscore the appeal of the gorgeous sociopath, Lisa, who becomes Suzanna's best friend. The film occasionally makes a misstep when it searches for dramatic situations in place of the more metaphorical exploration Kaysen undertakes in her autobiography. Such plot contrivances aside, however, Girl, Interrupted is a fine, quiet film that examines how the causes and definitions of insanity may change with the times. See full review. -- AL

Tinseltown; Kimball's Twin Peak

The Green Mile (R)

At three hours and ten minutes long, this is one marathon of a movie, and unnecessarily so. The story, based on Stephen King's 1996 serial novel, is oddly compelling: A death row prison guard in the mid-1930's deep south, Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) is delivered a 7-foot tall, black, simple-minded but apparently clairvoyant inmate (Michael Clarke Duncan), convicted for murder. Duncan's characterization, though spare, is powerful. And Hanks, as Edgecomb, is his usual measured, affable self -- the soul of fairness. The Green Mile is a worthy exploration of good and evil, human suffering, the cold inevitability of death and the redeeming power of love. But because the strength lies in the simple nature of the story, the earthy vernacular and the colorful characters, the director's tired, overblown dramatic approach feels like little more than excessive padding.See full review. -- KCE

Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Academy Station 6

*The Hurricane (R)

Veteran filmmaker Norman Jewison tells Rubin Hurricane Carter's story powerfully and with a steady gaze in The Hurricane. In May of 1967, Carter, a rising professional boxing champion, was convicted of the murders of three white people in Paterson, New Jersey, and was sentenced to three life terms in prison. For the next 20 years, Carter remained incarcerated, wrote an autobiography and continued to petition the courts for his freedom. There are no groundbreaking camera tricks or imaginative twists in this biopic -- the story is a stunner on its own. As Carter, Denzel Washington's performance perfectly captures Carter's evolution -- as he is ripped from the world of notability and locked in seclusion, both his grief and his compassion expand. And young actor Vicellous Reon Shannon's depiction of Lesra, a Brooklyn boy who came to know Hurricane Carter after reading his book and becoming a pen pal, is captivating. Both the movie and its formidable star succeed at dramatizing the hideous injustice of Carter's imprisonment, and the excruciatingly painful passage of time behind bars. See full review. -- KCE

Tinseltown; Carmike 10; Tiffany Square; Academy Station 6

*Magnolia (R)

Director Paul Thomas Anderson's theme is difficult to grasp, but brilliantly explored. Six stories intertwine, accented by the stark tunes of singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, in one of the better collaborations between filmmaking and popular music ever made. Jason Robards is haggard and heart-wrenching as Earl Partridge, a dying man; Juliette Moore makes you squirm in your seat as Linda, his brittle wife; Philip Seymour Hoffman anchors the film as Phil, Earl's caring nurse; Tom Cruise burns up the screen as television infomercial king Frank T.J. Mackey, Earl's estranged son; John C. Reilly is perfect as the bumbling cop who falls for cocaine addict Claudia, also wonderfully played by Melora Waters; Philip Baker Hall is tragically worn out as a game-show host, also dying, who is trying to come to terms with his worst transgressions. Magnolia is a brutally honest, three-hour-long combination manic-depressive episode and acid trip to the place we all fear and know too well, the juncture of who we've been in the past and who we are now, faced with brutal honesty. See full review. -- KCE

Kimball's Twin Peak

*Man on the Moon (R)

This strange and ultimately affecting movie is the rather perfunctorily told tale of comic Andy Kaufman's short, brilliant career and short, bizarre life. In the hands of director Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The People vs. Larry Flynt) Kaufman is treated as a rare genius who was misunderstood. It is fitting that Kaufman be played by Jim Carrey, the great gagster of his generation. Carrey's depiction is physically uncanny -- he perfectly captures Kaufman's googly eyes and frumpy posture, and mimics precisely many of Kaufman's best-known skits. But the writing and direction of Man on the Moon is pedestrian. Except for a lame attempt at a fake-out in the opening sequence, the story is told as straight screen biography. Backstage scenes are provided to offer us insight into Kaufman's motivation, but they feel like props for the narrative more than glimpses into the man. See it for Carrey's terrific impersonation, and for the moments on screen when, even if just for a brief moment, you can feel Kaufman's inexplicable spirit leaking through. See full review.-- KCE

Silver Cinemas

The Omega Code (PG-13)

With Springs actor, Ziggy Wagrowski.

