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** A Man Apart -- Genuinely gritty R-rated action from the director of Set it Off stars Vin Diesel as the most unsympathetic of DEA agents. With Larenz Tate and a bunch of bullets. Directed by F. Gary Gray. (RP) Rated: R





*** About Schmidt -- Jack Nicholson delivers a different-than-usual tour-de-force in this seriocomic road movie about a just-retired and just-widowed fellow who tries to make his aloof daughter see that she's marrying the wrong guy. (ES) Rated: R





*** Agent Cody Banks -- This MAD magazine-style take on the spy genre is intermittently goofball funny; the gags are sweetly earnest even when they're a little off the mark. Frankie Muniz and Hilary Duff are charming as the teen spies. (RP) Rated: PG





*** Basic -- An Army training session in a hurricane-swept Panama jungle goes terribly awry. People are dead, missing, refusing to talk, etc. Ex-Army Ranger John Travolta is called in to figure out what happened, but his new partnership with by-the-books lieutenant Connie Nielsen gets in the way. As do the twisting, turning revelations of events from many different perspectives. The film is fun to try to figure out, even if the final answer doesn't quite satisfy. (ES) Rated R





*** Bringing Down the House -- This all starts out looking like a formulaic comedy about a square white guy (Steve Martin) and a hip black gal (Queen Latifah). But don't be fooled -- this film soon becomes a fresh and funny story that relies just as much on the background characters as on the two leads to get the laughs across. A wild and crazy movie with some real heart. (ES) Rated PG-13





*** Chicago -- Torn stockings and heavily mascaraed eyes abound in this tale of two music-hall vixens (Catherine Zeta-Jones and Ren & eacute;e Zellweger) vying for public attention in the Windy City. Richard Gere shows that he can sing (and tap dance) as the lawyer out to make a buck defending them from murder charges. (Marty Demarest) Rated: PG-13





Coral Reef Adventure -- Think of it as a way to explore all 1,300 miles of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, but without the danger of those pesky shark attacks. Greg MacGillivray, who also brought us The Living Sea and Dolphins, now brings Coral Reef Adventure to the IMAX screen. With a strong conservation message throughout, viewers get the sense of swimming along with some of the world's top self-described "fish nerds" as they navigate trenches and skirt the coral reefs of Fiji, Tahiti and Rangiroa (in French Polynesia) in search of new species. Not rated





** The Core -- The Earth is in trouble again, this time because its core has stopped spinning, resulting in firestorms, international landmarks toppling and pigeons flying amok. The solution is to jump-start it by tunneling down to its core and setting off explosions. The film is sort of old-fashioned, kind of idiotic, complemented by visual effects that look like visual effects. Also starring Hilary Swank and Aaron Eckhart. (ES) Rated PG-13





Dreamcatcher -- William Goldman takes on this story of four childhood friends who form a telepathic bond while saving their buddy's life. Fast forward to the present day, where the friends have become men (including Jason Lee and Donnie Wahlberg) and they reunite for a weekend of hunting, beer drinking and other typically male amusements. Things suddenly get weird when animals start freaking out, military helicopters start showing up and strange lights shine out from the dark Maine woods. Rated: R





* Head of State -- You'd think Chris Rock had never seen a movie, let alone a political satire. Rock blows just about every hope you'd have for him as he plays the first African-American to run for president. Nothing is plausible about the politics in the script, which makes the satire go flat. Underbudgeted, badly lit, sloppily edited and deeply unfunny, it almost seems like a conspiracy to derail his career. With Bernie Mac and, in a truly cruel running gag, Robin Givens. (RP) Rated: PG-13





**** The Hours -- The supposedly unfilmable novel by Michael Cunningham becomes a mesmerizing, almost intoxicating movie that tells the stories of one real and two fictional women -- Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) and Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) -- and how they're tied together over the decades by Woolf's book Mrs. Dalloway. (ES) Rated PG-13





** How to Lose a Guy... -- Golden-haired twinklers Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey square off in supposed urban-sophisticate Cosmo magazine-style romantic comedy about the rules of dating and the unpredictability of love. (RP) Rated: PG-13





The Hunted -- Tommy Lee Jones plays Lt. Bonham, an instructor in the art of deep-woods guerilla warfare. Benicio Del Toro plays the soldier he's trained a little too well. When Del Toro goes loco, hunters end up muerto and suddenly the forests of Oregon aren't quite as safe as they used to be. Rated: R





*** Old School -- A genuinely funny and sometimes sweet gross-out comedy, Old School is the unlikely tale of three overgrown juveniles who establish a frat house in order to make it with coeds. (RP) Rated: R





