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click to enlarge High Tension continues the fine horror tradition - of - mixing scariness and ladies undies.
  • High Tension continues the fine horror tradition of mixing scariness and ladies undies.

The Amityville Horror (R)
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Because of Winn-Dixie (PG)
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*Cinderella Man (PG-13)
See full review on page 29.

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Kimball's Twin Peak, Tinseltown

Crash (R)
The big collision here is between race and class in Los Angeles, personified by a group of barely interlinked characters who are brought into confrontation with one another through a series of inexplicably linked incidents and car crashes, all involving guns. The directorial debut of Million Dollar Baby screenwriter Paul Haggis, Crash lingers at the edge of importance and greatness, but delivers straw people for characters and serendipity for fate. Anchoring the cast is the great Don Cheadle as a LAPD detective whose younger brother has taken to carjacking. Sandra Bullock is cast distinctly against type as a disaffected, angry housewife, and the rest of the cast, including Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser and Terrence Howard, lend gravity to what feels like an underdeveloped concept. Essentially, the message is that racial and class divisions drive our dissatisfaction, frustrations and fears here in America, but that message is diverted by bland characterization and sidestepping that tends to offer justification for vicious behavior. Mark Isham's musical score intrudes with loud electronic chanting. Crash could have been a smash, but turns out to be a mere fender bender. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills 15

Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag (NR)
Cinemark 16 IMAX

Forces of Nature (NR)
A National Geographic film showcasing earthquakes, volcanoes, severe storms and interviews with the scientists who study them. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16 IMAX

Guess Who (PG-13)
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Hitch (PG-13)
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Ice Princess (G)
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The Interpreter (PG-13)
Master director Sydney Pollack (Cold Mountain, Out of Africa) knows how to craft an excellent film, so it's a disappointment that The Interpreter is so haphazardly constructed and emotionally vague. Beautiful as always, Nicole Kidman is well cast as Silvia Broome, a hyper-intelligent but icy United Nations interpreter who overhears a coup d'etat threat in an obscure African language. She can understand the language because she grew up in Africa, and as the plot thickens, the viewer learns that her connections to the assassination plot may be personal. Charged with protecting the visiting African dignitary (and coup target) is agent Tobin Keller (played by a boozy Sean Penn), a man who is struggling to deal with the recent death of his wife. The problem is there are two many plotlines to tie together, and an otherwise intriguing film becomes a messy meditation, rather than a taut thriller. -- Dan WIlcock

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Kicking and Screaming (PG)
Family man Phil Weston (Will Ferrell) coaches his kids' soccer team and learns how competitive he is. Also starring Robert Duvall and Mike Ditka.

-- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16

Kingdom of Heaven (R)
During the Crusades, Balian of Ibelin (Orlando Bloom), a young blacksmith from Jerusalem, rises to protect his people from foreign invaders. Directed by Ridley Scott, also starring Liam Neeson. -- Not reviewed

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Layer Cake (R)
This UK gangster procedural is stylish and sleek, filled with guns, sexy models, pounds of drugs and wry cinematography. Daniel Craig plays an unnamed middleman in the cocaine and ecstasy game who thinks he's smart enough to quit while he's ahead. Instead, he's thrown into a Pandora's box of gangster mayhem involving kidnapping, betrayal, Serbian assassins and a bombshell love interest. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, who produced Guy Ritchie's Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, this is a more sober, comprehensive version of those films. It's far from perfect: Half of the thick British accents are incomprehensible, and while realism largely is honored, giving the viewer a unique view of the social strata where white-collar drug barons and street thugs meet, there are twice the number of plotlines necessary. As a result, not everything is tied up neatly, and the film drags a bit. Still, this will be a cult classic for its fidelity to topic and low-key brutality. -- Dan Wilcock

