Movie Picks 

We did not receive schedules for Carmike 10 and Chapel Hills 15 this week. Please call the theaters for times and film information.

Along Came Polly (PG-13)
The world's most cautious man (Ben Stiller) makes his living analyzing high risks. When he falls in love with a girl (Jennifer Anniston) he takes the risk of cheating on his newlywed wife (Debra Messing). Alec Baldwin and Hank Azaria star as well. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Big Fish (PG-13)
Tolerable Southern accents and fine performances don't make Big Fish anything more than a pleasantly forgetful two hours. Adapted from Daniel Wallace's novel, this is a standard father-son estrangement story that uses magical realism to trumpet a pat and quickly redundant message: Stories, whether real or embellished, are the equivalent of chicken soup for our souls. Albert Finney stars as the elder Edward Bloom, and Ewan McGregor is Bloom in his youth. A montage of Bloom's tall tales comprises the bulk of the film. Unfortunately, they don't really add up to anything of substance. -- John Dicker

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Brother Bear (G)
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Calendar Girls (PG-13)
A group of middle-aged women in North-Yorkshire, England, bare it all to raise funds for leukemia research. Eventually the calendar becomes a worldwide sensation. After a true story. Featuring Helen Mirren. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Cat in the Hat (PG)
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Chasing Liberty (PG-13)
The President's 18-year-old daughter (Mandy Moore) escapes from her secret service entourage and falls in love with a British stranger. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Cheaper by the Dozen (PG)
Steve Martin coaches a football team and tries to take care of his twelve children while his wife Bonnie Hunt is out of town. Remake of the comedy classic from 1950. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Cold Mountain (R)
Although the parts of this film are greater than the whole, scenes with brilliant staging and cinematography, strong performances and a compelling story line make Cold Mountain a worth-see. The story of would-be lovers Ada (Nicole Kidman) and Inman (Jude Law), would-be lovers separated at first blush by the battle call of the Civil War, Cold Mountain represents another masterful literary adaptation by director Anthony Minghella. Many memorable moments never really congeal into a dramatic whole, but those moments -- including a gut-wrenching enactment of the Battle of the Crater; the arrival of Ruby Thewes (Renee Zellweger) at Ada's decrepit doorstep; and episodes from Inman's Homeric odyssey homeward -- gracefully depict the cultural and physical devastation caused by the war, and the unexpected female empowerment experienced by Ada and Ruby as they learn to get by on their own. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*The Cooler (R)
See full review, page 26.


*Elf (PG)
Will Farrell's brilliant comic turn as a human raised in the North Pole as one of Santa's elves, returned to New York City to reunite with his birth father (James Caan).

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House of Sand and Fog (R)
Adapted from Andre Dubus III's wrenching novel, House is the tale of a woman's struggle to hold on to her family home, left to her by her deceased father, and an immigrant family's attempt to use it as a tool to reclaim their fortune, lost when they fled Iran during th efall of the Shah. Jennifer Connelly is Kathy, the woman in question, a largely unsympathetic character who looks on with helpless anger and washed-out resign as her life becomes more and more unstable. Ben Kingsley gives a masterful performance as a former Iranian officer, communicating the conflicting sorrows, rages and ambitions of his character with perfect timbre. His loss is so great it is almost unbearable to watch. But despite some strong moments, House ultimately hinges on Kathy's unreliable character, and the ultra-tragic results are ultimately unacceptable. The feel-bad movie of the year. -- Kathryn Eastburn


In America (PG-13)
There's a forced feel-good quality to In America, director Jim Sheridan's semi-autobiographical nod to Irish immigrants in America. Tugging at our heartstrings are the combined forces of the ghost of a dead child, two adorable live ones and the whole overarching (though updated) saga of the immigrant experience. Despite dodging many a clich, Sheridan slips into a patently American one in his noble savage portrait of the family Sullivan's downstairs neighbor Mateo (Djimon Hounsou), an East Indies recluse who reveals little about himself, except that he's prone to intense glaring and apoplexy. -- John Dicker

