Movie Picks 

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*A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (PG-13)
Movie critics are saying one thing or another about A.I.: it is either a near masterpiece or a near failure. But 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. See full review. -- Patton Dodd

Cinemark 16

America's Sweethearts (PG-13)
America's Sweethearts disappoints both as a screwball romantic comedy and as a satire on the obscene marketing practices of Hollywood. Clearly, the writers want to say something clever and biting about the movie junket scene in which journalists are wined, dined and basically paid by the studio to say something nice about a film. Ironically, the stars have been hawking the film on late night and daytime TV, making the PR campaign for the film look nearly as schmaltzy and manipulative as the one in the film. The film's best moments feature Alan Arkin as a Hollywood wellness center guru, Christopher Walken as the crazed director, and a crotch-sniffing doberman. Most of the scenes that fall between theirs fall flat. And with a talented cast that includes Julia Roberts, John Cusack, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Billy Crystal, that's a disappointment. See full review. -- KCE

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark, 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

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. 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

*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 family loyalty. Screenwriter Ruth Prawer-Jhabvala takes James' vast novel with all its complexities and twists and turns, 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. See full review. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Silver Cinemas

Heartbreakers (PG-13)
Out of Palm Beach, Florida a mother and daughter con-artist team are running a scheme with a seemingly foolproof plan. First Max, the temptress mother who happens to be a master-of-disguise, marries a rich man. Page, her scantily clad daughter, proceeds to seduce him in order to rake in the ensuing jackpot -- a fat divorce settlement. Starring Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Gene Hackman, Ray Liotta and Anne Bancroft; directed by David Mirkin See full review.

The Broadmoor

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. With John Diehl, Michael Jeter, Tea Leoni and William H. Macy. -- Not yet reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark, 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. See full review. -- 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. See full review. -- Patton Dodd

Silver Cinemas

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. -- 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 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. See full review. -- KCE

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Planet of the Apes (PG-13)
See full review.

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

The Score (R)
The Score is promising based on the marquee names alone, and 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. See full review. -- Patton Dodd

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Sexy Beast (R)
Sexy Beast tells a story that's been around in film at least as long as Humphrey Bogart: A successful criminal decides to retire from a life of crime, but just as he's getting used to a cozy suburbanesque lifestyle, his old crime boss comes pounding on the door demanding one more score. Gary Dove and DeeDee are young retirees -- he from high stakes crime, she from porno films. But Dove soon learns that his old boss, Don Logan needs him to do another job. Logan, played by Ben Kingsley, is as menacing and hard a criminal as we've seen in the movies in recent years. And his menace only increases as Dove keeps saying that he will not do the job. Dove's resistance is not exactly tough -- it's a nervous, humble attempt to respectfully decline Logan's offer. The back and forth plays brilliantly and, inevitably, brutally. See full review. -- Patton Dodd

Kimball's Twin Peak

Shrek (PG)
Hand-drawn animation is soooooo 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. 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. See full review. -- 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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