Movie Picks 

click to enlarge Scott Brody (ALEXANDER POLLOCK) and Lou (voiced by TOBEY MAGUIRE) - in Cats and Dogs
  • Scott Brody (ALEXANDER POLLOCK) and Lou (voiced by TOBEY MAGUIRE) in Cats and Dogs

Films recommended by our reviewers are indicated by an *.

Films that do not appear here have not yet been screened by our reviewers.

*A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (PG-13)
Most movie critics are saying A.I. is either a near masterpiece or a near failure. Thumbs up or down do not apply here, because this movie is not meant merely to entertain. It wants to prod, to provoke, to attempt to be art, and, as such, it deserves patient consideration. A.I. is plainly a film about Big Questions: What is our responsibility to the things we create? What's our responsibility to our creator(s)? Can technology provide happiness? What are the consequences of unrestrained technological production? Viewers will probably love or hate this film pretty quickly, but here's hoping they reserve opinion at least long enough for a long conversation with friends. Whatever else it is, this Steve Spielberg/Stanley Kubrick hybrid is certainly worth talking about. See full review. -- Patton Dodd

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

Angel Eyes (R)
So little actually happens in this sometimes mesmerizing, mostly boring little movie that it's hard to recall many specific scenes. The viewer waits through one gorgeous scenario after another -- Jennifer Lopez as tough cop Sharon reclining alone on her bed late at night, strapped into a bulletproof vest; Sharon and love interest Catch swimming beneath the moonlight in a glittering watering hole -- hoping for a plot to unfold. Lopez and Jim Caviezel as Catch are both so attractive that the camera-lingering aspects of the film are quite pleasant, but a missing plot essentially means death to a movie that dwells in the land of gritty reality. See full review. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*Baby Boy (R)
Writer/director John Singleton turns his precise ear for dialogue to males growing up in South Central Los Angeles to support a premise that black men are snared by racism into a prolonged infantilism that prevents them from accepting responsability. The meticulously character-driven narrative is funneled through 19-year-old "Baby Boy" Tyrese Gibson, a father of two children by different women, who still lives at home with his 35-year-old mother and her ex-convict boyfriend (Ving Rhames). As Tyrese struggles to find a job he enjoys, while fooling around with different women, his responsibility to his son's mother (Taraji P. Henson) forms a bridge to manhood he must cross. The film is a daring meditation on one aspect of African-American life with no shortage of sex, violence and urban realism. -- Cole Smithey


*Blow (R)
Part social portrait and part biopic, Blow plays like an essential predecessor to Steven Soderbergh's Traffic. Johnny Depp gives a spellbindingly naturalistic performance as George Jung, the real-life main character whose alliance with the Colombian cocaine cartels during the '70s and '80s landed him behind bars for drug trafficking. Director Ted Demme puts a sympathetic face on an intensely individualistic man whose propensities for crime brought him immense riches but eventually cost him everything he cared about. See full review. -- Cole Smithey

Silver Cinemas

Cats and Dogs (PG)
Nice try but no dice. This animal tale orchestrated with celebrity voices (Tobey Maguire, Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon) offers no insight into either the feline or canine tribes. These dogs and cats all belong to international spy and espionage rings, complete with computer screened operations, super-charged transporter vehicles, and code names a la James Bond. The story goes wacko as the audience waits desperately for the next funny joke (there are about five in the entire film). Frenetic, silly and madly paced, this tale offers little entertainment value to either children or adults, except those who are excruciatingly bored and desperately seeking air conditioning. --KCE

Carmike 10, 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. Johnny 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

Silver Cinemas

*crazy/beautiful (PG-13)
As a teen romance, crazy/beautiful scores by giving its target audience a healthy dose of coming-of-age sensuality in the guises of "It Girl" Kirsten Dunst and newcomer Jay Hernandez. Dunst is a disaffected poor little rich girl ignored by her congressman father (Bruce Davison) and reviled by her materialistic stepmother. But Dunst's reckless character has deeper emotional problems that she tries to overcome in a relationship with her straight-arrow Latino boyfriend (Hernandez). The movie goes to uncommon depths for a genre film in exposing cross-cultural prejudices and teen drug and alcohol use in a way that neither patronizes nor moralizes. Kirsten Dunst commands the film with fresh and fragile charisma. -- Cole Smithey

Cinemark 16

*The Golden Bowl (R)
See full review.

Silver Cinemas

A Knight's Tale (PG-13)
A silly, lightweight medieval tale set largely in the jousting ring, with combat scenes so innocuous that the clashing of lances at high speed is visually digestible, even for the sensitive viewer. Starring babe/boy Heath Ledger. See full review. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas, Broadmoor

*Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (PG-13)
We're supposed to hate this movie. By nearly all critical accounts, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is dull and clich-ridden. But I had loads of fun watching this picture. Lara Croft is a young, single heiress who's regularly called upon to save the universe. She spends her days training for battle in her massive castle, fighting off dummy cyborgs and practicing insanely dangerous acrobatic stunts. We don't really know where she came from or why she's so militaristic. What we do know is that she kicks ass, and that's all that matters. See full review. -- Patton Dodd

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Legally Blonde (R)
This weak and predictable comedy by debut feature director Robert Luketic is a poorly lit attempt at dredging humor from a sterile and flat script. While Reese Witherspoon makes an attractive ditzy blonde with enough book smarts to overcompensate for her character's fashion victim obsessions, this film is a career misstep for a talented actress capable of creating much more complex characters. The heavily clichd premise that "you can't judge a book by its cover" is Legally Blonde's white flag. So what if Witherspoon's a smart blonde, able to win legal cases and shock everyone around her as if they were a star-struck audience to her dominant charms? She's still a plastic doll character incapable of inner discovery. -- Cole Smithey

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, 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 last year. See full review. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

Pearl Harbor (PG-13)
A bald faced exploitation flick, preying on our nation's collective if fuzzy memory of being attacked, faulty in its historic re-creation, insipid in its manipulative love story, and embarrassingly vapid in its telling of one of the critical military attacks of the 20th century. The outstanding computer-generated special effects serve only to desensitize the audience: The carnage of the "date that will live in infamy" never seems real or human. Character development in this overly long and sentimental love/war story is nonexistent. The heroes played by Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett merely spout lines borrowed from vintage World War II dramas while posturing through their love triangle with the lovely Kate Beckinsale. See full review. -- KCE

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Score (R)
See full review.

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Shrek (PG)
Based on the massive success of computer animated movies like Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Antz and A Bug's Life, Hollywood studios are increasingly churning out digital cartoons like this one and second-guessing hand-drawn projects. As animation, Shrek is nearly as remarkable as its predecessors, and bodes well for where the form is going visually. But Shrek suggests that digital animation features could be going the way of the action adventure movie -- great looking and profitable, but brainless. Strangely, Shrek has gained the affection of a sizeable and growing audience. The theater I was in was filled with laughter, and folks applauded at the end. What they're so excited about, and why they're telling their friends, remains a mystery to me. See full review. -- Patton Dodd

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown


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