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Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Page 4 of 7

HANNIBAL (R) *** The sequel to The Silence of the Lambs substitutes a well-cast Julianne Moore for Jodie Foster, but more problematically offers director Ridley Scott's baroque gloss for Jonathan Demme's solid sobriety. The results can border on camp, especially when the eerie Anthony Hopkins bites into culinary puns, but the well-crafted cat-and-mouse scenes keep the suspense at a delicious simmer. -- CH

HEAD OVER HEELS (PG-13) ** Freddie Prinze Jr., the Prinze never known as an artist, can't convince us he's an actor, let alone a killer, so we don't seriously suspect him for a moment when new girlfriend Monica Potter, a blonde Julia Roberts wannabe, thinks she sees him commit a murder. While the characters and situations would seem to lend themselves more to wit than lowest-common-denominator humor, this dumbing-down of the plots of Rear Window and Charade suggests those films might have been more successful if they'd included an exploding toilet scene. -- SW

IMAX AT FERNBANK: ADVENTURES IN WILD CALIFORNIA (NR) *** It's "California Dreamin'" for the new millennium as IMAX and Everest director Greg MacGillivray pack a lot of extreme sports and environmentalism into 40 unhurried minutes, including sky- and sea-surfing sequences that put Hollywood movie stunts and special effects to shame. You'll see baby otters and bald eagles being prepared by humans for life in the wild and trees that have lived for 3000 years. You'll ride a roller coaster at Disneyland, walk down the red carpet at the Academy Awards and descend 125 feet into a hollow space in an ancient sequoia. Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m., 1, 3 and 5 p.m., Sun. 1, 3 and 5 p.m. and Fri. 8 and 10 p.m. BEAVERS (NR) ** 1/2 Two furry rodents build a dam and a family in an IMAX nature film that strains to fill 40 minutes. There's glorious photography of the wilderness of Alberta, Canada, blessedly little narration, and fascination in watching these natural-born engineers at work. Fans of Animal Planet should enjoy this giant-screen study of another of nature's wonders. Mon.-Sat. at 10 a.m., noon, 2 and 4 p.m., Sun. at noon, 2 and 4 p.m., and Fri. at 7 and 9 p.m.. Films run through March 23 at Fernbank Museum of Natural History, 767 Clifton Road. -- SW

LEFT BEHIND (PG-13) ** If I go to hell for this lukewarm review, the road will be paved with the fundamentalist filmmakers' good intentions. Based on a novel that projects the prophecies of Revelation onto modern times on the assumption they've begun to come true, it wastes too much time making a mystery of what every viewer knows: the millions who suddenly disappeared went to Heaven in the Rapture. In a less predictable plot line, two men try to take over the world by ending war and hunger. With the prophecies carved in stone and the wheels set in motion, resistance should be futile. -- SW

MALENA (R) *** Cinema Paradiso's Giuseppe Tornatore offers another nostalgic glimpse of an Italian childhood, focusing here on adolescent Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro) and his obsession with a shapely war widow (Monica Belucci) during World War II. The film treats Belucci as a sex object, but that's part of the point, as the rest of Renato's village judges her character based on her appearance. The moments of broad comedy and gorgeous photography make up for its uncharitable view toward the Italian people. -- CH

MISS CONGENIALITY (PG-13) ** 1/2 Despite plot holes you could sail the Titanic through, so-so comedy and borderline-pathetic action scenes, this is a star vehicle for Sandra Bullock and she carries it off triumphantly as an FBI agent whose feminine side emerges when she goes undercover as a contestant to save a beauty pageant from a mad bomber. Benjamin Bratt makes a good foil as the fellow agent she'll wind up with once they resolve their character flaws. While the script could have used a lot more polishing, director Donald Petrie salvages it by focusing on the characters and letting his actors save the day. -- SW

O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? (PG-13) ***1/2 George Clooney plays an escaped convict dragging his buddies across the Depression-era Deep South in search of hidden treasure and also trying to stop his wife's remarriage in this uneven but brilliantly bizarre screwball send-up of '30s folk history and Homer's ancient epic, The Odyssey. The film features a number of Coen Brothers alums, including John Goodman (standing in for the Cyclops) and John Turturro (who almost gets turned into a frog). The title comes from Sullivan's Travels, which you should also see, dammit. -- Eddy Von Mueller

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