or tender enough to make us give a hoot whether Costner's Dr. Joe is crazy or
not. Even the likes of Kathy Bates and Linda Hunt can't quite enliven this DOA
"All About the Benjamins"
For those who can't wait for the next Ice Cube and Mike Epps installment of
the popular "Friday" series comes this tale of two misfits trying to track down
a winning lotto ticket. Ice Cube plays Bocum, a Miami bounty hunter; Epps is
Reggie, a skinny, dimwitted, small-time scam artist. At first at odds, the two
end up teaming up as they go searching for $60 million worth of stolen diamonds,
in addition to that misplaced winning lottery ticket. But the action quickly
turns tedious as Bocum and Reggie engage in the obvious trading insults while
"Queen of the Damned"
Campy, vampy and g-o-r-y, gory, this second big-screen haunting by Anne Rice's
reluctant bloodsucker/hero Lestat leaves a lot to be desired. At the opposite
end of the spectrum from Neil Jordan's classy, moody and seductive "Interview
with the Vampire," this tale has easy, cheesy chills. It is also the final film
performance by sweet R and B singer Aaliyah, who died tragically in a plane
crash last August. As the reigning monarch of the title, Aaliyah brings a radiant
beauty and ferociousness to the role of Akasha, the mother of all vampires.
Asleep encased in stone for numerous millennia, she is awakened by Lestat's
(Stuart Townsend) pounding Goth-rock rhythms. And when she takes the stage,
well, all hell finally breaks loose.
"We Were Soldiers" Mel
Gibson reunites with "Braveheart" screenwriter-turned-director Randall Wallace
for this well-intentioned retelling of the 1965 battle in Vietnam's Ia Drang
Valley. The movie gives the outmaneuvered and outmanned American soldiers a
testament to their bravery. But demon Hollywood takes over, and the plot and
pacing turn into typical war-movie stuff. Gibson plays Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore,
who leads the men in his Seventh Air Cavalry into the brutal firefight. In keeping
with the recent graphic trend of war movies, "We Were Soldiers" fills the screen
with plenty of blood, guts, limbs and sinew flying amid the chaos of battle.
Also deserving of praise is the movie's rare attempt to get into the psyches
of its female characters as well as the male/soldier mindset.
"Iris" Funny, sad and
moving, this behind-the-chintz exploration of the relationship between British
freethinking novelist Iris Murdoch and her ardent admirer/husband, John Bayley,
is never less than engrossing. Without losing either momentum or the power of
the moment, director Peter Eyre moves between '50s-era Oxford (where John and
Iris first meet) and the late '90s cottage-comfy (where Alzheimer's begins stealing
the best and brightest of Iris). Much of the credit, however, belongs to the
incredible tandem tour de force performances from Kate Winslett and Judi Dench
as the young and aging Iris, respectively. Equally impressive, though more understated,
are Hugh Bonneville and Jim Broadbent as (respectively) Bayley the young and
the elder. Touching without ever resorting to weepy melodrama, "Iris" captivates
on a distinctly human level. We may never understand Iris or her philosophy
of love and life, but we certainly feel the slowly gnawing ravages of Alzheimer's.
For those who find Iris tough to embrace, Broadbent's astonishing turn as Iris'
protector, acolyte and ultimately frustrated husband offers an equally moving
access point to the horror of the dimming effects of Alzheimer's.