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Arts + Life

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"Filmmakers now realize that action doesn't have to be dumb. . . .

Miramax PG-13

All right already-we get the point about reality and fiction,...

My two children working in Hollywood could verify that Steven Soderbergh's "Full Frontal" captures some of the neurotic self-indulgence and egocentrism of that powerful colony. But then David Lynch did a much more challenging analysis of Hollywood actors and the relationship to their roles in "Mulholland Drive," and Tim Robbins just plain had more fun skewering the motion-picture process in "The Player."

...nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted.

I have never seen a film as relentlessly uncompromising about the allure, power, and banality of the con game as I have seen in the Argentine "Nine Queens." From the opening sequence where small-time grifter Juan pulls a $20 switch at a convenience store to the final scam that looks like "House of Cards" and "The Sting" welded onto "Hard Eight," nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted.

"Signs" is a cautionary tale about believing in powers greater than ourselves whose signs are all around us...

"Signs," directed by M. Night Shyamalan of "The Sixth Sense" and starring Mel Gibson, echoes "War of the Worlds," "Field of Dreams," and numerous "B" Sci-Fi's whose message about fate and faith is more important even than scaring the bejesus out of us.

This is good old-fashioned romance, history, and fiction all in one small but unforgettable film,...

In 1821, on St. Helena, Napoleon loyalists switch the emperor with a look-alike ship hand and send the little tyrant secretly off to Paris to revive the Old Order. I love improbable movies like "The Emperor's New Clothes," especially the docudramas that feed our lust to know the insides of great figures.

The film "K-19: The Widowmaker" should be required viewing,...

Some colleges include courses, even majors, in leadership. The film "K-19: The Widowmaker" should be required viewing, as "Patton" often is, for an example of conflicted command. This is a true story of Russia's first nuclear ballistic submarine, malfunctioning in its nuclear reactor on its maiden voyage in the North Atlantic in 1961.

"Road to Perdition" lacks the grandeur of Coppola's "Godfather" epic, but...

"Road to Perdition" is a rocky road of revenge and reconciliation, punctuated by some gorgeous Conrad Hall cinematography. Tom Hanks is a 1930's mob hit man whose 12 year-old son sees him commit a murder. The rest of Director Sam Mendes' ("American Beauty") film is the boy's coming to terms with that knowledge. Paul Newman plays a "godfather," a father to his errant son and like a father to Hanks.

Give the movie a "B" because Smith and Jones are too good to be too bad...

"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wildflower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour."
- William Blake, "Auguries of Innocence"

Adam Sandler’s remake, “Mr. Deeds,” is hardly Capra,...

In “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,” Frank Capra knew how to mix an interesting story with a corny theme about the goodness of the little guy and the corruption of the corporation. Adam Sandler’s remake, “Mr. Deeds,” is hardly Capra, but Sandler’s real-guy persona brings an affectionate Longfellow Deeds back to the screen without as much embarrassment as you’d think.

Regardless of the eras, we all were headed toward sin and redemption as altar boys.

Finally, an intelligent movie this summer to share the spotlight with Hugh Grant’s “About a Boy.”

A young woman, Zoe, is placed under electronic house arrest for a crime she did not commit. The eccentric and energetic “Cherish, ” written and directed by Finn Taylor (“Dream with the Fishes”) has the virtues of romance and thriller with a good dose of odd love. It is by far superior to any other in its multi-genre this year.

In this mixed bag of tricks are a couple of scenes truly worthy of Spielberg’s brilliance...

Spielberg, Cruise, Philip C. Dick—director, star, creator. This is a heavenly group promising that the mediocre fare of this summer will be redeemed by a sci-fi thriller about an agency making arrests before crimes are committed.

In “Windtalkers” Cage’s struggle with his guilt demons dominates the promising topics of a code that was never broken...

When does a knighted actor collect a paycheck?

When does a knighted actor collect a paycheck?

