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Movie Guide

November 23, 2001

New releases
The Devil's Backbone (R)

Director: Guillermo del Toro. With Eduardo Noriega, Marisa Paredes, Federico Luppi, Inigo Garces. (106 min.)

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sterritt *** Sent to a boarding school for orphans during the Spanish Civil War, a homeless boy deals with intrigues among students and teachers, and confronts two dark mysteries: Is there lurking danger in an undetonated bomb standing like a grim statue just outside the school's doors, and is there more menace

in the ghost of a murdered pupil who haunts its rooms and corridors? This moody ghost story follows generally familiar lines despite its unusual historical setting, but it's imaginatively filmed and builds a sense of brooding emotional power.

Spy Game (R)

Director: Tony Scott. With Brad Pitt, Robert Redford, Catherine McCormack, Omid Jalili. (126 min.)

staff ** See review, page 17.

Sidewalks of New York (R)

Director: Edward Burns. With Edward Burns, Heather Graham, Stanley Tucci, Brittany Murphy. (107 min.)

staff * Edward Burns is a charming actor and colorful writer, but his latest film lacks an anchor and a rudder. The aimless film drifts between the confusions, romantic liaisons, and infidelities of an assorted group of New Yorkers - a waitress, an unfaithful husband, an egotistical TV show host, and a hotel doorman. It's all meant to give an insight into the complexities of love, but, by the film's end, even Burns admits that he doesn't have any answers. So why bother?

By Stephen Humphries

Currently in Release
Amélie (R)

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet. With Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Arthus de Penguern. (121 min.)

sterritt *** Amélie is a waitress who anonymously 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 cinematic fuss. In French with English subtitles

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.

Bandits (PG-13)

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. Ultimately, it's an offbeat comedy that's a few beats off. By John Kehe

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (PG)

Director: Chris Columbus. With Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith. (150 min.)

sterritt *** This richly produced fantasy stays true to the letter and spirit of J.K. Rowling's lively novel about an 11-year-old boy who discovers he's a natural-born wizard, enrolls in a school to learn magic and enchantment, and finds himself battling the sinister sorcerer who killed his parents when he was a baby. Columbus fills the screen with colorful images that make a world of spells seem as solid as the one we travel every day. What you won't find are qualities a truly great movie adaptation might have offered - new layers of meaning, perspectives on the story that only film images could provide, and fresh insights into the tale's moral and ethical questions.

staff **1/2 Stirs childhood memories, a bit ordinary, enchanting, top-notch effects.

VS/N: None. VV: 8 scenes, quite intense for small children. VP: 1 mild expression. VD: 1 scene with alcohol.

Heist (R)

Director: David Mamet. With Gene Hackman, Rebecca Pidgeon, Delroy Lindo, Danny DeVito. (107 min.)

sterritt *** An aging thief (Hackman) assembles his accomplices and wife for an unusually ambitious crime. Complicating the job is the cantankerous crook they work for and the sleazy young thug he forces them to team up with. 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.

K-PAX (PG-13)