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FEBRUARY 2004

BARBERSHOP 2: BACK IN BUSINESS: Ice Cube, Queen Latifah, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Harry J. Lennix, Troy Garity, Parvesh Cheena, Michael Ealy, Jazsmin Lewis, Terri Jones (Directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan; MGM) Calvin (Ice Cube) is back, cutting hair on Chicago’s south side, and just cutting up in general. This time, there’s a beauty parlor managed by a truly hot lady (Queen Latifah) next door to the shop, which is a good thing. There’s also a chain barbershop right across the street, which is not a good thing. Now Playing


CATCH THAT KID: Kristen Stewart, Corbin Bleu, Max Thieriot, Jennifer Beals, Sam Robards, John Carroll Lynch, James LeGros, Michael Des Barres, Stark Sands, Lennie Loftin (Directed by Bart Freundlich; Fox) Who's been ordered to catch that kid? Probably the cops. That’s because the plucky little teenager (Kristen Stewart) is planning to crack a safe in order to get a bundle to donate to her paralyzed father—a former mountain climber with measly medical coverage—so that he can afford the operation he so desperately needs. We bet he'll be scaling Everest by the time the final credits roll. Now Playing

THE DREAMERS: Michael Pitt, Louis Garrel, Eva Green, Anna Karina, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Jean-Pierre Kalfon (Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci; Fox Searchlight) Idealistic French students took to the streets to protest the political apathy of their elders in the late sixties, and Paris--not to mention the rest of the planet--has not been the same since. This is the story of two such Parisians--a brother and sister--and the American student who joins them in their pursuit of justice. (Michael Pitt, so memorable as the rock star who loved a temperamental transvestite in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," plays the Yank.) If Bertolucci can summon the political passion he brought to "The Conformist" and "1900," we're prepared to join him at the barricades--or at least at the cineplex. In truth, it wasn't the politics that left audiences gasping when "The Dreamers" was shown at the 2003 Venice Film Festival. It was the sex--said to be the most graphic and riveting since Bertolucci's "Last Tango in Paris," back in 1973. No wonder the movie has been slapped with a NC-17, the rating that puts a scare into exhibitors, thereby virtually guaranteeing box-office doom. To read Guy Flatley's 1973 interview with Bertolucci, click here. Now Playing

THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA: Larry Blamire, Fay Masterson, Brian Howe, Andrew Parks, Susan McConnell, Jennifer Blaire, Dan Conroy, Robert Deveau, Darrin Reed (Directed by Larry Blamire; TriStar) The cast of charcters: a good scientist and a bad scientist; assorted mutants and aliens; a seductive cat woman; and a vanishing skeleton. According to writer/director/star Larry Blamire, his movie is "not a spoof of B-movies--it is a B-movie." If that sounds like your idea of fun, go ahead and rattle your bones on down to the cineplex. Now Playing

MIRACLE: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich, Nate Miller, Eddie Cahill, Michael Mantenuto, Patrick O’Brien Demsey, Kenneth Mitchell (Directed by Gavin O’Connor; Disney/Buena Vista) There was no way the splendid Russian hockey team would not take first place at the 1980 Olympics. Or so it seemed. Then along came Herb Brooks, the coach who drove the underdog Americans to a miraculous victory. There’s already Oscar talk about Kurt Russell, who many feel was robbed of a nomination as Best Actor of 2002 for "Dark Blue." Now Playing

OSAMA: Marina Golbahari, Arif Herati, Zubaida Sahar (Directed by Siddiq Barmak; MGM/UA) Based on fact, writer-director Barmak’s highly touted drama tells the story of a young girl who poses as a boy in order to earn money for her family in Taliban-stifled Afghanistan. If her scheme is discovered, she’ll face a merciless punishment at the hands of the authorities. Now Playing

THE RETURN: Vladimir Garin, Ivan Dobronravov, Konstantin Lavronenko, Natalia Vdovina (Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev; Kino International) A mysterious, menacing Russian unexpectedly returns to the wife he abandoned years ago and decides to take his two young sons on a perilous journey. Zvyagintsev’s debut feature won the grand prize at the 2003 Venice Film Festival. Now Playing

TRILOGY: AN AMAZING COUPLE: Francois Morel, Dominique Blanc, Catherine Frot, Gilbert Melki, Lucas Belvaux, Ornella Muti (Directed by Lucas Belvaux; Magnolia Pictures) In French director Belvaux's follow-up to his "On the Run" (which had its U.S. premiere in January), a hopeless hypochondriac feels there is a strong possibility that the operation he is scheduled to undergo will result in his death. Not wanting to worry his wife, he keeps the surgery a secret. Upset by her husband's unexplained absence, she assumes he's having an affair and hires a detective to trail him. This being a romantic comedy of errors--unlike the tense, noirish "On the Run"--the detective immediately schemes to have an affair with his attractive new client. Now Playing

