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by Inlander Staff & r & & r & Brokeback Mountain -- Everybody's talking about "the gay cowboy movie," with Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger as longtime lovers who try to keep the secret from their wives. Most folks are saying good things about Ang Lee's first film since Hulk. But the film runs too slow, and the story doesn't offer enough explanation of motivation. Beautiful scenery and a great performance by Michelle Williams really isn't enough. And Gyllenhaal's mustache looks ridiculous. (ES) Rated R





Capote -- Philip Seymour Hoffman owns this film. As Truman Capote, he deftly manages one of the most complicated egos I've ever seen on screen. Capote was a braggart, an egomaniac, a hedonist, an exploiter of people and, perhaps above it all, an incredibly insecure human being. Hoffman makes sure all these things are on display. The film itself takes place during the writing of In Cold Blood, about a quadruple homicide in Kansas. The book made him America's most famous living writer, and also, the story goes, broke him. (LB) Rated R





Casanova -- Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom's first comedy since Chocolat is a wild romp through the canals and piazzas and bedrooms of 18th-century Venice, as legendary ladies' man Casanova (Heath Ledger) makes a reputation for himself. Though he has his eyes on the lovely Francesca (Sienna Miller), her mom (Lena Olin) comes across as much more luminous and sexy. Oliver Platt, as a rich husband-to-be, has never been better (or fatter), and Jeremy Irons is fabulous as a bureaucratic villain. (ES) Rated R





Cheaper by the Dozen 2 -- Now cheaper, with more dozens! You'll cry as you watch another little piece of Steve Martin's (and Eugene Levy's) comedy magic chip off and die in this formulaic sequel filled with kids, physical comedy, kids and, well ... kids. While Martin and Levy engage in a competition to see whose family is the best (seeing as how they seem to be neck and neck in the breeding department), ask yourself: Is this the same man who wrote The Underpants and Picasso at the Lapine Agile? Rated PG





The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe -- The C.S. Lewis novel has its charm and fantastical imagery intact, although, happily, the religious overtones are now undertoned. During World War II, four siblings are sent to the British countryside for safety, where they find a portal to another world: the wintry land of Narnia. They must come together as a unit, join forces with magical creatures and defeat a wicked queen (Tilda Swinton). Nicely done, for all ages. (ES) Rated PG





The Family Stone -- There's a lot to love about this film, just not many of its characters and not many of its plot contrivances. Progressive upperclass New England bohemians, the Stone family is gearing up for the arrival of eldest son Everett (Dermot Mulroney) and his hopelessly uptight girlfriend Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker). They don't like her from the get go but try half-heartedly to put on a friendly face. Blue state hilarity ensues. (LB) Rated PG-13





Forces of Nature -- Showcasing the awesome spectacle of earthquakes, volcanoes, and severe storms as we follow scientists on their groundbreaking quests to understand how these natural disasters are triggered. Narrated by Kevin Bacon! Unrated





Fun with Dick and Jane -- What do you do when the company you work for turns out to be run by a bunch of criminals? Newly unemployed Jim Carrey decides to join the fun, and turns to a life of crime to maintain his little slice of the American Dream. Yet another remake (this time of the mid-1970s film starring Jane Fonda and George Segal), this one also stars Tea Leoni and Angie Harmon. Rated PG-13





Glory Road -- Glory Road tells the story of the first all-black starting lineup of basketball players in a major-college championship game, at Texas Western College in 1966. The team was led by their groundbreaking yet humble coach Don Haskins (Josh Lucas, Undertow). Debut director James Gartner struggles with solidifying the film's socially explosive period aspects against the exacting demands of recreating a season's worth of hair-raising basketball games surging toward the 1966 NCAA tournament. (CS) Rated PG





Grandma's Boy -- Get this: A 36-year-old compulsive videogame player's roommate has a weakness for Filipino hookers, and spends all his rent money on them, leaving 36-year-old guy to get evicted, forcing him to move in with his grandmother and her two friends. Sounds like the first half of a joke, not a feature length film premise. Rated R





Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire -- Harry and friends return for another term at Hogwarts, and Harry somehow becomes a contestant in the dangerous and exciting Triwizard Tournament. Director Mike Newell and entire-series writer Steve Kloves add new dimensions to the story, with more emotional punch and some maturing (sexual awakening?) of the young wizards. This fourth installment is the most fun and the scariest. Brendan Gleeson steals the show as "Mad-Eye." (ES) Rated PG-13





Hoodwinked! -- It's the story of Little Red Riding Hood told from many different angles, none of which look very funny. Rated PG





