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"Sexy Beast"; "The Closet"; "Shrek"; "Jurassic Park 3"

Quick Flicks

!B! "Sexy Beast"!B! "The Closet"!B! ""Shrek""!B! "Jurassic Park 3"

"Sexy Beast" — Brutal and brilliant, this British crime caper boasts one of the best acting performances of the year. Ben Kingsley's raw turn as mob psychopath Don Logan will have you saying "Ghandi who?" Wanting to bring thief Gary Dove (the equally wonderful Ray Winstone) out of retirement for one last heist, Kingsley is a profanity-spewing, whirling dervish of perversity and pain. On the other hand, the formerly hard-boiled Gary has no intention of risking his "perfect" life. Although the underwater heist takes up much of the film, the real action comes in the confrontational scenes between Kingsley and Winstone.

"The Closet" — Ah, French comic master Francis Veber has crafted yet another delight for foreign film fans. Unfortunately, that means in about two years we'll get to see a really bad Americanization hit screens. A sharp and witty satire about political correctness in the workplace, "The Closet" presents us with one man's scheme to save his job. The terrifically talented Daniel Auteil stars as a 40-something bean counter about to be downsized. Enter enterprising neighbor (Michael Aumont) who helps Auteil spread a rumor that he's gay so his bosses will be afraid to fire him. The bigger fear is , of course, being sued for discrimination. Gerard Depardieu joins in the comic madness as a former gay-bashing co-worker who finds himself cozying up to faux-gay Auteil in order to keep his job. To Veber's credit, he keeps things lightweight and funny, never allowing "The Closet" to become a one-dimensional, issue movie.

"Shrek" — Movies that appeal to viewers from age 4 to 104 are rare cinematic creatures, but "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 and CG-interpreted face) in distress and keeping company with Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy) a wisecracking but genuinely smart "ass" of a companion. Smartly spoofing beloved bedtime stories with wit, charm and heart, "Shrek" is a movie experience to cherish. It remains the lone star in this summer of so-so movies.

"Jurassic Park 3" — While this third take is not the "Saur" loser that "JP 2: The Lost World" turned out to be, it still doesn't come close to the shock and surprise of the original. Except when the dinos are on-screen. Stan Winston and Industrial Light and Magic succeed in making the dinosaurs seem more lifelike and impressive than their previous incarnations. If only we could say the same for the humans. Although Tea Leoni, William H. Macy and Sam Neill are well-respected actors, here they're saddled with one of the lamest, laziest plots and some of the worst dialogue of the year. And once again, humans are trapped on an island where genetically engineered prehistoric creatures vie for the first bite of the stupid humans buzzing around them. If it weren't for the fact that there's something strangely thrilling about humans as prey, "JP 3" wouldn't thrill at all.

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