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"Amelie"; "Waking Life"; "Black Knight"; "Harry Potter"

Quick Flicks

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"Amelie" — Why is it the French seem to be the only ones capable of capturing that infectious yet elusive froth-factor when it comes to lighthearted romance on screen? This beguiling look at the cause and effect of love is a perfect case in point. Gamine and charming, Audrey Tautou stars as a simple waitress who discovers as she yearns for love that she has a knack at helping others. Her help, however, is not without comic consequences. This is magical whimsy at its best; a subtitled tonic for heavy hearts.

"Waking Life" — Get ready for something unique. This trippy, floaty fantasy from Richard Linklater was filmed as live action, then had it all transformed into animation. It's a shimmery, dizzy dream world where characters expound upon their theories of life only to dissolve into clouds or drift away. With no discernible plot and set in no real time or place, "Waking Life" will frustrate as many viewers as it delights. "Waking Life" made me think, and then made me smile.

"Black Knight" — Ridiculously stupid — and yes, often funny — this slapstick tale features Martin Lawrence as an employee of a medieval theme park who falls into a moat and wakes up during the real Middle Ages. He falls in love, helps others and learns a little tolerance. Can you say fish-out-of-water? Can you say uninspired jokes based on racial stereotypes? Can you say, "I laughed in spite of my highly developed sense of political correctness?" Despite its predictable plot, characters and jokes, the movie works simply because Lawrence makes it work.

"Harry Potter" — This movie version of the first installment of the hugely popular international series of children's adventures is quite good — ripping good, even, as the Brits might say. And yet, something is missing. Something magical. By hewing so rigorously to J.K. Rowling's original text, this adaptation feels a bit rote. But that won't matter to Harry's millions of young fans who will queue right up to watch as their hero (played well by Daniel Radcliffe) moves from the dismal Dursley household to Hogwarts Schools of Witchcraft & Wizardry. Even more fun than Harry are his boon companions Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint). And the adult supporting cast members, from Robbie Coltrane to Alan Rickman, seem to relish their roles as well. Kids will be wild about this

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