Movie Picks 

15 Minutes (R)

15 Minutes is a cops and killers action movie naively intent on telling you things you already know about the societal pitfalls of tabloid media. As the film's title implies, the killers in this story want their slice of fame and fortune in return for the bloody murders they've committed. Emil and Oleg are a pair of Eastern European criminal clods feeding off information from daytime television exploitation talk shows to get away with a laundry list of murder and arson. Robert DeNiro plays Eddie Flemming, a high-profile New York City Homicide detective who is joined by arson investigator Jordy Warsaw (Ed Burns) to capture the idiotically diabolical perps. 15 Minutes has one or two genuinely good scenes with Robert De Niro hitting certain grace notes of acting quintessence, but there's one big thing missing form the movie -- resonance. See full review. --Cole Smithey

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Cast Away (PG-13)

Cast Away is not a great film -- it wanders in the end and loses dramatic momentum almost fatally -- but Tom Hanks' is a great performance. Hanks is touching, funny, painfully human, passing his time on a desert talking to a volleyball, washed ashore in a FedEx package. When he is finally rescued and returns to civilization, we don't give a damn about what will happen with his girlfriend at home, nicely played by Helen Hunt; we just want to see how he will adjust his life, given what he has learned. Director Robert Zemeckis missteps and gives us what we don't want, but we can forgive him because the moments on the island were so entertaining, so beautifully executed and so remarkably well acted. See full review. -- KCE

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Chocolat (PG-13)

This latest endeavor by director Lasse Hallstrom (My Life as a Dog, Cider House Rules) is a charming little movie that follows the story of Vianne (Juliette Binoche), a free-spirited single mother who, along with her daughter Anouk (Victoire Thivisol) blows into a small French town in the 1950s. The actors in the film are quite delightful, if cast and costumed in the most stereotypical melodramatic ways. Depp is delicious as the romantic leading man, Judi Dench is her usual subtle and magnificent self as a crotchety landlady and abandoned grandmother, and Carrie-Anne Moss radiates betrayal and hurt as her widowed daughter. See full review. -- AL

Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

*Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (PG-13)

With Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, director Ang Lee resurrects a popular form -- the swordplay kung-fu film of 1960s Hong Kong -- and turns it into something so beautiful that we forget we've been watching a martial arts flick. The story depicts the struggle for the soul of a disciple, and is filmed in Chinese dialects with English subtitles. The astonishing fight scenes have warriors catapulting across rooftops, through the branches of trees, and flying over waterfalls. For all of its profound beauty, Tiger does not pretend to be profound; it's loaded with humor and tongue-in-cheek bows to Hollywood traditions. If I could choose only one film of 2000 as an absolute must-see, I'd go with the resplendent Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. See full review. -- KCE

Cinemark 16, Kimball's Twin Peak, Tinseltown

Down to Earth (PG-13)

Chris Rock plays Lance, a bike messenger cum amateur comedian who dies too early and demands a second chance. "The boss" agrees, and puts him in a loaner body until a more suitable one shows up, so he ends up as Charles Wellington III, a wealthy and sleazy scion of New York society whose wife has just killed him. Fundamentally, Down to Earth has a good comedic structure and, by rights, should be an amusing send up of black, white, rich and poor. But Chris Rock, who co-wrote the screenplay, relies too heavily on stereotypes instead of characters, and the romantic story arc ends up trumping the comedic one. See full review. -- AL

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Enemy at the Gates (R)

See full review.

Carmike, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Extreme (not rated)

World class surfers, skiers, snowboarders and climbers fill the giant screen, taking the viewer into the world of daredevil sports and into the minds of the people that perform them. Backed up by a killer soundtrack from Soulfood featuring everything from world music to hip hop. -- John Lindsay

Cinemark 16 IMAX

The Gift (R)

The Gift, director Sam Raimi's tale of clairvoyance, infidelity and mad jealousy in a Spanish moss-laden Southern town offers some moments of suspense and plenty of atmospherics, but loses impact because the principal characters are so inexplicably dumb. Keanu Reeves gives a good performance in a dreadful role, and Kate Blanchett does her valiant thespian best, but in the end, The Gift is little more than one of those creepy Lifetime flicks that entertains for a few hours but disappears quickly from memory. See full review. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

Hannibal (R)

In Hannibal, we follow Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to Florence where he surfaces after a few post-prison-escape years in exile. Hopkins is completely disarming with his greasy charm, and Julianne Moore works well as the matured, toughened FBI agent Clarice Starling, but director Ridley Scott loses his way early in the film, allowing it to become a lurid, overblown comic book adventure featuring the grossly disfigured Mason Verger (Gary Oldman) and his henchmen as the bad guys. Any suspense is drowned out by the oddly giddy blood antics and, for the most part, we end up being mildly entertained by the lovely art direction and camera work. Any discourse about the nature of evil is lost in the spectacle.See full review. -- KCE

