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Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Page 3 of 7

VANISHING POINT Part of a rash of rebels-take-to-the-open-road films that were churned out to stock drive-in screens and grindhouses of the 1970s, this cult classic follows a rebel with no particular cause on a high-speed chase from Denver to San Francisco. As the cops close in on him, Kowalski (Barry Newman) develops a following of hippies, freaks, dropouts and other malcontents who elect him as their personal Jesus in this terrifically dated paean to Us vs. Them. Feb. 2-8 at 12, 4 and 8 p.m., GSU's cinéfest. -- FF

ALL THE PRETTY HORSES (PG-13) Two young Texans (Matt Damon and Henry Thomas) get more adventure in Mexico than they bargained for in Billy Bob Thornton's ambitious but meandering adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel. Ted Tally's script approximates the book's laconic cowboy poetry, but the film lacks the moral and geographic scope of a John Ford or Sam Peckinpah Western, despite harrowing moments of violence and smoldering scenes between Damon and Penelope Cruz. -- Curt Holman

ANTITRUST (PG-13) 1/2 Though not as memorable as Arlington Road, the last paranoid thriller in which Tim Robbins played a villain, Antitrust is a good popcorn movie that's aimed at a younger audience and should do the job for them. Robbins is a Bill Gates-like computer mogul, Ryan Phillippe the hotshot garage geek who goes to work for him but discovers his dark secrets and has to bring down his empire. It's like a chess game, only more visual. The geek-speak dialogue sounds credible without being intimidating. -- SW

BILLY ELLIOT (R) A hybrid of the miserable-English-childhood film and performing-British-nonconformist movies such as The Full Monty, Billy Elliot depicts an 11-year-old coal miner's son (Jamie Bell) who develops an improbable passion for ballet. Some of the self-conscious flourishes (like the soundtrack prominent with T-Rex) can be strange, but it's an endearingly idiosyncratic film that puts some new moves on its "feel-good" premise. -- CH

CAST AWAY (PG-13) Director Robert Zemeckis and his Forrest Gump star Tom Hanks have created another crowd-pleaser in what begins as a modern-day Robinson Crusoe story but comes out looking like a "Survivor" spin-off. Dumped in the Pacific, Chuck Noland (Hanks) spends four-plus years on an otherwise uninhabited island, developing survival skills gradually and realistically. The plot eventually gets Hollywood-ized, but it's amazing how long Zemeckis resists commercial impulses, aside from the whole movie being such a commercial for Chuck's employer, FedEx, that failing an Oscar, it has a chance to win a Clio. -- SW

CHOCOLAT (PG-13) 1/2 Free-spirited Juliette Binoche opens a chocolate shop in a repressed village, setting up a didactic conflict of indulgence versus denial. The French locales, food and faces are lovingly photographed (the disarming ensemble includes Judi Dench, Johnny Depp and Alfred Molina), but it cannot equal the comparably themed but richer Babette's Feast. Chocolat melts in your hands, not in your heart. -- CH

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (PG-13) An enchanting tale set in early 19th-century China, Ang Lee's (Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm) atmospheric Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon rekindles the Hong Kong flame of gravity-defying martial arts action and tender sentiment. Lee invests the usual astounding acrobatics with his characters' pangs of regret, love and loss as two martial arts masters, (Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh) teach a spoiled young aristocrat (Zhang Ziyi) about the moral responsibilities of the Giang Hu martial arts way in this subversive, beautifully realized coming-of-age story. -- FF

DOUBLE TAKE (PG-13) 1/2 This action comedy wants to keep you guessing who the good guys and bad guys are, but you're more likely to wonder why you wasted your money on this crap. Orlando Jones, a fine comic, is supposed to play straight man to the even wackier Eddie Griffin, but the script is so inconsistent it's as if different scenes had different writers and directors who didn't confer with each other. Double Take won't leave you doubled over with laughter--or even singled over. -- SW

DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR? (PG-13) 1/2 Underachievers need role models too. Jesse (Ashton Kutcher) and Chester (Seann William Scott), the latest incarnation of Bill & Ted, are stoner/slackers who save the universe while trying to remember what they did the night before. The plot-heavy comedy is as witless as it is brainless, the guys cute but not funny or believable, individually or together. Their odyssey -- with the emphasis on the "od"--surrounds our heroes with zany stereotypes, from a transsexual stripper to donut-loving cops. What Kutcher and Scott should really be asking is, "Dude, where's my agent?" -- SW

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