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Opening Films 

by Inlander Staff

Cinderella Man -- Ron Howard has made a good old-fashioned Hollywood movie about Depression-era prizefighter James Braddock, in a terrific portrayal by Russell Crowe. His fighting days were hindered due to bad hands, but he scrapped through, providing for his family (an equally fine Renee Zellweger plays his wife). Look for another winning performance by Paul Giamatti as his manager, along with some brilliant, brutal fight scenes, and loads of heart. (ES) Rated PG-13

Layer Cake -- Matthew Vaughn, the producer of Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, makes his directorial debut with this walk inside the underbelly of London's drug scene. Daniel Craig plays an unnamed businessman whose products just happen to be coke and Ecstasy. Well-mannered, well-dressed and well-heeled, Vaughn's protagonist has decided to retire but has to perform two favors first. One, he has to find the missing daughter of a powerful crime boss, and two, he must mastermind and negotiate a huge shipment of Ecstasy. Both should be easy, but, as our hero soon finds out, the "machine" isn't ready to let go. Rated: R

Lords of Dogtown -- The 2001 documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, about the mid-'70s West Coast skateboard craze, is smoothly transformed into a dramatic feature about the people who made the scene. The plot is good, but the enthusiasm, the utter joy of being young, the experience of watching a dream change into something else, are what make the film work. Look beyond the bad teeth and speech impediment on shop owner Skip Engblom, and you might recognize Heath Ledger, in a very cool performance. (ES) Rated PG-13

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants -- A quartet of lifelong friends (Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, and newcomer Blake Lively) must separate for the summer, but manage to stay together -- at least in spirit -- via a pair of jeans that happens to fit all of them. Based on the Ann Brashares novel, the idea is a stretch -- literally -- but the message about friendship and finding oneself is strong and well delivered. (ES) Rated PG

Publication date: 06/02/05

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