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  • Autumn in New York

Autumn in New York (PG-13)

Richard Gere plays a womanizing, aging restaurateur who falls for Winona Ryder, a youthful artiste dying from a heart ailment. Much is made of his age and her youth. He gives her a few last laughs; she opens up his heart. Richard Gere is an appealing leading man and Ryder does the best she can with a silly role that involves being quixotic. The production values are quite appealing, and there are even some neat cinematic tricks that keep your eyes engaged. In some ways, though, the very prettiness of the film is its most annoying feature. The last I checked, love, eating, sex, and dying were all quite messy endeavors, but Autumn in New York makes them appear like orderly activities. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with a tidy little film, but it manages to take most of the interest out of what otherwise would be compelling subject matter. -- AL

Tinseltown; Tiffany Square

Bless the Child (R)

Bless the Child is not a terrible flick; it's mildly entertaining. But sloppy editing, thinking, and writing rob the audience of dramatic climaxes, and render many of the characters' actions inexplicable. Kim Basinger plays Maggie, a woman left with her sister's child, who later proves to have spiritual powers. Her sister reappears with Eric Stark (Rufus Sewell), a Satan worshiper, and the rest of the film involves Maggies attempts to save Cody from the devil himself. The film might have been more interesting had the filmmakers made more of Jimmy Smits' role as an FBI agent specializing in occult crimes. He and Basinger are a perfect match, but little is made of their pairing. Director Chuck Russell (The Mask) either had his budget cut or lost interest in the film -- the computer effects are amateurish. The best thing in the film is Stark. Otherwise, Bless the Child is God vs. Satan again, largely unmemorable. --KCE

Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Tinseltown

The Cell (R)

See review page 48

Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Tinseltown

Coyote Ugly (PG-13)

John Goodman plays the father of Violet (Piper Perabo) a wanna-be musician. Violet gets a gig as bartender at Coyote Ugly, where the gorgeous bartenders double as dancers. The audience appeared to expect a buddy film -- the cinematic equivalent of a trip to a topless joint. But there's not much to ogle at, except silly want-to-be-sexy scenes, where the girls get very close in their wet leather pants -- nothing more than highly conventional Playboy poses. The film is most interesting in its depictions of the contradictions and pitfalls of modern gender, sexuality, and the hazards for women attempting to reclaim sexual power.See full review. -- AL

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills

*Disney's The Kid (PG)

Bruce Willis plays Russell Duritz, a very successful image consultant who is sometimes downright mean. Two days before his 40th birthday, Russell is visited by Rusty (Spencer Breslin), the eight-year-old incarnation of himself, who is disappointed when he finds out how his life turned out. Willis does a fine job holding his own next the pudgy, lisping, and very cute Breslin. The film is really about the pains of childhood that lead each of us to become the people that fell short of our dreams. There is nothing offensive in the film, but if you take your kids be prepared to explain a lot -- The Kid is far more of an adult film than a child's. The time traveling concept makes for a complicated plot that only exacerbates the problem. Don't go expecting a great coming of age film, just keep your average Hollywood expectations with you and you will be pleasantly entertained.

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills

*Chicken Run (G)

Peter Lord and Nick Park, creators of Wallace and Gromit, have crafted a devilishly clever clay animation feature film that is as thoroughly British in its humor as it is enjoyable to watch. A band of hyperkinetic European chickens, imprisoned in a stalag-type egg farm run by a tyrannical husband and wife team, struggle to escape with the questionable aid of a cocky American Rooster named Rocky (voice by Mel Gibson). It's easy to take for granted the painstaking process of frame-at-a-time filmmaking that clay animation requires when watching the film because the filmmakers have done such a superb job of seamlessly blending flawless set and figure design with story and character. Chicken Run is every bit as ridiculous as the title suggests and carries with it a look and style that, while referencing a tradition of escape movies, surprises the audience with its ingenuity and cheeky brand of British satire.See full review. -- Cole Smithey

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills

Frequency (PG-13)

Director Gregory Hoblit knows how to create tension, and succeeds here with dark lighting, a cast of compelling characters and the magnetic charm of late 1960s New York summer nights. Unfortunately, Hoblit was swayed somewhere in the production process, and gradually the threads of the story he set out to tell begin to unravel as he throws in too much new stuff -- like cheap special effects in the climactic scene -- and succumbs, finally, to a completely illogical and smarmy happy, happy and totally implausible ending.See full review. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*Gladiator (R)

