MARCH 2004

HIDALGO: Viggo Mortensen, Omar Sharif, Frank Collison, Said Taghmaoui, Adni Maropis, Malcolm McDowell, Elizabeth Berridge (Directed by Joe Johnston; Disney/Buena Vista) A speed-demon Pony Express courier zips over to Saudi Arabia late in the 19th century for the purpose of competing in a heart-stopping mega-race. Whatever the circumstances, it will be nice to see Viggo operating in a world free from hobbits, and we're definitely looking forward to watching the ever-dashing Omar Sharif romp about as a mysterious sheik of Araby. The downside of all this is that director Joe Johnston is the same Joe Johnston who gave us "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" and "Jurassic Park III." Now Playing

THE RECKONING: Paul Bettany, Willem Dafoe, Simon McBurney, Gina McKee, Brian Cox, Tom Hardy, Stuart Wells, Matthew MacFadyen, Ewen Bremner, Vincent Cassel, Jared Harris, Elvira Minguez (Directed by Paul McGuigan; Paramount Classics) A priest who has sinned greatly joins a traveling band of players in 14th-century Spain. A murder is committed in one of the towns the troupe visits, so the actors stage a play they hope will help save the life of deaf mute wrongly accused of the crime. The film’s director, Paul McGuigan, drew a spellbinding performance from Bettany in "Gangster No. 1." Now Playing

STARSKY & HUTCH: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Juliette Lewis, Snoop Dog, Chris Penn, Amy Smart, Carmen Electra, Jason Bateman, Paul Michael Glaser, David Soul, Fred Williamson (Directed by Todd Phillips; Warner Bros.) Long, long ago—in the seventies, to be exact—a couple of clumsy cops named Starsky and Hutch (Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson) were lent a hand by a sly informer (Snoop Dog) in their effort to catch the bad guys of Bay City, such as a cool swinger (the once-promising Vince Vaughn) who never met a drug he didn’t like. Yes, this is a spinoff of the ancient TV series you’re probably too ashamed to admit you ever watched. Now Playing

LA VIE PRIVATE: Isabelle Huppert, Pascal Greggory, Maud Forget, Andre Marcon, Fabienne Babe (Directed by Olivier Dahan; Empire Pictures) The great Isabelle Huppert plays a French prostitute who grabs her daughter and makes a hasty exit from town. What’s the rush? The cops are looking for the kid, who appears to be headed for a life of crime. Now Playing

AGENT CODY BANKS 2: DESTINATION LONDON: Frankie Muniz, Anthony Anderson, Hannah Spearritt, Daniel Roebuck, Keith David, Cynthia Stevenson, Anna Chancellor, Connor Widdows, James Faulkner, Keith Allen (Directed by Kevin Allen; MGM) Surely you didn’t think you’d seen the last of Kid Cody, the CIA’s secret weapon of crass destruction? This time the lad’s coping with the pomposity of his classmates at a veddy blue-blooded British school. Graduation day will come when he succeeds in preventing a madman from blowing up the universe. Where was Agent Banks when his colleagues were scooping up intelligence in Iraq? Now Playing

BROKEN WINGS: Orly Silbersatz Banai, Maya Maron, Nitai Gaviratz, Vladilmir Friedman, Dana Ivgi, Danny Niv, Daniel Magon, Eliana Magon (Directed by Nir Bergman; Sony Pictures Classics) A happy, loving wife suddenly becomes a widow—one with four children and almost no money. This Israeli drama won the Grand Prix at the 2002 Tokyo International Film Festival and the Ecumenical Jury Prize at the 2003 Berlin International Film Festival. Now Playing

DISTANT: Muzaffer Ozedemir, Mehmet Emin Toprak, Zuhal Gencer Erkaya, Nazan Kirilmis, Feridun Koc, Fatma Ceylan, Ebru Ceylan (Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan; New Yorker Films) A young, out-of-work Turk, journeys from his small hometown to Istanbul for what he thinks will be a short stay with a relative who has achieved a measure of success as a photographer. The lives of both men will never be quite the same. Now Playing

SECRET WINDOW: Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello, Timothy Hutton, Charles S. Dutton, Ving Rhames, Richard Jutras (Directed by David Koepp; Columbia) After clowning around so successfully in "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" and "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," Johnny Depp turns serious--very serious, it would seem, in writer-director David Koepp’s adaptation of a creepy Stephen King novella. Depp plays an author who discovers his wife (Maria Bello) in bed with another man, goes through a painful divorce, and retreats to a country house to nurse his wounds—only to be disturbed by a psychotic (John Turturro) who comes knocking on his door and accuses him of plagiarizing his work. Somebody’s going to get hurt. Now Playing

