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"Requiem for a Dream," "Unbreakable," "Charlie's Angels" and "Billy Elliott."

Quick Flicks

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!B! "Requiem for a Dream"!B! "Unbreakable"!B! "Charlie's Angels"!B! "Billy Elliott"




"Requiem for a Dream" — As he demonstrated with his art-house success, the inventive "Pi" writer-director, Darren Aronofsky, isn't afraid to take chances. With his second work, the heavyweight drama "Requiem For A Dream," Aronofsky delivers a knockout punch. 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. "Unbreakable" — M. Night Shyamalan's follow-up to his hugely popular and entertaining "The Sixth Sense" won't be breaking any box-office records. Unfolding at such a slow and deliberate pace, each of the movie's over-the-top plot developments seems even more ludicrous. Even if you buy into the thought-provoking premise that there are superheroes among us, by the time Shyamalan and star Bruce Willis get the story cooking — Wham! Bam! They tie up the plot in a tidy little package that is irritating in its lack of originality. While Samuel L. Jackson delivers his usual engaging performance, stealing the show as the man who knows why Willis' character can't be hurt, Willis' one-note performance seems to confuse stupefaction with acting. A terrific premise put to middling use. "Charlie's Angels" — Playing like a live-action "Powerpuff Girls" for grown-up gals, this campy Kung Fu actioner is a chick-flick in disguise. Yes, there's plenty of PG-13 "T & A" for the guys, but the real treat is watching the trio of female leads (Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu) kick men's butts all movie-long. Oh yeah, I guess I should also tell you that the story line is perfunctory; the acting, uneven; and, the dialogue is, well, on par with the '70s TV show that inspired this big-screen remake. But then again, considering the source material, who on earth expected seminal cinema? Trashy, dumb and flashy has never seemed so, uh, invigorating. Yeah, that's it, invigorating. "Billy Elliott" — As predictable as they come, this British import about working-class spunk clashing with artistic dreams succeeds because of its many charms. The time is 1984; the setting, the depressed and on-strike coal-mining area of England. Still saddened by the death of his mother, young Billy Elliott is just going through the motions. His father, who spends his days manning the strike lines, decides his youngest son needs to be toughened up. So he sends him to the local gym to learn to box. But Billy's attention soon wanders to the ballet class being taught in another part of the gym. When Dad finds out his son is dancing instead of fighting, he forbids Billy to return to the class. It's dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson to the rescue. From newcomer Jamie Bell (in the title role) to Julie Walters as the no-nonsense ballet teacher, "Billy Elliott" is simply irresistible.

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