TRILOGY: AFTER THE LIFE: Gilbert Melki, Ornella Muti, Dominique Blanc, Lucas Belvaux, Francois Morel, Catherine Frot (Directed by Lucas Belvaux; Magnolia Pictures) The final chapter of Belvaux's critically acclaimed, extremely popular French trilogy takes a melodramatic turn. Among the tormented figures: A discredited cop who tries to make a comeback by capturing a notorious escaped convict; the cop's drug-ravaged wife; and the wife's close friend--a schoolteacher with whom the cop has inconveniently fallen in love. Now Playing

50 FIRST DATES: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Sean Astin, Rob Schneider (Directed by Peter Segal; Columbia) You would think that after "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" and "Anger Management," budding auteur Peter Segal might be content to rest on his laurels. But no, the man is unstoppable. Now, with an assist from fledgling screenwriter George Wing, he spins the spicy tale of a lothario (Sandler) who discovers the folly of his promiscuous ways when he finds the airhead of his dreams (Barrymore). She’s his one and only for sure, except for one tiny glitch: the girl has short-term memory loss and has to be introduced to him all over again after each date, however sizzling it may have been. If Segal pulls this off, he’ll be hailed as the Lubitsch of his day; if not, it’s back to the Klumps. Now Playing

HIGHWAYMEN: Jim Caviezel, Rhona Mitra, Frankie Faison, Gordon Currie, Colm Feore (Directed by Robert Harmon; New Line) Jim Caviezel, who will be seen later this month as the man Christians call God, plays a guy out for blood in this made-in-Canada thriller. Whose blood? A heinous serial killer who assaults his victims—among them Jim’s wife—with his enormous green ’72 Eldorado. Come to think of it, you may want to hold out for Caviezel's "The Passion of the Christ." Now Playing

MONSIEUR IBRAHIM: Omar Sharif, Pierre Boulanger, Gilbert Melki, Lola Naymark, Anne Suarez, Isabelle Adjani (Directed by Francois Dupeyron; Sony Pictures Classics) A Jewish teenager (Pierre Boulanger), neglected by his severely depressed father, is befriended by streetwalkers and a folksy, emotionally-giving Arab shopkeeper (Omar Sharif) in sixties Paris. For Sharif, a major heartthrob decades ago in "Lawrence of Arabia," "Doctor Zhivago" and "Funny Girl," this could be the beginning of a big comeback. Next month, he’ll be seen with 21st-century heartthrob Viggo Mortensen in "Hidalgo." Now Playing

AGAINST THE ROPES: Meg Ryan, Omar Epps, Kerry Washington, Tony Shalhoub, Tim Daly (Directed by Charles S. Dutton; Paramount) Tenacious, inspiring Jackie Kallen, a boxing manager who helped turn slugger James Toney into a champ, is played by tenacious, inspiring Meg Ryan in this gritty biopic helmed by ace actor Charles S. Dutton. All-buffed-up Epps is Toney. Once slated to open in April, 2003, the movie was k.o.'d by Paramount because of the war in Iraq. Frankly, I don't get the connection; in any event, they apparently decided they couldn't out-wait the war. Now Playing

CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE DRAMA QUEEN: Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, Adam Garcia, Glenne Headly, Carol Kane, Alison Pill, Barbara Mamaolo, Adam MacDonald, Kyle Kassardjian, (Directed by Sara Sugarman; Disney/Buena Vista) Lindsay Lohan, a revelation as Jamie Lee Curtis’ daughter in "Freaky Friday," stars as a hottie whose life is hurled into turmoil when her family moves from oh-so-cool Greenwich Village to the burbs of Jersey. Among the challenges facing Lindsay: beating a bitchy rival (Megan Fox) out of the leading role in a high school production of "Pygmalion" and finding a way to sneak into a New York concert featuring her rock idol (Andy Garcia). Now Playing

EUROTRIP: Scott Mechlowicz, Jacob Pitts, Michelle Trachtenberg, Travis Wester, Joanna Lumley, Lucy Lawless, Rade Serbedzija, Matt Damon, Vinnie Jones (Directed by Jeff Schaffer; DreamWorks) When a horny young American learns that his German pen pal is a luscious babe, he sets out to meet her in person, bringing along three other young rovers for company. We were wondering how Matt Damon and Vinnie Jones wound up in the cast of this raunchy trifle, but just as we were about to investigate, we figured, truly, who cares? Now Playing

