Directors: Richard Glatzer, Wash West. With Michael Cunio, Roxanne Day, Scott Gurney. (96 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Sterritt ** A young man goes to work in the porn-movie business and gets more involved with his favorite star than he expected or intended. This satirical drama tries to be an updated "Boogie Nights," but it would have more heft if the filmmakers had been supplied with talented stars, original ideas, and a barely adequate budget. A wry peek at the porn industry is all it has to offer.
Director: Chris Columbus. With Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Rupert Grint, Fiona Shaw, Richard Harris, Julie Walters, Alan Rickman, John Hurt, John Cleese. (150 min.)
Sterritt *** See review, page 15.
Director: David Atkins. With Steve Martin, Helena Bonham Carter, Laura Dern, Scott Caan.
Staff **1/2 Steve Martin returns to the screen in the role of a dentist for the second time in his career (the first was in "Little Shop of Horrors"), but this is one of Martin's rare non-comedic roles. Well, almost. There is comedy in "Novocaine," a film-noir tale about a dentist who becomes a murder suspect after one of his patients scams him for prescription drugs, but it's pitch black and only reveals itself gradually. Martin is excellent in the role: One immediately empathizes with him during his plight as he runs from both cops and the real murderer. This is an unconventional film, but director Atkins manages to get the difficult tone right. It also has a far more satisfying denouement than the otherwise superb "The Man Who Wasn't There," another film-noir movie currently in cinemas. (But stay away if you're the type who gets squeamish in the dentist's chair!) By Stephen Humphries
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet. With Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Arthus de Penguern. (121 min.)
Sterritt *** Amélie is a waitress who anonymously helps a stranger, observes the happiness this brings him, and becomes an eager do-gooder for people who never asked her to barge into their lives. Jeunet is never happy with a scene until he's directed it half to death with manic camera work and editing. But the lighthearted plot of this romantic French comedy balances his overeager style, and Tautou's acting is amiable enough to shine through any amount of cinematic fuss. In French with
Staff ***1/2 Unconventional, delightful, mischievous, visually stunning.
VS/N: 8 scenes with implied sex, innuendo and brief nudity. VV: 4 mild scenes of comic violence. VP: None. VD: 9 scenes with alcohol, 1 scene with a cigarette.
Director: Barry Levinson. With Bruce Willis, Cate Blanchett, Billy Bob Thornton, Troy Garity. (109 min.)
staff ** Mildly amusing is probably not what veteran director Barry Levinson was going for when he teamed macho-man Bruce Willis with chatterbox-hypochondriac Billy Bob Thornton as odd-couple bank robbers in this quirky caper. Cate Blanchett adds spice in her role as a runaway wife who falls for both men at once. Ultimately, it's an offbeat comedy that's a few beats off. By John Kehe
Director: David Mamet. With Gene Hackman, Rebecca Pidgeon, Delroy Lindo, Patti LuPone, Danny DeVito, Ricky Jay. (107 min.)
sterritt *** An aging thief (Hackman) assembles his accomplices (Lindo, Jay) and wife (Pidgeon) for an unusually ambitious crime. Complicating the job is the cantankerous crook they work for (DeVito) and the sleazy young thug (Rockwell) he forces them to team up with. At once a purebred caper movie and a loving tribute to that popular genre, the picture has plenty of tried-and-true elements, from its "one last job" scenario to the untried youngster who messes up the scam. It's fun watching the master criminal turn his worst mistakes into crafty comebacks, just as Mamet turns the most familiar ingredients into unpredictable jolts and reverse-twist surprises.
Director: Iain Softley. With Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Alfre Woodard, Mary McCormack. (120 min.)