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SOLOMON AND GAENOR (R) *** A familiar tale of star-crossed lovers, this romantic tragedy set in 1911 Wales becomes more engrossing despite some expected twists and turns, as our interest in its well-sketched characters deepens. The film's greatest asset are its moving performances by Ioan Gruffudd as a Jewish merchant's son and Nia Roberts as the gentile girl he falls in love with amidst the brewing labor problems and growing anti-Semitism in a small Welsh village. -- FF
SPACE COWBOYS (PG-13) *** I don't know how much charm weighs but in Space Cowboys it's measured by the ton. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film's about a pride of old lions, Eastwood, James Garner, Donald Sutherland and Tommie Lee Jones, called upon to repair an obsolete Russian satellite about to fall out of orbit. Its heroes may be too old for teenagers to identify with but for boomers, it's a hoot. It's predictable in many ways but it contains genuine tension, belly laughs and human warmth. Go see it. -- RJ
THE TAO OF STEVE (R) * 1/2. A one-joke indie romance about a roly-poly slacker Casanova (Donal Logue) whose philosophy about attracting and abandoning women fails him when he falls in love. Clownish Logue spends scene after scene extolling his ho-hum blend of Buddhism and pop iconography, while the other roles are too bland to seize center stage. - CH
TURN IT UP (R) This film stars Fugees member Prakazrel "Pras" Michel as a Brooklyn rapper trying to hit the big time. Also starring Vondie Curtis Hall, Ja Rule, Patricia Velasquez, this film is based on a book that Pras co-authored that takes a stab at the entertainment business.
URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT (R) ** Alfred Hitchcock is invoked countless times to no avail in John Ottman's sequel to the campus cut-up saga. This time it's film students who are being murdered, in between shooting murder scenes for their thesis films. It's confusing, occasionally amusing, but never frightening, suspenseful or surprising (you know the dude who says "Fuck George Lucas!" is gonna die). That it's no worse than the original is hardly praise. -- SW
THE WATCHER (R) Keanu Reeves and James Spader wage psychological warfare in this thriller about a serial killer and the FBI agent who loves to chase him. Reeves stars as the clever psychopath who tempts Spader out of retirement and back into his career-long and macabre obsession of discovering who the next victim will be.
THE WAY OF THE GUN ** Christopher McQuarrie, Oscar-winning scripter of The Usual Suspects, makes his directing debut with a usual assortment of crime cliches. Things go awry when two small-time hoods (Ryan Phillipe, Benicio Del Toro) kidnap a surrogate mother (Juliette Lewis) employed by a mob accountant. McQuarrie's exciting, bracing first act gives way to trivial subplots painted with repellent amounts of blood. --CH
WHAT LIES BENEATH (PG-13) ** 1/2 After 1 3/4 hours of routine filmmaking, a lengthy, largely terrifying climax tells you whether you've been watching a ghost story or a domestic drama. Directed by Robert Zemeckis with standard shocks and excellent photographic effects, it showcases Michelle Pfeiffer as Claire, who forms an outwardly perfect couple with Norman (Harrison Ford). But Claire has been seeing -- or thinks she's been seeing -- a ghost. Which is in greater danger, their marriage or one or both of their lives? This is a fair-to-middlin' tale of a fair-to-middle-aged couple and whatever comes between them -- or brings them together. -- SW
WOMAN ON TOP ** A featherweight romantic comedy with more than a hint of Like Water For Chocolate's culinary magical realism, Fina Torres' story of a Brazilian woman successful in the kitchen but unlucky in love is as flat as a fallen souffle. Almodovar regular Penelope Cruz is charming in the lead, but there's little else to recommend this frivolous affair. -- FF
FF is Felicia Feaster, CH is Curt Holman, RJ is Richard Joseph, Kate Lueker is KL, EM is Eddy Von Mueller, SW is Steve Warren.
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