Moviecrazed
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AUGUST 2004

CODE 46: Tim Robbins, Samantha Morton, Om Puri, Jeanne Balibar, Nabil Elouhabi (Directed by Michael Winterbottom; Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce; U-A) The sociopolitical situation in this futuristic flick is almost as scary as the situation we are experiencing in the present-day real world. Innocent civilians are denied personal liberties and forbidden to travel beyond certain checkpoints unless they are engaged in official government business. Everyone is being ripped off and controlled by powerful, unscrupulous leaders, and they have no opportunity to vote the rascals out of office. Can an insurance investigator (Tim Robbins) and a rebellious woman who forges passports (Samantha Morton) find love in a climate like this? For the trailer, click here. Now Playing

COLLATERAL: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Javier Bardem, Peter Berg, Irma P. Hall, Barry Shabaka Henley, Bruce McGill, Debi Mazar, Jamie McBride, Emilio Rivera, Bodhi Elfman, Daniel Lujan (Directed by Michael Mann; Written by Stuart Beattie; DreamWorks/Paramount) Cruise plays a hitman (everyone in Hollywood has to do it at least once), and Foxx is the taxi driver who is forced to take him on his lethal rounds. Is that high concept, or what? To read a Critics Roundup on "Collateral," click here. For the trailer, click here. Now Playing

LITTLE BLACK BOOK: Brittany Murphy, Holly Hunter, Kathy Bates, Ron Livingston, Julianne Nicholson, Stephen Tobolowsky, Kevin Sussman, Rashida Jones, Josie Maran, Jason Antoon, Sharon Lawrence (Directed by Nick Hurran; Written by Melissa Carter and Elilsa Bell; Sony) A spunky talkshow associate producer can’t resist the temptation to browse through her boyfriend’s Palm Pilot, which he’s been stupid enough to leave within plain sight. Well, would you believe the lout has not been altogether faithful to her, as indicated by the photos and phone numbers in that Palm Pilot? What’s more, would you believe that the Diane Sawyer wannabe has no intention of forgetting or forgiving what she’s seen? And can you imagine caring one way or the other? For the trailer, click here. Now Playing

OPEN WATER: Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis, Saul Stein, Estelle Lau (Written and directed by Chris Kentis; Lions Gate) Two scuba divers trying to get their rocky marriage back on course are dealt a serious blow when the tour boat that brought them to a remote Caribbean island sails away without them. That means their only passage home is through shark-infested waters. This little indie, supposedly based on a true story, is creating the kind of buzz that could result in a big bucks success comparable to the one enjoyed by the grubby but scary “Blair Witch Project.” To read a Critics Roundup on "Open Water," click here. For the trailer, click here. Now Playing

STANDER: Tom Jane, Dexter Fletcher, David Patrick O’Hara, Deborah Kara Unger, Marius Weyers, Ashley Taylor (Directed by Bronwen Hughes; Written by Bima Stagg; Newmarket Films) A seventies South African police captain becomes so heartsick over his country’s racist barbarism and his own brutal behavior during the crushing of a protest that he abandons his post and becomes a bank robber/folk hero (albeit a somewhat screwed-up one). For the trailer, click here. Now Playing

 


DANNY DECKCHAIR: Rhys Ifans, Miranda Otto, Justine Clarke, Rhys Muldoon, John Batchelor, Alan Ïlower, Jules Sobotta, Brian Langsworth (Written and directed by Jeff Balsmeyer; Lions Gate) When Danny, a simple Australian truck driver, discovers that his bitch of a girlfriend considers him a loser well worth dumping, he does what any self-respecting Aussie would do: he takes a helium-balloon flight to a far, far better and kinder place than his home town, meets cute with a lonely parking cop, and settles blissfully down with her. But that, by no means, is the end of the story. For the trailer, click here. Now Playing

THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2: THE ROYAL ENGAGEMENT: Julie Andrews, Anne Hathaway, Heather Matarazzo, Chris Pine, Kathleen Marshall, John Rhys-Davies (Directed by Garry Marshall; Written by Shonda Rhimes and Gina Wendkos; Disney/Buena Vista) It’s not easy for an American girl (Anne Hathaway), fresh from college, to slip into the role of Princess of Genovia, a role that, to the dismay of some, has turned out to be her birthright. Besides having to learn fancy regal stuff like archery and side-saddle horse riding, the girl has to grapple with the news that she is expected to marry far sooner than planned. For the trailer, click here. Now Playing

ALIEN VS. PREDATOR: Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, Lance Henriksen, Ewen Bremner, Colin Salmon (Written and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson; Fox) Here it is, the showdown you thought you wouldn’t live to see. But you should have known better—this is the high concept flick Hollywood just had to make. I don’t know about you, but I’m betting on Predator, who will then take on Terminator. For the trailer, click here. Now Playing

WE DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE: Mark Ruffalo, Naomi Watts, Peter Krause, Laura Dern, Jim Francis (Directed by John Curran; Written by Larry Gross; Warner Independent Pictures) A major stress is placed upon the friendship of two couples. That’s because one man has hopped into bed with his best buddy's wife. The screenplay is based upon a story by Andre Dubus, who was also the author of a terrific tale that was turned into a little sleeper called "In the Bedroom." And that’s a good sign. The screenplay for "We Don’t Live Here Anymore," however, was written by Larry Gross, the chap who churned out the script for the repulsive "Prozac Nation." And that's not a good sign. To read Todd McCarthy's Variety review of the film when it played at the Sundance Festival, click here. For the trailer, click here. Now Playing

BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS: Emily Mortimer, Stephen Campbell Moore, James McAvoy, Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Fenella Woolgar, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Broadbent, Simon Callow, Jim Carter, Stockard Channing, Richard E. Grant, Julia McKenzie, Peter O’Toole, John Mills, Bill Paterson, Imelda Staunton, Margaret Tyzack, Simon McBurney (Directed by Stephen Fry; FilmFour) Actor/writer Stephen Fry makes his directorial debut with this tale of jazz-age flappers and fops based on Evelyn Waugh’s "Vile Bodies." Philip French, writing in The Observer, called it "affectionate but flat," but surely no movie with Peter O’Toole, Stockard Channing, Jim Broadbent and John Mills could be all that flat. For A. O. Scott's enthusiastic review in The New York Times, click here. To read Guy Flatley's 1972 interview with the inimitable Peter O'Toole, click here. For the trailer, click here. Now Playing

EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING: Stellan Skarsgard, Gabriel Mann, Allesandra Martines, Ralph Brown (Directed by Renny Harlin; Warner Bros.) And now for something truly original—a prequel. It’s been 31 years since moviegoers trembled in long lines to see little Linda Blair spew obscenities and pea soup as her head went swiveling round and round. But this fourth flick in the franchise goes back to an earlier, if not more innocent, time and place—Africa in the late 1940’s, where Father Merrin, the same man of the cloth played first by Max von Sydow and then by Liam Neeson, is having the Devil of a time keeping his faith in God. Meanwhile, William Peter Blatty, author of the first film and the best seller upon which it was based, is apparently having a hard time keeping his faith in Hollywood. He’s been badmouthing "Exorcist: The Beginning" from, well, the beginning. On the other hand, director Paul Schrader managed to keep uncharacteristically mum while his replacement, Renny Harlin, busied himself re-shooting Schrader's supposedly "final cut." In the end, Harlin received solo on-screen credit but one can't help wondering if he really wants it. For reasons unknown, Warners avoided showing the finished product to critics until the evening before the movie's opening. For a possible answer to that mystery, click here and read Manohla Dargis's review in The New York Times. For the trailer, click here. Now Playing

