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      • Deep Sea IMAX 3D poster image

        Deep Sea IMAX 3D

        Michael Esposito, Chicago Tribune

        Director Howard Hall (?Into the Deep,? ?Island of the Sharks?) and the underwater IMAX film team do their usual splendid job of making the sea and its often-hungry denizens look beautiful in ?Deep Sea 3D.? While the film spans the oceans, much of it takes place in near-shore areas such as coral reefs and kelp forests - areas teeming with life from minuscule plankton to a hefty (though still youthful) right whale, not to mention rays, eels, a multitude of crustaceans, anemones, seastars, barra... (read more)

      • Final Destination 3 poster image

        Final Destination 3

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        If you haven?t already had your fill of horror movies in which sexy high schoolers are gruesomely murdered - either by a maniacal killer, a ghoulish monster or, as in the ?Final Destination? series, by the fickle fingers of fate and death - then ?Final Destination 3? is a gorefest that should either slake your worst appetites or drive you to the exits. In ?FD3,? director James Wong and co-writer Glen Morgan (makers of ?FD1?) continue their cycle of thematically related horror flicks, each wit... (read more)

      • Brokeback Mountain poster image

        Brokeback Mountain

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The Western genre?s big skies and limitless visual capacity for loneliness have enveloped nearly a century?s worth of stories, all kinds, about flinty survivors learning that a man?s gotta do what a man?s gotta do. ?Brokeback Mountain,? a good and eloquent Wyoming-set love story with a great performance at its heart, is part of that classical filmmaking tradition. It is also prime Oscar bait. Already the film has won the best picture prize from the New York and Los Angeles film critics and sn... (read more)

      • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire poster image

        Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        Unlike Peter Pan, that other magical airborne boy of British literature and film, J.K. Rowling?s Harry Potter just keeps growing up. So do the Potter movies, in size, in ambition and in visual splendor - and with increasingly stunning results. ?Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? is the latest film adventure for the bespectacled student sorcerer of Rowling?s amazingly well-imagined Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And it may be the best-filmed Potter of them all - though last year... (read more)

      • Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang poster image

        Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

        Robert K. Elder, Chicago Tribune

        Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) is as inept a thief as he is a narrator in ?Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,? a rich, pulpy meta-movie that?s a guilty pleasure you don?t have to feel guilty about. As a Sam Spade-like narrator, Harry?s terrible. He even admits it, as the film yanks us from the past to the present to the past again, just so Harry can illuminate that one detail that makes the previous scene make sense. But who can blame him? Harry only fell into acting when a robbery went bad, cops chas... (read more)

      • Good Night, and Good Luck. poster image

        Good Night, and Good Luck.

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        They had voices then. With a delivery like the Voice of Doom?s slightly more optimistic brother, Edward R. Murrow brought the London Blitz to war-fixated radio listeners, which in turn brought international fame to the man behind the CBS microphone. Making the move to television and bolstering his reputation on the documentary program ?See It Now,? sponsored by ALCOA - when a specific installment proved too hot for ALCOA, Murrow and producer Fred Friendly simply paid for it themselves - Murro... (read more)

      • Wedding Crashers poster image

        Wedding Crashers

        Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune

        Along with ballroom dancing and Supreme Court vacancies, this summer marks the return of the R-rated comedy. After milquetoast laughers "DodgeBall" and "Anchorman," the guys formerly known as funny and currently known as powerful - a.k.a. the Comedy Mafia, a loose group of Hollywood heavy hitters - are going in for the kill with a bawdy, raunchy, sexed-up romantic comedy. "Wedding Crashers" stars capos Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as business partners and best p... (read more)

      • Saving Face poster image

        Saving Face

        Robert K. Elder, Chicago Tribune

        Writer/director Alice Wu's "Saving Face" might best be described as a dramedy of dueling taboos. Sexy without being steamy, smart without being overtly dogmatic, "Saving Face" is the kind of movie you could take your mother to without squirming too much. It utilizes the same brand of ethnic humor that made "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" appealing without the lesbian sexual politics and broad laughs of "Kissing Jessica Stein," director Wu's other reference p... (read more)