*** Phone Booth -- A morality play in just over eighty minutes from Joel Schumacher? Yes, indeed. In Phone Booth, a vibrant riff on both Hitchcock and The Sweet Smell of Success, Colin Farrell is Stu Shepard, a PR hustler in today's New York, who, despite having a lovely and forgiving wife (Radha Mitchell), is inching his way toward an affair with a young waitress (Katie Holmes). But someone's got his number: a "moral adjuster" (Kiefer Sutherland) who wreaks havoc on the life of people whose venality aggravate his sense of justice. In midtown Manhattan, Stu is told he must stay in one of the city's last phone booths. Vivid, vibrant and cheekily vulgar, Phone Booth starts as an unlikely B-movie high-concept but is actually an energetic thriller that's both tart and taut. (RP) Rated: R





**** The Pianist -- Adrien Brody gets his juiciest role to date as the real-life Wladyslaw Szpilman, the Polish concert pianist whose life was shattered, along with the rest of the Jewish population, during the Nazi invasion of his country. Roman Polanski's direction is sure and steady. (ES) Rated R





Piglet's Big Movie -- The perpetually insecure and smallest denizen of the Hundred Acre Wood takes off when his so-called friends have a "honey harvest" without him. Some five or six hours later, Pooh, Tigger, Rabbbit and the rest of the gang suddenly realize, "Hey, where did that lil' pink fella go?" and set out in search of their friend, using a magical scrapbook as their guide. Rated: G





*** Shanghai Knights -- One of the odder movie-buddy pairings returns in this sequel to Shanghai Noon, with Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson again finding themselves together -- this time in jolly old 19th-century England, where Chan's Chon is searching for the killer of his father. The inventive slapstick fight scenes are almost nonstop. (ES) Rated: PG-13





**** Spirited Away -- Spirited Away is the year's best film. When her parents are transformed into swine, Chihiro is trapped in a mystical bathhouse where the spirits of things like radishes and rivers come to cleanse themselves of their encounters with humans. The visuals may be the greatest ever committed to film, and Chihiro is heart-rendingly credible. Everyone will be transported. In English. Rated: PG (Marty Demarest)





*** Tears of the Sun -- Tears of the Sun tells the story of a reserved Navy Seal (Bruce Willis) whose unit is dispatched to Nigeria to "extract" a volunteer nurse (Monica Bellucci). Even if the movie relies on archetype, it asks a plain, timeless and utterly topical question: How can you turn your eye from senseless slaughter? Rated: R (RP)





**** The Two Towers -- This magnificent sequel to last year's magnificent original welcomes back most of the same characters (including a new, improved Gandalf), and features many new ones, with the CGI creation of the hideous and chilling Gollum standing out. This one is darker and more violent than the first. (ES) Rated PG-13





View From the Top -- Working class Donna (Gwyneth Paltrow) lands a job as a flight attendant, hoping to travel all over the world eventually as a first class international attendant. Hoochie mama outfits and big stupid hairdos won't get you through flight attendant school, as Donna soon discovers, but going to job fairs, being nice to your cross-eyed instructor (Mike Myers) and emulating Candice Bergen (as grande dame of all flight attendants) will. Rated: PG-13





What a Girl Wants -- Why can't Colin Firth and Anna Chancellor stay in witty Austen adaptations like Pride and Prejudice, or even cleverly scripted crowd-pleasers like Bridget Jones's Diary and Four Weddings and a Funeral? Well, because you can make a lot more money doing family-friendly fare like What a Girl Wants. Amanda Bynes plays your typical American teenager who travels to London to see the father she's never known (Firth). Of course he's descended from aristocracy and his long-lost daughter is as American as they come. Expect lots of trans-Atlantic culture clashin' silliness. Rated: PG





**** Don't Miss It *** Worth $7 ** Wait For The Video * Save Your Money





& lt;i & Capsule reviews are written by Ed Symkus (ES) and Ray Pride (RP), unless otherwise noted. & lt;/i &





Follow these links for movie times and tickets at & lt;a href= "http://www.movietickets.com/house_detail.asp?exid=amc & amp;house_id=6584 & amp;.submit=Search " target= "_blank " & & lt;font size= "2 " & AMC & lt;/font & & lt;/a & & r & and & lt;a href= "http://www.regalcinemas.com/cgi-bin/theatre_search/getResults.cgi?zip=99202 & amp;submit=Search%21 " target= "_blank " & & lt;font size= "2 " & Regal & lt;/font & & lt;/a & & r & .





Publication date: 04/10/03

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