Remember, you've still got until July 12 to turn in your films (four minutes or under, and the film must be produced after March 29, 2003) for the Orlo Video Slam contest. The first week's theme is Stumps, followed by Water, Urban Hunter Gatherer, and then a screening of Video Slam finalists. You could win up to $500, so you might as well give it a shot. See www.orlo.org for details.
* 28 Days Later
After a brief scene in a lab, 28 Days Later begins in a hospital bed, with a patient who has just awoken from a coma. The young man soon discovers that there are now only two races: those who are infected by the disease that makes them raving mad and murderous, and those who are not. Teaming up with a young woman (Naomie Harris), a father (Brendan Gleeson), and his daughter (Megan Burns), the four decide to leave the safety of a fortified area and follow a radio signal broadcasting from an army post based in Manchester. The signal promises protection from the zombies--but upon arriving at the army camp, they discover an even worse enemy. (Charles Mudede)
* The Blues
A sampling of the upcoming 7-part PBS series on blues musicians. See segments of Clint Eastwood's film Piano Blues, and Mark Levin's film Godfathers and Sons, which offers never-seen footage of Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, and the Butterfield Blues Band. Also sample Red, White, and Blues by Mike Figgis, which explores the resurgence of blues in music from Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, and in the '60s British Invasion. Director Martin Scorsese also boasts a film in the series, titled Feel Like Going Home.
* Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
An over-the-top hyper-sexual music video starring Drew, Cameron, Lucy, and that bitch, Demi. As you might expect, the Angels battle to restore order in a loosely plotted tale about corrupt federal agents in cahoots with mobsters to expose people in the witness protection program. You won't care much about plot, though, with all of the explosions, high-tech motorized vehicles, and T&A. (Katie Shimer)
This Hong Kong horror production features a beautiful young blind woman (Mun) who undergoes a cornea transplant. When they take off the bandages, she is able to see even more than most of us. That's right, she sees dead people! The Eye has some good, chilling moments, but it's as benevolent as it is scary. When it appears to be concluding, the film gets a second wind and plunges into a subplot that's more spiritual thriller than horror. It's an entertaining film, if somewhat predictable. Hardcore fans of fear will probably not be shaken. (Marjorie Skinner)
Sigourney Weaver stars as an upper-class journalist who helps a fire captain (Antony LaPaglia) compose eulogies for eight of his men who died on SEPTEMBER 11.
The Hard Word
An awkward, confused heist film made more confusing by Australian accents so thick you need an interpreter. Something about three imprisoned bank robbers getting a chance to go free and make money from some corrupt cops who want them to pull a job. The bank robbers' skeezy, really annoying women get involved (Rachel Griffiths = pukealicious), the bad cops get it on with the women, the usually gentle bank robbers get mad at the bad cops, and a bunch of shit hits the fan. Save your money and take a nap. (Justin Sanders)
* The Hulk
Whether or not you buy the beast onscreen is dependent upon just how far you yourself are willing to leap--but the old tale has been given a modern overhaul by Ang Lee. The Hulk may in fact be the most grown-up and most emotionally fucked-up-comic-book movie ever assembled. (Bradley Steinbacher)
* Ichi the Killer See review this issue.
* L'Auberge Espagnole
In Barcelona, the New Europe is assembled in a shared student apartment, where the residents can hardly escape embodying their national stereotypes. The question that is deftly asked with frequently charming result is one of identity and youth--how hard do you hold on to either of them? This film proves that a sweet movie can come complete with depth.
* Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, & Blonde See review this issue.
Love the Hard Way
Adrien Brody stars as a petty thief who meets a woman, brings her into his world of crime, and--big surprise--learns a thing or two from her about love and life.
Man on the Train
Director Patrice Leconte brings us this oft-told tale of two aging men from vastly different backgrounds coming to understand and--yes--even like each other. One is a retired poetry teacher, the other a bank robber preparing for his last heist.
* Nowhere in Africa
Nowhere in Africa follows a rich Jewish family that leaves Germany in 1938 and moves to Africa. There they can avoid the Nazis, but have to deal with some other issues like, oh, the lack of water. Naturally, the characters all experience guilt (you just can't have a Holocaust movie without guilt), but there are also things here you never see in any movie, such as the scene in which a swarm of locusts plunder a field of maize. The hazards of humanity and the hazards of nature are not dissimilar, this movie argues, though (at two and a half hours long) not very succinctly. Thankfully, the actor Merab Ninidze, who's very sexy, is in almost every scene. (Christopher Frizzelle)
Only the Strong Survive
A visit to Memphis finds some of the old soul music greats still working away. See Wilson Pickett, Sam Moore, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, Rufus and Carla Thomas and more as they plug away, singing, stringing, and bling-blinging.
An overwhelmingly Canadian portrait of one sweaty bank manager's gambling addiction, and the enormous fraud he perpetrates to sustain it. The film is portentous and humorless. Philip Seymour Hoffman is a great actor, but the only crucial difference between this performance and other recent ones (e.g. Love Liza) seems to be the moustache on his lip. (Sean Nelson)
An internally combusting family struggles to cope with its free-spirited mother (the frequently unclad Valeria Golino, who radiates an aura of irresistibly damaged goods) and her effect on their rumor-starved fishing village. A disarming combination of lower-class grit (the kids are unvarnished little bastards) and narcotic underwater lyricism, based on Sicilian myth. Warning: contains a potentially upsetting scene of off-screen mass Old Yeller carnage. (Andrew Wright )
* Searching for Paradise
A college-aged Audrey Tautou look-alike deals simultaneously with the death of her father and her downright obsession with an actor played by Chris Noth (the hottie who plays Mr. Big on Sex and the City). She buys a video camera to document her father's last days, and also to make tapes of herself to send to the actor. After her father kicks the bucket, she heads to New York for some downtime, then ends up chasing Chris Noth around, pretending to be a journalist. A sweet and surprisingly realistic depiction of young confusion that you can't help but love. (Katie Shimer)
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines See review this issue.
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
Dreamworks latest animated adventure, with voices by Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Do kids really care about that shit?
Spellbound is a documentary that follows eight pre-teenage contenders in the 1999 National Spelling Bee finals. The cast includes an inner-city girl from D.C. who looks like she's going to barf every time she steps up to the microphone. Another is a hyperactive spaz from New Jersey who fidgets nonstop, firing off stupid jokes in weird robot voices. Their mannerisms and facial expressions, as they writhe under the pressure, are worth about a trillion bucks a pop. (Marjorie Skinner)
* Whale Rider
Audiences at Toronto and Sundance loved this film and so will you if you like triumphant tales of charismatic youngsters who defy the stoic immobility of old-fashioned patriarchs. I like it because it captures traditional Maori ceremonies and songs on film while also showing that New Zealand is not just a backdrop for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. (Shannon Gee)
* Winged Migration
Following geese, cranes, swans, puffins, penguins, pelicans, and gulls, the makers of the insect documentary Microcosmos spent four years capturing impossible images of birds, via a bevy of methods and a gaggle of cinematographers, for Winged Migration, a documentary that is as much about the wonders of flight as the migration of birds.