Downfall -- The Oscar-nominated Downfall, which chronicles the final days of Hitler's Reich, is set almost entirely inside the claustrophobic command bunker below Berlin. It owes much of its creepy verisimilitude to the memories of Hitler's personal secretary, Traudl Junge. Much has been made about the film's "humanizing" of Hitler, but he's only human here in the most prosaic of terms. This shouty little lunatic is more monstrous than anything remotely resembling a well-balanced military leader. But it's Ulrich Matthes as Joseph Goebbels who finally lodges in your memory. (Marc Savlov) Rated: R (Showing at the Met on April 30, May 2 and May 5)
Fighter Pilot -- Don't fill your belly with hot dogs and cherry Icee before heading into this one. Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag belongs to that hallowed IMAX tradition of giving the audience as many dizzying visual stunts -- including take-offs, aerial spins, sudden drops in altitude, etc. -- as it can handle. Fighter Pilot is far more than a theme park ride however - it's getting rave reviews all over the country (including from The Seattle Times) for its narrative about a pilot who's wanted to fly ever since he was 8, and for its emphasis on all the heroes behind the scenes (the ones who rebuild jet engines overnight, clear pebbles from the runway and practice emergency rescue in fiery crash conditions). Not Rated.
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- Douglas Adams' popular novel comes to filmic life as Earthling Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) hitches a ride into outer space with his furtively alien pal Ford Prefect (Mos Def) when Earth is detonated to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Wacky aliens prevail as Arthur and Ford hitch their way onto a stolen spacecraft with a bi-polar (two-headed) President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell) and Beeblebrox's cherished postmodern American assistant Trillian (Zooey Deschanel). It all unspools like an effortless compilation of humor from Monty Python, Men in Black, Mars Attacks and Brazil. It's a skeptical satire that fits slapstick physical humor with a biting sense of the importance of creative thought. (Cole Smithey) Rated PG-13,
XXX: State of the Union -- Samuel L. Jackson returns as the secret agent man responsible for hiring the new Triple X. And if you're looking to hire a real badass, prison ain't a bad place to do your H.R. search. Ice Cube is the badass in question, and we're told -- in gravelly voiceover -- he's an "Ex-Con. Ex-Navy Seal. And an Expert with Weapons." Exxxcellent. Ice Cube's first assignment: Find and destroy those responsible for trying to start "World War Four" with the good ol' U.S. of A. And while he's at it, maybe wipe that smirk off Willem Dafoe's face. Rated: PG-13
Publication date: 04/28/05