      • The Holy Girl poster image

        The Holy Girl

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        Lucrecia Martel's "The Holy Girl," an Argentinean film that won many critics' hearts at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, takes us into the bodies, souls and minds of a post-pubescent school girl and the repressed doctor who briefly lusts after her. What the film finds is neither particularly sensational nor prurient but instead painfully, awkwardly true, a subtle portrait of how sexuality can be perverted by society and how mistaken piety can destroy. "Holy Girl" may sound l... (read more)

      • The Interpreter poster image

        The Interpreter

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        "The Interpreter," a new Sydney Pollack political thriller set and shot largely in New York City's United Nations headquarters, is the kind of polished, exciting treat the movies should give us far more regularly. As beautifully designed, swift and sleek as a classic sports car, throbbing with emotion and intelligence, it's a neat suspense film that's also dramatically and sociologically potent, with two supremely talented stars, Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn, delivering beyond the em... (read more)

      • Hard Candy poster image

        Hard Candy

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Chat-room stalkers deserve everything the law can throw at them, including enforced viewings of "Hard Candy." High-minded sleaze, the film deceives you with its first 10 minutes, which are interestingly creepy. After a brisk online meeting in one of "those" chat rooms, a fashion photographer (Patrick Wilson, lately seen in HBO's "Angels in America" as the tormented bisexual Mormon) meets up in person with a bright, misunderstood teen (Ellen Page) at an L.A. coffe... (read more)

      • Brick poster image

        Brick

        Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune

        The hard-bitten language in writer-director Rian Johnson's debut feature, a noir mystery in the tradition of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler set in the high school hallways and highways of Southern California, is challenging to follow, at best. In "Brick," "gum" means "to mess things up," "heel" is "to walk away from," "jake" stands for drugs, and "yeg" is just another word for "guy." If this yeg doses bad ... (read more)

      • Friday Night Lights poster image

        Friday Night Lights

        Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune

        "Friday Night Lights" opens with a sweeping overhead shot of the dust-choked West Texas town of Odessa - flat, brown, barren. It's a place described in H.G. Bissinger's book, on which this film is based, as "forever enmeshed in the cycles of the boom-and-bust oil town the highs of the boom years like a drug-induced euphoria followed by the lows of the bust and the realization that everything you had made during the boom had just been lost, followed again by the euphoria of boo... (read more)

      • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban poster image

        Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        Just as J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" represents a step in maturity beyond the series' first two books, director Alfonso Cuaron's film version improves upon its predecessors. This third "Harry Potter" movie shakes the candy coating off of the franchise without violating its spirit. Chris Columbus, who directed the first two, is skilled at assembling the elements and moving a story along, but he doesn't leave behind ideas that haunt or images tha... (read more)

      • Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle poster image

        Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

        Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune

        "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" will not win an Oscar. Directed by Danny Leiner ("Dude, Where's My Car?"), this stoner buddy movie is filled with raunchy, gross-out humor. It's immature, clunky and probably the best bit of groundbreaking social commentary we've seen in years. Yes, you read me right - years. Quite simply, the movie is about an Asian-American guy named Harold Lee (John Cho) and an Indian-American guy named Kumar Patel (Kal Penn). Harold and Kumar are bes... (read more)

      • Troy poster image

        Troy

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        "Troy," Wolfgang Petersen's spectacular, literate saga of the Trojan War, may have been preposterously expensive ($175 million), but it's also in a league with Hollywood's top historical epics, ancient or otherwise. It's a stunningly handsome film, with an equally stunning cast and engrossing story - and a movie like this almost has to reach the top ranks in its class to succeed. With its outsize budget and dense, rich literary-historical source (Homer's "Iliad"), it's a h... (read more)

      • Mean Girls poster image

        Mean Girls

        Robert K. Elder, Chicago Tribune

        The biting teen comedy "Mean Girls" heralds the silver-screen big bang of two promising careers: actress Lindsay Lohan and comedy writer/actor Tina Fey. In one movie, Lohan ("Freaky Friday") goes from a Disney-sculpted actress to her own star, transported by "Saturday Night Live" head writer Fey's nervy comic script. Lohan stars as 15-year-old Cady Heron, whose childhood in Africa with her zoologist parents leaves her ill-equipped for the jungle politics of high ... (read more)

      • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind poster image

        Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        Charlie Kaufman writes heady movies about the heart. His resume - "Being John Malkovich," "Human Nature," "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," "Adaptation" and now "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" - offers a trick bag of off-kilter views into the disgruntled male soul. "Eternal Sunshine" features another one of Kaufman's muttering, self-critical protagonists, Joel Barish. Unreformed extrovert Jim Carrey has the role, though he m... (read more)

      • Big Fish poster image

        Big Fish

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        Sometimes the stuff of pathos is better conveyed through lightness and fantasy than through the grim, hard facts. In the whimsical "Big Fish," that beguiling fantasist Tim Burton takes a painful subject - an estranged son's reconciliation during his father's terminal illness - and weaves around it a gossamer web of artifice and fancy, spinning a delightful set of American tall tales. With Albert Finney as prevaricating dad Ed Bloom, Billy Crudup as son Will, and Ewan McGregor as the... (read more)

      • Bad Santa poster image

        Bad Santa

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        You may never hear as much swearing around kids as in "Bad Santa." There are some lessons here: 1. Don't take kids to "Bad Santa." 2. Don't see "Bad Santa" if you're offended by swearing around kids. But for those who can laugh at the profane, who miss the toxic bite of early National Lampoon, who long for a comedy that would rather offend some than please everyone, who now require insulin shots from prolonged exposure to "Love Actually," who tire of Ch... (read more)

      • Elf poster image

        Elf

        Robert K. Elder, Chicago Tribune

        Writer David Sedaris launched his career in 1992 with "The SantaLand Diaries," a scorching, hilarious account of his brief career as a Macy's Christmas elf. Given the reaction to that story, which is still in regular holiday-season rotation on public radio and has been sold in book form, it's astonishing that Hollywood didn't move faster on this fertile elfin ground. While "Elf" doesn't have Sedaris (his sister Amy has a small part, however), it does have "Saturday Ni... (read more)

      • Love Actually poster image

        Love Actually

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        The ensemble romantic comedy "Love Actually" opens with one of its least familiar actors, Bill Nighy, as a wonderfully crooked-faced pop singer recording a lame, Christmas-themed remake of the Troggs' "Love Is All Around." The running joke, which provides the movie's most reliable laughs, is that this old-timer is so candid and good-natured about the record's crassness that the British public sends it zooming up the charts. Alas, "Love Actually" has more in comm... (read more)

      • Gothika poster image

        Gothika

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        Halle Berry plays a criminal psychiatrist who winds up in the psycho ward in "Gothika," a sleek, fast thriller that, like Berry in the film, looks good but acts crazy. It's the sort of movie that must have seemed great on paper: a modern supernatural noir laced with amnesia, ghosts, sex, dark secrets and murders. But "Gothika" plays out as a series of crazy chases and lady-in-distress clichés interspersed with wildly illogical plot twists - all caught by a nervous camera w... (read more)

      • Kill Bill: Vol. 1 poster image

        Kill Bill: Vol. 1

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        There's no question that Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" is a virtuoso piece of filmmaking. What's questionable is whether it's more than that. He's been much imitated since his one-two punch of "Reservoir Dogs" (1992) and "Pulp Fiction" (1994), yet as you watch "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" (the story's second half, "Vol. 2," comes out in February), you realize that no one combines tension and release, violence and humor, dialogue and action an... (read more)

      • 2 Fast 2 Furious poster image

        2 Fast 2 Furious

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        There was something endearing about how dumb "The Fast and the Furious" was. It wasn't dumb in a cynical, manufactured way. It was dumb in an old-fashioned, exploitation-film, no-brain-cells-necessary kind of way. It didn't pretend to be anything more than it was: a big, silly movie about street racing that delivered its thrills with gusto even as it delivered its dialogue with marbles in its mouth. The empty-headedness of the sequel, "2 Fast 2 Furious," isn't as easy to a... (read more)

      • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers poster image

        The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" takes us back to J.R.R. Tolkien's land of myth and fury, and the return quest is even more staggering and marvelous than last year's maiden voyage. Concentrating on the middle book of the Middle Earth saga, Peter Jackson and company once again dazzle and delight us, fulfilling practically every expectation either a longtime Tolkien fan or a movie-going neophyte could want. Here is a movie, like "The Fellowship of the Ring," that's pa... (read more)