SPARTAN: Val Kilmer, Derek Luke, William H. Macy, Ed O’Neill, Kristen Bell, Tia Texada (Directed by David Mamet; Warner Bros.) The president’s daughter has gone missing, and that’s just one of a heap of problems plaguing the White House in writer-director David Mamet’s political thriller. Maybe secret agent Val Kilmer and his protégé, Derek Luke, can locate the apparent kidnap victim and even shut down the white slavery ring of which she seems to be the newest member. Now Playing

WILBUR WANTS TO KILL HIMSELF: Jamie Sives, Adrian Rawlins, Shirley Henderson, Robert McIntosh, Lisa McKinlay, Mads Mikkelsen, Julia Davis (Directed by Lone Scherfig: THINKFilm) The only thing keeping Wilbur, one of the glummest thirtysomethings in all of Glasgow, from committing suicide is the fact that Harbour, his older brother, won’t let him do it. Not even when Harbour at long last meets the woman he yearns to call missus does he waver in his determination to keep Wilbur alive. Which sibling will win out in the end? This is the first English-language film to be directed by Lone Scherfig, the Dane who delighted us so thoroughly with her "Italian for Beginners." Now Playing

DIVAN: (Directed by Pearl Gluck; Divan Productions) Co-written by the director and Zelda Greenstein, this documentary deals with the journey by a former resident of Brooklyn’s Hasidic community through Eastern Europe in search of a family heirloom—a divan, to be specific. Now Playing

BON VOYAGE: Isabelle Adjani, Gerard Depardieu, Virginie Ledoyen, Yvan Attal, Gregori Derangere, Peter Coyote, Jean-Marc Sehle, Aurore Clement (Directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau; Sony Pictures Classics) Hitler’s army is on the march, and a number of Parisians determined not to be at the mercy of the nazis flee to Bordeaux in the hope of finding freedom. But not everyone at the Hotel Splendide in Bordeaux is what he seems to be; that is to say that not everyone is to be trusted. At least one German, as it turns out, is quite skilled at impersonating a Brit. Now Playing

DAWN OF THE DEAD: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Kim Poirier, Lindy Booth, Kevin Zegers (Directed by Zach Snyder) Things have never been worse in the good old U.S.A. A ghastly plague has turned a huge percentage of the population into blood-sucking zombies, and soon there will be nowhere left to hide. A menaced nurse, accompanied by the cop who has saved what’s left of her life, decides to try her luck at a shopping mall, but after a while she’s the one who’s being shopped. She and her new badge-wearing pal have got to get away—but where on earth can they go? Whatever the case, you are advised not to see this one at your neighborhood mall. Now Playing

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson, David Cross, Lauren Adler (Directed by Michel Gondry; Universal/Focus) Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski (just think of them as Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet) were once outrageously in love but many things--including their own bad behavior--have conspired to sour their relationship. So naturally they opt for a high-tech operation that will erase all rotten memories (the procedure should go well, since one of the geniuses performing it is none other than Elijah Wood). This is a nifty concept for a romantic comedy, of course, and the screenplay is by Charlie Kaufman, who still has "Being John Malkovich" to his credit. But I do have a question for Carrey and company: didn't they see director Gondry's loathsome, thuddingly unfunny "Human Nature," a movie that managed to make Tim Robbins and Patricia Arquette look like pathetic amateurs? Now Playing

INTERMISSION: Colin Farrell, Shirley Henderson, Cillian Murphy, Kelly Macdonald, Colm Meaney (Directed by John Crowley; IFC Films) An impetuous clerk in a Dublin grocery store (Cillian Murphy) suggests to his girlfriend (Kelly Macdonald) that they take a break from their exclusive relationship and try dating others for a while. The kid lives to regret his little scheme when his sweetie gets involved with a sweaty but sexy crook (Colin Farrell). Now Playing

TAKING LIVES: Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland, Olivier Martinez, Gena Rowlands, Justin Chatwin, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Tcheky Karyo, Paul Dano, Vince Grant, Richard Jutras (Directed by D.J. Caruso; Warner Bros.) For the legion of fans waiting breathlessly to see what superheroine Angelina Jolie would come up with next, here’s the scoop: Jon Voight's dynamo of a daughter is playing an ace FBI profiler called in to nail a serial killer (what else?) who’s been reducing the population of Montreal in a major way. The gimmick—that is to say, the special sickness—here is that the crafty assassin kills in order to become the person he kills. In other words, he's upwardly homicidal. Now Playing

