Movie Picks 

click to enlarge Meet the Fockers, sequel to Meet the Parents, opens this - weekend
  • Meet the Fockers, sequel to Meet the Parents, opens this weekend

Films recommended by our reviewers are indicated by an *.

After the Sunset (PG-13)
Following a successful last score, a master thief (Pierce Brosnan) retires to an island paradise. His lifelong nemesis, a crafty FBI agent, washes ashore to ensure he's making good on his promise. Not reviewed

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Blade Trinity (R)
Wesley Snipes returns as the day-walking vampire hunter in this third and final film in the Blade franchise. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15 (Dec. 24 only), Tinseltown

Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason (R)
Apart from discovering that her boyfriend is a conservative voter, Bridget (Renee Zellweger) has to deal with a new boss, a strange contractor and the worst vacation of her life in this sequel, also starring Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. -- Not reviewed

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Christmas with the Kranks (PG)
Tim Allen portrays Luther Krank and Jamie Lee Curtis is his wife in this family comedy with a holiday twist. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Chapel Hills 15, Tinseltown

*Closer (R)
The beautifully photographed but self-absorbed and cruel characters in director Mike Nichols' film never stop lying to each other. They thirst for love, but their preoccupation with sex and perceived betrayal leaves them hollow and tangled in a series of love triangles. In the hands of a lesser director, the disjointed unraveling of events could've been clunky and confusing. But Nichols succeeds in preserving the plot while detaching the viewer from the characters, allowing the film to unfold a step back from the intensity of the characters' selfishness. Featuring Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. -- Dan Wilcock

Cinemark 16, Chapel Hills 15

Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag (NR)
The movie depicts a young pilot's progression through the challenging and dangerous exercises of Operation Red Flag, the international training program for air forces of allied countries. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16 IMAX

*Finding Neverland (PG)
A whimsical, warmhearted and heart-wrenching film about J.M. Barrie, the playwright who wrote Peter Pan, that builds to a moving climax like a teakettle over a flame. A film set apart from Hollywood's standard sex-and-violence fare for adults, it's a story about never growing up, and never giving up on a place called Neverland. Starring Johnny Depp as Barrie; co-starring Kate Winslet. -- Dan Wilcock

Cinemark 16 (opens Christmas day), Chapel Hills 15, Tinseltown (Dec. 24 only)

Flight of the Phoenix (PG-13)
The remake of Robert Aldrich's revered 1965 classic would be 15 percent better if not for its abysmal use of pop music, and it would be 100 percent better if Aldrich's son William had never thought to ride on his father's coattails by producing it in the first place. Dennis Quaid's stalwart performance as a Hellcat pilot and natural leader of men doesn't rescue the movie from its complete lack of convincing dialogue or flaccid plotting, but he does give the movie its dynamic character hook. -- Cole Smithey

Cinemark 16, Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Tinseltown

The Forgotten (PG-13)
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*Friday Night Lights (PG-13)
Director Peter Berg's scrappy adaptation of H.G. Bissinger's 1990 book about the cult of high school football in a dying West Texas town. Billy Bob Thornton's acting range is remarkable ; Lucas Black and country music singer Tim McGraw contribute strong support. -- Kathryn Eastburn

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The Incredibles (PG)
A family of superheroes in hiding is forced to reveal themselves to save the world, again. Pixar Animation Studio's 6th digitally animated feature. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Chapel Hills 15, Tinseltown

Ladder 49
John Travolta and Joaquim Phoenix co-star in this fire-fighting drama, set in New York City. -- Not reviewed

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Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (PG)
Three wealthy children's parents are killed in a fire. When they are sent to a distant relative, played by a ghoulish Jim Carrey, they find out that he is plotting to kill them and seize their fortune. Also featuring Meryl Streep. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Tinseltown

Napoleon Dynamite (PG)
Napoleon Dynamite's protagonist (Jon Heder) is a teenager whose mouth is forever agape and whose disposition hops between extreme dopiness and standard-issue adolescent indignation. While the indie film is littered with hilarious bits and pieces, they add up to only a few hard laughs and not much else. -- John Dicker