      • Maid in Manhattan poster image

        Maid in Manhattan

        Caro, Chicago Tribune

        "Maid in Manhattan" follows the lead of certain fast-food chains that combine familiar ingredients under a new name and make sure they taste exactly as anyone would expect them to. That's not necessarily a bad thing if you've got a hankering for those flavors, but no one's going to confuse the meal for fine dining. The filmmaker and studio here are banking on the idea that people are in the mood for yet another Cinderella story, albeit one without wicked stepsisters. Jennifer Lopez ... (read more)

      • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets poster image

        Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        Entering the world of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" is like returning to a wondrous summer camp after a year's break. You see old friends, meet some new ones, and you're reminded of the magical appeal of a place far away from home. Only after becoming acclimated do you notice what bugs you. Last year's first entry in the Potter movie series, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," may not have exceeded J.K. Rowling's book, but it gave a good taste of what made... (read more)

      • Spirited Away poster image

        Spirited Away

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        The pictures are worth a thousand words in "Spirited Away," Disney Studios' delightful English-language version of the Japanese feature cartoon that holds that country's all-time box office record. In this case, popularity is not an index of expensive hype. Writer-director Hayao Miyazaki's spellbinding tale of a little girl named Chihiro who's lost in an alternative world of tricky ghosts and bizarre monsters is both universally engaging and deeply personal. It's a movie full of bew... (read more)

      • Lilo & Stitch poster image

        Lilo & Stitch

        Loren King, Chicago Tribune

        At least give Walt Disney's animation department credit for wanting to try something new. Last summer Disney took a risk on a dark, Jules Verne-style adventure with "Atlantis: The Lost Empire." This summer, again departing from the cute and spunky talking animals that have long been its stock-in-trade, Disney's "Lilo & Stitch" features a diabolical creature with pointy ears and teeth who speaks a Pokémon-style garbled gibberish. To make matters even more unlike Disney, the... (read more)

      • About a Boy poster image

        About a Boy

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        "About a Boy" is likely to be categorized as a romantic comedy, because people like labels and that's the one that seems to fit best, at least in terms of tone. The key relationship here, however, isn't between a man and a woman but between a man and a 12-year-old boy no, it's not that kind of movie, but rather the story of a loner adult who learns to let someone else into his heart. Adapted from Nick Hornby's 1998 novel (his follow-up to "High Fidelity"), the film also r... (read more)

      • Hedwig and the Angry Inch poster image

        Hedwig and the Angry Inch

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        Most modern-day drag queens don't rock. They're more likely to be seen grooving to disco or lip-synching to ABBA or just generally camping it up. But the title character of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" isn't your typical drag queen. Having survived a botched sex-change operation (which left the "one-inch mound of flesh" that explains the rest of the title), married and been abandoned by an American G.I., moved from East Berlin to a Kansas trailer park and formed a rock band... (read more)

      • The Fast and the Furious poster image

        The Fast and the Furious

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        Just when you've become resigned to a summer of action films that are big, loud, stupid and boring, along comes an action film that is big, loud, stupid and reasonably entertaining. "The Fast and the Furious" is appealing in the same way someone who looks in the mirror and says, "I'm a lug, and I like myself" might be preferable to someone who looks in the mirror and says, "I'm a lug, and I hate myself." That is, this movie is unapologetic about its nature: It's ... (read more)

      • Moulin Rouge poster image

        Moulin Rouge

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        Grandiose and whimsical, packed with oddball delights and bursts of passion, Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge" is a rare picture that gets you intoxicated on the possibilities of movies. Luhrmann is a filmmaker of near-demonic energy and invention. He transforms the film's chestnut of a story a sensitive and penniless writer (Ewan McGregor) battles for the body and soul of a dazzling courtesan-entertainer (Nicole Kidman) into something mad and wonderful. "Moulin Rouge" is a ... (read more)

      • Shrek poster image

        Shrek

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        With "Shrek," DreamWorks stakes its claim to Disney's cutting-edge animation crown while blowing a raspberry in Mickey Mouse's face. This computer-animated film, which mostly chronicles the title ogre's adventures in rescuing a princess, aims to be not just a kids flick but a sassy mock fairy tale that appeals to all ages and sensibilities. Leaving few of its swamp stones unturned, "Shrek" is alternately sweet and mean, sophisticated and vulgar, witty and base, dazzling an... (read more)

