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"Enemy at the Gates," "Exit Wounds," "Pollock," "Blow Dry," and on video, "Requiem for a Dream"

Quick Flicks

!B! "Enemy at the Gates"!B! "Exit Wounds"!B! "Pollock" !B! "Blow Dry"
Now on Video:!B! "Requiem for a Dream"

"Enemy at the Gates" — Jean-Jacques Annaud offers up a life-or-death game of hide-and-seek set against the epic background of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, 1942's Battle of Stalingrad. As the troops face certain death — either from Hitler's advancing Aryan line or from their own countrymen should they even appear to be retreating — what they need is a hero. Enter Joseph Fiennes who begins to write about the remarkable aim of a Ural mountain-reared soldier, Jude Law's Vassili.

But his fame spreads to the Nazis who bring in their own sharpshooter, Ed Harris. Had Annaud and his screenwriter been content to focus on the sniper-versus-sniper story, "Enemy" would be perfect. But alas, they don't. Not only do they toss in a so-so love story, but Annaud and company take potshots at all sorts of political and philosophical targets, seriously bogging down the action.

"Exit Wounds" — They may have made him drop some serious pounds and that ponytail, but Steven Seagal is back on the big screen with another bone-crunching, vehicle-crashing, AK-4-firing display of testosterone excess. He's Orin Boyd, a renegade cop who's been sent to the city's worst precinct — to quote the press kit — for "pushing the law too far in order to serve it." But good ol' Orin isn't in place long before he discovers that a big-time drug operation and cops may be involved. The only one who can help him is the well-dressed Latrell Walker (rapper DMX), who may or may not be a drug dealer himself.

"Pollock" — Ed Harris stars in and directs this portrait of abstract artist Jackson Pollock as a tortured soul battling both mental illness and alcoholism. Harris shines in front of the camera. Behind it, he's still a novice. As Pollock's muse, lover and wife, Lee Krasner, Marcia Gay Harden stands toe-to-toe with Harris. Both more than deserve their Academy Award nominations for Best Actor and Actress for this work.

Equally eloquent are Pollock's massive abstract canvases, which are displayed powerfully throughout the movie. As a biography, "Pollock's" script seems inchoate; luckily the performances are riveting.

"Blow Dry" — A bittersweet dramedy, this British import sports a fine cast and a few good laughs, but eventually falls flatter than can of bad mousse. Set in Yorkshire, "Blow Dry" introduces us to barber Alan Rickman and ex-wife Natasha Richardson, who runs a beauty salon. Once a champion stylist, Rickman hung up his blow-dryer after she ran off to live with his favorite model (Rachel Griffiths). The animosity gets brushed aside when everyone agrees to make nice and enter a national hairdressing competition.

Now On Video:
"Requiem for a Dream" — Though dark and disturbing, "Requiem" never ceases to be absorbing. Like witnesses to a tragic accident, moviegoers will find themselves unable to look away.

Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans and Ellen Burstyn star in this forceful and forthright look at drug addiction. Each actor gives a courageous performance, never shying away from the ugly reality of their characters. While "Requiem" may be one of the most uncompromising anti-drug stories committed to film, it is not for everyone.

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