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A Beautiful Mind
"Pity, fear, and cognitive reverie"
Dir. Ron Howard; writ. Akiva Goldsman, based on biography by Sylvia Nasar; feat. Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany, Vivien Cardone, Adam Goldberg, Judd Hirsch, Christopher Plummer (PG-13)

Blade II
"Goes for the jugular"
Dir. Guillermo del Toro; writ. David S. Goyer; feat. Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, Leonor Varela, Luke Goss, Norman Reedus (R)

The Cat's Meow
"Gosford Park at sea"
Dir. Peter Bogdanovich; writ. Steven Peros; feat. Kirsten Dunst, Edward Herrmann, Eddie Izzard, Cary Elwes, Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Tilly, Claudia Harrison (PG-13)

Changing Lanes
"Lawyers as swindlers — a novel idea"
Dir. Roger Michell; writ. Chap Taylor and Michael Tolkin; feat. Ben Affleck, Samuel L. Jackson, Toni Collette, Amanda Peet, Sydney Pollack, William Hurt (R)

"Nickelodeon know-how"
Dir. Jonathan Frakes; writ. Rob Hedden and Andy Hedden; feat. Jesse Bradford, French Stewart, Paula Garcés, Michael Biehn, Robin Thomas, Jason Winston George, Linda Kim, Julia Sweeney, Lindze Letherman, Jeff Ricketts, Garikayi Mutambirwa (PG)

"Entirely implausible"
Dir. John McKay; writ. John McKay; feat. Andie MacDowell, Imelda Staunton, Anna Chancellor, Kenny Doughty, Bill Paterson, Caroline Holdaway, Josh Cole, Gary Powell (R)

"Stark account of trusting God and Dad"
Dir. Bill Paxton; writ. Brent Hanley; feat. Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe, Matt O'Leary, Luke Askew, Jeremy Sumpter (R)

High Crimes
"Pedestrian but inoffensive"
Dir. Carl Franklin; writ. Joseph Finder (novel) and Yuri Zeltser (screenplay); feat. Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, James Caviezel, Adam Scott, Amanda Peet, Bruce Davidson, Tom Bower (PG-13)

Ice Age
"Warms the heart"
Dir. Carlos Saldanha, Chris Wedge; writ. Michael J. Wilson (story), Michael Berg (screenplay); feat. Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Goran Visnjic, Jack Black (PG)

John Q.
"Tense drama about medical insurance"
Dir. Nick Cassavetes; writ. James Kearns; feat. Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, James Woods, Anne Heche, Eddie Griffin, Kimberly Elise, Shawn Hatosy, Ray Liotta, Daniel E. Smith (PG-13)

Life or Something Like It
"Unappetizing TV dinner"
Dir. Stephen Herek; writ. John Scott Shepherd and Dana Stevens; feat. Angelina Jolie, Edward Burns, Tony Shalhoub, Christian Kane, James Gammon, Melissa Errico, Stockard Channing (PG-13)
Look for a blatant case of product placement during a scene that pitches Bose as the world's best radios, and look out for low-brow movies that perch on high moral ground. SK

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Dir. Peter Jackson; writ. J.R.R. Tolkien, Frances Walsh; feat. Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies (PG-13)

Monsoon Wedding
"A little song, dance, and sex"
Dir. Mira Nair; writ. Sabrina Dhawan; feat. Naseeruddin Shah, Lillete Dubey, Shefali Shetty, Vijay Raaz, Tilotama Shome, Vasundhara Das (R)

Murder by Numbers
"Less would have been more"
Dir. Barbet Schroeder; writ. Tony Gayton; feat. Sandra Bullock, Ben Chaplin, Ryan Gosling, Michael Pitt, Agnes Bruckner (R)

Panic Room
"Perfect claustrophobic thriller"
Dir. David Fincher; writ. David Koepp; feat. Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, Dwight Yoakam, Ann Magnuson, Ian Buchanan (R)

Pauline and Paulette
"Short story inflated into feature"
Dir. Lieven Debrauwer; writ. Debrauwer and Jaak Boon; feat. Dora van der Groen, Ann Petersen, Rosemarie Bergmans, Julienne De Bruyn, Idwig Stephane (PG)
Though 66, Pauline (van der Groen) relies on her sister Martha (De Bruyn) to tie her shoelaces and spread her jam. "Martha gone in big car" is how Pauline, brain-impaired, conceives of her protective sister's sudden death. Their other sisters, Paulette (Petersen) and Cecile (Bergmans), conceive of it as personal disaster, since Martha's will names them as heirs only if they manage to keep Pauline out of an institution. Cecile, who has been living in Brussels, tries to adopt her feeble sister, but her snooty lover, Albert (Stephane), just cannot abide Pauline. When she speaks Flemish, he speaks French. Pauline seeks refuge with Paulette, a proud and portly diva who runs a dress shop and sings in local operettas. Pauline and Paulette is the delicate tale of how Paulette learns to love her sister. Pauline and Paulette will not knock your socks off, but it will make you grateful for the ability to tie your laces. SK