      • Godzilla poster image

        Godzilla

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        What would the 1954 Japanese monster classic "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" be without Raymond Burr? As it turns out, it would be a much better movie, something you can confirm for yourself at the Music Box by catching the original version of "Godzilla," director Ishiro (or Inishiro) Honda's epochal tale of a post-nuclear sea monster's assault on Tokyo. Godzilla, of course, is the oft-copied, never-duplicated, gigantic scaly monster who, mutated into super-monstrosity by... (read more)

      • Jurassic Park poster image

        Jurassic Park

        Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

        Forget blowing the images up to Imax size and converting the lunging velociraptors and T. rexes into 3-D. The best reason to revive "Jurassic Park" for its 20th anniversary is Jeff Goldblum. Yes, children, there was a time when Goldblum was sci-fi's "ultimate explainer," as producer Dean Devlin labeled him in "Independence Day." Goldblum's bug-eyes said "scientist-smart," and his mannered, considered and hesitating line readings reinforce that. His very... (read more)

      • The Last Waltz poster image

        The Last Waltz

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        Martin Scorsese's 1978 film of The Band's all-star farewell concert, "The Last Waltz," is the greatest rock concert movie ever made and maybe the best rock movie, period. Now being re-released with restored picture and sound, for the original concert's 25th anniversary, "The Last Waltz" is a movie that exactly fits the words of Bob Dylan, who helps close the show with "Forever Young." This movie and the event it records with such rapture and passion is forever... (read more)

      • Home Again poster image

        Home Again

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        The name "Meyers" has come to signify a very specific type of film in Hollywood -- the shiny, gentle, comforting and aspirational romantic family comedies that writer/director Nancy Meyers has perfected ("Something's Gotta Give," "The Holiday," "It's Complicated"). Her daughter, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, keeps that legacy alive with her directorial debut, "Home Again." Call it nepotism, call it a legacy, or simply call it the family business, which... (read more)

      • Happy Christmas poster image

        Happy Christmas

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        ?Joyeux Noel? (?Merry Christmas?), one of this year?s foreign-language Oscar nominees, is based on an incident that took place on Christmas 1914 in the trenches near the German-French border. Reshaped by French writer-director Christian Carion, it becomes a poignant story, partly true, partly invented, about fraternization between enemies in wartime, in this case among soldiers of three armies - the French and British allies and Germans - whose wintry trenches are within walking distance of ... (read more)

      • Sea Monsters 3D: A Prehistoric Adventure poster image

        Sea Monsters 3D: A Prehistoric Adventure

        Michael Esposito, Chicago Tribune

        National Geographic's "Sea Monsters 3D: A Prehistoric Adventure" dives into the toothy Cretaceous era's undersea world where the Great Plains were part of the seabed in an inland sea, a North American Mediterranean, 80 million years ago. The stories, narrated by Liev Schreiber, are based on fossil records. For example, the star of the film is a female dolichorhynchops or "doli" (pronounced "dolly"), a dolphin-sized marine reptile that fed mainly on fish and squid... (read more)

      • The Master poster image

        The Master

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        I need to get the lighting right," mutters the man with the camera in "The Master," one of the few truly vital and unruly American films in recent years. The man is Freddie Quell, a World War II Navy veteran suffering from what has been diagnosed as a nervous condition. He's a long way, adjustment-wise, from the disenchanted returning vet author James Jones wrote about in "Some Came Running," played by Frank Sinatra in the movie. Freddie's far gone: An alcoholic, a br... (read more)

      • The Polar Express: The IMAX Experience poster image

        The Polar Express: The IMAX Experience

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        It's hard to calibrate magic, harder still to conjure it flawlessly, especially the magic of Christmas that a child experiences. In "The Polar Express," director Robert Zemeckis and star Tom Hanks try for that special combination of creative stardust and technological wizardry they need to bring alive Chris Van Allsburg's 1986 picture book loved by millions. But the magic touch is just beyond their grasp, despite hundreds of millions of dollars and a new computer moviemaking process... (read more)

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