Movie Picks 

click to enlarge Val Kilmer shines in The Salton Sea
  • Val Kilmer shines in The Salton Sea

*About a Boy (PG-13)
Hugh Grant enjoys the best role of his career as Will Freeman, a 38-year-old Londoner and self-admitted hedonist who poses as a single parent in order to pick up women. When Will meets Marcus, the 12-year-old son of depressed Fiona (Toni Collette), the adolescent grown-up and the grown-up adolescent bond. While Will searches for love, in spite of his contention that "every man is an island," Marcus searches for security in a world where his mother is habitually suicidal and his schoolmates are insufferable bullies. Eventually, in a story that could have been maudlin and perfunctory, each of them finds what they're looking for as their friendship grows. Nicholas Hoult's Marcus is thoroughly engaging and Grant's Will is made irresistible by exposing his faults with sheer abandon. The material supercedes Grant's usual fumbling and bumbling, providing him with an abundance of memorable lines, delivered with agility. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Bad Company (PG-13)
Anthony Hopkins is a CIA agent who must train Chris Rock to be just like his slain agent twin brother in just one week. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer to the tune of $100 million, so expect some major pyrotechnics. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (PG-13)
See full review, page 31.

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Enough (R)
Disguised as a feminist revenge flick in which a battered woman is empowered to fight back at her abuser, Enough disintegrates into a martial arts showcase with enough graphic violence to make any feminist -- male or female -- queasy. Slick Hollywood production values combine with big-name (Jennifer Lopez) star power here, resulting in a cinematic kickboxing fest with little socially redeeming value in spite of its very pertinent theme. J-Lo demonstrates her physical agility but little of her often captivating acting ability. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Insomnia (R)
Director Christopher Nolan's follow-up to last year's Memento is a fairly standard police thriller with spectacular scenery, some intriguing plot twists and a memorable protagonist in Al Pacino's world-weary police detective Will Dormer. Dormer and his partner have traveled to Alaska to help investigate the murder of a local girl. When a cop is fallen by a bullet in a foggy shootout, the plot unfolds. Robin Williams is tolerable as a local true-crime writer who was a friend of the murdered girl. Some nice cat-and-mouse scenes, but the real entertainment is in Pacino's determined, steady performance. A remake of a 1998 Norwegian film, Insomnia is brooding, atmospheric and well told. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*The Salton Sea (R)
A stylish revenge thriller, cunningly plotted and well acted. Val Kilmer shines in his best role in years as Danny Parker, a speed freak who inhabits "the land of the perpetual night party." Danny's also a police informant and a man with a past that ulfolds as the film's central mystery develops. Terrific character acting by supporting actors Peter Sarsgaard, Adam Goldberg, Anthony LaPaglia, Doug Hutchison and especially Vincent D'Onofrio who plays a piggish drug dealer with a plastic snout. The Salton Sea turns out to be a cautionary tale that turns the L.A. drug culture on its head with intelligence and wit. Some graphic violence naturally attends the subject matter but is not overdone. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Kimball's Twin Peak

Spider-Man (PG-13)
One of this movie's central moral taglines is: "With great power comes great responsibility." Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson) passes along ye olde wisdom as Peter (Tobey Maguire) begins to discover his superpowers after being bitten by a genetically mutated spider (you know the story, hopefully). It's fine and dandy to ask superheroes to uphold this axiom, but how about studio executives, producers and directors? From the script to the editing and acting, everything is just ... just so enh. Computer effects have rendered the charming reality of human error obsolete, making this film feel just too sterile. There are some clever cameos and campy nods to film history, but unfortunately, overall Spider-Man just doesn't pack a punch. Pow. Bam. -- Noel Black

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Cinemark IMAX Theater, Tinseltown

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (G)
Matt Damon narrates this story of an untamed horse in the Wild West, who's captured by the cavalry, broken and becomes a mount. Told from the viewpoint of the horse. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (PG)
Why dally with the finer points of the plot when we all know the shadowy fate of the entire cast. Fact is, The Phantom Menace may just have been a really big-budget setup for the payoff that's just beginning to unfold in Attack of the Clones. And believe it or not, there are enough brilliant plot twists and "historical" explanations of characters and plot points in the later (previous?) episodes to keep your head spinning. The acting's perfectly two-dimensional for a fantasy adventure. The architectural artwork on the hyper-urban galaxy capital Coruscant is ga-ga, gray and brooding. Plus there's plenty of unbelievably nondigital-looking digital action that strips away the schlocky look that plagued The Phantom Menace. Simply put: smarts and imagination at their best. -- Noel Black

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Sum of All Fears (PG-13)
Another film adaptation of one of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels (Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger). Terrorists threaten to bomb the Superbowl, and Ryan (Ben Affleck) and the CIA director (Morgan Freeman) must act fast to stop what could possibly turn into nuclear holocaust. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Undercover Brother (PG-13)
Don't bother, brother. Aside from a few "laughing on the inside" moments, this Austin Powers-meets-blaxploitation knockoff chortles through one failed slapstick sketch after the next. Undercover Brother isn't even bad enough to be so bad it was good. -- Noel Black

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown


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