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National Treasure (PG)
Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) descends from a family of treasure hunters who have long looked for a chest hidden by the founding fathers of the United States. When he learns of a plot to steal the treasure, his only option is to find it and steal it first. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Chapel Hills 15, Carmike 10 (Dec. 24 only), Tinseltown

Ocean's Twelve (PG-13)
Bland inside jokes, perpetual self-referencing dialogue, and foreign heists that will put babies to sleep fill up this truncated sequel starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and a bunch of other beautiful people, directed by Steven Soderbergh. Catherine Zeta-Jones adds a wrinkle to the plot as a hotshot Europol detective romantically attached to Pitt's character when she isn't trying to solve robberies. -- Cole Smithey

Cinemark 16, Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Tinseltown

*The Polar Express (G)
A Christmas classic for the wired generation. Breathtaking state-of-the-art computer animation combined with a fast-paced storyline make for dazzling eye candy, and Tom Hanks (who plays most of the characters) and director Robert Zemeckis craft a worthy homage to the animated Christmas movie genre that people of all ages really can appreciate. --Dan Wilcock

Cinemark 16, Cinemark 16 IMAX (in IMAX 3D), Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Tinseltown

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (G)
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*Ray (R)
The much awaited film biography of America's beloved soul man, Ray Charles, who died earlier this year at the age of 73. The surprise of Ray is not the music; it's fabulous. It's not Jamie Foxx's performance -- tour de force is putting it mildly. The surprise is that despite a blocky, chronological, somewhat plodding story line, the development of a public character we all felt we knew well contains revelations that, while not particularly pretty, enrich the legend of Ray Charles, bringing him a bit closer to the ground. The 20 years depicted in the film are spent predominantly on the road, with Ray womanizing, shooting up and making glorious music born of a complicated and utterly unique genius. -- Kathryn Eastburn

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Shall We Dance (PG-13)
Richard Gere plays a middle-aged accountant who finds transformation in a ballroom dance studio. Also starring Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon. -- Not reviewed

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Shark Tale (PG)
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*Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (PG)
A slick, sepia-toned love letter to vintage 1930s serial adventures, Sky Captain plays like a kid movie wrapped in the skin of an experimental art film. -- Scott Renshaw

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*Sideways (R)
Sideways is a buddy movie framed by a road trip, featuring old college roommates Miles and Jack, characters defined by their flaws and limitations. Miles, as played by the gnomish, perpetually grouchy Paul Giamatti, can only express positive emotions when referring to wine. Jack, played by Thomas Haden Church, is literally a blockhead, a guy led by his wanker through a series of sexual misadventures. Jack is pathetic and self absorbed but energetic and funny; Miles is neurotic but possibly salvageable. Director Payne's smugness intrudes subtly into the film's overall effect, leaving a slightly bitter taste. Marvelous flavor, however, is added by the two supporting actresses, Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh. Kathryn Eastburn

Kimball's Twin Peak (Friday, Dec. 24 only)

Spanglish (PG-13)
Flor (Paz Vega) emigrates to Los Angeles from Mexico in hopes of finding a better life for her and her daughter, Cristina (Victoria Luna). Hired by John and Deborah Clasky (Adam Sandler and Tea Leoni) as their housekeeper, Flor contends with the language barrier, Cristina's budding femininity and the eccentric Claskys' way of life. Directed by James Brooks (As Good As It Gets). -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Tinseltown

The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie (PG)
SpongeBob Squarepants (from Nickelodeon's animated show) takes leave from the town of Bikini Bottom in order to track down King Neptune's stolen crown. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Chapel Hills 15 (24 only), Tinseltown (Dec. 24 only)

A Very Long Engagement (R)
Audrey Tautou (Amelie) plays Mathilde, a young woman searching for her fianc who has disappeared during World War I. See interview with Tautou, page 40.

Kimball's Twin Peak


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