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AMELIE (R) A popular and critical hit in France, this not-to-be-missed sweet-as-pie, stylistic knockout is a dazzling live-action cartoon for grown-ups. The ultra-cute Audrey Tautou is a do-gooding sprite living in a magical Montmartre who dedicates herself to helping others. From Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the director of The City of Lost Children and Delicatessen. -- FF
A BEAUTIFUL MIND (PG-13) In an either bold or ignorant move, director Ron Howard may have made the first action-adventure film about schizophrenia. Russell Crowe stars in this story of real life Princeton mathematician John Nash who won the Nobel Prize, but also suffered from mental illness. Howard allows emotional button-pushing to triumph over character development and insight in this earnest but flat entry in Hollywood's disability canon.--FF
BLADE 2 (R) With arteries being punctured left and right and vampires disintegrating after getting blasted by silver bullets, this is as disreputable a genre film as Queen of the Damned, but a helluva lot more fun. It tops its 1998 predecessor thanks in no small part to director Guillermo Del Toro of The Devil's Backbone, although Wesley Snipes' half-human, half-vampire renegade still proves a dull superhero. --Matt Brunson
THE CAT'S MEOW (PG-13) Director Peter Bogdanovich makes a modest comeback with a dark comedy about the lethal consequences of a 1924 romantic triangle between Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard), William Randolph Hearst (Edward Hermann) and starlet Marion Davies (Kirstin Dunst). You'd hope for a more insightful consideration of power and hypocrisy, but as a showbiz satire it features amusingly arch dialogue and a superbly cast and costumed line-up of actresses.--CH
CHANGING LANES (R) A traffic accident between an opportunistic lawyer (Ben Affleck) and a recovering alcoholic (Samuel L. Jackson) sets off a dangerous game in which both men try to one-up each other. Neither character is depicted as a hero or a villain in this rare bird of a film, a studio product that largely steers clear of black and white by adorning itself in an appealing shade of gray. --MB
CLOCKSTOPPERS (PG) A teen and his girlfriend stumble across an invention that makes time seem to stand still, and must stop a bad guy from exploiting it. This revisit of the ideas of The Girl, The Gold Watch and Everything is directed by "Star Trek's" Jonathan Frakes, who has some experience with temporal anomalies.
CRUSH (R) In this British comedy from first-timer John McKay, Andie MacDowell as a prim prep school headmistress conveys great warmth in her moving portrait of a woman whose happiness is threatened by a conformist society and jealous friends. But Crush at its heart is yet another retrograde story of complaining, miserable singletons (this time in their 40s) who deeply resent their friend MacDowell's giddy romance with a much younger man. --FF
DEUCES WILD (R) This hilariously misguided look at rival 1950s street gangs stars a cast of leather-clad young actors strutting and preening like they're auditioning for Sha Na Na. From the vengeful villian named "Marco Vendetti" to the "rumbles" shot like primitive music videos to Debbie Harry playing a mother with Christmas on the brain, the film plays like a John Waters script that director Scott Kalvert (The Basketball Diaries) somehow took seriously. --CH
THE ENDURANCE: SHACKLETON'S LEGENDARY ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION (G) Sir Earnest Shackleton's ill-fated 1914-1916 voyage to Antarctica is captured in an evocative documentary from the creator of Pumping Iron. Mixing Frank Hurley's on-the-scene footage of the ordeal with modern-day interviews and beautifully desolate nature photography, the film puts you in some of the most inhospitable environments imaginable. Narrated by Liam Neeson, the documentary is more often hypnotic than dull, and is guaranteed to shiver your timbers.--CH
E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL: THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY (PG) Steven Spielberg's tale of a boy and his alien is no children's movie, but a lovely evocation of the experience of childlike wonder. The anniversary re-release includes spruced-up sound and special effects, a deleted scene or two and some disquieting alterations in the name of political correctness, like the digital replacement of guns with walkie-talkies.--CH
FOR DA LUV OF MONEY (R) With one of those one-word names like "Madonna" or "Sauron," the actor Pierre plays a cash-strapped guy who becomes wildly popular when money from a robbery is stashed in his back yard. Aimed at fans of Friday, the comedy's biggest stars are ventriloquist Willie Tyler and Lester.