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click to enlarge Americas SweetheartsCatherine Zeta Jones and John Cusack
  • Americas SweetheartsCatherine Zeta Jones and John Cusack

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)
So far, most movie critics are saying one thing or another about A.I.: it 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, A.I. is certainly worth talking about. -- Patton Dodd

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

America's Sweethearts (PG-13)
See full review, page 53.

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Cats and Dogs (PG)
Nice try but no dice. This animal tale orchestrated with celebrity voices (Tobey Macguire, 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. -- AL

Silver Cinemas

*The Golden Bowl (R)
This Merchant-Ivory adaptation of a Henry James novel succeeds as a glittering period piece and as a well-told morality tale exploring marital infidelity and familial fidelity. Screenwriter Ruth Prawer-Jhabvala takes James' vast novel with all its complexities, and turns it into a navigable tale told in an admirably economical 130 minutes. Nick Nolte gives a whopping performance as the steely leonine man in control. Kate Beckinsale's Maggie, in spite of her poodle hair-do, accumulates emotional and moral weight as the film progresses, and Jeremy Northam is steadily attractive as a man resigned to the life he has chosen. Uma Thurman looks so gorgeous in the resplendent costumes, that it's hard to pay attention to her acting, but her Charlotte, at the very least, is compelling throughout. Naturally, the cinematography, costuming and production design all scream Academy Award nominations. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

Jurassic Park 3 (PG-13)
The third installment of the immensely popular "Jurassic Park" series takes place before the events in The Lost World, in which havoc was wreaked when a malevolent corporation attempted to bring a tyrannosaurus rex to the United States and open a Jurassic Park of its own in California. Sam Neill returns as Dr. Alan Grant to deal with the prehistoric beasts once again. Starring Sam Neill, John Diehl, Michael Jeter, Tea Leoni and William H. Macy. -- Not yet reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

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. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*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. -- 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. -- 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 lame, 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 non-existent. 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. -- KCE

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown


The Score (R)
The Score is the kind of movie that makes movie fans bemoan the state of American cinema. It is promising based on the marquee names alone. The Score gets the acting just right, but unfortunately fails in virtually every other area. Director Frank Oz has done much better work than this, giving a whole generation the willies with his performance of Yoda in the Star Wars movies. Maybe he needed Brando, De Niro, Norton and Bassett to have sticks up their butts and to open with a rendition of "The Rainbow Connection." These four are truly amazing performers, and they squeeze as much as they can out of a lifeless script. But without help from their writers and director, there simply isn't much to do. -- Patton Dodd

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Sexy Beast (R)
See full review, page 53.

Kimball's Twin Peak

Shrek (PG)
Hand-drawn animation is so 20th century. 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 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. 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, is a mystery to me. -- Patton Dodd

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Widow of St. Pierre (R)
A French period piece starring Juliette Binoche as a military captain's wife, who befriends a convicted murderer while he awaits the arrival of the guillotine and his own execution on the fishing island where they live. -- Not yet reviewed

Silver Cinemas

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