Russell Crowe (The Insider) acts up a righteous storm in his Roman get-up, proving once and for all that his versatility as an actor matches his prowess. Though director Ridley Scott would like you to think Gladiator is about strength, honor, duty, democracy and the danger of mob rule, in truth, it is an old-fashioned revenge drama -- and a pretty good one at that. Crowe as Maximus, beloved general of Roman troops turned slave, then gladiator, and Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus, insecure usurper to the throne, make marvelous foes. Unfortunately, Scott is so enamored of his production team's ability to show heads, hands and other body parts being severed, that the fight scenes become clamorous and redundant.See full review. -- KCE

Chapel Hills; Silver Cinemas; Broadmoor

Hollow Man (R)

Filmmaker Paul Verhoeven's latest thriller is an empty, excruciating mess. Kevin Bacon stars as Dr. Sebastian Crane a government scientist who insists that he will become the first invisible human. Assisted by his former lover Linda (Elisabeth Shue) and her current lover, Matt (Josh Brolin), Crane is injected with a smoking, irradiated blue liquid, and in one of the film's compelling special effects sequences, he disappears. But special effects aside, no other aspect of Hollow Man is entertaining or enlightening. When efforts to bring Crane back to visibility fail, instead of despairing, he becomes more of a swaggering ass, growing more testy and more sadistic the longer he remains invisible. To use the guise of invisibility the way Crane does defies logic and imagination -- his is the petty psyche of a Peeping Tom that unjustly reinforces the worst male stereotypes. This overblown spectacle of a film rings empty, void, vacant, meaningless, superficial, delusive, ineffectual, unsatisfying -- in a word, hollow.See full review. -- KCE

Tinseltown; Tiffany Square; Carmike 10

The Patriot (R)

Surprisingly similar to director Ridley Scott's Gladiator -- both films run over two and a half hours long and carry a tried-and-true formula: national freedom by way of revenge over brutally murdered family members. Clunky script devices continually squeak and rattle throughout the movie. And the film's pitiful attempt at black and white race relation revisionism is glaring. By watching this film for historical context, an audience gets no sense of the tensions that sent this country into civil war not so long after the end of the Revolutionary War. The Patriot is a Mel Gibson movie, and screenwriter Robert Rodat bows reverently to his leading character with radiant attention. Gibson perfectly walks a tightrope over any dramatic context with artless skill. The Patriot is an uncomfortably smooth ride over mixed terrain of emotional posturing, flashy action sequences and cultural misrepresentation.See full review. -- Cole Smithey

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills

*The Perfect Storm (PG-13)

The summer's first blockbuster, The Perfect Storm turns out to be something of a wash. While there are plenty of white-knuckle moments, the film's stolid attempts at inciting reverence for the famed crew of the Gloucester fishing vessel, the Andrea Gail, tend to throw a wet blanket over the compelling true life events memorably recounted by Sebastian Junger in his bestselling book. Director Wolfgang Petersen's clunky manner of making this obvious point feels heavy-handed and artificial. Better to tell the story through the characters and the natural elements -- a feat at which Petersen and crew only partly succeed. An editor could have done wonders with the film, but unfortunately we're stuck with what we've got -- a few spectacular scenes and some strong performances mish-mashed with too much forced solemnity and enough clichs to gag a whale. The Perfect Storm is well worth seeing, but it's far from perfect.See full review. -- KCE

Tinseltown

The Replacements (PG-13)

Keanu Reeves in full surfer-speak is Shane Falco, an All-American college football star who never made it to the big leagues.When the Washington Sentinels' players go on strike, legendary coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman) is brought in to put together a team of replacement players to carry the Sentinels through. Falco is recruited as quarterback because he possesses a quality missing in the regular crew -- heart. The bulk of the action takes place on the football field. Every scene is utterly predictable. The dialogue is so lame that even the worst clichs are repeated over and over. Even the formidable Gene Hackman couldn't save this giant gridiron groaner.See full review. -- KCE

Tinseltown; Carmike 10; Tiffany Square

*Return to Me (PG)

Bob Rueland (David Duchovny) is madly in love with his wife, who dies suddenly in a car crash. Her heart is donated to an anonymous recipient, who turns out to be Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver). Grace works in an Irish-Italian restaurant owned by her grandfather (Carroll O'Connor). Duchovny happens to end up there one day and some miraculous force immediately attracts the two. Despite this silly premise, Return to Me really is a perfectly fine romantic comedy. Like a decent marriage in its middle years, Return to Me is mostly predictable and formulaic, and comforting in its solidity.See full review. -- AL

Silver Cinemas

Scary Movie (R)

