Movie Picks 

click to enlarge Trapped in a phone booth, Stu (Colin Farrell) plays a deadly game with an unseen caller in  Phone Booth.
  • Trapped in a phone booth, Stu (Colin Farrell) plays a deadly game with an unseen caller in Phone Booth.

Agent Cody Banks (PG)
Young Frankie Muniz (TV's Malcolm, as in the middle) plays a run-of-the-mill kid who is chosen by government agents to become a special agent. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

Basic (R)
John Travolta stars as a bad-ass DEA agent searching for the missing members of an elite commando unit. Also stars Samuel L. Jackson -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

Boat Trip (R)
Cuba Gooding Jr. in drag on a cruise ship, trying to pick up chicks. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

Bringing Down the House (PG-13)
Steve Martin plays a successful tax attorney who has neglected his personal life, loses his wife and turns to the personals where he hooks up with a conniving ex-con (Queen Latifah). -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown, Carmike 10, Chapel Hills

*Chicago (PG-13)
The big winner at the Oscars, including Best Picture, 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 and dancing pale next to Zeta-Jones and supporting star Queen Latifah. 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 16

The Core (PG-13)
Hilary Swank drives deep into the center of the Earth in a last-ditch effort to save it. Also stars Aaron Eckhart.

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

Dreamcatcher (R)
This Lawrence Kasdan adaptation of a Stephen King novel is a sloppy, bloody mess, more confusing than scary. Dreamcatcher wanders back and forth from sci-fi thriller to Big Chill love fest to gastrointestinal gross-out, and the audience is left scratching its collective head, trying to fit the disparate pieces together. Featuring an alien that looks like an engorged, uncircumcised penis that invades human bodies and comes out in a bloody, climactic bowel movement. Peeeeyew. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

Head of State (PG-13)
As far as contrived political comedies go, Head of State squeaks in as a winner. Chris Rock plays down on his luck DC alderman Mays Gilliam, who represents a district so dangerous that "you can get shot while you're getting shot." Given the depressing local political incident of April Fools Day, watching Gilliam's unlikely presidential campaign provides a cathartic delight. While there's the predictable struggle between the platitudinous candidate Rock's handlers want him to be, and the rabble-rouser he truly is, Rock's directorial debut is chock full of hilarious slapstick gags and lots of stodgy white folks getting their groove on. -- John Dicker

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

The Hunted (R)
William Friedkin (Rules of Engagement) directs this thriller about an FBI deep woods tracker hunting a trained assassin who's made a sport of hunting humans. Together at last, the two actors with the most tortured under-eye bags in Hollywood: Benicio Del Toro and Tommy Lee Jones. -- Not reviewed

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 does a masterful job of stitching together three separate plots and though the story itself doesn't advance much, it almost sustains the film's 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

Cinemark 16

Old School (R)
* Old School -- which chronicles the birth of a fraternity unshackled by traditional boundaries of age, class or college enrollment -- managed to make me snort and guffaw through most of its 91 minutes. There's hardly an original laugh in the film, but it hardly matters. When a hairy and slightly out of shape fuddy-duddy, played by Will Ferrell, streaks down main street after a keg stand, it's funny. Old School is a piece of testosterone power propaganda that works, largely due to director Todd Phillips' knack for physical gags and the solid performances of the male leads, Ferrell, Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn. -- John Dicker

Cinemark 16, Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

*The Pianist (R)
Winner of the Oscar for Best Actor (Adrien Brody), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director (Roman Polanski). 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 (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. -- John Dicker


Piglet's Big Movie (G)
Pooh's stuttering little pink friend gets his (her?) very own movie. Note: PBM features some original songs by local musician Chuck Snow. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

*Rabbit-Proof Fence (PG-13)
Essentially a chase movie, Rabbit-Proof Fence tells the story of the escape of three "half-castes" (half Australian aborigine, half white) from government officials across the Australian outback. Directed by Phillip Noyce (The Quiet American), it is a parent's worst nightmare writ large. The landscape of Australia, in all its beauty and harshness, is gorgeously rendered by cinematographer Christopher Doyle in long scenes where the three girls trudge across the rocky landscape toward home. -- Andrea Lucard

Kimball's Twin Peak

*The Quiet American (R)
A gentle, respectful retelling of Graham Grene's classic 1955 novel. Michael Caine is heartbreaking as British journalist Thomas Fowler -- a man who sees a way of life disappearing around him as he approaches old age. Brendan Fraser is particularly adept as a young American in Saigon, idealistic, clumsy and out of place, playing the role with deliberate physicality. The Quiet American is a quiet and lovely film, anchored by a delicate friendship, and colored by the foreshadowing of world-changing events. The quasi-historic text has much resonance in today's edgy political times. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Kimball's Twin Peak

Space Station (NR) In IMAX 3D
See what it's like up there, floating in space millions of miles away. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark IMAX

*Spirited Away (PG)
See full review, page 29

Cinemark 16

*Talk to Her (R)
Director/screenwriter Pedro Almodovar took home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for this unique concoction of eroticized male friendship, grief and pathology. Almodovar's unique knack for crafting tragic love stories with a visual style all his own is on full display here. -- John Dicker

Kimball's Twin Peak

Tears of the Sun (R)
Tears of the Sun reminds us how desperately we need honest movies that address complex moral issues, and how much we don't need another Rambo, even a well-intentioned one like this military rescue flick directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day). Bruce Willis stars as Navy SEALS Lt. A.K. Waters, charged along with his crack unit to enter Nigeria, which is under a military coup, and rescue American Dr. Lena Kendricks (Monica Bellucci). Fuqua has created an overblown Hollywood production based on a false premise that simultaneously trivializes the suffering in Africa and mythologizes a military mission that never took place, stretching the bounds of credibility while manipulating its audience shamelessly. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown, Chapel Hills

View From the Top (PG-13)
If you've seen the previews, you've also seen the best gags of this modest, mediocre Miramax comedy marred by its sneering cruelty and uninspired direction. View suffers the fate of too many modern comedies in its substitution of character development with syrupy montages accompanied by pop-rock hits from the last two decades -- filmmaking at its laziest. Mike Myers is up to snuff as an apoplectic airline trainer but doesn't get enough screen time, and Gwyneth Paltrow half carries the film despite its flimsy script. -- John Dicker

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Chapel Hills, Tinseltown


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