Kimball's Twin Peak

*The Last Samurai (R)
This epic tale of a Westerner (Tom Cruise) who goes to Japan to train imperial soldiers in modern warfare, but ends up fighting with the samurai, combines elements of Dances With Wolves, Braveheart, Seven Samurai and director Edward Zwick's best work, Glory, in a big Hollywood spectacle that only occasionally loses its way. Tom Cruise pulls off the role, but the masterful presence of Ken Watanabe as Katsumoto, the chief samurai warrior, almost steals the show. Stunning fight choreography and graceful cinematography by John Toll, set to music by Hans Zimmer, make for magnificent battle scenes. A certain Oscar contender. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Cinemark 16 , Tinseltown

*Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (PG-13)
The final installment of Peter Jackson's epic to end to end all epics is upon us and the word from the embedded Middle Earth reporter is not good. Jackson will test your devotion to computer graphic beasts, gratuitous battle scenes and dialogue mawkish enough to make daytime television look like some sort of social realist experiment. Fans of the previous films might be by no means disappointed. They'll get what they expect and a lot of it. Skeptics conscripted into the theaters, however, should consider bringing along a spare ass, because like the soul of the ring bearer, yours will be hardened beyond measure. -- John Dicker

Basically, Return of the King was the bizzity-fo-shizzity-biznomb, and by bizzity-fo-shizzity-biznomb, I mean totally wicked and completely awesome. The fact that Jackson defied everyone but John Dicker by making an impossibly gorgeous, technically improbable film that not only did full justice to Tolkien's final installment of the Rings, but one that also took unthinkable liberties with its plot and still got away with it, is just ... it's just in-friggin'-comprehensibly wonderful. While you may want to bring your hemorrhoid cushion, it's a ride worth the bumps! -- Noel Black

Cinemark 16, Cinemark IMAX (35 mm on the IMAX screen), Tinseltown

Looney Tunes: Back in Action (PG)
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Luther (PG-13)
Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love) stars as 16th century religious reformer Martin Luther in this 2003 film biography. Also stars Alfred Molina, Peter Ustinov and Bruno Ganz. -- Not reviewed

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Matrix Revolution (R)
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Misadventures in 3-D (in IMAX-3D)
Cinemark IMAX

Mona Lisa Smile (PG-13)
1950s, Wellesley College, Julia Roberts, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kirsten Dunst. Need we say more? -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

My Baby's Daddy (PG-13)
Three buddies enjoy their future fatherhood together. Wu Tang Clan's Method Man stars in this family comedy. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Ocean Wonderland (NR) (in IMAX 3-D)
Cinemark IMAX

Paycheck (PG-13)
Action mastermind John Woo sends Ben Affleck on a journey to get back his memories of the last two years. Uma Thurman stars as well. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Peter Pan (PG)
Take a trip back to Never Never Land with real actors and Tinkerbell, Peter and Captain Hook. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16

Radio (PG)
With Ed Harris and Cuba Gooding Jr. Feel-good football flick. -- Not reviewed

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*School of Rock (PG-13)
Jack Black rocks as a washed-up musician who takes a job as a substitute teacher and turns the class into a makeshift rock band.

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*Something's Gotta Give (PG-13)
Diane Keaton, at 57, gives the best performance of her career as Erica, a successful playwright in her 50s who thinks she's "closed for business" when it come to love and sex, until she meets Harry (Jack Nicholson) a lecherous 63-year-old who happens to be dating her 20-something daughter (Amanda Peet). The film's too long by 30 minutes, but is a damn near perfect romantic comedy. Keanu Reeves is graceful and charming as a young doctor who treats Harry when he suffers a heart attack and who falls for and pursues Erica. This is Keaton's moment to shine. Already heralded by the National Board of Review as Best Actress, she will certainly receive many more nominations, if not awards, for her depiction of the emotional vulnerability and volatility, the just-below-the-surface sorrow that comes with aging. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Teacher's Pet (PG)
Disney's newest movie tells the story of a dog that can read and talk and whose ultimate wish is to become a real boy. A wacky scientist shows up to make his dream come true. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Timeline (PG-13)
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Torque (PG-13)
From the makers of Fast and Furious comes Torque, a biker movie about rival gangs and a young man on the run from the most feared leader of a biker gang (Ice Cube). Fast and Furious 3, anyone? -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Under the Tuscan Sun (PG-13)
Diane Lane stars in this adaptation of the popular Frances Mayes book. -- Not reviewed

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Young Black Stallion (G) (35mm on the IMAX screen)
Remake of the 1979 movie Black Stallion. Young girl becomes friend with a wild stallion in Arabia. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark IMAX


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