"A poet's brief life blighted"
Writ. & dir. Leon Ichaso; feat. Benjamin Bratt, Talisa Soto, Giancarlo Esposito, Rita Moreno, Mandy Patinkin, Nelson Vasquez, Michael Irby (R)
This is the disjointed account of a brief, disjointed life. Dead of cirrhosis at 40, Piñero (Bratt) was a shooting star who could not balance his accomplishments as playwright, poet, and actor with his compulsion to shoot heroin and commit armed robbery. "Writing is one-half inspiration, one-half inhalation," snorts the junkie founder of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe who ended up homeless. The scenes that writer-director Leon Ichaso scatters throughout his sullen biopic make us mourn the man's blighted promise more than his life. SK

Resident Evil
"For adolescent couch slugs"
Dir. Paul W.S. Anderson; writ. Anderson; feat. Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, Pasquale Aleardi, Stephen Billington, Anna Bolt, Liz May Brice, Jaymes Butler (R)

The Scorpion King
"An ideal drive-in picture"
Dir. Chuck Russell; writ. Jonathan Hales; feat. Dwayne Johnson, Steven Brand, Kelly Hu, Michael Clarke Duncan, Grant Heslov, Peter Facinelli, Ralph Moeller, Scott L. Schwartz (PG-13)
It's a sequel, or maybe a prequel, or maybe more of a schmequel to those recent craptastic, cashtronic Mummy pictures, starring Dwayne Johnson, the current wrasslin' sensation and future action hero known as the Rock, who acquits himself admirably in his role as Mathayus, last surviving member of a clan of assassins hired by a bunch of oppressed rulers to snuff the titular malefactor's pet sorcerer, thus depriving him of his way-unfair advantage of being able to see into the future, not to mention the rest of the movie. There's a James Bond-style pre-credits action-opening and lotsa swordplay and fisticuffs, and Mr. Rock uses very few cheesy wrestling moves as he kicks ass all over the desert. Gore and the naughty body parts of the curvalicious Kelly Hu are not in sight (rating: PG-13). JM

The Son's Room (La Stanza del Figlio)
"Precariousness of happiness, exquisitely understated"
Dir. Nanni Moretti; writ. Moretti, Linda Ferri, and Heidrun Schleef; feat. Nanni Moretti, Laura Morante, Jasmine Trinca, Giuseppe Sanfelice, Silvio Orlando, Stefano Accorsi, Sofia Vigliar (R)
The Son's Room comes belatedly to San Antonio, trailing clouds of critical glory, including the Palme d'Or of the 2001 Cannes Film Festival and an Oscar nomination in the foreign-language category. Reviewers have likened it to In the Bedroom, since both tell the story of how a sympathetic middle-class family, whose patriarch is a reticent medical man, copes with the sudden death of an almost-grownup son. Yet, unlike In the Bedroom, The Son's Room is not a revenge tragedy; the anguished father can scarcely retaliate against chance, the force that brings home to him the fragility of domestic happiness. Closer kin to the new film is Ordinary People, the 1980 feature in which a drowning accident similarly devastates a family and in which psychoanalysis is also both balm and bane to the survivors. SK

The Sweetest Thing
"Just an excuse for a string of very funny shtick"
Dir. Roger Kumble; writ. Nancy M. Pimental; feat. Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, Thomas Jane, Selma Blair, Parker Posey, Jason Bateman, Damon Williams (R)
Aside from a couple spots that forget to float, The Sweetest Thing is a lot of laughs, poking fun at both men and women, with a split-your-gut dream sequence and a lingering moral that's sweet but calorie-free. AS

Y Tu Mamá También
"Heaven's Mouth has sharp teeth"
Dir. Alfonso Cuarón; writ. Carlos; feat. Maribel Verdú, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Juan Carlos Remolina Suarez, Andres Almeida Garcia Morales, Silverio Palacios Montes (no MPAA rating)

Films reviewed by:
AS: Anita Schmaltz
JD: John DeFore
JM: Joe MacLeod
SK: Steven G. Kellman, [email protected]
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