BUT HERE - ***
plays Darth Mom to Natalie (Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace)
Portman's teen queen character in this stirring, funny relationship
drama. In a way, it is Portman who has to do the mothering, when Sarandon's
flakiness gets the better of her. At times it's hard to take the cold-hearted
sniping between blood relatives, but in the end Sarandon and Portman burn
up the screen in roles that have Oscartm written all over them. Better get that mantle cleared off, Mrs.
THE BACHELOR - ***
With this engaging romantic comedy, Chris O'Donnel
earns a much needed comeback after the "holy disaster, Batman"
of Batman and Robin and the embarassment of Robert Altman's box
office dud Cookie's Fortune (which clicked with critics but not
with audiences). O'Donnel charms a bevy of delightful lady co-stars with
his handsome good looks, but the real charm of the pic is the sensitive
humanity of the story. O'Donnel will need a Matrix-like cyberhit
in order to regain his box office muscle, but this is a great start. The
Bachelor could be this season's My Best Friend's Wedding.
THE BONE COLLECTOR
delivers in this explosive, whiteknuckle thriller in the tradition of Silence
of the Lambs and Seven. Angelina Jolie delivers a sexy,
steamy performance as Washington's young charge. Astonishingly, Washington's
Oscar worthy theatrics as a courageous quadriplegic investigator are almost
overshadowed by the chilling, eepy-creepy villain, who makes Hannibal Lecter
look like Barney. Director Philip Noyce molds what could have been a stale
potboiler into a dynamite, surefire hit.
I'd go into solitude for a week to be spooked by this
BEING JOHN MALKOVICH - *
This weird mishmash from MTV wunderkind Spike Jonze
proves why video directors should stay on the tube. Full of dark, would-be
comedy and bizarre sci-fi concepts, this is much too bonkers for mainstream
audiences to bother with. Not as funny as Notting Hill and too mean
spirited to be another quirky countercultural hit like Men In Black,
this is one laughfest that never materializes. Cameron Diaz is especially
disappointing in a frumpy wig and bad makeup that all but erase her charm
from There's Something About Mary and My Best Friend's Wedding.
Malkovich has all the grossout potty humor of Mary but none
of the heart.
Give this one the chair!
DOGMA - ***
The dialogue sizzles in this ingenious Ben Affleck/Matt
Damon vehicle about fallen angels who use a loophole to try to get
back into Heaven. Kevin (Chasing Amy)Smith's controversial religious
satire has the Catholic Church up in arms, but audiences are unlikely to
react the same. Really, it's a witty, pop-culture-literate ode to faith
among gen-x, with several whizz-bang twists and a funny (though foul-mouthed)
performance by Lethal Weapon 4 star Chris Rock. The controversy
could help propel this to the top of the box office - if not, the star
wattage of the Good Will Hunting boys is given an extra bounce by
spicy hot Salma Hayek, who was so great in Fools Rush In and
Wild Wild West.
Give this one the book - the Holy Book! Hot!
NEW! END OF
DAYS - ***
Ah-nuld is back
(just as he promised) in his best action film since T2. In this
rousing, atmospheric thrill ride, we get to see Schwarzenegger take on
his greatest adversary yet, the devil himself. Full of spooky religious
themes and terrifying CGI beasts, not to mention a musical reunion between
Schwarzenegger and Guns 'n Roses star Axl Rose, End of Days
promises to bring back Arnold the Box Office Barbarian.
Not for girly men!
HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL - **
Based on the '50s b-movie shocker by campy horrormeister
William Castle, this boo-boo ghost story is less The Sixth Sense
and more The Non-sense. Geoffrey Rush (Wild Wild West)
hams it up as the villain but fails to match the wicked, lusty lather of
Vincent Price's original. Playing like a shoestring budget rehash of last
summer's superior Liam Neeson/Catherine Zeta Jones hit The
Haunting, Haunted Hill is dead in the haunted water. Without
the sex appeal of Jones or the star power of Sixth's Bruce Willis,
don't expect boffo box office after the season of Halloween chills ends.
Anyone who likes this one should be "shanked"!
PRINCESS MONONOKE - **
This Japanese "anime" cartoon from famed
Japanimator Huayo Miyazaki explores the battle between monstrous gods and
colonists in the feudal orient. Too violent for kids and not realistic
enough for adults, it is likely to fry at the box office electric chair.
On the other hand, it is considered the Titanic of Japan (where
only Leo's "King of the World" hit has defeated it at the box
office). Wisely dubbed into English with Young Hollywood enfants terrible
Claire Danes, Minnie Driver and Billy Bob Thornton (Armageddon),
the youth appeal and star power could give this tedious eye candy a little
The jury is out on this suspect.
Goth horrormeister Tim Burton returns with a spooky
costume thriller designed to make us forget about his last turkey, Mars
Attack. Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci try their hardest
to overcome the gorey material, but even these A-list stars can't mold
this one into the good time rollercoaster ride the audience wants. The
script is too grim and unrealistic - it's not only headless, but brainless!
In the hands of a Spielberg or a Cameron this might have reintroduced the
headless horseman to a new generation, but Burton is too weird to make
a real crowdpleaser.
Put this one on death row - off with its head!
THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH - ***
continues his hot streak with this action packed installment in the shaken
not stirred franchise. Denise Richards (Starship Troopers)
plays blonde... sexy blonde, with great success, at the same time doing
what Chinese martial arts star Michelle Yeoh failed to with last year's
mild Tomorrow Never Dies: provide the curvaceous sex appeal the
franchise needs to shoot back to the top of the box office in the age of
megabuck rollercoaster blockbusters like Independence Day and Armageddon.
World is full of dynamite stunts, steamy eroticism and debonair
flair. Bond fans will be in double-oh heaven.
Inmates will be shakin' and perturbed when they're
not able to see the hottest flick of Thanksgiving!
MUPPETS FROM SPACE - **1/2
Kermit, Fozzy and Miss Piggy are back to give the
Independence Day/X-Files sci-fi flick flurry a little bit
of puppet power. Kids will love the cutey-patootie characters while adults
will enjoy the obscure pop-cult references from Close Encounters
to Men In Black. A lot more fun than any puppet movie deserves to
be, the only drawback is the overly rowdy funk soundtrack.
If you're in lockup, this one might be worth tunneling
In the news
After starring in both the #1 and #2 movies of Halloween
week (House On Haunted Hill and The Best Man, respectively)
you don't have to be Mr. Showbiz to know that Rent hunk Taye
Diggs is the toast of the town. Look for the buzz-o-meter to explode
on the young African-American's upcoming projects.
He's not only at the top of the charts, he's at the
top of tinseltown's most wanted list!