Arts & Events » Arts and Culture

quick flicks

Only his friend Jack (Wes Bentley), refuses to judge him. Deciding to restore his honor by going to the Sudan disguised as an anonymous native, Harry meets a stalwart African fighter (Djimon Hounsou in a marvelous and moving performance). Together, the two undertake acts of great bravery to help the British. Unlike past adaptations, director Shekhar Kapur and screenwriters Michael Schiffer and Hossein Amini pointedly mix the swashbuckling romance with an unblinking look at the brutalities of colonial rule and racism. But they also refuse to sacrifice or ridicule Mason's central message about the British sense of duty. ***

"Barbershop" — Despite the ongoing debate over censorship, the sanctity of African-American icons and the nature of satire, this ensemble comedy is a clever, thoroughly modern mix of "It's A Wonderful Life" meets "Car Wash." Actor-rapper Ice Cube stars as Calvin, the "hair-apparent" of his late father's barbershop, who's struggling to keep his dad's legacy thriving in the face of mounting financial woes. The film is chock-full of oddball cutters and customers, including Cedric the Entertainer as an elder barber with endless barbs, Sean Patrick Thomas as an ambitious but self-righteous college student and rapper Eve as the shop's only female barber. Besides Cedric's scene-stealing turn, the movie's other funny moments come from a terrific riff on Laurel & Hardy's Oscar-winning short "The Music Box" — except here, the piano is now an ATM machine boosted by the bumbling duo of Anthony Anderson and Lahmard Tate. While it falls short of being truly lovable, "Barbershop" is still a cut above other recent inner-city comedies. ****

"One Hour Photo" — This is Robin Williams' movie from the opening scene, thanks to his intensely creepy performance that never hits a wrong note, making "One Hour Photo" a disturbing yet mesmerizing psychological thriller. Williams plays Sy Parrish, an employee of a one-hour photo lab who becomes obsessed with the preternaturally photogenic Yorkin family. After processing their family photos through the years, Sy not only believes he's a part of the family, he slowly and insidiously involves himself in their lives. For those who find Williams' usual manic twinkliness kind of creepy to begin with, "One Hour Photo" will be most unnerving. Even his recent "casting-against-type" role as a suspected killer in "Insomnia" falls short when compared to his darker turn here. Directing with an eye to the telling detail, Mark Romanek keeps our interest from flagging as he builds suspense. Unfortunately, he goes for a too-pat ending that offers a too-easy explanation for why Sy is the way he is, but until then Williams' outstanding performance keeps "One Hour Photo" in focus. ****

Add a comment