Silver Cinemas

Snow Falling on Cedars (PG-13)

Directed with blatant artistic self-consciousness by Scott Hicks (Shine), each perfectly framed and filmed scene in Snow Falling on Cedars feels over-directed, with the exception of the courtroom scenes where veteran Max Van Sydow, who plays the doddering old barrister hired to defend Kazuo Miyamoto (Rick Yune) on a murder charge, is allowed to meander through his lines with well-earned respect and dignity. It is 1950, and the setting is Amity Island, a Pacific coast community heavily populated with Japanese immigrants. Watching the trial is Ishmael (Ethan Hawke), the local newspaperman who is most fascinated with Hatsue (Youki Kudoh), Miyamoto's wife, the love of Ishmael's life who spurned him. The movie works best in the central sections when the Japanese-American citizens are shuffled off to the internment camp at Manzanar for the duration of the war. This is compelling stuff, and it is a merciful escape from the overcast skies and overwrought emotions that dominate the rest of the film. The dramatic tension of the murder trial is lost in the fog, and by the end, we don't care at all who committed the murder, we just want desperately to see the sky. See full review.-- KCE

Tiffany Square

*Sixth Sense (PG-13)

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

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills

*The Straight Story (G)

See full review, page 48


*The Talented Mr. Ripley (R)

Anthony Minghella meticulously recreates the feel of the 1950s jazz era in Italy where everyone loves anything American. Matt Damon delivers a fine, nuanced performance that grows on the viewer. As Tom Ripley, a deeply disturbed young man who longs to be someone other than himself, Damon moves from fumbling geek to smooth expatriate with boyish intensity and dark charm. Brit Jude Law is a revelation as Dickie Greenleaf, object of Ripley's lustful admiration, a rich American kid who spends his days soaking up the sun and his nights in smoky jazz clubs. Glowing cinematography, a rich musical soundtrack, well-rounded characters, a literate narrative and nail-biting suspense are combined by Minghella to produce one of the richest, old-fashioned in the best sense of the word, films out of Hollywood this year. -- KCE

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills; Carmike 10

*Three Kings (R)

Bold, adventurous and in-your-face. Director-writer David O. Russell (Spanking the Monkey) has penned a tight, provocative script that combines some of the best elements of a good war film with heavy doses of contemporary social commentary. George Clooney plays Special Forces Captain Archie Gates, cynical, worn-out and two weeks from retirement. Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube play reservists with dead-end jobs back home, called up for the Gulf War. Spike Jonze is Private Conrad Vig, an overgrown juvenile delinquent from Texas who alternates between a sort of lovable stupidity and delirious combat lust. Dwelling on the crass commerciality of the Gulf War and the narrow perception at home of the damage wrought to Iraqi citizens by our carpet bombing and premature pullout there, Three Kings disturbed me all over again, and comforted me in an odd way. I couldn't help hoping George Bush gets a chance to see it. See full review. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*Toy Story 2 (G)

Toy Story 2 manages to construct even wilder gags, and to stretch even further the idea of the secret life of toys than the first, but it also leaves an even more bittersweet aftertaste. At its most heart-wrenching, this chipper cartoon is also a parent's stricken fantasy of being outgrown by their children. In Toy Story 2, Woody discovers that he was once part of a matched set with a wonder horse, a cowgirl named Jessie (voiced ideally by Joan Cusack), and a grizzled prospector sidekick. When the reunited set goes up for sale, Woody is faced with a toy's version of an existential crisis -- either be enshrined behind glass for eternity in a museum display, or enjoy what few years he has left with owner Andy before the boy outgrows him. As hilarious as the slapstick rescue efforts of Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Mr. Potatohead (Don Rickles), and Woody's old pals are, it's the former scenes that give Toy Story 2 it's poignancy. The mix of silliness, affection, and piercing nostalgia -- and yes, artistry -- keeps kids and adults engaged simultaneously. See full review.-- Jim Ridley

Tinseltown; Citadel Terrace

*The World is Not Enough (R)

Pierce Brosnan can do no wrong. He gleams with all the requisite savoir-faire and charisma that James Bond demands. Robert Carlyle does a brilliant turn as the ruthless terrorist Renard. Michael Apted, best known for his fantastic 7 Up documentary film series and Coal Miner's Daughter, more than hits his directorial marks.The World Is Not Enough is, pound for explosion, a great return on your entertainment dollar. See full review. -- Cole Smithey

Chapel Hills


The Beach (R)

Leonardo DiCaprio plays an adventurous American searching for a place where he can be free of society's rules, but the paradise he finds may kill him instead.

Kimball's Twin Peak; Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Tiffany Square

Paint Your Wagon (PG)

Lee Marvin and a very young and handsome Clint Eastwood attempt to share a woman during the California gold rush in this rollicking, timeless 1969 comedy. Do they own her or does she own them?

Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St. Tues., Feb. 15, 7:30. 634-5583

Snow Day (PG)

A snow day in upstate New York forces a family to spend time together, especially since a group of students has hi-jacked a plow in order to keep the school closed. With Chevy Chase.

Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Citadel Terrace; Tinseltown

The Tigger Movie (G)

Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo and Owl are busy helping Eeyore get ready for winter, but playful Tigger sets off on his own adventure through the Hundred-Acre Wood instead -- to find out if he is, in fact, the only Tigger.

Citadel Terrace; Tinseltown; Gold Hill Theaters; Tiffany Square

The Whole Nine Yards (R) sneak preview

Bruce Willis is Jimmy Tulip, a mob kingpin who turns a suburban neighborhood on its idyllic side. With Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet and Natasha Henstridge.

Chapel Hills, Sat., Feb. 12, 7 p.m.; Tinseltown, Sat. Feb. 12, 8:05 p.m.


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