by Inlander Staff *** The Big Empty -- Jon Favreau is a schlubby would-be actor whose days are spent in menial set jobs and whose nights are spent practicing his various "looks" in the mirror. He is rescued from his quiet desperation by creepy neighbor Neely (Bud Cort) who blackmails him into delivering a locked suitcase to Baker, Calif., where, subsequently, nothing goes as planned. Lots of big names in this North by Northwest co-production, including Darryl Hannah, Joey Lauren Adams, Rachael Leigh Cook, Kelsey Grammer, Sean Bean and more. Also, this marks North by Northwest's foray into more indie-oriented cinematic fare. (Sheri Boggs) Rated: R
The Cat in the Hat -- When will kids learn not to open the door to strangers? When Mom's away the Cat (Mike Meyers) will play, and maybe even change the control freak tendencies of Sally (Dakota Fanning) and the misbehavior of Conrad (Spencer Breslin) while he's at it. The set is more wildly colored and chemically sweeter than a huge bag of Skittles; the script is by three former Seinfeld writers. Throw in Grinch producer Brian Grazer and you know this kitty is gonna be rolling in U.S. currency catnip. Rated: PG
*** Gothika -- Lurid, self-conscious ghost-story bunkum, done with style (and secondary characters) to burn. With Halle Berry and Robert Downey Jr., both slumming; and with Charles Dutton, Jr. and John Carroll Lynch, each chewing the walls. Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz (the photo booth-obsessed love interest in Amelie). (RP) Rated: R
*** The Human Stain -- Directed by Robert Benton, this adaptation of Philip Roth's intense novel is about the later years of an academic accused of being un-PC (Anthony Hopkins) who has, in fact, been passing as white for decades. His memories of his youthful revisionism come to mind when he starts a relationship with an abused younger woman (Nicole Kidman); they each strike sparks that warm them, but confound the community. Bluntly stated, intensely acted, and dramatically valuable. (RP) Rated: R
*** Shattered Glass -- Based on the real-life misprisions of Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen), an immature, patently goofy young writer for the New Republic who fabricates stories left and right out of a puppyish, bordering-on-pathological need to please. With careful attention to detail, Christensen embodies the selfish and self-pitying behaviors of this journalistic fraud. Peter Sarsgaard plays Glass's editor, Charles Lane, with a quiet skepticism that dovetails nicely with Christensen's work. (Lane himself was an advisor to the film.) Directed by Billy Ray, and also starring Chloe Sevigny. (RP) Rated: PG-13
**** Don't Miss It *** Worth $8 ** 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 &
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