Movie Picks 

click to enlarge Kurt Russell and his miraculous hockey team in Miracle.
  • Kurt Russell and his miraculous hockey team in Miracle.

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). -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Big Bounce (PG-13)
See full review, page 34.

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. This standard father-son estrangement story 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 (Ewan McGregor is Bloom in his youth), a man whose love for his own narrative borders on the megalomanic. A montage of Bloom's tall tales comprises the bulk of the film. Unfortunately, they don't really add up to a plot or anything that lops substance onto the film's facile characters. -- John Dicker

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Brother Bear (G)
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Butterfly Effect (R)
Ashton Kutcher stars in and executive produced this creepy time-travel tale. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Calendar Girls (PG-13)
A group of middle-aged women in North Yorkshire, England, bare it all for a good deed. To raise funds for leukemia research, they decide to produce an alternative nude calendar, which eventually becomes a worldwide sensation. Based on a true story. Featuring Helen Mirren. -- Not reviewed


Cat in the Hat (PG)
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Cheaper by the Dozen (PG)
Steve Martin coaches a football team and tries to take care of his 12 children while his wife, played by 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. It tells the story of would-be lovers Ada (Nicole Kidman) and Inman (Jude Law), separated at first blush by the battle call of the Civil War. 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. Zellweger and Law are Oscar nominees for best supporting actress and best actor. -- Kathryn Eastburn


*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). -- Kathryn Eastburn

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Girl With a Pearl Earring (PG-13)
See full review, page 35.

Cinemark 16, Kimball's Twin Peak

Gospel of John (PG-13)
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*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 own best work, Glory, in a big Hollywood spectacle that only occasionally loses its way. Stunning fight choreography and graceful cinematography by John Toll, set to music by Hans Zimmer, make for magnificent battle scenes. Ken Watanabe as Katsumoto, the chief samurai, received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. -- 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 all epics is upon us and the word from the embedded Middle Earth reporter is not good. Tolkienistas will defend this film to their last breath (or until they finally manage to kiss a girl). 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. -- 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! (Academy Award nominations for best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay.) -- Noel Black

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

Looney Tunes: Back in Action (PG)
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*Lost in Translation (R)
Films like this deserve a special MPAA rating of BP: Be Patient. Bill Murray stars as Bob, a whiskey company spokesmodel on assignment in Tokyo. There he hooks up with lonely young newlywed Charlotte, played by Scarlett Johansson. Directed by Sofia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides) who refreshingly avoids what could easily descend into a staid midlife crisis film about yet another older-man-younger-woman tryst. It's Bob and Charlotte's spark of desperately needed connectivity and recognition of their respective desperation that sets it apart. Lost in Translation is also quite funny, complete with an understated slapstick sensibility rarely seen in the American art house. Bill Murray on a treadmill. Billy Murray with a thickly accented Japanese hooker. Bill Murray at a karaoke bar. The laughs come to those who wait. BP. -- John Dicker


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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Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (PG-13)
Academy Award nominee for best picture, best director (Peter Weir). Starring Russell Crowe. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Misadventures in 3-D (in IMAX 3-D)
The latest IMAX treat, a 3-D animated feature. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark IMAX

The Missing (R)
Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones as estranged daughter and father in this Ron Howard western. -- Not reviewed

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*Monster (R)
The monster in the title of this shudder-inducing film is not Aileen Wuornos, highway prostitute and serial killer, played by Charlize Theron. "The Monster" was a big Ferris wheel with red and yellow lights that Wuornos, as a teen-ager, was too terrified to ride, a symbol of her adolescent vulnerability and the childhood she never had. Wuernos, as portrayed in Monster, was a woman with a history of poverty and dreadful abuse who made a long string of bad choices, culminating in her first murder, then escalating into a prolonged madness. She was not a monster, but a profoundly damaged human. Theron plays Wuornos' decline into blind rage and murderous despair with a world-worn ache rarely seen onscreen. This is simply one of the purest, deepest, emotional immersions into a character in movie history. It is a rare occasion in the movies when an actor becomes a character, and this is one of those extraordinary occasions. The rest of the actresses who received Oscar nominations might as well sit back in their designer gowns, because Academy Award night this year belongs to Charlize Theron. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Kimball's Twin Peak

*Mystic River (R)
Based on a Dennis Lehane novel, Mystic River is a triptych character study and a mournful noir that flirts with being a traditional thriller, but thankfully is not. It's about damaged men and their grief, laced with the haunting questions of "what if?" Director Clint Eastwood does a remarkable job of balancing his characters' salt-of-the-earth machismo with equal amounts of recrimination and regret. Oscar nominations for best picture, best director, best actor (Sean Penn), best supporting actor (Tim Robbins) and best adapted screenplay (Brian Helgeland). -- John Dicker


Ocean Wonderland (NR) (in IMAX 3-D)
Swim with the fishies in IMAX 3-D. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark IMAX

The Perfect Score (PG-13)
Seven high school seniors, seeking perfect scores, break into the Princeton testing center to steal the answers to the SAT tests.

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

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. -- John Dicker

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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). Keaton has already won best actress accolades from the National Board of Review and the Golden Globes, and garnered a best actress Oscar nomination for her depiction of the emotional vulnerability and volatility, the just-below-the-surface sorrow that comes with aging. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Cinemark 16

Stuck on You (PG-13)
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Timeline (PG-13)
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Win a Date with Tad Hamilton (PG-13)
A small-town girl (Kate Bosworth) wins a date with Tad Hamilton, the hottest male celebrity on earth. But there's a best friend (Topher Grace) who is the odd man out. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

You Got Served (PG-13)
Musical drama about two friends who must win a city dance contest to achieve their goal of opening a recording studio. But the contest is more difficult than they expected, as they have to compete against a bunch of talented street dancers. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

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, after being separated from her father in World War II. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark IMAX


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