When he acts benightedly in a cliched spy thriller that is a virtual textbook of Hollywood expectations, right down to the scruffy mid-eastern terrorists and the oversized red digital readout on a nuclear bomb.

When "Enigma" is real, it’s good intrigue...

My favorite Michael-Apted directed work is "Thunderheart," the tragic tale about struggles between the FBI and Indians in the Dakotas in the 70's. His recent "Enigma" again treats history, this time the British breaking of the Nazi secret code in WWII at Bletchley, the busy estate of British decrypters.

The beauty shop of "Steel Magnolias" now looks like a warm, funny place to me and tiny Chickapenn Parish much more original than I originally thought...

If you’re a daughter yet to figure out your crazy mother, then see "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood." You may realize you're not alone, and your mother may be saner than you thought.

Leave your disbelief at home and enter a fantasy world a little bit closer to reality than most of us would like...

When I don't carp about the narrative logic or continuity of a film, it just may be I liked it well enough I was willing to suspend my disbelief. Enter the new Jack Ryan in another Tom Clancy adaptation, "The Sum of All Fears."

Let me carp first:

For "Happy Accidents," Time is just the beginning...

In "Happy Accidents," Ruby (Marisa Tomei) falls in love with Sam (Vincent D'Onofrio), an alleged visitor from the year 2470. Ruby, in deep analysis, says, "I am willing to find a balance between my own needs and my concern for others." She's a bit of a flake and he's just plain out there.

You'll not pause or sleep in this satisfying thriller...

Far from America and the easy resolutions of disaffected workers, "Time Out" is a respectful treatise on the wages of anomie and lies...

In Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," Marlow says there is "a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies." The French film "Time Out" is about Vincent, who lies by claiming to be employed while he is not and carrying this lie to an extreme that endangers his family and friends.

"Hollywood Ending" may start out looking like Woody's going to crash and burn again, but stay with it because... well because you're going to love its Hollywood ending.

Woody's back and sizzling in "Hollywood Ending." Though die-hard Woody fans may think I exaggerate, I think he's never been better. Relying more on sight-gags and slap-stick shticks than ever before, his quick-quips and sharp dialogue sparkles like an opening night on the Great White Way.

The Force is still with us...

George Lucas has brought us back to the energy and imagination of the two original Star Wars adventures with his new "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones." Although recently, especially with "Phantom Menace," he seemed to be merely creatively cloning, this installment has some of the wit and character development of those earlier episodes.

Move over Kenneth Brannagh, Clare Peploe and Bertolucci are after your corner on the market for European theatrical classics...

"The Triumph of Love" is a fun-filled return to the French classics of the 18th century with Clare Peploe's cinematic revival of Marivaux's comedy of manners. Her famous film director husband, Bernardo Bertolucci, co-wrote the script.

McGuire and Dunst glory in their vulnerability and set out to prove superheroes (and their girlfriends) can fall in love, nail villains to the wall, and still be tough enough to cry.

Hooray, Hooray it's the first of May and the summer's first blockbuster has already swooshed in to the local multiplexes!

Records that once shined so brightly in your collection are now blemishes to your coolness...

"It's Movie Time" previews this summer's coming attractions...

When WCBE's "It's Movie Time" film critics John DeSando and Clay Lowe were asked to do a feature on what they were looking forward to seeing at their favorite art houses and multiplexes this summer, here's what they suggested might be worth catching. As might be expected they have asked that they not be held responsible for their miscalculations.

BLOOD WORK
DeSando's Choice

Beware the full moon, Hives and White Stripes -- long live the Bloooooozze Exxploshhhun!

Since Jon Spencer surfaced last with the genre busting, hip-hop infused Acme, the blooze is suddenly in vogue having been dusted off and painted with White Stripes. Now is the the perfect time for the master to reclaim his throne from the young upstarts who have stolen his thunder.

Erich Rohmer uses the latest in digital technology to tell the tale of a Scottish upper class lady who gets caught in Paris during the outbreak of the French Revolution...

This film depicts "the whisper heard most often," a tale of murder not quite so foul as foolish...

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