Scary Movie, a ripoff of teen slasher flicks Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, may win the overall competition for grossest gross-out jokes of any film ever. The brothers Wayans seem to have a concept here but they set up every joke so tediously and assiduously that by the time the punchline appears the joke is dead already. Given a big budget, the Wayans seem to wander, aggrandize, overcompensate and falter. The competent cast play imperiled teenagers adequately, and some of their lines are genuinely funny, but to watch Scary Movie is, basically, to suffer through an extended doo-doo riff with accents of snot, pee-pee and semen. -- KCE

Tiffany Square

Space Cowboys (PG-13)

A macho adventure about four Air Force men grounded by a commander (James Cromwell) during the heyday of NASA. Forty years later, when a Russian communications satellite goes kaflooey, head man Frank Corvin (Clint Eastwood) is called out of retirement to fix a problem so obsolete that only senior citizens can solve it. Corvin demands that his buddies "Hawk" (Tommy Lee Jones), "Tank" (James Garner), and Jerry (Donald Sutherland) get to tag along. Characterization? If you think macho posturing and juvenile behavior is characterization. Pacing? The glacial pacing of the first third is almost compensated by the last, but the technical mumbo-jumbo almost kills that. Overall, it is an acceptable Hollywood movie, with some cool special effects. The only big revelation is that the male fantasy of drinking-swearing-fighting-and-getting-all-the-babes only gets more ridiculous with old age.See full review. -- AL

Tinseltown; Kimball's Twin Peak; Gold Hill Theaters; Carmike 10

*Sunshine (R)

See review page 48

Kimball's Twin Peak

What Lies Beneath (PG-13)

Dr. Norman (Harrison Ford) and Claire Spencer (Michelle Pfeiffer) are a well-to-do married couple living alone in their lakeside home. Bored, beautiful Claire becomes a lightning rod for a ghost from Norman's not-so-distant adulterous past. Director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) kills What Lies Beneath's fleeting moments of excitement by piling up so many false starts of plot and faux shocks of terror that by the time the story finally gets around to making sense with some nitty gritty horror scenes, the audience has become numb to the suspense. Unlike the works of directors like Alfred Hitchcock, which demonstrate suspense applied with loving care equally toward audience and narrative, What Lies Beneath feels more like a slimy, psychological groping.See full review. -- Cole Smithey

Tinseltown; Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Gold Hill Theaters

*X-Men (PG-13)

The summer's biggest blockbuster turns out to be a spirited, stylish allegory more along the lines of its mighty predecessor The Matrix. Audience members are swept up almost immediately into a blessed state of suspended disbelief from which we are allowed to dwell on the spectacle before us, not on the probability of the plot. This happens incredibly swiftly with sharply defined scenes and cogent dialogue. A few subplots -- mutants Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) hankers for Dr. Grey (Famke Janssen) who is currently Cyclops' (James Marsden) main squeeze; Rogue (Anna Paquin), meanwhile, is smitten with her saviour and hero, Wolverine -- add some needed humor and heart to the mix. The diction and grave humanity of Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen lend more to the film than a year's worth of special effects. And Australian newcomer Jackman is fabulous -- a steely, Clint Eastwood look-alike who moves with feral grace and a healthy dose of skepticism throughout.See full review. -- KCE

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills

OPENING THIS WEEK

The Art of War (R)

Wesley Snipes saves the world by stopping the actions of terrorists, and then his own allies. With Donald Sutherland.

Tinseltown; Tiffany Square

Bring It On (PG-13)

Kirsten Dunst is the captain of a high school cheerleading squad on it's way to winning the national title. When she learns that her predecessor has been stealing routines from the competition for years, she realizes that things aren't going to be as easy as she thought.

Chapel Hills; Tinseltown

Chinatown (R)

In the 1930s a private investagater must determine if a widow murdered her husband. Starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, Bruce Glover, Burt Young and Darrell Zwerling. Directed by Roman Polanski. Part of the Colorado Springs Film Society "Great Directors Series".

Audio Visionaries, in the Mall at the Bluffs at Austin Bluffs and Academy. Sat., Aug. 26, 6 p.m. Free, RSVP to 389-0039.

The Crew (PG-13)

Senior citizen mobsters try to find a way to prevent them from getting kicked out of their senior citizens home. With Burt Reynolds and Richard Dreyfuss.

Chapel Hills; Tinseltown

God's Army (PG)

Matthew Brown gives a dramatic performance as Brandon Allen, a newly ordained L.A. Christian missionary who finds the experience of his new calling isn't exactly what he thought.

Chapel Hills

Midnight (not rated)

Claudette Colbert plays a pauper pretending to be a Hungarian countess. A classic comedy written by Billy Wilder & Charles Brackett and starring John Barrymore.

Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St. $2.75, 634-5583. Tues., Aug. 29, 7:30 p.m.

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