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"Shaft," "Titan A.E.," "Boys and Girls" and "East-West"

Quick Flicks

!B! "Shaft"!B! "Titan A.E."!B! "Boys and Girls" !B! "East-West"

"Shaft" — Taking on the update of the '70s blaxploitation classic "Shaft," Samuel L. Jackson proves that he is the coolest actor around. Can you dig it? Rarely has an actor so relished a role and it shows in every scene. Jackson, with his razor-sharp-edged goatee and his polished dome, updates Richard Rountree's creation with zeal. Unfortunately, the plot line he's left to shoot his way through is a quagmire of mundane predictability about corrupt cops, Hispanic drug lords with uptown aspirations and racist wealthy white boys. Jackson's sexy, hip turn as Shaft deserves four popcorns; the script deserves one. Here's the average:

"Titan A.E." - Man, was I disappointed with this ill-fitting mix of digital/computer animation and traditional cartooning. Cliché-ridden and thoroughly undramatic — even though it's about one young teen's valiant efforts to save the human race — this Don Bluth adventure into sci-fi is a titan of a snore.

In fairness, I must tell you that many of the special effects are quite spectacular (especially ol' Mother Earth buying the farm in the opening minutes), but there aren't nearly enough of them to keep the movie afloat.

"Boys and Girls" — A rather weak effort on all fronts, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Claire Forlani play commitment-challenged best friends who — you guessed it — fall in love. Until the inevitable happens, we're stuck watching Prinze drag out every scene and mote of dialogue endlessly, while Forlani alternates between being bored with or exasperated by him. All that's asked of the supporting cast is that they each act stupid. Oh, did I mention the screenwriters — Andrew Lowery and Andrew Miller — also penned the Dennis Rodman vehicle "Simon Sez?" 'Nuff said.

"East-West" — A contender for this year's Best Foreign Film Oscar, Regis Wargnier's film tells the tale of a Russo-French family that returns to the Soviet Union after World War II. This powerful but frightening film may be one of the best movies ever made about life behind the Iron Curtain. Without descending to propaganda or melodrama, the film makes the struggle for human freedom real and intimate. The film follows the fortunes of a white Russian doctor (Oleg Menchikov), his French wife (Sandrine Bonnaire) and their young son who accept Stalin's invitation to return to Mother Russia.

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