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"Pearl Harbor," "Shrek," "The Taste of Others" and "Super Speedway: Racing with the Andrettis"

Quick Flicks

!B! "Pearl Harbor"!B! "Shrek"!B! "The Taste of Others"!B! "Super Speedway: Racing with the Andrettis"

"Pearl Harbor" — I so wanted this movie to be wonderful, but it isn't. Superbly marketed for more than a year, we've been teased and titillated with trailers showing us shots of Japanese Zeros flying over Hawaii on that calm Sunday in 1941, forever known as "The Day of Infamy." But the first bomb doesn't hit Hickham Field until close to the 90-minute mark of this three-hour-plus movie. Instead, we're treated to Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale and Josh Hartnett playing out another riff on that World War II B-movie tradition, the love triangle.

"Pearl Harbor" will still be the movie to beat this summer, because when those bombs do drop, we're in for an amazing 40 minutes of whooshing cameras, hurtling fireballs and the mesmerizing chaos of war. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay (both responsible for "The Rock" and "Armageddon") have made an entertaining movie — if you've got the time to sit through it — but not a good movie. This pop-cultured "Pearl" shines when making war, not love.

"Shrek" — Movies which appeal to viewers from 4 to 104 are rare cinematic creatures, and "Shrek" not only joins those lofty ranks, it raises the bar. In this fractured fairy tale, lonely ogre Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) finds himself faced with slaying a dragon, rescuing a damsel (Cameron Diaz's voice) in distress and keeping company with Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy), a wisecracking but genuinely smart "ass" of a companion.

Besides standing every time-honored storytelling convention on its ear and revitalizing the animated tale's stylistic flourishes, "Shrek" also lands more than a few well-deserved zingers at the past master of the form, Disney. Smartly spoofing the beloved bedtime story with wit, charm and heart, "Shrek" is a movie experience to cherish.

"The Taste of Others" — This French contender for the best foreign-language Oscar also spins off a popular fairy tale, "The Princess and the Frog." Co-written, directed by and starring Jean-Pierre Bacri, this cultural treat about what love can and cannot make someone do is quite a delight. Bacri is Jean-Jacques Castella, a rumpled captain of industry who is devoid of style, taste or artistic sentiment — until his wife drags him to the theater one night and he falls under the spell of lead actress Clara Devauz (French Oscar-winner Anne Alvaro). Full of cynical gentility and romantic notions of seduction, "The Taste of Others" unfolds in a charming ensemble manner. It's obvious Bacri and company share a fondness for the characters, which makes us care as well.

"Super Speedway: Racing with the Andrettis" — IMAX filmmaker Stephen Low returns to the really BIG screen with this "You Are There" approach to Indy-style racing. While not quite on par with Low's large-format classics "Beavers" or "Skyward," "Super Speedway" offers plenty of what IMAX cameras do best: Getting us into the action. I'm not ashamed to admit that there were times when this movie had me trying to hit the brake pedal! Serving as both a minihistory of the sport — but not detailed enough to bore non-fans — and a sort of newsreel overview of spectacular crashes, "Super Speedway" focuses on the Andrettis, Mario and son Michael. Race-car team owner Paul Newman narrates. (Showing at Science Museum of Virginia through Sept. 14.)

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