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"Notting Hill," "The Thirteenth Floor" and "Metroland"

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Notting HillThe Thirteenth FloorMetroland

"Notting Hill" This surefire hit offers Julia Roberts in full-tilt "Pretty Woman" mode. From the same creators responsible for "Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Notting Hill" hits the same emotional notes. Except the filmmakers have become a little more savvy. They now know it's not necessary to bother with even a hint of reality. Once again boyishly charming Hugh Grant is the slightly bumbling young lover who finds himself smitten with the impossible girl of his dreams (Roberts). But this time his dream girl is a big-time movie star, beset with pressures of fame and ever-present paparazzi.

A chick-flick supreme, "Notting Hill" also qualifies as the first date movie of the summer season. Looking for a little romance? "Notting Hill" will more than satisfy.

"The Thirteenth Floor" I would have enjoyed this special-effects dazzler much more had I not already seen the wonderful "The Matrix" and the very eerie "eXistenZ." Yes, this is another cyber thriller that asks us to question reality. But there is a twist, "The Thirteenth Floor" combines the elements of film noir and "The Truman Show" with its cyberpunk effects.

Unfortunately, this intriguing philosophical mix is undermined by so-so acting, uninspired dialogue and a pacing that would irritate molasses. Starring Vincent D'Onofrio, Craig Bierko, Dennis Haysbert, Gretchen Mol and Armin Mueller-Stahl, "The Thirteenth Floor" ends up a run-of-the-cybermill murder mystery. Read the novel on which it's based ("Simulacron 3") and then catch the stunning visuals on video later this summer.

"Metroland" I call this one "Metro-Bland." Even though it stars the wonderful Emily Watson ("Hilary & Jackie"), the movie's message and theme rehash stale issues. Simply put, this is yet another cautionary tale for Baby Boomers that suggests those of that generation lost more than they realized when they traded their liberal ways for a job, family and a comfortable lifestyle. Set in 1977 Eastwood, England, "Metroland" shows us that regrets are inevitable and that it is inescapable that children will become their parents.

Watson is wife to Christian Bale's hubby, who begins his soul-searching when childhood best bloke Toni (Lee Ross) visits. Toni, you see, is still single, still "making love, not war" and still not on the daddy path. While Watson makes the most of her role, Bale is not up to the material.

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