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Mexican (R)

The Mexican sports several good performances. Julia Roberts as Sam is predictably decent in her bratty, tough girl way, while Brad Pitt as the hapless Jerry manages some good physical comedy, but most notable is James Gandolfino as Sam's kidnapper. Both his vulnerability and his ruthlessness are beautifully portrayed, and his scenes with Roberts are among the most interesting of the entire film. But some seriously troubling aspects to The Mexican keep it from being either a good caper or a decent thriller. The pacing throughout is uneven, and several times I found myself wishing for a glowing watch display so I could tell if the darn thing was almost over yet. The Mexican is a sometimes funny, sometimes exciting, comedy/thriller/road trip flick that you might be glad you saw. Or you might not. See full review. -- AL

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Kimball's Twin Peak, Tinseltown

*O Brother, Where Art Thou? (PG-13)

God love the Coen brothers. What kind of mind imagines Homer's Odyssey set in Depression-era rural Mississippi? This funny, slight idea is lovingly and solidly conceived and executed. George Clooney is pitch perfect as Ulysses Everett McGill, a smart-talking, slick-looking con man who breaks away from a penal farm chain gang and drags along the two guys who happen to be hooked up to him on either side -- dour Pete (John Turturro) and hapless Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson). The Coens create a perfectly imagined universe, inhabited by fiends and angels of all sorts. Tim Blake Nelson's performance is as sweet and friendly as a good old hound dog. Best musical soundtrack of the year. See full review. -- KCE


*The Pledge (R)

Jack Nicholson proves once again that he can do more than smirk and wax evil or neurotic in Sean Penn's dark tale of certain doom. Based on the 1957 detective novella by Friedrich Drenmatt, The Pledge is the story of Jerry Black (Nicholson), a retiring police detective who, at the last minute on his final day at work, gets involved in the investigation of a brutal child murder. Unfortunately, neither Nicholson's fine performance, nor a slew of tasty cameos by the likes of Vanessa Redgrave, Helen Mirren, Harry Dean Stanton, Sam Shepard and Mickey Rourke can save The Pledge from Penn's relentlessly gloomy persistence of vision. That said, this film's cinematic detailing, the dark, frustrating story and the central character's spiral downward stay with you long after the theater lights come up. See full review. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*Save the Last Dance (PG-13)

Save the Last Dance is well-intentioned, well-crafted and well-acted, and if it doesn't exactly revolutionize race relations in the United States, it does a damn sight better than recent claptrap like The Legend of Bagger Vance. It manages to find its way around stupid racist pitfalls by giving the two main characters -- Sara (Julia Stiles), a white suburban girl, and Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas), a black inner city boy who dreams of getting out of the ghetto -- equal weight. See full review. -- AL

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

*Traffic (R)

With Traffic, director Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich) delivers his most complex, pertinent, gritty, opinionated and well-acted film yet. The complex plot is moved forward by four separate stories that eventually intersect. All illustrate the impossibility of winning the War on Drugs -- a monumental battle resulting in loss of life, personal tragedy, untold loss of public funds thrown at the problem and massive profits for the suppliers. Soderbergh films his outstanding ensemble cast with a handheld camera, upping the immediacy of the action, and colors the segments with different filters, reminding us of where we are and color-coding our emotional response. Among the actors, Benicio Del Toro and Don Cheadle are standouts as is Erika Christensen in her feature film debut as a young drug addict. See full review. -- KCE

Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

*T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous (not rated)

As a story, T-Rex is dull and predictable but, who cares? We are here to see the dinosaurs. Unfortunately, they don't see as much screen time as one would hope. That aside, when the big guys do appear, the 3D effects will have you jumping in your seat. Some scenes may be a little intense for younger kids. -- John Lindsay

Cinemark 16 IMAX

Unbreakable (PG-13)

Bruce Willis is David Dunn, a Philadelphia security guard who mysteriously emerges unscathed from a train derailment that kills every other passenger. He is pursued by Elijah (Samuel L. Jackson), an erudite gallery owner and comic book collector who tries to convince the survivor that he possesses superhuman powers that explain his invincibility. Director M. Night Shyamalan's visual style is compelling, but Unbreakable, lovely as it may be, is doomed by its bizarre script. The film is plagued with a cheap-shot ending that is not just distasteful but downright inedible. The result is a complete derailment, and not even Dunn survives. See full review. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

The Wedding Planner (PG-13)

To say that there is even a dash of screen chemistry between leading lady Jennifer Lopez (Mary Fiore) and her vacillating love interest Matthew McConaughey (Dr. Steve Edison) would be like calling the Bush/Gore election fair. See full review. -- Cole Smithey

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16


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