MEAN CREEK: Rory Culkin, Ryan Kelley, Scott Mechlowicz, Trevor Morgan, Josh Peck, Carly Schroeder (Written and directed by Jacob Aaron Estes; Paramount Classics) It’s recess, time to frolic. But not for sensitive half-pint Sam (Rory Culkin). Instead, he is subjected to a brutal beating by chubby class bully George (Josh Peck). So maybe after-school hours would be a suitable time for turnabout treatment from Sam’s older brother Rocky (Trevor Morgan) and his buddies. Maybe. On the other hand, what starts out as a prank could turn out to be something truly horrific. For the trailer, click here. Now Playing

NICOTINA: Diego Luna, Marta Belaustegui, Jesus Ochoa, Lucas Crespi, Rafael Inclan, Enoc Leano, Carmen Madrid, Rosa Mana Bianchi, (Directed by Hugo Rodriguez; Written by Martin Salinas; Arenas Entertainment) Somewhere in Mexico City some diamonds have gone missing, and a few Russian villains feel that a certain young wannabe scientist is responsible for the disappearance. The advance word on this dark, smoky caper is that it is very violent and fairly funny. For the trailer, click here. Now Playing

ROSENSTRASSE: Katja Riemann, Maria Schrader, Doris Schade, Jutta Lampe, Martin Feifel, Svea Lohde, Jurgen Vogel (Directed by Margarethe von Trotta; Written by Pamela Katz and Margarethe von Trotta; Samuel Goldwyn Films) Early in 1943, the Nazis were making a sweep of Berlin, sending most of them to concentration camps. Some, mostly males whose German spouses were not Jewish, were detained at a community center on Rosenstrasse. This is the story of the women outside who demonstrated great courage in their effort to save their loved ones from deportation. For the trailer, click here. Now Playing

UNCOVERED: THE WAR ON IRAQ: (Directed by Robert Greenwald; Cinema Libre) With a little help from his friends at MoveOn.org and the Center for American Progress, Robert Greenwald--perhaps most noted for “Outfoxed,” a blistering study of the way Fox News keeps its viewers informed—has expanded his 2003, 58-minute DVD documentary into a 2004, 90-minute theatrical release. Focusing on the usual suspects—from President Bush to Secretary of State Powell—and examining their official and unofficial statements, Greenwald concludes that Congress and the American public were deceived and misled into an unnecessary, unjust war in Iraq. Now Playing

WITHOUT A PADDLE: Seth Green, Matthew Lillard, Dax Shepard, Ethan Suplee, Abraham Benrubi, Rachel Blanchard, Burt Reynolds (Directed by Stephen Brill; Written by Jay Leggett and Mitch Rouse; Paramount) What is the only thing three innocent, if boobish, city lads on their own in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest have to fear? You’re wrong if you said fear itself. What’s making these three guys on a far-out treasure hunt nervous is the very strong possibility that one filthy, bearded, armed and dangerous hillbilly or another will pounce from behind a bush and rape the living daylights out of them. This rowdy comedy may sound reminiscent of “Deliverance,” John Boorman’s 1972 horror classic, but it’s actually about as far away from it as you can get. The same thing might be said about Burt Reynolds, who excelled as a menaced macho city dude in “Deliverance” and camps it up here as a backwoods scum-bum. For the trailer, click here. Now Playing

HERO: Jet Li, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Maggie Cheung Man-yuk, Zhang Ziyi, Chen Dao Ming, Donnie Yen (Directed by Zhang Yimou; Written by Li Feng, Zhang Yimou and Wang Bin; Miramax) In third-century-B.C. China, a nameless warrior does his Kung-Fu best to thwart the assassination of a just but maybe not so wise king. This spectacular action film—a departure for Zhang Yimou, director of “Raise the Red Lantern” and “The Story of Qiu Ju”—was a box-office smash in China and seems destined to repeat its success in the U.S. (It opened in the Number One spot over the 8/27-8l/29 weekend.) For the trailer, click here. Now Playing