DOGVILLE: Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgard, Paul Bettany, Lauren Bacall, Jean-Marc Barr, Blair Brown, James Caan, Patricia Clarkson, Jeremy Davies, Siobhan Fallon, Ben Gazzara, Philip Baker Hall, Udo Kier, Harriet Andersson, Bill Raymond (Directed by Lars Von Trier; Zentropa Entertainments) Dogma director Von Trier, a Dane who proved you needn't have traveled to America to be an authority on the country's mores and morality in "Dancer in the Dark," shows the dark side of the 1930's West in this bit of improv shot mostly on a soundstage in Sweden. Good sport Kidman plays a mystery lady made to feel not very much at home in a rough and tumble Rocky Mountain town. Of course, there is such a thing as revenge. (To read Guy Flatley's interview with director Lars Von Trier, click here; for Guy's interview with Paul Bettany, click here.) Now Playing

JERSEY GIRL: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Liv Tyler, George Carlin, Raquel Castro, Jeff Anderson, Jason Biggs, Jason Lee, Matt Damon, Will Smith (Directed by Kevin Smith; Miramax/TriStar) Following their turns as fatally attracted assassins in "Gigli," America’s favorite on-again-off-again sweethearts plunged into this sugary confection about a tender-hearted publicist and the spunky woman he marries. The woman's spunk gives out, however, and she dies in childbirth. That leaves dad forced to cope as best he can with a daugheter who is not your average adorable movie tot. Wisely, shortly after the disaster of Bennifer's "Gigli," Miramax stopped grumbling about the press having reported that J. Lo expires not long after the movie begins. The director here is Kevin Smith, which is a good sign, since Affleck gave his best performance ever in Smith's "Chasing Amy." One thing we do know for sure--Ben & J. Lo will not be attending the premiere together. Now Playing

THE LADYKILLERS: Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans, J.K. Simmons, Tzi Ma, Ryan Hurst, Greg Grunberg, George Wallace, Jason Weaver (Directed by Joel Coen; Disney/Touchstone) A professor who has turned to a secret life of crime masterminds a heist, but he and his gang may have to bump off his sweet old landlady if she doesn't stop getting in their way. Sound familiar? That's because it's a remake of Alexander Mackendrick's 1955 British comedy starring Alec Guinness as the scheming scholar. In recreating the role, Hanks will not have to work on his British accent, since the story is now set in New Orleans, and he and his crooked chums plan to rip off a riverboat casino. What will the Coen brothers dream up next? Now Playing

NED KELLY: Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, Naomi Watts, Geoffrey Rush, Rachel Griffiths, Joel Edgerton, Peter Phelps (Directed by Gregor Jordan; Universal) Ledger plays the legendary Australian robber who ended up with a noose around his neck, Watts is his sweetheart, and Rush his nemesis. The question is, will it make us forget Tony Richardson's 1970 "Ned Kelly," with Mick Jagger and those swell Shel Silverstein songs? Now Playing



NEVER DIE ALONE: David Arquette, DMX, Jennifer Sky, Regan Gomez-Preston, Michael Ealy (Directed by Ernest Dickerson) Gangster Donald Goines served time, got sprung from the slammer and then wrote 16 pulp novels in just four years. What stopped him from writing 16 more? He was shot to death. James Gibson adapted this Goines story about a reporter (Arquette) who investigates the murder of a gang leader (DMX). Now Playing

SCOOBY-DOO: MONSTERS UNLEASHED: Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seth Green, Alicia Silverstone, Tim Blake Nelson, Peter Boyle, Matthew Lillard, Zahf Paroo, Linda Cardellini, Neil Fanning (voice only) (Directed by Raja Gosnell; Warner Bros.) A shadowy evildoer hatches a plot to take over Coolsville, but Scooby and the Gang are not about to let him get away with it. With a cast like this, how could director Gosnell, who perpetrated the original "Scooby-Doo," possibly go right? Now Playing

TWO MEN WENT TO WAR: Derek Jacobi, Kenneth Cranham, Leo Bill, Julian Glover, Phylida Law, Rosanna Lavelle (Directed by John Henderson; Indican Pictures) During World War II, two bored British Army dentists decide to invade occupied France and kick some nazi butt. Sounds a bit farfetched, yet the story is said to based on fact. Oh, those Brits! Now Playing