KITCHEN STORIES: Joachim Calmeyer, Tomas Norstrom, Bjørn Floberg (Directed by Bent Hamer; IFC Films) World War II is over, and the Scandinavian countries are enjoying so much prosperity that their leaders have became obsessed with the idea of streamlining and standardizing household kitchens. And so a fastidious member of Sweden's Home Research Institute is assigned to study the way in which a not-so-ordinary citizen-volunteer rattles his pots and pans and gets his grub to the table. In the end, all does not run as smoothly as expected in this particular kitchen. Now Playing

WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT: Gene Hackman, Ray Romano, Marcia Gay Harden, Christine Baranski, Rip Torn, Maura Tierney, Fred Savage, Paul Bates, Philip Williams, Jessica Holmes (Directed by Donald Petrie; Fox) Just because you’ve been the President of the United States for one term doesn’t mean you’re going to be the President of the United States for another term (listen up, George W. Bush!). So when Commander in Chief Gene Hackman fails to be re-elected, he decides to run for mayor of his hometown of Mooseport, Maine. But the hardware-store politico who runs against him turns out to be more than just another pushover. Who’s the auteur of this ripped-from-the-front-page flick? Donald Petrie, the man who brought us such comic epics as "How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days," "Miss Congeniality" and "Grumpy Old Men." Well, nobody can say that the great Gene Hackman doesn’t keep busy. Now Playing

THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST: Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Hristo Naumov Shopov, Maia Morgenstern, Francesco De Vito, Luca Lionello, Mattia Sbragia, Rosalinda Celentano, Claudia Gerini (Directed by Mel Gibson; Newmarket) Pope John Paul II caught a sneak preview of this and reportedly loved it. Presumably those people who thought director Gibson, a devout retro-Catholic, had committed the sin of placing sole blame for the crucifixion of Christ on the Jews were wrong. The movie apparently claims that we were all guilty. What's more, the Reverend Billy Graham, a man seldom heard to utter an anti-Semitic word (forget those infamous Nixon tapes), really digs Mel's movie and finds it not the least offensive to Jews. And the Reverend's son is mad for the movie. To read what Frank Rich had to say about Mel and the papal connection in The New York Times, click here. Now Playing

CLUB DREAD: Bill Paxton, Jordan Ladd, Jay Chandrasekhar, Brittany Daniel, M. C. Gainey, Nat Faxon, Ann Daniel, Kevin Heffernan (Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar; Fox Searchlight) Just when a horde of lustful singles think they’ve found something to swing about on a lush getaway island, up pops an angry, envious serial killer. And, of course, that’s the worst kind. Now Playing

DIRTY DANCING: HAVANA NIGHTS: Romola Garai, Diego Luna, Jonathan Jackson, Sela Ward, John Slattery, Mika Boorem, Rene Lavan, Patrick Swayze (Directed by Guy Ferland; Artisan Entertainment) It’s 1958, and a sexy American teen has moved to Havana with her stick-in-the-mud parents. Before she so much as swivels a hip, she spots the dance-crazed Latin Lover of her dreams, hooks up with him and is soon rehearsing her tootsies off for a big, big competition. Then Fidel Castro cuts in. The question is, will Diego Luna--that macho rascal from "Y Tu Mama Tambien"--make us forget Patrick Swayze? (And yes, that's the original Dirty Dancer himself who's seen strutting his stuff in a "Havana Nights" cameo.) Now Playing

GOOD BYE, LENIN! Daniel Bruhl, Katrin Sass, Chulpan Khamatova (Directed by Wolfgang Becker; Sony Pictures Classics) There were some East Germans who did not long for the fall of the Berlin Wall. One such staunch socialist happened to be in a coma at the time of the collapse. When she awoke many months later, her son and daughter feared that mom would have a heart attack if she found out what had taken place during her big sleep. So they did all they could to make sure she believed the wall still stood. This may not sound like the stuff of compelling human drama to you, but the Germans have taken it to their hearts, making it the country's biggest box-office movie ever. Now Playing

TWISTED: Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson, Andy Garcia, David Strathairn, Russell Wong, Mark Pellegrino, Bill Duke, Camryn Manheim, D. W. Moffett, James Hechim, Richard T. Jones (Directed by Philip Kaufman; Paramount) Ashley Judd, in an even bigger jam than usual, plays a police officer whose dad happened to be a rather well known serial killer. So what, you say? Well listen to this: in the midst of a sticky murder investigation, all of the suspects start dropping like swatted flies--and each and every one of them had been a bedmate of investigator Judd! No wonder her current boyfriend—a true-blue cop played by Andy Garcia—has become a wobbly wreck. Presumably Judd’s mentor, Samuel L. Jackson, manages to keep his cool. Now Playing