Hostel -- Quentin Tarantino's produced a pretty diverse range of films, far more broad than those he's actually directed (in order: gangsters, gangsters, old gangsters, martial arts gangsters). This one's a horror flick, but no one knows much more than that. It's an Eli Roth joint, the director who earned some notoriety with the alone in the woods horror homage Cabin Fever. All anyone knows about this film is that it's about backpackers, it's set in a European hostel and people's toes get cut off. Rated R





King Kong -- Peter Jackson's dream remake of the fabled 1933 film lives up to expectations, though it's a bit long at three hours. But the story of the giant ape and the pretty blonde he goes ape over is told with excitement, humor, horror and some "romantic" longing. Visual effects are top of the line, from the T-Rex fight to Kong's trampling of New York City. Great screaming from Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow, and superb specialized acting from Andy Serkis (Gollum in LOTR) as Kong. (ES) Rated PG-13





Last Holiday -- Queen Latifah is a penny-pincher, but when she's diagnosed with some terminal disease or another, she decides to live it up in the two or so weeks the doctors give her to live. LL Cool J ensues. Rated PG-13





Magnificent Desolation -- Only 12 people have walked on the moon, but now IMAX is proclaiming that you'll be number 13. All of you. Don't be fooled! You won't really be on the moon, just leaning back a little in your chair, gazing up at the moon's desolate vistas projected on a massive format screen. This is bound to be good. Tom Hanks produced it, and he doesn't put his name on bad movies. Except The Terminal... and Ladykillers. Unrated





Memoirs of a Geisha -- While they are startling initially, director Rob Marshall's images quickly begin to fall flat. Perhaps the gradual loss of this highly symbolic visual language pantomimes the crumble of Imperial Japan, which was symbol-rich itself, but that's not very convincing, as the movement is neither gradual nor perfectly abrupt. No, these uninspired later scenes more closely parallel the audience's realization that the visual grandeur of Geisha's first two acts hinted at a depth of narrative that just doesn't exist. (LB) Rated PG-13





Munich -- Quite the follow-up for Steven Spielberg after War of the Worlds earlier this year. Based on the George Jonas book Vengeance, with a script by Tony Kushner, this gripping film tells of what happened after the murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympics. Eric Bana (Hulk) plays the leader of the Israeli Secret Service agents who are thrown together to hunt down the assassins. Spielberg at his serious best. (ES) Rated R





The Ringer -- It was bound to happen: Johnny Knoxville has met up with the Farrelly brothers. Hitless since Me Myself and Irene and good-movie-less since Something About Mary, the Farrelly brothers have realized they don't have to direct a film to run it into the ground -- they just have to produce it. So they've let Barry Blaustein take the reins. Knoxville plays a guy who gets recruited to zazz up the Special Olympics. Like all other sports, they need a superstar athlete to help market it. Johnny just has to pretend to be handicapped. (LB) Rated R





Rumour Has It -- A great idea -- a worrisome woman (Jennifer Aniston) discovers that her late mother and her grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) were the character models for The Graduate, then tries to track down the guy (Kevin Costner) who the book/movie's "hero" was based on -- falls victim to some bad writing. The acting is good, though Aniston comes across as an unsympathetic dummy. And for a comedy, you feel awfully bad about what she does to her wonderful boyfriend (Mark Ruffalo). Mixed messages galore. (ES) Rated PG-13; Opens Christmas Day





Syriana -- While lacking classic human story elements, Syriana is full of emotion -- the passion ideologues have for their ideals, the passion of faith and of commitment. It makes the bad guys terrifyingly effective and the good guys tragically impotent. Barnes (George Clooney) will never get the desk job he's promised because he believes success should depend more on being right than on being politic. Prince Nasir's coup is flawed because he believes little countries can get by without friends in the West. It's heartbreaking because our country was built on that kind of passion, and now we actively suppress it. (LB) Rated R





Tristan and Isolde -- Tristan and Isolde fall in love after Tristan is thought dead and sent out to sea on a flaming funereal barge. Once she nurses him to health, he returns to help his uncle unite England against the Irish. One of the ways he has to help, though, is by winning the hand of fair Isolde for his uncle. The story itself (dating back to the 11th century) is great, with lots of blithely medieval twists, turns and tragedies. Too bad the acting and dialogue suck. Oh, and it contains more pointless contrivances than a warehouse built to house pointless contrivances. (LB) Rated PG-13





Walk the Line -- Biopics come in two distinct flavors, good and bad. There's very little in between. The good are measured and unsensationalized, focusing on the person more than his or her celebrity and public persona, engaging and salacious as those might be. They help us make sense of the person behind the image. Walk The Line - directed by James Mangold and starring Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash - is one of those biopics. (LB) Rated PG-13

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