Kimball's Twin Peak

The Longest Yard (PG-13)
Adam Sandler stars as an ex-football star who ends up in prison and is encouraged to start an inmate football team that plays against the prison guards. This re-make also stars Chris Rock, Burt Reynolds, Nelly and James Cromwell. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Lords of Dogtown (PG-13)
Whoa dude, this film came close to being a lame, Hollywood imposter of one of skateboarding's foundation stories. Luckily, writer and skateboard legend Stacy Peralta and director Catherine Hardwicke pull it off. The "Z-Boys" team included real-life skateboard legends Peralta (played by John Robinson), Tony Alva (Victor Rasuk) and Jay Adams (Emile Hirsch) -- a group formed loosely around the surfing culture in Venice, Calif., nicknamed "Dogtown". The year is 1977 when the Z-Boys arrive and turn a then-stodgy sport on its head. Soon the boys find hot girls, big money contracts and betrayal thrust in their faces. While the film sanitizes many of the darker aspects dealt with in Dogtown and Z-Boys, Peralta's documentary, it is a marvel to watch for its authentic recreation of working-class Venice, old-school skating styles (there's not an ollie or rail slide to be seen here) and the initial bridge between skating and hardcore punk. While some points are far too cute and simplified, the film's brisk pacing keeps it all entertaining. -- Dan Wilcock

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Madagascar (PG)
This children's computer-animated comedy is so packed with madcap humor and outlandish acrobatics at breakneck speed that it resembles an episode of the old televised cartoon Animaniacs. The film follows the adventures of four animals that live in New York's Central Park Zoo: Marty, the rambunctious zebra (with the voice of Chris Rock); Alex, the vain lion (Ben Stiller); Gloria, the motherly hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith); and Melman, the hypochondriac giraffe (David Schwimmer). Marty's ultimately bummed out because he's trapped in a pen and wants to experience "the wild." Marty gets his chance through a bizarre series of accidents that land the quartet in Madagascar. The story line never quite comes together in a stirring way, and lacks the same satisfying emotional punch that made Finding Nemo a classic. On the positive side, keeping the action and comedy percolating makes up for some of what the film misses. -- Dan Wilcock

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Millions (PG)
That Millions, the heartwarming tale of a pair of motherless Irish brothers, is directed by grim meister Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) is a big surprise. The child actors, Alex Etel as Damian and Lewis McGibbon as Anthony, are natural and charming despite their eccentricities. They don't do cute; they merely are cute. Damian converses with saints and Anthony has an uncanny knack with finances, and when the two unexpectedly are gifted with a duffel bag full of cash, a series of adventures and misadventures is set in place. The film stumbles forward with a shifting focus, but enough endearing scenes to hold it together. The ending should have been dispensed in the cutting room, but it doesn't ruin the effect of having watched a sweet family heal itself with a little help from the spirit world. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Kimball's Twin Peak

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (PG-13)
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Monster-in-Law (PG-13)
Charlotte Honeywell (Jennifer Lopez) has a disastrous dating life until she meets "the perfect man," Kevin Fields (Michael Vartan). However, his mother, Viola (Jane Fonda), is willing to go to great lengths to destroy their relationship. -- Not reviewed

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Pacifier (PG)
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Robots (PG)
Cinemark 16 IMAX, Picture Show

Sahara (PG-13)
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Sharks 3-D (NR)
Jean-Michel Cousteau presents an up-close experience with a variety of shark species found around the world. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16 IMAX

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (PG)
Four best girlfriends pass around a pair of "magic" secondhand jeans as a way of keeping in touch as their lives lead them in different directions. Based on the novel by Ann Brashares. Starring America Ferrera (Real Women Have Curves).

-- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16,

Tinseltown

*Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith (PG-13)
Despite more of the same lousy acting and poor character ideas that marred I and II (the prequels to the well-loved trilogy), Sith wins in the end due to its unrelenting dark vision. After all, this is what everybody has been waiting for: the story of how Anakin Skywalker -- the boy foretold to unite the galaxy -- becomes a black-clad mass murderer named Darth. While the special effects sometimes are too much to grasp, they are stunning nonetheless. When it comes to commanding believable acting and penning good dramatic transitions, Lucas has a wooden heart. As for the showdown between Anakin and Obi-Wan, all there is to say is that it's worth seeing on the big screen. -- Dan WIlcock

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

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