Movie Picks 

click to enlarge Queen Latifah in   Chicago   one of this years big Oscar contenders
  • Queen Latifah in Chicago one of this years big Oscar contenders

*About Schmidt (R)
The story of a browbeaten insurance salesman rendered with loving disenchantment by Jack Nicholson. The role is new territory for Nicholson -- easily his most interesting film since the sexual dramas of the '70s. It's a prime pick of an otherwise unremarkable Academy Award homestretch. -- John Dicker

Cinemark 16

Biker Boyz (PG-13)
Guys in leather, including Laurence Fishburne and movie newcomer Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher) burn rubber on motorcycles in this "Western on wheels."

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown, Carmike 10, Chapel Hills

*Catch Me If You Can (PG-13)
From its stylish, animated opening credits to its peppy John Williams score, Catch Me If You Can exudes the innocence that colors many Spielberg efforts. The central character, Frank Abagnale Jr., is a notorious con man portrayed as a boy wonder, a Spielbergian creation enamored of life's endless possibilities, played pitch-perfectly by Leonardo DiCaprio, -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Chicago (PG-13)
Directed by musical theater veteran Rob Marshall, Chicago's social commentary is biting and apt if slightly clichd: Fame is fleeting; the media is fickle. Catherine Zeta-Jones is cold and powerful as Velma Kelley, a hoofer with a heart of steel. Her singing is top-notch and her dancing is lurid and assured. Rene Zellweger gives it her all as Roxie Hart, but her singing pales next to Zeta-Jones and supporting star Queen Latifah. Richard Gere is suitably smarmy as attorney Billy Flynn and John C. Reilly is Chicago's most pleasant surprise, turning in a tour de force performance as Roxie Hart's hapless and devoted husband Amos. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Tinseltown, Chapel Hills, Cinemark

*Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (R)
In his directorial debut, George Clooney has managed a difficult balancing act between obvious self-conscious filmmaking and "realistic" acting, making Confessions both interesting to watch and emotional to feel. Loosely based on TV-reality show pioneer Chuck Barris' autobiography, the film takes the pulse of post-WWII America with its new love for television, its cold-war paranoia, its transition from buttoned-down morality to free-wheeling free love and its delicious (sad?) hunger for instant fame, regardless how humiliating. This is one terrific film. -- Andrea Lucard


Darkness Falls (PG-13)
A mysterious dead woman, a lighthouse, a boy who draws disturbing pictures, a murdered mother and the legend of a tooth fairy who comes back and visits. A horror flick in the tradition of The Ring.

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown, Carmike 10, Chapel Hills

Deliver Us From Eva (R)
Three men pay ladies' man LL Cool J $5K to go out with their annoying sister-in-law Eva (Gabrielle Union). Do sparks fly or does chemistry prevail?

Carmike10, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Final Destination 2 (R)
Sequel to the 2000 supernatural thriller, in which a young girl, Clear Rivers (Ali Lauter) can foresee harrowing events.

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown, Carmike 10, Chapel Hills

Galapagos Island (Not Rated) (In IMAX 3D)
Giant sea turtles and insects and amphibians and birds and seascapes and flowers and trees and rare and endangered species -- oh my! All is 3D on the big IMAX screen.

Cinemark IMAX

Gangs of New York (R)
Martin Scorsese's epic historic fantasy of the "hands that built America" is a mesmerizing, bloody slog through the mean streets of mid-19th century New York City. As a spectacle, it works. As a coherent statement about the conflicting elements that built a neighborhood, a city and ultimately a nation, it fails. A revenge drama, it comes equipped with the requisite characters and plot -- slain hero (Liam Neeson), villain/face of evil (Daniel Day-Lewis), avenging son (Leonardo DiCaprio), with a pretty damsel (Cameron Diaz) thrown in for good measure. DiCaprio is barely adequate as a scrappy street fighter turned revolutionary, and his character is grossly overshadowed by the psychotic freak show that is Day-Lewis' performance as Bill the Butcher. Ultimately, Gangs is beautiful, bloody, confusing altogether overwhelming. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

*The Hours (PG-13)
How to turn Michael Cunningham's introspective novel The Hours into a cinematic piece that wouldn't put audiences to sleep? That was the challenge of Brit director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot) who made the brilliant choice of hiring David Hare to write the screenplay and cast Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep in the three lead roles. Moore is Laura Brown, a disaffected 1950s housewife and mother. Streep is Clarissa, a New York book agent coming to grips with the certain demise of her former lover (Ed Harris), a poet dying of AIDS. Nicole Kidman is author Virginia Woolf in the 1920s, wasting away in the suburbs of London under the watchful eye of husband Leonard (Stephen Dillane). Woolf's book Mrs. Dalloway, depicting a woman's entire life in one day, is the literary thread that ties them all together. One of the best films of 2002. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Cinemark 16

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (PG-13)
Should be titled "How to ruin your reputation as an actor/actress." Kate Hudson does cute so cutely you want to spank her and Matthew McConaughey overacts so severely that his tongue literally flies out of his mouth. A formulaic romantic comedy that is all formula and no romance, How to Lose is yet another in a long line of frothy set pieces for attractive so-called actors. The best thing in the movie is the yellow dress Hudson wears in the climactic ballroom scene. But, hey, you've already seen it in the extensive ad campaign the studio has waged to sell this Valentine's month stinker. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Just Married (PG-13)
That '70s Show goofball Ashton Kutcher teams up with Brittany Murphy in this goofball comedy about a couple of clumsy newlyweds. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16

Kangaroo Jack (PG)
A musician and his childhood friend, a New York hairstylist, get mixed up with the mob and must go to Australia to deliver $100,000. They're put to the test when a kangaroo runs off with the money. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Lion King (G)
Disney re-releases this well-loved animated tale to IMAX large-format theaters. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark IMAX Theater

*The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (PG-13)
Peter Jackson's The Two Towers is the best film about hobbits, elves, orcs and wizards since last year's Fellowship of the Ring. But seriously, Jackson does a masterful job of stitching together three separate plots and though the story itself doesn't advance much, it almost sustains its three-hour length. Jackson's strength in The Two Towers is combining a visual realization of Middle Earth's inhabitants, and utilizing the New Zealand landscapes to instill a sense of pending dread and ephemeral beauty. -- John Dicker

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

National Security (PG-13)
Earl (Martin Lawrence) and Hank (Steve Zahn) met on opposite sides of the law during a routine traffic stop, but now they're teamed up as harebrained security guards.


*The Pianist (R)
Director Roman Polanski shows that the Holocaust is more astonishing in its frankness than in its febrile grandeur in this near masterpiece. The Pianist tells the story of a Polish-Jewish pianist (Adrien Brody) who spends World War II fleeing German soldiers in the Warsaw ghetto, where he and his well-to-do family suffer a host of indignities while struggling to stave off nihilism and despair. Brody's survivor, in keeping with the film's fine restraint, is not necessarily a martyr, but merely a witness to the depravity of human nature. Nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. -- John Dicker

Kimball's Twin Peak

The Recruit PG-13)
Al Pacino is a hardened CIA operative, training an idealistic young agent (Colin Farrell) to always look over his shoulder - even at the pretty girl he's falling in love with.

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown, Carmike 10, Chapel Hills

*Shanghai Knights (PG-13)
See full review, page 30

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown


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